Monday, November 25, 2013

Sleepwalkers of the World, Wake Up and Take Over

originally published on CounterPunch

As ever more work’s combined with ever more stress – among other results – people sleep less and less. And, as various spectacular pseudo-events dominate the public’s reputedly shrinking attention span (a phenomenon indistinct from the shrinking span of the reputedly public itself), it should come as little surprise that the Center for Disease Control’s nearly year-old finding that sleep deprivation has reached epidemic proportions has failed to generate significant public outcry.
To be sure, no small degree of irony inheres in the fact that the people most affected (negatively affected, I should add – since many business interests are indubitably positively affected by this epidemic-cum-business enrichment plexus) are too sleep-deprived to even recognize the gravity of the situation – a gravity determining our mechanical somnambulation toward ever-graver ecological and physiological degradation (the generally unsustainable situation).

Having passed the point where exposure to toxic waste (like lead, radioactive waste, and e-waste – from our designed-to-be obsolete gadgetry/machinery) now comprises as significant a public health menace as tuberculosis and malaria, and the very air we breathe constitutes the single most significant known carcinogen, we nevertheless trudge along, insensate.

These “hidden,” collateral costs, or harms (which are, let’s not forget, part and parcel of profit), are intrinsic to this disposable commodity economy - a political-economic arrangement that, lest we forget, doesn’t just pollute our skies and oceans and stultify our imaginations, but distributes the resources of the world according to an exchange insuring, among others, that ever-increasing amounts of labor receive ever-diminishing levels of compensation; an arrangement that not only deranges the ranges of mountains and reduces the rainforests of the world to pulp, but also degrades and deranges untold lives; for of what else are these lives comprised if not, among other things, time? Indeed, in a manner  analogous to Lavoisier’s law of the conservation of mass, what is somewhere deprived somewhere else comes back. And the aggregate of this abuse of energy and time returns not only as toxic pollution, and poverty, cancer and general immiseration, but also in this epidemic of sleep deprivation.

Symptoms of this disease, of this malaise, include, by the way, degrees of disorientation “equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication” and results in, among others, poor decision-making abilities – i.e. poor judgment – as well as misplaced or unfounded optimism – a process of stupefaction and stupidity that, in addition to theories of cultural hegemony and heteronomy, can significantly contribute to our understanding of that flap where the ideological and the empirical, or physiological, overlap – one of the loci of that dead-eyed and narcotized blitheness with which so many face the waste and haste that these days typifies our culture – or, more specifically, our barbarism.

With respect to these thoroughly diseased conditions, insisting on and then actually sleeping – especially when this involves potentially punitive repercussions – can constitute a genuinely revolutionary interruption. In other words: wake up – and go to sleep.

Friday, November 15, 2013

At the Edge of the Apocalypse

Though severely limited by the vast carnage Typhoon Haiyan spread throughout the region – destroying roads and reducing entire villages to fields of rubble – relief efforts are underway across the devastated islands of the Philippines. And as the Climate Change Conference (the COP 19) proceeds in Warsaw, Poland – and as the representative from the Philippines, Naderev SaƱo, continues the hunger strike he vowed to maintain “until a meaningful outcome [to the ongoing crisis] is in sight”, more and more people across the planet are beginning to recognize that, in order to prevent further ecological catastrophe and misery, radical, structural, political-economic changes need to occur.

As virtually all climate scientists agree, and as report after report confirm, it is a practical certainty that Typhoon Haiyan and other extreme weather events (like last year’s Superstorm Sandy, and Typhoon Bopha) not only result from climate change, climate change is anthropogenic. That is, not only are extreme weather catastrophes caused by climate change, climate change is caused by human activity. What should be added, as well, is that the activity that contributes to climate change is not just any activity. It is human activity of a particular type.

Much of the human activity of indigenous cultures, for instance (which in many respects recognize the degree to which our lives are intertwined in the larger enigmatic world, and consequently exhibit a degree of respect and care for the natural world – one at odds with the efforts of our present economic Order to turn every natural resource into a commodity) do not, in any significant manner, contribute to climate change. To be sure, many of these groups are at the forefront of battling it. Nor do these cataclysmic, extreme weather events result from various forms of sexual activity – as numerous superstitious preachers contend. Rather, these catastrophes are largely the result of activity that is inextricable from an industrial, profit-based, commodity economy. And as economies continue to grow, deforming the forests and mountains and other natural resources of the world into so many plastic cups, and hamburgers, among other things, these extreme weather catastrophes – as a necessary counteraction, or byproduct – are only increasing.

