oklahoma bombing

Kevin T. Mahoney ktmahone at mailbox.syr.edu
Sun Apr 23 12:00:26 MDT 1995


i don't know how many people are following the development of this
bombing, but there seems to be a lot going on in how this instance is
being used to reconfigure how domestic surveilance takes place, what is
legitimate, and in the reinvigoration of the "american way of life" as
clinton has stated in his recent press conferences.  clearly this is an
instance where there can be agreement that it was indeed a tragedy, what
troubles me is that how we understand the reasons for this action and the
kind of cultural meaning it is given, is by no means self-evident.  if
anything the way that this act is being deployed is as a moment of
cultural regroupment--where the american way of life is given new meaning
through the rhetoric of fear and threat.

furthermore, this incident has made me think quite a bit about the
ideological role of "crises" in the u.s. and capitalism more broadly.  it
seems that while many of us who consider ourselves to be marxists would
agree that crises are built into the dynamics of capitalism, i for one
have not really thought through how these crises--these eruptions of the
contradictions of capitalism--are systematically understood by the
bourgeois culture industry and bourgeois theorists.  watching the media
blitz around this crisis the alliance between the liberal and the
conservative are starkly present through the trope of ensuring the
"safety of the nation."  so i have been trying to make sense of how the
cultural machine is appropriating this event and putting it to the use of
strengthening the most conservative (not in the republican sense, but in
the conserving of the forces of capital) arguments for the american way
of life.

what is starkley missing from all accounts of this incident is a
consideration of the social/material conditions that would make this
event even thinkable.  this morning of "this week with david brinkley"
the explanation rested upon suggesting that the rise of the "citizens
militia" movements througout the country (several thousands of members
apparently) is the result of a few "kooks."  however, when they interview
the spokesperson for the michigan citizens militia, he was more informed
as to his rights under the constitution than the alarmist media
representatives---the alliance of george will, kokie roberts, david
brinkley and sam donaldson.

i am writing this more to open the question on this list--specifically on
how we as marxists move to make sense of this kind of event outside of
the dominant media common sense, that is how we put our vast theoretical
resources to work...

kt


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