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February 07, 2005

Competing Discourses

In context of a post on post-war Japan, Steve Clemons writes:

Bush needs to be careful of trumpeting too much about our experience democratizing Japan -- as we were frequently on the side of the anti-democrats. To some degree, Japan democratized despite our promotion of a profound model of structural corruption there -- and the Japanese public and civil society institutions deserve credit. But Bush, as of late, has been warping this history.

Read that first line again -- "Bush needs to be careful of...". I've used it myself, Bush better watch for this or that, because he's flagrantly rewriting history/ignoring evidence/contradicting reality. I was wrong. Bush needn't be careful at all. Who in our press is going to stand up and correct the historical record? Is it you, Nedra Pickler? You, Ron Fournier? You, Dana Milbank? You, Judith Miller?

Of course not. As Digby is fond of saying, we've entered a full-fledged Foucaultian state of competing discourses, and Steve's -- ours -- takes much too long to explain. Journalistic objectivity has bred a mutant offspring of political speech completely unmoored from reality. Remember The Matrix? How the original Agents were powerful but bound by the laws of the realm? And how Agent Smith unfastened himself from those pesky constraints and his increased power was in danger of ripping the whole construct apart? It's that way now, and the result has been reality checks aren't nearly as useful as body checks. It might be that once this breed of hollow Republicans is plastered across the boards, the reality-based discourse that we miss can be restored to the political realm. Until then? Bush better be careful because Iraq is devolving into an Islamic Republic where women are oppressed and Shari'a law reigns, because he won't be careful to respect history.

February 7, 2005 in Policy | Permalink


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Anyone who's interested should check out Slavoj Zizek's post 9/11 essay "The desert of the Real." He's a wierd guy, no doubt, but it's a fun one that Ezra's post reminded me of a bit (though it really has nothing to do with anything at all).

Posted by: Julian | Feb 7, 2005 4:58:34 PM

It is spelled, Foucauldian not Foucaultian. And I don't exactly see how Foucault's criticism of traditional power structures fits to the fact that you say that current political discourse is not grounded in reality. One of Foucault's main points in Discipline and Punish is that social institutions that are not thought of as taking in power relations actually end up determing what discourses are a legitimate realm of inquiry not that they determine reality per se.

Posted by: blahblahblah | Feb 8, 2005 11:42:12 AM

That's a good point, and to further it along the lines of The Matrix, the current crop of Republicans isn't going to be happy until all that's left of the media -- and most of the country -- is a bunch of clones. They want to crush us and we don't have a Neo. (Although I'll volunteer to whack some of them with a big metal rod. Anybody else?)

And this is just a personal thing, obviously, but that picture is giving me the willies. It's feels like you're looking at me from inside the computer. I think your blog might be haunted, dude.

Posted by: things fall apart | Feb 8, 2005 11:53:12 AM

Ezra - You are right. My crutch of "Bush needs to be careful of" was not a good way to wage war on the deficits of our president. Good catch.

To "Things Fall Apart," I like the picture there -- even if it does look like he's staring from out of the computer. It's way better than the one I have up.

Steve Clemons

Posted by: Steve Clemons | Feb 8, 2005 7:16:07 PM

Pathological liars are those who are credible because they believe their lies. Mix this up into a stew of "win-at-all-costs" collab(oration) and commercial interest i.e.greed and things spiral rapidly out of control. We have trouble understanding this ? ........consider madness.

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