Nation columnist Katrina vanden Heuvel (she will never be taken for a NASCAR follower) was in an exceptionally high dudgeon just the other day. (November 30, 2011) “We need a transformational presidency, able to smash the failed, entrenched and corrupt politics of the center. That standard isn’t some perfectionism perennially demanded by disappointed liberals. It is required by the times. And what this nation desperately needs isn’t partisan unity, but a fierce and growing movement that will challenge not just the wing nuts of the right, but an establishment in both parties that has failed the country.”
I was struck by the Stalinist style, particularly her call for someone to “smash” the old, corrupt capitalist order. Well, she did not say “capitalist” but perhaps that was an oversight. After all, she is writing for The Nation. What a moralizing Pharisee this woman is. “We need… this nation desperately needs…..” Who exactly is the “we”? It’s all of us, I suppose. But only a cognitively gifted few can comprehend how really ugly things are, and more importantly, who is responsible for the mess and what action “is required by the times.” Ah yes, she will have us know that she is not one of those whiny, disappointed, self-deluded liberals. She has firmly grasped what is “required” (What is to be Done? as Lenin put it). The Nation scribblers are among those immaculate few who stand far above the corruption, the greed, the failure, in sum, all that unpleasant, unnecessary stuff that you expect to accumulate when the right wingers and the centrists end up in charge. If only they were.
What then is it that she thinks we all “desperately” need? Someone, actually, a President, who is up for some serious smashing, a “transformational” sort of guy or gal. The idea of a “smasher-in-chief” might make a good portion of the electorate inclined toward the “wing nuts” a bit nervous as they try to guess exactly who is going to get smashed and what it might feel like. Many of the unenlightened might be quite happy with a modest improvement of the status quo, better employment opportunities, for example, but Ms. vanden Heuvel wants a fierce and growing movement.” To do what? Challenge a failed establishment.
Transformation” is 21st century Stalinese for “revolution.” The old order as she notes is entrenched. It must be overthrown, smashed, transformed. The premise embedded in this screed is that politics is war. One does not argue with, respect, or engage the opposition. It is corrupt and cannot be redeemed. This premise has always been the foundation of Bolshevik intellectuals.