Monday 16 November 2020

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce?


November 2008, Barack H. Obama II was elected POTUS, amidst enormous popular good will. The first black American elected to that office, Obama inherited the top job as the United States was experiencing the first stages of the Great Recession (or Second Great Depression, depending on your perspective).

One was witnessing history in the making, American talking heads sympathetic to the Democratic Party gushed (occasionally one would hear that “demography is destiny”). Many, in the US and abroad, shared those experts’ enthusiasm.


It was the victory of hope or change one could believe in; the start of post-racial US.


Twelve years later:



“Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really!?” - Joe Biden.
Barring the unexpected, Joseph R. Biden Jr. will inherit the top job as the US faces the simultaneous COVID-19, recession, and climate change crises. He doesn’t count with much good will, neither within nor without the Democratic Party.

I could not help but remember Marx’s often quoted lines:
“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

I’m not sure, however, which of these two elections was the tragedy and which was the farce.

Time will tell, I suppose. That’s what I fear.


But let’s close this in a conventionally positive note. Barring the unexpected, the US Democratic Party already achieved the only goal uniting its diverse constituency: to remove and humiliate Donald Trump.

And millions of black and brown girls all over the world may feel inspired by Kamala Harris. Whoever said identity politics never achieved anything?

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