Sunday, July 19, 2009

sunday thoughts on the secret crime

Unfortunately for my blogs, and fortunately for my landlord, lately I've been overwhelmed with editing work so that I have neither the time nor the brain cells to hatch any coherent prose on my own. This is too bad, as on Limited Inc I am in the midst of trying to do a delicate and complicated reading of Rousseau. Which, given the heat, the work, financial panic, my usual summer libido, constant thirst, and the inability to end a day without feeling like I am leaving my stitching undone, is as hard to do as it would be to whistle a tune from Don Giovanni in the midst of a brass band undertaking Lynyrd Skinner's greatest hits.

Since this was the great week for the banks, the week of triumph for the Bush-Obama regime's policy of encouraging peculation on the national scale for the scaliest oligarchs, I wanted to pound a few points home to my own corvine satisfaction (that crow like delight in plucking out the eyes of the dead, the dead being, in this case, democracy and justice in the cracked republic of America). After all, what is the point of watching the fall of a great power from the inside if you can't crack some jokes about it? And since this was the week - this was the week! - in which we got not only bank reports, but a bevy of media stories about the "joblessness" of the recovery - stories in the true concern troll mode, setting us up for the next episode of our reality show nation, "Middle Class Survivor" - I really wanted to be the Lenny Bruce for this moment. It is so ripe and rich with promise! The Dems on the verge of suicide, nixing national health insurance once again so that they can run as the party of do nothing and bloated rhetoric against the GOP's classic do nothing and rabid rhetoric. The Obama approved war in Afghanistan ravaging the country for no good reason. The bankster fest. The ADS nation deep into Celebrity Death a day irrelevance.

We're all gonnnaaaa die!

Well, in the hustle and bustle, I have been reading bits of Hannah Arendt's On Revolution. I was fascinated by this passage, which seemed accidentally apposite the Bush-Obama policies at the Fed and the Treasury:

Politically, both Socrates and Machievelli were disturbed not by lying but by the problem of the hidden crime, that is, by the possibility of a criminal act witnessed by nobody and remaining unknown to all but its agent. In Plato's early Socratic Dialogues, where this question forms a recurring topic of discussion, it is always carefully added that the problem consists in an action 'unknown to men and gods.' The addition is crucial, because in this form, the question could not exist for Machievelli, whose whole so-called moral teachings presuppose the existence of a God who knows all and eventually will judge everybody. For Socrates, on the contrary, it was an authentic problem whether something that 'appeared' to no one except the agent did exist at all. The Socratic solution consisted in the extraordinary discovery that the agent and the onlooker, the one who does and the one to whom the action must appear in order to become real - the latter, in Greek terms, is the one who can say dokei moi, it appears to me, and then can form his doxa, his opinion, accordingly - were contained in the selfsame person."

Well, we know the name of that person: Behemoth. And we know that the secret crime is the systematic crime, which defines both revolution and reaction. The revolution of what one could call America's fourth republic, the republic of around 1956 to 1979, turned inside out the order of crime in this country, because that order was unjust. It was the order of apartheid. And, for a brief moment, the country lurched towards being a thing it had never been - a democracy. The reaction, swift in coming, long in staying, has systematically attacked that fearsome threat, the demos, with its own systematic reversals of law. Where the crime of the revolution was civil disobedience by the people, the crime of the reaction is institutional disobediance of the law - which pretty much describes the Treasury and the Fed from October of last year onward. Retroactively, the court system, which is in the forefront of reaction, will bless the numerous institutional crimes. A secret is kept best when it is kept in the open - a lesson from the Purloined Letter. The same is true about the crime that has debauched and degraded the American system. Call it the purloined nation.

We're all gonnnnnaaa die.

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