The Oracle

I caught a tiny bit of Kerry’s speech yesterday, Obama’s speech before that, and I am prepared to venture some predictions.

First, I believe that the Democrats will win in November.

Why? Not because I believe that the US is a democracy, or that the people’s will will prevail, or that the election is a matter of citizens’ choice. The opposite is true. I believe that this election is like a year-long job interviewing/application process. It’s reality TV, like that show where Donald Trump selected a manager by progressively firing elite youths. Like that show, the employer is the elite. The candidates are Kerry and Bush. And the criteria are very simple: who is going to be the better imperial manager. Who is going to better fulfill the desires of the elite at this particular time.

I believe that elites have asked themselves this question, and answered it, and decided that it will be Kerry. I also believe that Kerry has gone out of his way to prove himself a worthy candidate for this elite. The dems have accomplished this principally, as other bloggers have duly noted, by cleansing their program and rhetoric of peace, anti-imperial sentiment, or concern for the victims of US foreign policy. They will treat the people we send to kill our poor and helpless victims better; they will send more people to kill poor and helpless victims so they are safer when they do it; they will try to involve more countries in this killing (this latter isn’t going to work, and will help pave the way for the next Republican presidency). That’s their platform, and that is a winning formula. The media won’t destroy Kerry the way it destroyed Dean, and it will help Bush et al. gently out of office and start preparing them for a return immediately the election is over, just in case Kerry gets any funny ideas (and it’s pretty clear that Kerry has proven that he doesn’t have any funny ideas).

So, that’s my prediction. Kerry will win. But I have more predictions.

The shape of the Kerry order is already coming clear. He is clear on Venezuela (Chavez is a dictator, etc.). He is clear on Israel (Palestinians are terrorists, the wall is a fence, etc.) He isn’t so clear on Haiti, but I’m pretty sure he’s not going to be sending Aristide back there the way Clinton did unless it’s to stop a revolution.

But I think — and it might just be because it’s where I’m looking closest — that the Kerry order is clearest in Colombia. In Colombia (I’ll be trying to write about this soon) the paramilitary killers who have been slaughtering their way across the countryside and through the cities for decades were in the Colombian Legislature making speeches this past week, talking pompously about the ‘sacrifices’ they have made for the country (maybe they mean it in the ancient sense, like “Abraham sacrificed a lamb”, “The paramilitaries sacrificed thousands of peasants and unionists”). But this behaviour was denounced by the US ambassador William Wood, who said it was a ‘scandal’ that the paras talked of their sacrifices. What’s more, Kerry, Edwards, and others sent a letter to Colombia’s President, Alvaro Uribe Velez, telling him to have more respect for human rights.

Meanwhile, the roundups, sieges, murders, continue in the countryside.

And that, my friends, is what the Kerry order looks like. From Bush’s pushing-the-envelope fascism, we will move back to hypocrisy while the gains of the past 4 years are consolidated.

And there have been a lot of gains, when you think about it.

-Plan Colombia, initiated around 2000, has been a tremendous success, displacing millions, devastating the countryside, dismantling popular organization and capacity, destroying the prospects for peace, and bringing in Uribe.

-Iraq has been occupied.

-Haiti has been occupied and the possibility of democratic development there wrecked.

-Israel has built a wall and the starvation of Palestinians is advancing, possibilities for a just settlement seem still more remote, Palestinian society has been shattered even further, and Israel is militarily stronger than ever.

-Civil liberties, international law, labour rights, environmental accords, health agreements, all have been thoroughly shattered all to the benefit of the US.

-Countries are being locked into bilateral trade agreements that work just as well for the US as a multilateral agreement would have.

Small wonder elites figure now is a good time to try to digest some of these gains and have someone try to manage things smoothly instead of smashing their way to new depths of destruction. That option can always be used later, after all. Like in 4 more years.

And yet. Venezuela has been and continues to be a tough nut to crack. Uribe himself seems to have backed off of a war plan with Venezuela, going there to joke around with Chavez. He was no doubt ordered to do that by the US masters. The gas pipeline they went to discuss, it seems to me, may be an attempt to use the velvet glove on Chavez where the iron fists have failed. Involve Venezuela in megaprojects, promise ‘development’ and deliver something that alienates a progressive regime from its base… the neoliberal formula could succeed where coups, assassination attempts, sham strikes and referenda fail.

But maybe not. Kerry’s Iraq plan isn’t going to work. More troops? More allied involvement? What’s in it for the allies? What’s in it for the troops? If the troops are going to hide in bunkers, it ain’t going to help ‘win the peace’. If they are out there slaughtering people, it might help for a while but it might also make them targets (and the American media can count US troops killed, even if they can’t count Iraqis bombed or dead because of bad drinking water, and the day more US troops have died under Kerry than Bush will be a day the media marks, I promise you that).

If US movements can get over the ‘Anybody But Bush’ stuff quickly after Kerry wins and actually challenge the demobilizing democrats (and other demobilizing forces that are part of the whole machinery) they could generate something difficult for the system to handle. If Michael Moore (or anyone else who can figure out how) decides to use the space he’s created with F911 after Bush is gone, instead of trying to ‘support’ the criminals his film will have helped bring into power, maybe the country could have an opposition with some weight, and that would create difficulties for elites too.

It could be that Kerry’s victory will enable us to focus on the fact that there is an empire and these are imperial problems, not just some malignant cabal in the White House, and get to more systemic critiques. It could also be that the liberals will split from the anti-imperialists and weaken possibilities for anything serious to happen.

It’s also possible that Kerry won’t win. This is just a prediction, after all, and my record isn’t that good. File this one and be ready to throw it back at me in November.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.