The Grand Show

Obama, the liberal darling of so many inside and beyond the US border, is the president under whose watch 2.5 million people were deported—more than any other US president in history and directly comparable to the "2.3 million" pledged by Trump.

Under Obama, the US has continued and excelled in its business-as-usual war, carnage and destruction the world over. But admittedly, under his watch this hell was now delivered with some impeccable puns, flawless speeches, making people feel warm inside and a sense of humility one can all relate to.

A superstar, a great showman of a President? But Trump is also those exact same things—perhaps in many ways more skilful than the Great Man himself: Trump read into the anguish of millions and tapped into it.

Trump is the logical culmination of a culture that commenced with Obama: a complete and utter reliance upon the single showman (and yes, it will be a man) as the narrator of a democratic apparatus that has come to conceal itself behind the mother of all TV shows: the US Presidency.

A narrator that now so easily obstructs, behind the cleverest of jokes or the most infuriating of bigoted statements, what is a plain and simple truth: that sovereignty and all regimes, democratic or otherwise, do not hang in the balance as well-humoured or addictively infuriating men in suits come and go. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And the greatest trick the Democratic Apparatus ever pulled was convincing the world that it is to be replaced at the People's Will : convincing the world that an electoral swing may somehow shut down Guantanamo Bay, that it may drop the numbers of the world's largest prison population, that it may bring less war or carnage. And just before anyone has had the time to call on the con artist, the next one has already jumped on stage : sombre or delirious, the show must go on.

Despite and against people's effort to live their lives, it tramples over their sisters and their brothers in Guantanamo Bay, in the homeless camps, in the skid rows of inner US cities, inside prisons and beyond their thick walls, at the razor wire of the border and beyond it, at the refugee camps that have been popping up around the world faster than one can say "The new president is an affront to liberal democratic values". These values now matter less than a well-delivered pun.

There is some impeccably delivered irony in the fact that Obama's last international stop before handing to Trump is Athens. It is as if he is paying homage to the Syriza debacle, a symbolic affirmation that no matter what the intentions, any attempt to soothe—let alone transform power "from within" is doomed to a sitcom-like spectacle of representation. A spectacle that would be hilarious if it was not deadly, a spectacle that can only be fought by supporting life in the struggle against its representation.

Vol. 49, No.24, Dec 18 - 24, 2016