Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Will Obama Be Our Alarm Clock?
Back in 1968 the world exploded in protest against business as usual. Students and workers across Europe rose up against both capitalist and communist regimes. Latin American dictatorships found themselves challenged by revolutionary guerrilla movements. China had its Great Cultural Revolution. Here in the U.S. young people inspired hope for a brief moment that a new world was aborning. I was there in the thick of things, and of a proper age to both enjoy it and take it seriously.
Its 2008 and the world is restless again. Traffic has come to a halt across Europe with truckers protesting the price of fuel. Fish are not be found in the markets because fishermen are doing the same. Masses of South Koreans have shaken their government with protests against American beef imports and other trade and sovereignty issues. Even Japanese salary men, the gold standard for corporate docility, are fed up with being screwed.
This time, the U.S. is out of the loop. So far, an endless war, sinking economy and skyrocketing fuel and food prices have yet to stir more than minimal protest. You get the feeling that people are clueless and/or hopeless about changing things by way of concerted democratic action.
Many, I surmise, are waiting for Obama to provide a new beginning. They think that because he’s young, smart and cool he’ll “change” stuff. What exactly, no one seems to know or care.
Few seem to notice that beneath that cool is a business as usual politician who has already declared his loyalty to the empire, which even in its death throes remains the most important, expensive, dangerous and self-destructive thing we do as a nation. Indeed, the problem, as usual, is that he will ignore the home front in favor of violent and inevitably self-defeating efforts to revive it.
JFK, Obama’s role model, was big on the empire. He was hot to play Terry and the Pirates with the commies in the back alleys of exotic lands. Still, the brief Kennedy era helped to ease us into the sixties. Having a young and hip president brightened the mood even if his politics amounted to more of the same.
Being an alarm clock for our sleeping spirits may be the best we can hope for Obama.