Monday, September 20, 2010

Safety Valves and "Door Close" Buttons

A friend tells me that Zizek has remarked somewhere that U.S. elections are rather like the "door close" button in elevators. They don't actually do anything, but they give the person pushing them the idea that they're doing something to better their situation.

The older metaphor I've heard is that of the safety valve. That's basically what elections are in a society like ours with two factions of one business party; they are a way of allowing people who are frustrated with the system, who desperately want change, to blow off some steam so that they don't actually challenge the system itself. If that isn't a perfect fit for the Obama phenomenon in 2008 I don't know what is.

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