Indeed, even as relief efforts are proceeding in the Philippines, the traffic of the cities of the world, and the CO2 spewed by the meat industry, among other forms of diffused violence, are presently concentrating into entirely new superstorms. As the status quo continues, storms certain to be more massive, and more deadly, than such record-breaking storms as Haiyan and Sandy are being produced. And unlike, for example, the potential destructiveness of nuclear weapons – which only ever manifest by way of some sort of accident, or deviation from a norm – the catastrophes attending climate change will continue, and will continue to grow, unless a genuine change or deviation from the norm transpires.

Alongside the metaphorically and literally toxic commodities this economy produces, and the occupational and stress-related diseases, such as cancer and heart disease – not to mention poverty, malnutrition, sleep-deprivation, police violence, and the other injustices it produces – it systematically produces still more. For these alone this political-economic order should be discarded. When coupled with the recognition that the political-economy responsible for the proliferation of these harms is also causing the deadly weather events witnessed the world over, the existing system should be stripped of whatever vestige of legitimacy it has managed until now to retain. In many respects, this loss of credibility is just what’s unfolding. And it is in this context – the context of the existing Order’s legitimacy, or lack thereof – that we should briefly examine the concept of Apocalypse.

Derived from the Greek term Apo, which means ‘away from’, and Kalyptein, which means ‘hidden’, apocalypse literally means ‘away from the hidden’ – or, in other words, Revelation. But just what is being revealed? And how does this primary meaning of the term apocalypse fit with its secondary meaning – with its identification with the end of the world?

When our very way of life (organized by a coercive, plutocratic political-economic system) is revealed to be the utterly destructive, unsustainable, system that it is – that is, when what is still, to some degree, a secret becomes a broadly accepted fact, the first type of revelation will lead to the second. The revelation of this Order’s fundamental injustice will lead to the dissolution of popular support; and, as history repeatedly demonstrates, when popular support for, and faith in, a given order evaporates, that concrete order quickly collapses. In other words, apocalypse should not be construed to simply mean the end of the world. Rather than the end of the world in general, apocalypse should be understood to refer to the end of a particular type of world: the unjust world. And as we breathe, this unjust, reckless, exploitative world is peeling away; what comes next is as of yet undetermined.

Russell Brand and the Necessary Planetary Adjustment

originally published on CounterPunch

Russell Brand's recent political essay, viral BBC interview, and ongoing comedy tour - The Messiah Complex - raise important political and philosophical questions concerning, among other issues, the nature of justice, the importance of voting, and the need for radical, revolutionary change. These deserve serious consideration.

Since at least the time of the Athenian statesman Solon (c. 638 BC - 558 BC), whose reforms are credited with setting the historical stage for the emergence of democracy in ancient Athens, the concept of law has contained a crucial ambiguity. While the law is rightfully recognized as an instrument of Order - legitimizing and maintaining a status quo - it is not restricted to this function. Beyond this conservative function is its more vital dimension. In addition to its retentive, conservative aspect, Law has a protentive, metamorphic aspect. Law may even be likened, in this respect, to DNA; it not only clones, it mutates. For, along with maintaining Order, law (or, the spirit of the law) is also employed in pursuing that which disrupts Order (that is, Justice). This latter, law-nullifying aspect of Law is what allowed Solon to not only nullify the law of Draco - abolishing people's debts, freeing debt-slaves, and constraining the power of Athens' ancient oligarchy, according to Plutarch - but enabled a relatively egalitarian redistribution of the social world of the ancient Athenians as well. And while it is important to note that this egalitarianism did not extend to women, slaves, and other excluded people, and so exposes the limitations of Athenian democracy, it does not diminish this emancipatory aspect of the law. In many respects, law - as such - is constituted by this very  contradiction. Unstable, it is forever adjusting (a term which, by the way, literally means toward the just). Unlike the dead letter of the law that Order appeals to for support and legitimacy, Justice, the spirit of the law, is the living, vital aspect of the law - the truth of the law as opposed to its mere semblance. 

