LI sometimes feels bad that our radical sensibilities aren’t really captured by a correspondingly radical politics. It is nice to be more ultra than thou, and to either proclaim the self-evident virtues of anarchy or Marxism or libertarianism, etc.

But no, just as we are about to launch ourself into the heady winds of ideology, we are pulled back by then-ism.

Yes, folks (he said, cartoonishly) then. As in if-then. And you do this and then this happens.

Thenism is unfashionable nowadays in these here States. LI attributes this to the American male's preference for wallowing in the action movie narrative. Don’t even try to give your American male a halfway complicated novel to follow. Middlemarch? Who needs your stinkin' Middlemarch! No, much better to watch cops and super cops and even more super cops catch and kill bad guys, and in the process spindle, mangle and mutilate the poor “then.” In action movies, when a bomb is about to go off in one minute, we know that we will have five minutes of exciting action while the hero goes through all types of obstacles to reach the bomb and defuse it.

The disjunction between the one minute and the five minute perfectly defines political ideology in America. Thus, the favorite campfire tale for your American suburbanite is that we need to shrink guvamint. We need that small guvamint. And why do we need it small? So we can have our wonderful private enterprise system work the magic of the marketplace. And why is the marketplace magic? Because every person works as hard as he can to produce his own advantage. And how then, are we gonna get that small government? Why, by electing people who completely forsake their own advantage. Of course! A perfect “then” moment.

Correspondingly, we love reading Marxist oriented criticisms of, say, the intricate capitalist structure that has led to the environmental horrors of the shrinking ozone layer and global warming. And how are we going to change that? Why, by a revolutionary breakthrough overthrowing capitalism! Brilliant. That’s a darn tootin’ brilliant plan, there, boss. And who is going to lead that, finance it, and how long will it take? Why, we just gotta trust that a party composed of self-less people, financed by George Soros and Jesus Christ, will arise from the Lit Crit departments to mirror, perfectly, the wants of the people in a brand new revolutionary space, a perfect vacuum created by destroying the influence of the capitalist. Capitalism, which in paragraphs 1 through 10 is described as an all powerful evil system, is overthrown in a wink in paragraph 11 by a group of people absolutely uninfluenced by the mechanisms used to overthrow the all powerful evil system, and now ready to lead us to nirvana. And didn’t such a party system lead to the so far greatest crimes against the environment ever committed, re the whole industrial structure of the Soviet union, as this unchecked leadership shifted social costs massively onto the general population. Well,some people are just spoilsports. Another perfect “then” moment.

The whole bloody story of Iraq is, of course, a triumph of the “then” over the action movie idealism of D.C. think tankers. That the invasion being sold in 2003 was obviously fucked, that the versions of how it was going to be paid for, how long the occupation was going to take, and what the point of it was were all in a narrative muddle unquestioned by the (at that time) Democrat dominated Senate, are the symptoms of the serious decay of narrative intelligence in America. And I have noticed, looking around at the celebration of the third year of the fiasco, that the triumph of the “then” has gone almost completely unnoticed, as new schemes, unattached to any 'then', are proposed to "get America out of Iraq.” We particularly like the one where America, much like the baddest cop on your favorite show, just tells the Iraqis, okay, break it up into three different nations. There you go! The painlessness of that solution, the obvious compliance of the Iraqis when they hear the jig is up, and the Johnny come marchin’ home of our boys (who we all support so much! support support support, that’s our middle name around here), points to the genius at work in the American population at large.


Vermin Direct, LLC said…
At Vermin Direct, LLC, the baddest brand managers on the block, we've encountered similar frustrations, Roger. The stories we could tell! But rather than wallow in the abyss, Vermin Direct, LLC has moved ahead and stayed in sync with the times. Which brings us to this not so modest proposal.

Vermin Scrip!

All the malcontents are getting interested in the community currency movements and that's one heck of a market. I've linked a reduced copy of a 500 Vermin note (V500). I think we could sell these to people looking to set up their own time banks, or whatever, and the whole scheme could be managed by us. The solid reputation Vermin Direct, LLC brings to any endeavor can now expand into the counter culture. Are you with us?
Vermin Direct, LLC said…
roger said…
VD, I know you won't like this but -- your vermin looks like the cutest little squirrel! A squirrel I'd like a big mama squirrel, a hilary squirrel, to protect. It takes a village to raise a squirrel, you know.
Brian Miller said…
Careful, Vermin. Some conspiracy theorists claim the Iraq War was designed to nip in the bud an alternative to the Dollar in the oil markets. Through your alternative currency, you're now steeping on the toes of Uncle Sam. :0
Vermin Direct, LLC said…
It takes a village to raise a squirrel, you know.

Indeed! As you may know, we borrowed that from you and are using it for the scrip promotional tour. Don't worry about theft of your intellectual property. We've set aside V37.50, though we're willing to go as high as the princely sum of V64.75, to pay for the phrase.

A squirrel I'd like a big mama squirrel, a hilary squirrel, to protect

It's the goal of Vermin Direct to present our clients, one of which as you've correctly surmised is Preznit-to-be Hillary, in a positive light, even if they plan to kill their young and share the feast with their rivals, hee, hee, hee. Good times are just around the corner!

Careful, Vermin. Some conspiracy theorists claim the Iraq War was designed to nip in the bud an alternative to the Dollar in the oil markets. Through your alternative currency, you're now steeping on the toes of Uncle Sam

Brian, caution is our middle name at Vermin Direct, LLC, the brand managers who will accept any major currency. The truth is we don't know if oil bourses trading in euros are a serious threat to the big, bodacious, double-barrled reserve currency status of the dollar. Morevover, and we hate to say this, fighting a war to protect reserve currency status would be sane, and therefore wholly out of character for this administration. Vermin Scrip™ is, in any event, too little league to matter to them. What's more, it has less value than a fiat currency backed only by violence and the threat of destryoing people's investments through self-immolation.
Ray Davis said…
Ah, that takes me back to -- holy cow, just about exactly three years ago? But in the absence of narrative or memory, it's not like anything would have changed.
roger said…
Ray, not only is that an absolutely beautiful post, but it uses the verb shishkabobbed. I'm very jealous.
New York Pervert said…

They. Is. A. Plan.

That's what Mistah Scruggs taken on hisself to tell us about. You ort to be ashamed trying to give… That Woman… anothuh Line. Of. Credit…I reckon you just want to open up another kind of brand-new political space is what I reckon…

On a more serious note, an’ speakin’ pu-ah-ly ah-tistick-ly, ah’m shu-ah, my favourite line in the recent TeeVee pilot she sold so well to all the affiliated networks was 'going to the opera is not a crime the last I heard.' That one truly cracked me up, as the young Lenin also assured us that Arpege Chabert had never been less than 'totally forthcoming about her class.'

Indeed she had not. Ladies off the Minsky Burlesque Circuit don’t usually talk about it once they’ve married up.

It's always so much fun when Communists finally give in to the Goody. Like when Andropov bought that 'fine television.'
New York Pervert said…
Way I see it, Commies have a right to walk on two legs and do snobbism too. So this is what is happening in the leftist blogosphere right now. They are trying to stand around and snicker about how they are going to fuck on clean sheets tonight. I think Orwell was writing about the communist party when he let the smart communist pigs go live in the house and force the dumb communist pigs that didn't know it was about money to work. Then there was that other animal that agreed to have a ribbon on her tail and a lump of sugar. What a hoot and holler. She just posted one about how the 'ethnic cleansing in NO' was 'planned long in advance.'
winna said…
This is a beautiful post, roger.

Thenism is exactly what kept me from becoming a tattoo-covered Orthodox Rebel all my life. Curse the Man that shackled me with an understanding of cause and effect!
roger said…
Winna, I just saw your comment. Wow, if then-ism saved you from the tattoo, then it is a mightier force for good than I ever imagined! Although a small tattoo, one say of very tiny salamander at some strategic place, in colors that won't smear too badly through time (although of course using a canvas that basically sheds completely every seven years is not the best idea) isn't bad. In my humble... There is a Japanese mystery I'd recommend, now that we are on this subject. It is called, I think, the tattoo killer. It is about a killer who murders to get ahold of the tattoos of his victims -- elaborate, back length tattoos that he skins from them. Damn, I forgot the name of the author ... found it, via Google: Takagi Akimitsu. Good bedtime reading.