Exploring the Eclipse of Equality

Posts Tagged ‘American Empire’

Who’s the Kamikaze? Schadenfreude and the American empire

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Back in October 2008, a few colleagues and I were having conversation with Johan Galtung about the 2008 election. Johan was talking about the election and he was rather dismissive of its importance. Many of us were animated in our discussion and we were speculating about what the outcome would be. I remember directing a response to him about how crucial some issue or another would be and why it mattered who won in November. His response to me was, as I have learned, Galtungian. He said if McCain wins, it will only hasten the decline of the American Empire. If I believed that there were real stakes in the election, that only represented my American naivete through my faith in elections. We then had a long discussion about the word empire and how it contrasted with hegemony and which was a better description of global politics. Just for the record, I am a hegemony guy and think that American empire is a mis-specified idea.

Flash to today’s Sunday conversation, in which we see Lamar Alexander taking several shots at Japan through only slightly indirect imagery on This Week. First he compares the health bill to a car that can’t be recalled. Then he comes right out and says that the Democrats are playing a kind of kamikaze politics right now, where they will destroy themselves by pushing through reconciliation. This idea turns out to be relatively well distributed¬† in the public sphere. I have found it in a few places here and here.

What a great example of how a literary device can be developed and then used opportunistically to take advantage of emerging circumstances.¬† Now that Toyota is in trouble, it is useful for many to pile on and take shots not only at Toyota itself, but also to invoke the most fearsome image of the Japanese as the enemy they can muster–the kamikaze pilot. No one will soon accuse Alexander of being the Senator from Toyota. By drawing on this kind of opportunistic imagery, Alexander surely scored points. If you can’t profitably paint Obama as Hitler, why not Hirohito?

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