Among other things, this ambiguity of the law has a corollary in the contemporary French philosopher Jacques Ranciere's concept of the political. According to Ranciere, like law, the political has two dimensions. On one hand it is the maintenance of Order - what he terms politics as police. On the other hand, corresponding to justice, is actual politics. Actual politics disrupts the Order maintained by the politics as police. As he defines it in his Disagreement, actual politics only arises when "the natural order of domination is interrupted by the institution of a part of those who have no part" (11). That is, politics proper only emerges with this disruption of Order by this striving toward an egalitarian redistribution of the social sphere - the adjustment toward the Just.

It is in this context that we should situate Russell Brand's recent statements concerning politics and justice in general, and voting in particular. While many have criticized and mocked Brand for dismissing the practice of voting, it is paramount to recognize (that is, to cognize and to re-cognize) that, according to Ranciere's formulation, of itself voting is not necessarily a political act at all. In general it is a function of politics as police - the maintenance of Order. Indeed, insofar as it signals one's consent to be governed, voting is a largely acclamatory gesture - applauding a particular character in what is political theater more than actual politics. While voting is intrinsically problematic, however, this does not mean that it is necessarily or essentially anti-political in Ranciere's sense. In theory, one could acclaim (and go beyond acclamation) an entirely new type of distribution of the world - a distribution of the world according to egalitarian priorities. Instead of the priorities and rules of the inertial Order busy dividing and conquering and distributing and consuming and desecrating the world, in theory voting could acclaim a Just distribution of the world - one that subordinates the dictates of profit to the actual well-being of the people and the environment - an adjustment that does not stabilize into some new inertial Order, but rather is stable only insofar as it continues to adjust. 

Needless to say, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, among the other institutions that represent and manifest the interests of the present Order, are existentially hostile to any meaningful adjustment; for such would involve a significant redistribution of the cultural and physical wealth of the world, produced thus far by humanity as a whole, from their control. In other words, in spite of all the sanctimonious blather regarding Democracy, no such thing exists. In this so-called "representative democracy" a very narrow slice of "interests" is in fact represented. And politics in any meaningful sense is in part dream, in part delusion.

Contrary to the repeated assertions of Jeremy Paxman, Russell Brand's interlocutor, as well as countless others, we do not live in a democracy. We in fact live in a political arrangement more properly described as a plutocracy. Ploutos (wealth), not the demos (the people), is in charge. While this claim may not jibe with the hegemonic doxa, it is a matter of simple observation that one cannot even participate in a non-marginalized manner in the political theater unless one is backed - supported - by the rich. Before votes are ever counted, money determines the outcomes of elections. It acts as a gatekeeper. Excluded from ballots, and debates, third party candidates with millions of supporters are effectively barred from participating. Millions of supporters matter less than millions of dollars. Unless backed by the rich one cannot compete in campaigns that cost fortunes. And once in office, the constant need to raise funds ensures that those who deviate from the desires of the rich are cut off, and cut out.

This is not to say that a sufficiently popular political and social movement could not overcome these barriers. It is placing the proverbial cart before the horse, however, to suppose that such support could be achieved by the ballot. In order to overcome the institutional barriers to the political stage, a person - or group, or party - would have to possess an enormous amount of popular support in the first place. And even if some hypothetical candidate prevailed in some contest for some office, unless enough like-minded people occupied comparable positions, very little could be accomplished. To meaningfully change the design of the existing Order, the laws that function to maintain the Order and preclude the Just need to be changed or dissolved. All of which is to say, if a social movement were large enough to allow for an actual takeover of congress, such a movement would already enjoy a degree of support sufficient to force congress to step down without having to step into congress' shoes - those shoes of the old Order - in the first place. 

If, for example, a political movement enjoyed enough popular support to change the constitution (to include such mild, though necessary, alterations as a positive right to housing, education, a guaranteed universal income, health care, debt forgiveness, not to mention more radical, structural changes) - if such a movement had a measure of popular support sufficient to overcome the onerous hurdles placed before amending the constitution, why even bother? For the sake of tradition (i.e., the old Order)? Why not just write a new constitution altogether? Perhaps this is what Jesus of Nazareth meant when he reputedly said that he would not change a jot of law. Rather than changing the law of Order, he would leave it to rot. The actual law, the law of justice, is a different matter. 

