Saturday, July 03, 2004

Who killed Kennedy?

Strange writing this on the eve of the Fourth of July, but I have some insights onto who killed Kennedy and why.

Sources come from some writings that the late Kerry Thornley did.

I see a paralell in how 9/11 was handled by the U.S. government and the Kennedy assasination cover up.

In both of them the point was to assert, in the face of huge challenges to the notion that everything is proceeding as normal, that, in fact, everything was ok and that there wasn't anything to see.

9/11 saw Bush repudiate the notion that there could have actually been reasons, not good reasons but reasons nonethless, why these people would have liked to attack us.

The Kennedy assasination cover up saw people desperately trying to assert that nothing out of the ordinary was going on in American power politics, that instead it was just some sort of lone nut who was pro-Communist who did the deed.

Both cases of wanting to assert continuity of government in situations where the legitimization of the state was challenged.

So who killed Kennedy and why? My theory is that it was Southern Democrats allied with the mob who wanted to kill Kennedy and that the reason had nothing to do with the "Myth of Camelot" but rather had to do with regaining power in the government from a northern, Republican-esque, actually conservative Democrat, and put power back into the hands of a Southern Democrat who didn't agree with the tactics that Kennedy was using to put forward his social programs...in other words Lyndon Johnson and his comrades.

What does it actually matter at this late of a date? Not much, really. The history of the world is littered with unfortunate palace coups and assasinations between elites trying to get control of a political system.

But in the case of the Kennedy assasination the big thing was that no one could know that a palace coup had occured, the country had to think that business as usual continued.

Now, I'm no fan of Kennedy. Although putting civil rights back on the agenda after huge popular protest basically forced him to do it was a good thing the refrain that follows Kennedy in my book is the same one that followed Lincoln.....it was a good thing but it was executed in an anti-democratic and authoritarian way which opened up the country to rule by a centralized beurocracy and actually ended up putting real change back several steps.

Johnson, taking Vietnam out of the picture, actually did far more for civil rights than Kennedy ever did and, on top of that, put together real anti-poverty programs, put together the first health insurance program, among other things, and he did it without top down tactics like Kennedy was using....but Johnson got into politics the hard way.
As one of the Bonannos said in an interview about the Kennedy assasination, people without resources in politics frequently have to become dirty to get anywhere. I'm not making any judgements about Johnson on this count since corruption is sort of a fact of life, and only people raised in England whose fathers were the ambassadors to the court of St. James have any moral standing to cast stones..but, see, that's the problem. With Kennedy and the myth of Kennedy purity comes the moral imperialism that went along with the Kennedy years, which was not a good thing, and which spawned a generation of liberal activists who thought that to improve society you had to cede more and more power to a State beurocracy who would then enforce reforms from the top down as opposed to the grass roots, populist, strategy of making reform from the bottom up.

That Southerners didn't like Kennedy is a given....one person reports on CounterPunch that the day Kennedy was shot the radio station in Birmingham Alabama joyously played "Dixie" in celebration.

So, there really isn't anything to gain from knowing who killed Kennedy at this date except a sort of well being gotten from knowing that a historical mystery has been solved. Camelot never existed and it's a good thing that the political style of Kennedy has been overthrown on the left and replaced by true grass roots movements.

In fact the legacy of the Kennedy years has been the prime obstacle for people in the anti-globalization and anarchist movements to overcome in order to get anywhere with asserting a progressive agenda: liberal politics before us largely consisted of giving the ACLU money and having them do the dirty work of filing legal briefs, backed by no grass roots constituancy, which attempted to change the system through a lawyerly Will-to-Power, as well as supporting groups and organizations whose only presence was on capitol hill.

It's funny, but the "idealism" of the Kennedy years has had zero influence on shaping the progressive politics of young people today. People look to other, previous, models for inspiration---like the Populist movement or the pre-WWII Communist movement, or to the turn of the century indigenous Anarchist movement or the Socialist movement or the Labor movement, etc... even going so far as to look at the experience of Spain during the Spanish Civil War to provide models to work from.

Back to the style of politics of Kennedy and Lincoln.

Some people say that after the Civil War people should have just imposed Reconstruction on the South by force and that would have solved all the problems. I beg to differ. The fact that legal segregation existed until the 1960s, when a grass roots movement of southern blacks led to its overthrow, indicates that you just can't go into a place and impose reform by fiat. It has to be done organically from inside the society itself.

Realistically, how could you overthrow the planter aristocracy in the South and ensure equality after the Civil War? These were the people who had the money and the power; pending a popular revolution it would have been inevitable that they would have the money and the power after the conflict ended. How could you do it except to blacklist everyone who ran the country...which would not work.

The northern Republican coalition was backed by industrial money in its
home turf; much like the National Republicans of the early 19th century it got legitamacy by being the party of money. That's how it could act by fiat in the North. In the South it had no such base and was in fact opposed by a power structure which was totally against that style of politics.

Maybe Radical Reconstruction could have carried through to a sort of organic black revolution in the South but the Republican party wasn't interested in that and I doubt that if Lincoln had continued on that he would have allowed the radical black reconstructionists to go through with their plans. But 20 20 hindsight imputes morality and ideas to Lincoln just as it did to Kennedy ignoring in both cases the Realpolitick which was at the heart of their programs.

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