Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thomas Frank

Just saw this piece by Thomas Frank (the same TF by whom I included a couple of essays as suggested readings for the Adorno unit) on B. Clinton, B. Obama, the Democrats, and the politics/rhetoric of "hope":


  1. Reading this piece immediately brought to mind that most famous Marx quote, "It (religion) is the opiate of the people." Perhaps the "hope" rhetoric is a current version of that. I think Frank is absolutely spot on in calling out Democrats on their rhetoric.

    (Begin rant.) It also reminds me of the gratitude crap I see on Facebook all the time, which to me can mean two things. One, either someone is bragging about how good they have it, or two, someone is placating themself when their life is miserable.(End rant.)

    Also implied in the rhetoric of "hope" is that there is something you need to hope your way out of. In that way, the rhetoric of hope is a form of prayer. You don't really need "hope" if all is hunky-dory and your bright (economic) future is assured. As Frank writes, "If you think good thoughts long enough, maybe someday you’ll get that million bucks, or that single-payer healthcare system."

    Call it hope ("there'll be pie in the sky when you die"), it's essentially placating and induces passivity. I'll vote for this guy and things will get better, I have something to hope for, however abstractly that is expressed. Frank points out that "once upon a time it meant something similar for Marxists," but to my mind it's a secular manifestation of religious thinking.

  2. In this article I think Frank hit his mark. Yes, as a world to lead by, “Hope” is useless. Frank is right, it holds no accountability, no action plan. “Hope” has no context nor does it have any end point. How can one evaluate “Hope”?

    Frank’s aggression against the ambiguity (not the “audacity”) of hope is warranted. Our elected officials achieve nothing. They pass not legislation, they cost the government money while they complain about wasted government money.

    It seems like Frank is saying that we cannot depend on our government to police itself, left to their own devices they concoct “Hope” as an immigration policy while hoping that someone else will come along and fix the problem. This is a clear rhetorical push, on Franks part, against deregulation. He requires more structure, or rather more explanation.


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