"What are the possible consequences of Obama’s victory? I think there are at least two possibilities that circle in a perhaps melancholy dialectic. One possibility – which is highly unlikely, but at least conceivable – is that the change of regime will lead to local and diverse forms of popular politicization which perhaps might place in question the current socio-economic doxa. On this view, emboldened by Obama’s victory, various groups might accelerate their political activity around issues such as immigrant rights, union representation or corporate greed. What Obama’s victory might unleash is a sequence of progressive radicalizations inside the US and perhaps outside as well that would act as a serious irritant to the usual business of the state or the usual state of business.
The second possibility is the reverse, namely that the popular force that has been mobilized around Obama’s presidential campaign simply exhausts itself in its governmental victory. On this view, once Obama has been elected, citizens can switch off politically and sit back and watch how well his administration does. Politics becomes reduced to a spectacle of media and governmental representation. Furthermore, this possibility is undoubtedly the one favoured by the Obama campaign itself, which explains the somber, slightly disappointed tone to Obama’s speech on the night of his victory: ‘The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term’. On this view, the rhetoric of change (‘Together we can change the country and change the world’) was simply what it took to get people mobilized. Once the victory is secure, there must be no further mobilizations at the popular level. All must henceforth be mediated through the apparatus of government. Politics as the experience of a people suddenly present to itself and aware of its awesome power has to die at the precise moment when a representative government is elected. "
Thursday, November 13, 2008
What's Left After Obama?
Adbusters latest article is an interesting one. It looks at the possible outcomes of Obama taking charge in Washington.