January 20, 2009

Arthur Silber, Chris Floyd and Justin Raimondo on Obama's Inauguration

Now that the Democrats will exercise the levers of power -- in both the executive and legislative branches, let us emphasize -- the justifications will spew forth from the same liberals and progressives who condemned identical actions taken by those who committed the unforgivable sin of not belonging to "their" side. If you are looking for a principled approach to these questions, I suggest you avoid those who regard the achievement and exercise of political power as the means to the improvement of humanity.
What would happen if we simply treated all of these greasy pole climbers as ordinary human beings -- "poor, bare, forked animals" like the rest of us -- instead of turning them into fantasy figures imbued with embodiment and magic and goodness? The only extraordinary thing about them -- their craving for dominion over others -- is the very thing that should most repulse us, and make us wary, not draw us to them with awe, loyalty and affection. In all else, they share our common imperfections. Why then not judge them by what they actually do -- not by what they embody, not by how wiggly it makes us feel to surrender our minds and wills and judgments to a fantasy -- and hold them accountable for their actions in the real world?
When Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated, he sought to dismantle the evolving Federalist tradition of pomp and circumstance. In a ceremonial sense, royalism seemed to have been restored, or so it appeared to him. As this blogger put it, "Dressed in simple attire, Jefferson walked over to the Capitol with a phalanx of riflemen, friends, and fellow citizens from his home state of Virginia."

In these last days of the American Empire, such austere republicanism would be considered impossibly quaint. Having long ago morphed into Jefferson's worst nightmare, the closer we get to the end, the more glamorous our inaugurals become. The poorer we are, the more millions we'll throw at a ceremony that is really the crowning of a monarch – and not just any old king, but an emperor bestriding the globe.

Appearances must be kept up. Like a bankrupt living on a palatial estate – one step away from foreclosure – we bask in imperial splendor even as the repo man comes knocking at the door.

At a time such as ours, the spectacle of jeweled and gowned courtiers feasting on inaugural canap├ęs is beyond tacky. The Bourbons partied, too, right up to the eve of the French Revolution. Amid all the sounding of trumpets and the hailing of the chief, however, there is something hollow about all this unseemly extravagance.