Notwithstanding the above, and in spite of the fact that it has received so much attention, it is important to consider the fact that Russell Brand's main point was not "don't vote." In his New Statesman essay, and in his BBC interview with Jeremy Paxman, Brand's position vis-a-vis voting was ancillary to his main argument: political change must be preceded by a change of consciousness; before an actual politics can even arise a recognition of not only the pure arbitrariness of the existing Order, but its concrete harmfulness and injustice, needs to take place. People must see the cold hard fact that poverty and profit - the infernal conditions of the slums of Kibera, outside Nairobi, not to mention the slums of the Bronx, and the decadent excess of plutocratic luxury - are two sides of the same coin. Each creates, and recreates, the other. Just as profit is not generated without a corresponding loss somewhere, wealth creates poverty and vice versa. Beyond the horrors inflicted by the inertial Order on billions throughout the world, there is also the fact that, in a world with finite resources, it is patently self-destructive to maintain a political-economy based on waste and exploitation. The net result of our collective work, our "economic production," is a world that is being steadily deformed into toxic refuse. And, contrary to the reigning ideology, it does not have to be this way. Existing conditions are neither natural nor inevitable. Slums, poverty, war, third world as well as first world indentured servitude - these things are made by people, and as such can be unmade by people.

Among the many reactions to Brand's argument for revolutionary change, a particularly pervasive one is that revolutions are dangerous and reap more harm than good. In advocating radical change, these people maintain, Russell Brand is little more than a dangerous fool. For example, in Russell Brand: Good Pundit, Bad Thinker, Parker Brown argues in The Atlantic that revolutions are generally accompanied by terrors, and that these terrors tend to leave people worse off. Citing multiple horrors, Brown argues that radical change is too dangerous to seriously consider. Best to forego such radicality. Aside from the esteemed historian Arno Mayer's findings inThe Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions that, more often than not, the resistance to revolutionary change is what heightens violence, contrary to Brown's contention, many revolutions do not experience any terror phase at all. Indeed, the US revolution is only one among many revolutions that experienced no revolutionary terror. Of course, one must not overlook the fact that after the US Constitution was ratified, and the ongoing terror of slavery was cemented into law (a body of law that also paved the way for the systematic removal and annihilation of the continent's indigenous population), terror abounded. From this perspective, "reign of terror" takes on a decidedly different meaning. 

It is a gruesome irony that Brown raises starvation as a key example of revolutionary harms, noting that during the Chinese Revolution hunger was so severe that the exhumation and consumption of corpses was widespread. Because, while horrific levels of starvation did occur in China, as well as in Stalin's USSR, among other places, the spectacular nature of eating corpses should not blind us to the fact that, as these words are being written, extreme starvation is rampant throughout much of the world today - and this is caused, in large part, by the very neoliberal economic Order that people like Parker Brown defend. In Haiti, for instance, systemic famine is so severe that people regularly resort to eating dirt. And though malnutrition has been rising precipitously in Haiti in the years following the massive 2010 earthquake, it remains less severe than in Guatemala, and parts of Africa, among other places. 

As Mark Twain wrote in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, as bloody as the terror of the French Revolution, and other revolutions' terrors, may have been, there is another terror whose horrors far surpass these. Of these two types of terror, one, like that which sprouted from the French Revolution, is short. Lasting months, it claims thousands of lives. The other type of terror is long. Lasting thousands of years, it enslaves and brutalizes and reaps the lives of hundreds of millions. 

While both of these terrors are anathema to justice, Twain raises an urgent point - a point that is largely congruent with what Brand refers to when he writes of his trip to the slums of Nairobi. The long terror that Twain described is by no means over. Neither anomalous, nor an aberration, it is necessarily produced and reproduced along with the rest of our political-economy, and inextricable from the present Order. 

While Russell Brand is by no means perfect, and among other things exhibits a considerable deal of disturbing behavior - rape jokes, and other forms of sexism that both stem from patriarchal privilege, and reproduce the existing patriarchal Order of domination - he is nevertheless entirely correct in pointing out both the need for what the ever-problematic philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche referred to as a "revaluation of all values," and a radical deviation from the present, ecocidal Order. Though characterized as a sort of simpleton savant spouting the need for violent change, rather than advocating violence, Russell Brand may be more accurately characterized as agitating for the recognition of the need for an end to what the philosopher Walter Benjamin referred to as the systemic "law-preserving violence" of the present violent Order.

Without raising him to the status of anything above a fellow fallible human being, we ought to support Russell Brand's call for replacing the political-economy cannibalizing the planet with an actual politics. While remaining critical of his shortcomings, and the power his celebrity visibility wields, we nevertheless ought to encourage and support the popularization of his call for a radically egalitarian redistribution of the cultural and physical wealth of the world.

