And Another Thing

America And The Lessons Of The 21st Century

I think that when the USSR finally fell, as it would have eventually regardless of what we did, IMO, the US felt vindicated, being the only remaining “superpower”, but not so much for reasons of democracy and self-rule, but for reasons of economics: Capitalism had crushed Communism. But Capitalism, left to itself, can also crush democratic self-rule, because the nature of unregulated capitalism is for wealth to flow upwards.

But the neoconservatives, the ones who foisted Afghanistan and Iraq on us, never understood how big a role “soft power” played in defeating Communism. They assume American military might alone did it, but they are wrong, just as the USSR was wrong in thinking they could use military force to get their way.

What the USSR couldn’t give people is a sense of fun, being happy for the sake of being happy. There could never be a Beatles in Russia because the State was entirely preoccupied with preserving its own power above all else, and as we saw, once enough people got fed up with the whole thing, the system fell apart. Not that what replaced it is much better.

Capitalism has the same problem, which by the way is why Liberalism, Socialism and Communism came into being in the first place. “Work ’till you die” for the benefit of a very few wealthy people is no foundation on which to build a society. We learned this lesson before, it seems it’s one we will have to keep learning over and over again.

Which is why, of course, I’m a liberal. I love the good things that capitalism brings us, I love the variety of products, I love the idea of being part of a system that not only protects my political rights, but makes those rights meaningful by giving me the economic freedom to make my own choices. But left to itself, capitalism will strip those freedoms away bit by bit so that a few people, whose only skill is the acquisition and retention of wealth, can dominate us both politically and economically. What’s happening in West Virginia now is a perfect example of that, a state government colluding with a private company that is casually poisoning its own citizens for the sake of profits, and sadly, they still have the support of many of those citizens who have been made to believe that economic freedom is the only freedom that exists, and that money is the only meaningful measurement of success. Propaganda, unfortunately, works all too well. Maybe that’s changing, we’ll see.

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Peasantry

The human body needs air, food and water to live. Take any one of those out of the equation………..and you die. It’s that simple.

So it’s a wonder to me that states allow corporations to poison our lands, poison our air or poison our fresh water supply, showing a complete disregard for human life, all in the name of profit.

Corporate industrial pollution is a crime against humanity. For states to allow it is suicide.

Brandon From Brooklyn

No no no, you’re forgetting the Second Principle of conservative thought: Money and Power are the only things that are real. Air, water, food, clothing and shelter, these are only things you obtain with that money and power.

Never mind anything else, that’s the mindset. It’s always about the acquisition and retention of wealth and power, period. The First Principle of conservative thought is justification: Some People Are Better Than Others. The Second Principle is application, the third, The World Ends When You Die is arrogance: a disdain for any future above and beyond your lifetime. Because as long as you have what you have, what happens after you die is of no concern, apart from whatever legacy you hope to leave behind.

Sadly, most of the people being poisoned in the name of the Second Principle continue to hurt only themselves by supporting these policies and politicians under the false impression that the 1% earned what they have and the rest deserve their fate. Maybe some honestly believe that if they work hard enough they too can be one of the 1%, but at this point that has to just be a delusion, as it should be very clear by now that that just isn’t going to happen.

That’s the difference between a medieval agrarian mindset and an modern industrial mindset. A peasant can never be a King, but a free citizen can have a good life without being either. It’s harder work, being a free citizen, but it’s definitely more worth it.

Our Stupid Minds!

“A friend once asked if it was true that no politician ever failed by underestimating the intelligence of the peasants and the livestock. I told him we would never know, because their intelligence was something that was impossible to underestimate.”

-President Weishaupt, from Cerebus The Aardvark

I read about a lot of people who are surprised and amazed when they hear some of the things said by Republican politicians these days. While obviously there are serious reasons that one political party will oppose another, there’s a difference between an honest disagreement and an opposition that’s based on no facts whatsoever. Like the idea that President Obama was born in Kenya, or that he’s a Muslim: that both of those statements are undeniably false means nothing: they validate the hatred of the President and that’s all that matters. As Im so fond of saying, discussing politics with some of these people is like discussing baseball with someone who is absolutely and unwaveringly certain that Babe Ruth played shortstop for the Chicago Cubs in the nineteen-fifties, it’s that far removed from reality. And it really becomes pointless to even try to talk to them.

