And the people cheered, not because they did not understand, but because they wanted that death through the death of others. Like a will to wager everything you have every hand, to stake your own death against the death of others, and measure everything by “deleometers.”
I watched only four speeches at the Republican convention — Thompson’s, Giuliani’s, Palin’s, and McCain’s — and I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve just witnessed a well-lit, hood-free Klan rally. Those are some creepy people. Trying to remember what exactly was so disturbing, I skimmed through the transcripts of those speeches. But there’s nothing in them that’s all that different from usual U.S. political discourse. None of it was overtly or newly fascistic, which is what I was really looking for. In fact, I don’t think the speakers invoked America any more than the Democrats did. But the Republican tone was decidedly more nationalist and nasty. Part of this was the constant conjuring of the rightness of smalltown values and disparaging of cosmopolitanism, part of it was the snarling derision of foreign countries. But mostly the fascistic tone was just that, a tone, an affective pitch: the gratuitous details of McCain’s war injuries, the constant chants of “USA! USA!”, the caustic boos for Obama and Osama and Russia and anything foreign, the lusty cheers followed by solemn silences anytime the U.S. military was mentioned. Admittedly, this is the stuff of all political conventions, but the difference is that Republicans build their politics exclusively on a foundation of ressentiment. Democrats may constantly turn to nationalism, but they do actually seem to love their country (not that that endears them to me), which is why they “hope” to “change” it. But what Republicans call patriotism is nothing but the wish for the death of others.