Monday, November 22, 2010


The number of times "moderate" or "reasonable" pundits and editorial writers have used the concept of "balance," as in locutions such as "well the left and the right in this country both need to ..." etc. etc. has surely now reached numerical realms beyond ordinary comprehension.  I wonder when this fact will itself begin to ground some inchoate judgment, even later coalescing into an actual editorial marker in the blue-pencil list of places not to go, at which moment we will begin to be spared, at least at the places which still have some concern for editing and writing in and of itself, further lectures on "balance."  If this tipping point does in fact develop, at that moment we can use appeals to "balance" as indicators that we are reading not simple opinions, but propaganda.  At this moment, the propagandists hide in amongst the banal, making judgment more difficult.  For myself, I'm now suspicious of any appeal to "balance." 

It used to be a sensible thought.  In ordinary life, all of us have our point of view, and we all would do well to respect this fact, and give a listen to what each person has to offer.  No one, after all, can see the future, or understand everything about a situation.  Buy?  Sell?  And that's a metaphor of course.  But in our political life, it seems to me that "balance" has come to allow an ever shifting center point, as the Right pushes harder and harder to the right.  We are close to a moment, for example, when people who are basically just maintaining a perspective of common sense--such as Keith Olbermann--are being marginalized out of existence in the way that genuine Marxists already have been marginalized out of existence--at least in the discourse of political life at the "mainstream" level.  According to some congressmen, NPR is now "Marxist."  Oh really?  The Car Guys?  Garrison Keillor?  Saturday NPR's Morning Edition featured a segment on bird watching so "in depth" as to eventually cause me to simply turn off the radio entirely.  Leftist?  No, it was just too much detail, too rich a portrait of what bird watchers actually do of a morning.  Yet possibly some right wing climate denier somewhere was fulminating on the "touchy-feeliness" of the segment, and checking even this bland portrait of people who obsess about birds as yet another example of how the Left is influencing our energy policy with emotional appeals. 

Yes, there once was a Weather Underground.  But these days the balancing of Right Wing appeals to "Second Amendment Solutions" occurs when large numbers of somewhat formerly engaged young people turn back to their more interesting social lives and don't bother to vote at all in an election which returns the Foxes to the Henhouse.  That is, "balance" these days is a ploy, and aims, with significant success, to effect a soporific fugue-state.  The "system" will and must always be flawed, because money is power, and the powerful always have a louder voice.  This is the context within which all of our feeble efforts at effecting progress and democratic change must of necessity occur. 

No comments:

Post a Comment