Obama is the epitome of what conventional success is: You work hard, study, aim to reach the highest step of the ladder all your life only to realize that the ladder is a stool your corporate overlords rest their feet on.
As a president, he did everything he was supposed to do. But the problem is that what he’s ‘supposed’ to do is highly amoral and evil. He was charismatic and hip. He also slaughtered countless innocent civilians abroad by drone attacks. He was understanding and diplomatic. He also repealed the habeas corpus and gave the NSA free rein, practically. He pushed for same-sex marriage and resisted the spread of hatred. He also upped the ante in wars abroad.
I’ve been torn between loving his charisma that seems genuine and seeing his true colours. I don’t like to thrash someone for their ill-advised actions, but experience has taught me to give more credit to people’s actions. So is Obama a good guy or a bad guy?
I tried to understand this by seeking a parallel relevance in quantum mechanics. Some of the thought experiments that could be used as literary devices are the Copenhagen Interpretation and Schrödinger’s cat. The former is as follows:
The Copenhagen interpretation was first posed by physicist Niels Bohr in 1920. It says that a quantum particle doesn’t exist in one state or another, but in all of its possible states at once. It’s only when we observe its state that a quantum particle is essentially forced to choose one probability, and that’s the state that we observe. Since it may be forced into a different observable state each time, this explains why a quantum particle behaves erratically.This state of existing in all possible states at once is called an object’s coherent superposition. The total of all possible states in which an object can exist – for example, in a wave or particle form for photons that travel in both directions at once – makes up the object’s wave function. When we observe an object, the superposition collapses and the object is forced into one of the states of its wave function.¹
So, here Niels Bohr is presupposing that an atom is everything at once until you observe it, at which point the coherent superposition collapses and the atom assumes a certain state. Erwin Schrödinger, a contemporary quantum physicist to Bohr, disagreed with the Copenhagen Interpretation. To showcase the absurdity of the coherent superposition, he devised an equally absurd experiment he called Schrödinger’s Cat. Though this was supposed to debunk the thought experiment, many erroneously assumed he supported it.
Schrödinger wanted people to imagine that a cat, poison, a geiger counter, radioactive material, and a hammer were inside of a sealed container. The amount of radioactive material was minuscule enough that it only had a 50/50 shot of being detected over the course of an hour. If the geiger counter detected radiation, the hammer would smash the poison, killing the cat. Until someone opened the container and observed the system, it was impossible to predict if the cat’s outcome. Thus, until the system collapsed into one configuration, the cat would exist in some superposition zombie state of being both alive and dead.
Of course, Schrödinger claimed, that was ridiculous. Quantum superposition could not work with large objects such as cats, because it is impossible for an organism to be simultaneously alive and dead. Thus, he reasoned that the Copenhagen Interpretation must be inherently flawed. ²
What does quantum physics have to do with Obama? Well, it’s unfathomable that someone with moral integrity could exist in the upper echelons of such an exploitative and ruthless system. So unfortunately, while it may appear that Obama was all about the swag and smiles, his Ivy League education and campaign trails provided him with plenty of chances of seeing the establishment for what it is, and he pushed on. His aim was to kill with a smile.
The benefactors of a system – any hegemony – will not give anyone with a real shot at threatening it a chance.
They’ll be offed like JFK, like MLK, like Malcolm X.
Freedom of the people is sacrificed for corporate greed. Money is taken from the poor to afford fat bonus checks. The legislation is made around the corporate interests. What doesn’t benefit is lobbied away. After the financial crisis that the bankers caused, millions of innocent around the world were impacted. Many lost their homes and jobs. Who was it that was bailed? Why, the bankers of course. On top of getting away with felonies, they got rewarded to the tune of $16.8 TRILLIONS. They literally are beyond reproach.
“We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success”, defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.”
— Chris Hedges (Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle)