Symbols have power over millions of minds. Stories have power. Narratives have power. Identity has power. Myths have tremendous power. Insofar as the U.S. dollar has power, it is symbolic power wrapped in legitimacy.
Don’t believe me? Barack Hussein Obama became the President of the United States simply because he told America a really good story. He told the story about “Hope and Change” (his preferred symbolic narrative) in campaign advertisements, at mass political rallies, on television, in the debates with his opponents, etc.
John McCain’s narrative was “Country First” but “Hope and Change” triumphed in 2008. As it happens, the American people found out that they got neither “Country First” or much “Hope and Change” in that election.
It was a story that all kinds of people wanted to hear at the time: Obama was going to end the foreign wars, rebuild the American economy, end the racial divide, fix a broken political system, end the partisanship in Washington, etc.
I knew it would never happen:
(1) By 2011, it had got to the point where there were three wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. The U.S. military was stretched across the entire world.
South Korea had an impenetrable border. We defended the borders of the NATO allies for decades against the Soviet Union. Yet we neglected our own border for some strange reason.
South Korea’s border could be fixed by the U.S. military, but the U.S. border with Mexico was absolutely indefensible. The Pentagon could defend Germany and Britain, but not ranchers in Arizona.
(2) If the American economy was rebuilt over the past two years, it is invisible to my eyes. I can recognize all kinds of “infrastructure” that was built during the FDR and Eisenhower years.
Where is Barack Obama’s infrastructure? If you look at the guts of the “stimulus,” you will see that it went to things like EBT cards, TANF welfare, Medicaid, and Head Start. In Alabama and Louisiana, it was a vast expansion of LBJ’s Great Society failed anti-poverty crusade, not anything like the WPA or CCC.
(3) Obama could never possibly end the racial divide in America. He can’t even so much as talk about the racial divide. No one can address the racial divide in the right way.
Somewhere in the mid-twentieth century, the White man disappeared and became an “individual,” whereas Hispanics remained Hispanics, Jews remained Jews, Negroes became African-Americans, Asians became Asian-Americans, etc.
There could never be such a thing as a White American or a European-American. If you were non-White, you could revel in your racial identity, but if you were White, you had to pretend that you didn’t have a racial identity.
You had to lie under a lie.
(4) Obama could never fix the broken political system in Washington. His doesn’t understand the provinces. You can’t fix Washington until you fix the 50 States.
(5) The “partisan divide” (i.e., sniping) in Washington was always ridiculous. Most Americans preferred to tune out the “partisan divide.” The people on television made no sense at all to them. Better to read a book, go to the bar, watch a football game, go hunting, etc.
What do you suppose the American people are thinking about Washington? They are probably trying to figure out why the people on television were saying that enslaving us to the company store in China was a good idea.
Intuitively, it didn’t seem to be a good idea. Why is it a good thing to be in debt? Why is endless increases of the debt ceiling a good idea? The liberal establishment on television was saying it was a good idea and it was defeated in a pivotal moment when everyone realized we didn’t agree them.
How is it a good thing for foreign creditors to have more power over us? It doesn’t make any sense. Only a fool wants to lose his independence and become dependent on someone else. The White people in Middle America in their best Jacksonian instincts thought that was insane.
What must it be like to be black and to be totally dependent on the TANF welfare check, the EBT card, the government job, endless piles of debt? That is a form of dependency, right?
Black people are dependent on someone else. The government. The Democratic Party controlling the government. In a way, they are chained to the Democratic Party which is unable to solve their problems.
How do you solve the problems? You have to negotiate a truce with White people.
What is Barack Hussein Obama? He is a black man who sits in the White House. Yeah, it seems great to you because he is black, and he is now in such a high position of authority.
But so what? If you have lost 83 percent of your net worth and 35 percent of Black America is bankrupt, why should you care if Obama is in the White House? He is just a symbol of Black America in a high position of power. He is a milestone in, say, your narrative.
Don Lemon is on television. What do you care? It’s great for him but life isn’t so great these days for you. Life is bad. Don Lemon is a symbol on television that gets you to watch CNN.
Is it starting to make sense now? The mechanics of power are symbolism, narrative, voice, myth and legitimacy which are used to get your assent.
Why does Barack Obama have your assent? Simply because he is a symbol of your struggle, someone who you think listens to you, a milestone in your version of the Odyssey, because you are afraid of the Republicans, and because you distrust White people.
Do you want someone to a black mascot? Your token image in the White House. If so, why? He is the mascot, but all the rich people with the money (i.e., Hollywood, Washington, New York City) and so forth control him.
They call the shots.
Why do they call the shots? Because they have …
(1) The money which has narrative and symbolic power and the legitimacy to be accepted as currency.
(2) As strange as it sounds, the “discursive means of production” (ownership of the mass media) which allow them to control the narrative, and to dominate our minds.
(3) They also have an armory of stupid ideas created by cultural termites like “homophobia, racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, nativism, heteronormativity, xenophobia” and so on to lock people into a certain kind of mindset.
There is a project of rotting the English language in order to narrow our range of thought. Why must the range of thought be narrowed? To constrict our ability to think for ourselves by symbolizing our fears.
They have poisoned our discourse over the course of many decades.
It’s a funny thought: the truth was “hateful,” something that we couldn’t discuss, unless really bad things happened to us. We couldn’t have a conversation about the truth to work out our differences.
The Holy Trinity of Liberalism – Liberty, Equality, and Tolerance – had disappeared into the mists of history. In BRA, we weren’t really “free” to tell it like it is, we weren’t really treated as “equals” by those who possessed power, and the last thing there was anywhere was “tolerance” of disagreement.
How many communities had been shattered? What had the Republic become? What is the value of democracy when so much nonsense has been allowed to poison our brains?
It is a really weird system and I am quite sure that the key to unlocking it is symbolic power: the power of symbols over our minds which are used to build a narrative that establishes legitimacy.
Think about it.
Why is Barack Obama legitimate? Because he is an African-American, right? Why was George W. Bush legitimate? Because he was “from the Heartland” and had that Texas twang and cleaned brush out on the ranch. He was “one of us.”
What was John McCain’s narrative? He was an old soldier from Vietnam who put his Country First. How many times did you see it in campaign ads?
What about Sarah Palin? What was her narrative? She was the downhome, homespun Mayor of Wasilla who cared about ordinary White people and rode a motorcycle to DC. Then she was the “Undefeated.”
Does this make any sense? Unlock anything about reality?