Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Where are we headed?

I have been doing a bit of reading this morning. The general topic has been the economy, with emphasis on Keynesianism versus neoclassicism economics, joblessness, healthcare reform, education and global warming. Mixed into nearly every aspect of these discussions has been the recurrent theme of wing-nuts (aka right-wing whackos, crazies, “birthers”, gun-totin' rednecks, etc). The articles themselves have been reasonably circumspect with regard to the manner in which these fringe folks are discussed. Nonetheless, the continuous reminders, that we are a nation with a large minority of folks who believe a long list of provably wrong, counter-productive, destructive, often hateful and/or racist, falsehoods, are very disturbing. Equally disturbing is the recurrent theme in comments I have been reading all morning.

This theme is one of deep concern for the future of our country. A large number of us understands reasonably well what we face as a people, both nationally and as a species. We know at least some of what needs to be done. We are aware of our own inertia, and of the larger inertia of those less informed. We are aware of the vast inertia of a corporate hegemony which overshadows every corner of our lives. Yet I think we are most disheartened by, and most fearful of, the wing-nuts.

In small groups and communities, we can begin to implement smart changes in our behavior and practices. In so doing, we can interest others in what we are doing. Not so many years ago, I was among the less informed. I am no great enlightened soul today, but I understand much more than I did a decade ago.

Even corporate behemoths can be swayed with incentives which offer profits while also benefiting the greater good. It's a really tough nut to crack, but there are logical and rational steps which can erode away resistance little by little.

Irrational beliefs based on fear, hatred, and spite - conversely - create a foe that is nearly impossible to overcome. Those who are actively whipping up these lies and stoking the fears and hatreds that are their fertile ground, are playing with a fire that is very deadly. I believe these men and women (I will avoid naming them by name here - that's for my other blog) are engaged in this rabble rousing because they believe it is the surest way to regain and/or enhance political and economic power for those whose interests they serve (monied interests by and large). I cannot see these tactics ultimately succeeding in bringing about those ends.

Unfortunately I don't believe this because I think their hate-mongering will fail. On the contrary; I believe it has created an unstoppable juggernaut. But two things are inevitable: First, hate-filled mobs may act with apparent cooperation with their creators initially, but they inevitably attain a life of their own, and develop a powerful tendency toward acting out the violence favored by the most fringe-dwelling among them. This is what occurred with the Hutus in Rwanda, as they slaughtered one million of their Tutsi neighbors in 1994. The genocide started with talk radio during troubled economic times.

Secondly, a new generation of progressive thinkers was either born or reborn as a result of the first two presidential terms of this century. Having had its life kindled, this movement will not lie quietly down and fade back into obscurity. Even now, thousands of supporters of the current administration are mounting protests against that administration as it kowtows to the entrenched powers that have come to believe (with apparent accuracy) that they, and not the people, own our government. The youth movement of the sixties dissolved as that generation matured and as our country avoided any major wars for a time. I don't believe the current progressive movement will fade in any similar fashion. For one thing, this movement is of much more age diversity, so maturity will not suffice to soften its edges. Additionally, we are not currently being appeased by "getting our way." The "Change We Can Believe In" has morphed into "Cosmetics which Mimic Change."

In the meantime, our adversaries are being told that all that dreaded change really is occurring. The country is heading headlong down a spiraling path toward Socialism. The government is going to control everything we do. And all this nefarious treason is being perpetrated by a black man who isn't even a legal citizen.

This is a powder keg. This will not simply diffuse into quiescence as news cycles meander on and away. Violence is inevitable, I believe. I'd rather not believe it. I have no wish for it. I don't believe our union will survive this violence. I don't know what will survive it, but it won't be the same country with the same inviolate constitution. The best outcome I can imagine will be the dissolution of our country into two new countries. The worst outcome (well, I guess nuclear destruction would be the worst outcome, but second to that) would be a collapse into third-world decay. In between could be some benign amiable post-empire existence such as in the United Kingdom or Portugal. But neither of these countries ever contained anything like the schism currently afflicting (and I believe, destroying) our country.

I just hope I find myself in the right place when new borders are drawn. Something tells me the authoritarian half of the split isn't going to be very tolerant of folks like me.

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