Results tagged “Elias Canetti” from onegoodmove

Seizing A Moment

contributed by Charles Lemos

It was interesting to read the comments to my post on how Obama fits the paradigm of Elias Canetti from last week, Crossing the Mara. I took some time in fashioning a coherent reply so I apologize for the lapse of time. I should say first that there were some very good comments. Tim’s, I think, was the best but there were others as well. I also want to thank JPaul for his kind words throughout this debate. The aim was, of course, to foster to discussion among the readership. I am not sure that I accomplished my objective as fully as I would have liked but I do think a more than a few people engaged in fruitful and frank exchanges.

One thing I failed to mention in the piece, which I regret, is that Obama, Clinton and Edwards all started out as reversal crowds. This is the crowd that stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789. The reversal crowd is one that is looking to reverse a situation. In this case, the aim is to win the Presidency for the Democratic Party, not to storm a prison but the psychology of the crowd is the same according to Canetti. What I think some of you missed by me not stating this explicitly is that only a portion of the Obama crowd is morphing into a baiting crowd. How large I am not sure. But it is large and growing. And Obama, whether consciously or unconsciously, uses the language that one hears in a baiting crowd. That may be unpleasant to state but it is a fact if Canetti is right which I think he is. (You should read what he has to say about Shi’ites remembering he wrote in 1962, not 2002).

Go on Free Republic and read their opinions of Al Gore and global warming or John McCain for that matter. That is a baiting crowd in action. What Lawrence O’Donnell wrote about John Edwards and what Guy Saperstein wrote were two other example of a baiting crowd psychology. And the only way to respond to these attacks is to call them on it. And I did (the links are in the Crossing the Mara piece). Those were attacks carried out by Obama surrogates. That does taint Obama to some degree I am sorry to say. Obama’s emotive rhetoric is pushing ordinary people to do things that they would not otherwise do or say, some of it good and some of it not so good. And I feel obliged to respond to the not so good.

I thought the opening to Senator Obama’s speech was brilliant. He sounded Presidential, however I soured quickly. The “I love you” from a member of the crowd fits my paradigm. He is a larger than life figure who can do no wrong and who they will follow to the ends of the Earth. I admire John Edwards but I do not agree with him on everything either and I am certainly not going to throw my panties at him. Then came the exhortations from Obama that give me so much trouble and confirm my skepticism. You hear Barack Obama; I hear Juan Domingo Peron, Francisco Franco, Rafael Trujillo, or Gustavo Rojas Pinilla (whom I actually heard live as a boy of ten because my grandfather wanted me to hear what should frighten me) among others.

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Crossing the Mara-Mara

contributed by Charles Lemos

Every decision is liberating, even if it leads to disaster. Otherwise, why do so many people walk upright and with open eyes into their misfortune? –Elias Canetti

Canetti might have written that of wildebeests as they gleefully jump into the Mara-Mara on the their annual migration across the plains of Africa and often into the waiting jaws of a Nile crocodile. Why do they do it? Why do we do it?

Perhaps Americans being born here and not generally getting out much are not terribly well-suited to recognizing that something is indeed amiss even though it has happened before in American politics. Both Ronald Reagan, he of the Reagan coalition, and Richard Nixon, he of the silent majority, were masters of crowd psychology. Obama is no different. His politics may be different no doubt but his approach is the same.

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