Russell Brand and the Leader Question

originally published on CounterPunch 

Russell Brand’s recent calls for revolutionary change (in his BBC interview and in his article in the New Statesman) have raised a considerable degree of discussion and controversy. Predictably enough, those on the right have reacted by generally dismissing the message. Not only do they characterize its substance as unrealistic, they question the capacity of the messenger; that this is an ad hominem is neither discussed nor, apparently, comprehended.

Although largely agreeing with the message, those on the left tend to either uncritically root for the messenger, or fall into arguments over leaders and structure and organization, not to mention what the parameters of an international revolutionary subject would encompass. This is not to say that these general tendencies of the left and right are rigid or not fluid. Plenty on the radical left are criticizing Brand. Among other things, his objectification of “beautiful women” is – as Musa Okwonga, among others, have pointed out – patently sexist. (That the name New Statesman is patently sexist as well is, as far as I know, not under discussion.) 

In the end, however, Brand’s character flaws have little to do with the validity of his arguments. Though they may mitigate his persuasive “power” – and point to weaknesses in his thinking – they in no way diminish the need for the elimination of, among other injustices, global pollution, poverty, inequality, and the other systemically produced conditions Brand argues should be eliminated. His character flaws, however, are relevant to the extent that they cast light on the claims of proponents of “leaderless” social movements. For in invoking Brand’s flaws, some proponents of leaderlessness – like Natasha Lennard (who, ironically, has over 7,000 Twitter “followers”) – undermine their own positions. Writing in Salon, Lennard asks that “we temper our celebrations of [Brand] according to his very pronounced flaws.”

Yet the argument against celebrating and raising people to the status of leaders has little, if anything, to do with a person’s “pronounced flaws.” Even flawless people should not be leaders. According to the anti-leader argument not even gods, those flawless beings, should be leaders. “No gods, no masters”, right?Among the more problematic aspects of the Political Leader Question is the fact that the term “leader” is particularly ambiguous. Does it mean ‘one who gives commands’ (i.e., a dictator)? Or is it limited to the sense of “spokesperson” (which means dictater in a more benign, but still problematic, sense)? Or does it simply mean one who “leads by example”? Or one who influences by charm and guile? Or does it mean “organizer”? 

For their part, pro-leader people don’t seem to see how one could even have a political movement without leaders. Meanwhile, anti-leader people seem incapable of recognizing the clandestine leaders influencing strategies, priorities, agendas, etc., within their own ranks. Neither side seems to discuss what Jean Baudrillard, in his essay The Masses: The Implosion of the Social in the Media, described as “the modern enigma of politics”: the 16th century thinker Etienne de la Boetie’s insight that political leaders derive their power less from taking it from those they rule over than by the subjected population’s own renunciation of their own power.

In other words, the Leader Question is the Power Question (not to mention the ideology question, the hegemony question, the autonomy/heteronomy question, and the coercive versus non-coercive power question, inter alia). Leaders and followers not only simultaneously reproduce one another in a mutually reinforcing dynamic, this dynamic arises whenever a person has influence over another. And Russell Brand, with his eloquence and celebrity visibility, has no small measure of influence over millions. That is, at least for the time being, he is already a type of leader.

To be continued…

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Fetishization of Voting

published originally on CounterPunch

Walking past a polling site election night, I spotted one of my neighbors standing by the entrance. Dressed in a traditional outfit, he was easily recognizable as a member of a particularly conservative religious sect. Most noticeable, though, was the sign he held admonishing people not to vote. As far as I could tell, the gist of his argument was that the laws, because of their secular nature, are immoral; and since they are immoral, one should abstain from voting. It constituted a breach of the moral law to participate in an immoral system. Needless to say, it struck me as particularly telling that his message was so similar to that of many secular people who admonish others not to vote. Indeed, though he recently changed his position, the comedian Russell Brand recently stated more or less the very same thing: because by voting one tacitly consents to a wildly unjust system, voting inculpates the voter as much as the system. The religious man's message struck me as curiously similar to these apparently secular, religiously-inflected (faith-based), political philosophies.