My usual answer when I read about these comments from politicians is that if you think they’re idiots, you have yet to meet their constituents. I saw a video of a town hall meeting where one lady was saying with absolute certainty that the President was bringing Muslim terrorists into the country as pilots, which was a new one on me. She didn’t make this up herself, on further research it seems this was a story going around on the B-level right wing talk circuit, but it’s a perfect example of how people will believe the most ridiculous things if it concurs with their already existing prejudices.

Lincoln famously said that the Union could not exist half slave and half free, it’s also true that the Union cannot exist when half the population, or half the elected officials, is batshit crazy.  Because crazy they surely are, and I for one don’t entirely understand the motivations behind some of the things they do. Granted, for the ones perpetuating these stories, most of it is just a scam, an advancement of things that televangelists have been doing for ages to separate the rubes from their money. If you don’t believe me, watch an hour or so of a show like The 700 Club, if you can bear it. We’re all in danger, send money is what it always boils down to, and there are no end to the assorted threats and dangers, when one is forgotten there is a new one: we have always been at war with Eastasia, etc.. That it comes from a private organization and not the government doesn’t make much difference. Of course victory can never be achieved, if it did, the gravy train would stop, and you can’t have that.  So I can at least understand the desire to catapult the propaganda, what I don’t really understand is why, time and time again, the marks fall for it.

I recall many many years ago I watched a documentary about the origins of the religious right as a political organization in the US, and apparently they began to organize politically when President Carter was preparing to order the Justice Department to investigate some of these scams. Because of that the hucksters learned how to organize politically, and thanks to massive amounts of funding from individuals like the Koch brothers (who aren’t associated with the religious right but on whose vote they require in order to pursue their own agenda), as well as the gerrymandering of numerous congressional districts that ensure the craziest of crazy people can say pretty much whatever they want without fear of the consequences, we have a situation where this country is very much in danger of falling apart completely.

At Cooper Union, Lincoln correctly pointed out that the slave states would never be convinced that the free states had no intention of ending slavery, which of course they did not. Many businesses relied on slavery for their business just as much as the slave states relied on it for their economy.  Most people of the day in fact believed that slavery would continue, that some sort of deal would be made, and many in the free states even sympathized with the slave states to an extent, and had no more love for slaves than the antebellum South. That all changed when Fort Sumter was fired upon, and Lincoln was proved right: only through bloody war were the slave states brought to bay, and even so, to this day, they remain absolutely convinced of their righteousness, ignoring the facts of history and looking forward to the day when the “South will rise again”.

A country cannot be allowed to go this crazy without consequences, and I believe one of two things has to happen in order for us to return to any reasonable sense of normalcy: a massive political revolt along the lines of the New Deal, when things get so bad that tremendous changes need to be made not just to how we do government but to how we perceive our daily lives, or that sort of change has to come from without, from an outside force moving in to make these changes for the safety of the rest of the world. I think that will be more of an economic struggle than a military one, but we’ll see. I think such a thing is inevitable, just a matter of when, and I wonder if it will happen in my lifetime.

Until then, I will remain unsurprised by any of the stupid things being said or done by the Republican Party.

Happiness

Image

This little comic shared by someone on Facebook recently kinda got to me, because it’s so simple and happy. There’s so much cynicism in the world today, so much negativity about who we are and what’s happening to us, not just in America but all over the world, except for a very few places that seem to have figured out that it’s not always about money.

Even the stuff that is supposed to be uplifting comes across to me as either creepy Randian “success” stories or syrupy, condescending twaddle. I was starting to watch a documentary on PBS about North Korea and I just had to turn it off, it was so disturbing to me.  And as much as I feel for the people who live there, I also feel for the people of West Virginia, who for years have enthusiastically voted for people who have, for decades, been poisoning them. And I have very little confidence that things will change: like alcoholics, it’s not something that can be imposed from without, it has to come from within, and after so many years I just don’t know if they’re capable of understanding that there’s no honor in suffering.

I wish things were that simple, that life wasn’t such a hardship for so many reasons. It doesn’t have to be this way, but we work so hard in making it that way that you wonder if this is what people really want: to work at jobs that make them miserable, to watch TV shows that are primarily about people screaming at each other or ridiculing people who are less fortunate, to take pleasure when they see someone else suffering. To literally take food away from children and just throw it away. This isn’t happening in some Third World country like North Korea, it’s happening here, and there’s absolutely no reason for it.

Something has to change, and what makes me sad is that it will either take so long that I won’t be around to see it, or that the change itself will be worse than what we have now. And what makes me sadder is that we bring it on ourselves.

If the circus was in town, maybe I’d go. If I could borrow a couple of bucks from someone!