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Return of the Texas Chainsaw President

December 20, 2004

The world is horrified. The maniac redneck is back in power, and this time he didn’t steal the election – Americans actually chose him. Setting aside for a minute the fact that there was no real opposition, that Kerry’s campaign was empty of any alternative, the fact that millions of Americans would go to the polls and actually vote for Bush is unbelievable.

Even more sickening is the fact that his most significant base in this election was the Christian right, who want to hasten the apocalypse so that the rapture can come and they can ascend into heaven and leave us infidels squabbling on earth. Well, they’ve certainly succeeded in bringing us that much closer to the apocalypse – but it’s an apocalypse that’s likely to be visited on the American people as much as on the rest of the world. The American economy is in serious trouble, only being propped up by Asian investors continuing to extend credit.

Bin Laden is right about bankrupting America. The economy is fucked. The dollar has to fall. $2.73 trillion foreign debt. I think it’s mostly US belligerence that’s artificially holding things in place. It won’t last. Start growing your own veggies.
Iraq could turn into the new Vietnam. At some stage, the carnivorous pterodactyls are going to come home to roost.

Which makes one ask: why do people vote against their own best interests? It is a worldwide phenomenon. We have our version of the question here in South Africa, with ‘coloured’ voters in the Cape historically supporting the National Party, the racist party of apartheid.

This question was first examined by an Austrian Jew, Wilhelm Reich, in his 1933 book ‘The Mass Psychology of Fascism’. Reich, an early follower of Freud who tried to combine psychoanalysis with a Marxist critique, categorised fascists as sexually repressed neurotics. The book was banned by the Nazis, and Reich fled to the United States.

Reich argued that repressive patriarchal institutions – starting with the family, and then church, school and state – break down the individual’s sense of self and cause them to internalise their oppression. This oppression, or inner fascism – what pomo philosophers Deleuze and Guattari called the ‘oedipalised self’ is locked into the muscles of the body in a form of tension which he called body armour. In other words, right-wingers are uptight. Body armour locks individual in place, preventing the flow of energy and causing disease.

But Reich had a solution: sex. He claims to have discovered a mysterious bioelectrical energy that flows through the body, bringing health and vitality and linked to the libido. He called this energy ‘orgone’. Perhaps he didn’t realise that the Chinese had discovered this 5 000 year early and called it ‘chi’, and that in Sanskrit it is called ‘prana’.

In his 1942 book, ‘The Function of the Orgasm’, he claims that body armour can be released through orgasm. This is also not a new insight – the Hindu Tantra practioners had been using sex as a path to enlightenment for centuries. It needs to be sex that breaks boundaries, not masturbatory sex where energy flow is locked into oppressive patterns. Earth-shattering sex dissolves the body armour and the individual is forced to confront his interconnectedness to the world.

They didn’t like his book. He was arrested, imprisoned and died in jail, and all his books and journals were burned by the FBI, which got a special order to do so. It was perhaps the greatest act of censorship in American history.

In some senses his ideas seem quaint now, and he was clearly either a great genius or complete lunatic – probably both. But he has some answers for our times: clearly, Americans need to get laid more.

Why do people vote for Bush? Why do people desire their own oppression? Vote against their interests?

There was a window after 9-11 when Americans finally began to ask real questions. Why us? Why do they hate us? They truly didn’t know. In the collective search for answers the myth of the benevolent superpower would have to be stripped away and we might find ourselves with a very different US today, a country of conscious citizens at least trying to understand the world.

But it was not to be. Bush – or his minders – provided the easy answers and presided over the closing of the collective American mind. “They hate us because of our freedoms, because we are good Christian people”.

Americans seem to suffer from a fear of ambiguities and uncertainties, and an addiction to Manichean simplicity, because it removes the odious burden of thinking for themselves.

Often considered stupid by people in other countries, they are relatively highly educated and have access to more information than just about any other country in the world. But there is a kind of willed stupidity in the national psyche, which I call ‘Forrest Gumpism – the idea that there is something pure and good about being too stupid to understand the world. And so even intelligent Americans close their minds.
I’m not a proponent of the theory of progressive emiseration – that left-wing heresy that states that when bad things happen, it’s actually good, because it will drive people to start the Revolution. But clearly, a Bush presidency is going to make us all focus the way Kerry wouldn’t.

America has a strong counter-culture, the alternative kids and eminem punks. For decades, they have been getting complacent, and politically conservative because of the culturally tolerant atmosphere – nothing was shocking anymore – you can say what ever you want, package it, make a career out of it. The energy got sucked into video games.

But alternative kids are going to feel the fetid breath of fascism on their necks now, and will be forced to act.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    January 1, 2005 8:22 am

    IF BUSH WERE THE FACIST YOU CLAIM HIM TO BE, WOULDN’T ALL THE QUEERS, MUSLIMS, AND LIBERALS BE LINED UP AND SHOT? WOULDN’T WE BE LAUNCHING NUCLEAR WEAPONS AT IRAN AND NO. KOREA? MAYBE WE MADE ENOUGH MONEY OFF IRAQ. AND THAT AFGHAN PIPELINE, OF COURSE.

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