This, however, should not come as much of a surprise. With their hierarchies and traditions, politics and religion are very much alike. To the extent that they are based on dogma - as opposed to critical thought - and rely on theatrical displays, ritual, and other types of pomp, they are hardly distinct at all. In this light, it is worth considering the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's aphorism that "there is not enough religion to destroy even religion." Rather than some simple contradiction, Nietzsche's insight is that there is not enough genuine awe in the face of the bewildering mystery of Being to destroy the arrogance of dogmatic rigidity. This humility, in turn, gives rise to a radical skepticism - of a sort leading one to critically evaluate the surrounding world (that is, to inspect, and then to re-spect, the world, as opposed to cowardly fearing it) - which is the opposite of simplistic, religious thought. Of course, fear and respect are very closely related. And the degree to which they blend into and out of one another not only allows for their frequent conflation, it allows as well for rampant manipulation. Like religion, politics possesses this ambiguity, this double meaning. As such, this leads to the question: if religion in its truth destroys religion, is there a comparable political corollary? Is there not enough politics to destroy even politics?

The contemporary philosopher Jacques Ranciere's distinction between 'politics as police' and an actual politics is relevant here. For what passes for, or appears to be, politics is often 'politics as police.' More interested in maintaining Order than pursuing justice - more concerned with dogma than critique - this type of politics is very much like religion in Nietzsche's latter sense. And among the dogma, the assertions and articles of faith, and the rituals of this faith-based politics, one finds the institution of the vote. Fetishized, the vote is transmogrified into, and treated as, an idol. Emanating its mysterious powers, the fetish intoxicates those among the political left and right alike. 

To be sure, too often one encounters the fallacious argument that one cannot criticize the system if one fails to vote. Just vote, these people plead. It doesn't even matter what you vote for, they beseech. Just vote. Participate. If you don't, in their eyes, you have waived your right to have a political opinion at all. You have no right to complain. Others, meanwhile, hold to the opposite position. Those consenting to a murderous war machine are in part culpable. Even protest votes legitimize a thoroughly harmful system. One should abstain. Yet, though the vote as an instrument does possess a variety of problematic associations and connotations, plutocratic determinations and limitations, one is nevertheless guilty of the genetic fallacy in insisting that these are not ultimately invertible. For, at least in theory, if a preponderance of people voted for a genuinely revolutionary proposal - or transfused the federal, state, and local representatives of the business class with representatives of a genuinely egalitarian, emancipatory politics - the system would be radically altered, and could be radically transformed. If one had sufficient representation, the constitution could even be fundamentally changed, or rewritten altogether; obstructionist judges could be handily impeached. Basic rights to housing, education, health care, nutritious food, leisure, and a healthy environment, among other things, could be instituted. Poverty and homelessness could be eliminated. The wars - the drug war, the class war, and the war against the environment - could be ended. The hypertrophic military could be withdrawn from the rest of the world. Brought back to the US and fundamentally altered, stripped of its weaponry, it could be put to work farming, as well as repairing and building public transportation systems, sanitation systems, and cleaning up the mess made of the environment. Among other infrastructural projects, community colleges could be built in every neighborhood across the continent. These campi, in turn, could develop into interdependent loci of participatory political and economic democracy. 

In cooperation with other community college departments, locally run agriculture departments, for example, could produce food. The colleges' engineering departments could handle local engineering, transportation, communication, and other projects. In collaboration with these, architecture departments could attend to housing needs and housing problems. Medical schools and their clinics, freed from the compulsion to garner profits, could contribute to the actual health and well being of communities. Film schools, art schools, music schools, and athletic programs could flourish, competing among one another in regional, continental, and global festivals. Developing the human potential that the commodification of social relations today so brutally deforms, US society could be transformed into one that is actually just. 

The word vote, let's not forget, derives from the Latin votum, which means wish, or hope (not to mention the religious notion 'prayer'). And as the philosopher Ernst Bloch argued in his The Principle of Hope, hope itself is ultimately a utopian concept. As such, utopian tendencies are latent in the concept of the vote. Indeed, it is just this aspect that confidence men like Barrack Obama (with his Romneycare health care law, written by the right wing Heritage Foundation, and his unprecedented aggrandizement of power - via NSA spying, drones, and his disposition matrix, to name just a few) continue to exploit.

And though it may be obvious that politicians such as Obama are hypocritical in the commonly accepted meaning of the word, it is less apparent that they are hypo-critical in the more literal sense - that is, they are sub-critical.

While the Democrats (who in fact are plutocrats) and the plutocratic Republicans (whose name ironically means 'the public thing') cannot be expected to alter the collision course toward ecological catastrophe that their policies are creating, one can't help but look at the vote and regard it as a tool, as opposed to an idol, and wonder - can an actual, radical politics arise from this?