Not Again (or Again AND Again!)
I don’t know how many people, like me, lived through the political era of Nixon, Watergate, and the Vietnam War, but if you did, these days are even more profoundly discouraging than usual. The cliche about reliving history the second time as farce is part of it (though it’s way too barbaric and bloody to be merely farce), but there’s also the bizarro funhouse inverse world that so much of the spectacle seems content to reproduce so blithely.
I’ve been feeling kinda blue lately, and haven’t really been able to put my finger on why. A good friend called last week, rather distraught and admitted that she’d been unnerved by the London bombings. I don’t really react directly to such horrors, or I don’t think I do. But maybe I have a delayed reaction sometimes. In the case of the London bombings there’s the obvious disparity between the intense horror at the barbarism of such an attack and the rather calm, matter-of-fact tolerance of the everyday news out of Iraq which consists of much the same level of mayhem. So I can’t get too worked up about the London story as somehow so much more terrible than any other part of the madness in the world, especially considering that it’s so plainly connected.
The story about the young “British lads” who did the bombing underscores the desperate anger and despair the million Pakistani and other South Asians living in the “homeland” feel. I can only wonder how long before such despair shows up here in equally desperate ways. I’m still surprised we haven’t been bombed in the Bay Area yet, whether by Islamic vanguardists or Christian zealots from the hinterlands. I frustrate my sweetheart with my certainty that the Evangelical brownshirts are going to arrive one day.
It’s weirdly easy to see the current pseudo-polarization at the level of the spectacle eventually taking a much more real form in our daily lives. A glance at the map confirms that the Civil War is still brewing, many of the old regional antagonisms based on racism/slavery having been fanned from embers to small flames by years of covert (coded) and overt appeals to fear and loathing. The so-called patriotism and piety of the Christian right is a barely concealed xenophobia and vicious racism that expresses itself with vitriolic homophobia and misogyny domestically and bloodlust for war beyond the national borders. I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before these new Crusaders arrive as actual soldiers in our streets.
That’s a bit of a longer term concern, like in a few years probably. But meanwhile, there’s this insane echo going on as Karl Rove and the Cheney regime reproduce the last days of the Nixon Administration, as though following a script. It’s been so obvious and predictable for the whole time that Bush has been president that Rove would eventually be revealed as a madman, our very own Joseph McCarthy, and that someday there would be a trial or a hearing that would finally destroy him and show him as the blubbering, venal criminal he is. I, and I’m sure many others, have had my doubts that anything like ‘justice’ would ever be applied to Rove and the rest of the gang of war criminals running the government. I still do. But at least during this summer news cycle, it is looking like he’s finally going down, and pretty soon too. We’ll see how it looks after the nuclear battle over the Supreme Court. Wouldn’t be too surprising if Rove is still sitting ugly with a new braindead lunatic on the court by the early fall… but then again, maybe the prosecutor will slam him with a half dozen felony charges and he’ll fall apart in court, the regime will crumble without its Rasputin, and the whole house of cards they’ve built will finally collapse.
And then? Democrats? Surely you jest? This Armageddonish regime will probably not get on a helicopter and fly away to ignominy. The palpable insanity they demonstrate EVERY DAY is so out of touch with reality that it’s all too easy to imagine really dire acts that take a huge number of people and institutions down with them.
It reminds me more of the collapse of the Soviet Union than anything in American history. The disconnect between represented truth and reality is growing wider all the time. I’ve spent way too many hours this past week perusing my favorite websites for news and info, plus waking up to listen to Amy Goodman’s incredibly bleak Democracy Now most mornings. It’s one of the ongoing oddities of our lives that so many people do so much earnest work around telling the “truth” and getting the news out, debunking the blatant lies and overt barbarism of the rulers, and it makes barely a dent in the prevailing stories told in the MSM. But a failing military occupation, rising demoralization, economic hollowing out and unsustainable debts, baldfaced lies repeated 24/7 as truth, a hegemonic mass media that brooks no dissent, it all just cries out “Soviet Union 1988″… we haven’t had our Chernobyl yet, but maybe it’ll be the 10th severe hurricane of the extended season? Widespread coastal flooding? Collapse of the public health system in the face of a new epidemic? Or will we see a moment when the Cheneyites are toddering at the edge of the precipice and as there seems to be no place for them to turn, THEN the newly militarized Christian right rises and seizes a huge swath of North America and imposes their theocratic nightmare? The 40 million tightly organized and heavily armed Christian lunatics probably will see a general collapse as their clarion call for armed uprising.
Sheesh! Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a catastrophist. I can more easily imagine muddling along quite a while with nothing really changing that much. Hell, that’s what’s been happening all these years isn’t it? But it’s really hard to wrap our heads around how much things have been changing, and how likely the deeper dynamics underway will go off the rails for any of a number of reasons. This is clearly a transitional time historically, between the post Cold War beginning and the new world system that will emerge from the wreckage of the U.S. attempt to utterly control everything. I enjoyed reading James Fallows piece in the Atlantic, mostly just because it gives a quite plausible set of events that would bring on the end of this period. The end of this period, though, is going to wreck a lot of lives and be a lot less comfortable for many people than it is now. Then again, the rest of the world is already living that life, and it seems only just that the beneficiaries in the U.S. would eventually get a taste of what’s been dealt out in their name all these years.
Still, the question we ought to be asking rarely enters the picture. How can we planetary residents make a really great life for all of us? Isn’t that within our skills and talents and potential? Why aren’t we focused on finding the balance between autonomy and interdependence that would guarantee good food, community security, sufficient medical care, transit and communications to EVERYONE? How can a grassroots democratic alternative appropriate the technosphere for human wellbeing instead of warfare? How can a grassroots democratic alternative defeat militaristic vanguards (whether they control a state or not?)… how can we get real discussions to be meaningful in the face of fake news, celebrity culture, and a global system of war and barbarism?
I know! I’ll start a blog….