The History of Tomorrow, Yesterday
If you read it back then, you might want to read it again now to see how my predictions of nearly two years ago have stood the test of time. If you didn't read it in early November of 2008, I invite you to read it in its entirety now. Not only did I describe with some degree of accuracy what has transpired in the two years since Barack Obama was elected President, but I went on to offer, at least in relatively general terms, what will happen beyond this particular period, when the Far Right is emerging as a clear political force becoming definable, recognizable, and potentially significant.
As an enticement to read the whole article, here is a brief excerpt:
Even though [Obama] has masterfully brought moderate conservatives to his camp in the course of his campaign for the presidency, they would be unlikely to continue supporting him for very long but for the consolidation of the Republican Party to the Right and, more ominously and importantly, to the extreme Right, that latter group being the people Sarah Palin is becoming more and more comfortable courting. Although she, herself, might or might not be as much of an extremist as the more vociferous of the attendees at her rallies, she has a native ability to entice them and to draw them to identify with her. As bad as she is when put on the spot by interviewers, she is every bit as good when she—by her words, her expressions, and her very voice—is in control of the narrative before a boisterous crowd. It is in those open, crowded, noisy venues that the enticement she hands out like candy from a basket teeters in a precarious but oddly stable balance on the precipice of incitement. She need not call the crowd to fury in order to make the constituents furious; she need not exhort the crowd to bitterness to make her supporters bitter; and, in the end, she would never have to remind her supporters of their growing rage to enrage them. Those people waving "Sarah Palin" signs know this campaign has turned remarkably bad for them: a man they do not want to be President will, in fact, be elected, and that means everything about him, from his color to his politics, is justifiably magnified, demonized, and then hated.When I ask students about the best way to predict the future, they usually answer with something about looking back at history for guidance. I tell them that way is not reliable; the best way to predict the future is to create it.
Whether by intent or otherwise, those in McCain's camp who championed his selection of Palin were bidding to transform Republicanism from a political party into a movement, a crucial step in the kind of resurgence from the fringe that European neo-fascists are now enjoying...
[T]here is every possibility that from the ashes of defeat the Republicans will suffer in the election rout three days from now will emerge a bitter fringe group looking for a leader, a cause, and some semblance of a coherent theme, if not a cogent (albeit illogical) philosophy: those are the ingredients for a movement to form. The circumstances that would foster the political articulation of that movement are, most unfortunately, almost inevitable. The economic catastrophe caused by the past nearly eight years of recklessly irresponsible taxation, spending, and monetary policies have placed the country on a collision course with nearly ruinous pain, and the Democrats, led by Barack Obama, will not have the courage (nor, quite possibly, the know-how) to stop the freight train of economic recession before it leads to appalling, debilitating consequences, not the least of which will be inflation once the labor market recovers well down the road. This will herald the resurgence of the Right and its financially muscular extremists as a political force, exactly as it has at previous times in other parts of the world, most notably, South and Central America.
The leader of the Resurgent Right could very well be Sarah Palin. The cause will be the revitalization of the United States. The theme will be overt nativism tinged by racism, with openly religious overtones...
My students like that bit of wisdom. I don't have the heart to tell them that not one of them will ever have the power to create the future. Given that I cannot tell them the certainty of our powerlessness, I cannot then take them directly to another good way of predicting the future.
Eventually, I get to it in an oblique manner, though. It's when I spend one lecture teaching them Leftist economics. In that hour, in summarizing the methods of Georg Hegel, in my most dramatic oratorical flair, I say this: "History is not about conflict; history is conflict!"
We are, as always, living in the moment of history at its well spring; but while history is the chronicle of victory and defeat, the moment of now is about opportunities lost and seized. Hence, the Hegelian view of dialectical processes driving societies forward through time must carry not a valence of good or bad, but of something far more ominous: historical inevitability.
Read the rest of my article, "Sarah Palin, All on Her Own," to learn about the inevitable.