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On Political Idealism in Our Time

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Here’s the thing: Most of my friends on the left are idealists. They believe that if they support and elect the right people we will have a just, egalitarian, and ecologically sound society. They have purity tests to decide on acceptable candidates. They blame the Democrats for being weak, or for being to corporate. They either think they can win at electoral politics merely by voting, or they think that the current system of global capitalism will be overthrown in a glorious revolution.

They can’t see that no matter whom they elect, none of those things will come to pass. The purist of hearts, if elected, would hurl themselves against a powerful and ancient system, only to be corrupted in turn, or destroyed.

I am not an idealist. There will be no revolution and if there were we would die in droves. The streets would run red with our blood, not the blood of the ruling class. Yes, we can march, for now. But, to the ones pulling the strings, destroying the planet and beggaring our children, this is a small annoyance, nothing more. We are insects to them.

They have always been with us, the parasitic aristocrats. They have run this country at other times, but perhaps never as completely as they do now. They hated the new deal, and the rise of civil rights. They are old school, and much better at statecraft then those who believe as we do.

They have planned long and well for this day. And they have won. At least for now.

For those who say the two parties are the same. that is not true. The Democratic Party is full of principled men and women who always prove to be ineffective at creating any real and lasting change. They have, over the last decades, managed to reign in the worst policies of the Republicans, a wholly owned subsidiary of the global capitalist class. But, they too believe in things like free trade being necessary to democracy and that privatization is good for everyone, and that we should show our good faith through compromise. They can’t see that this is tantamount to negotiating with terrorists. They believe these things because they want to be reasonable, and because these things are common wisdom. What they can’t see is that the common wisdom is merely a set of right wing capitalist talking points. It is like a fish not seeing what water is.

We can’t win because they have set the agenda. Because they have framed the debate. Because they have seized the narrative and corrupted it. And they have done this so thoroughly that their philosophy seems like common sense to most people.

You may think me a cynic, but I am not. Seeing clearly is not cynicism. No, I have very little hope for an immediate good end to this story. In time, the earth and her patterns will put a stop to it, but that will not help the 99.9 percent of humanity seeking relief from this psychopathic enterprise.

What then shall we do, if neither peaceful protest, armed revolt, or faith in the laws will do any good? For me it is simple. Be good. Do good where you can. Vote, of course, but don’t expect that to do much but fend off the worst. Act locally, and prepare to be self-sufficient. Grow food, and share. Live with grace, and walk in beauty, the beauty found in every day things. Love your family, your friends, your home, and your natural surroundings.

These are great forces, the turning of the great wheel. As Gandalf told Frodo, we do not get to choose our time, only how we acquit ourselves living in it. Love is a great force too. This is what I choose, as I have the power to do so. As do we all.

 

Is America Civilized?

December 30, 2017 3 comments

The American EagleThis government is free to behave any way it wants. It’s a rough unfair world, and there are plenty of terrible governments that rule by might alone. This government is free to enforce the wants of the very rich at the expense of the poor. It is free to wage war on the world, and to spy on everyone in the name of national security. It is free to force environmental degradation on its own people in the form of fracking, GMOs and a myriad of other practices that poison our land for the profit of the few. It is free to let policies stand that create an ever-widening income inequality. It is free to destroy the social safety net, and to abrogate the entire social contract.

006aBut–if is does so, it must give up the right to call itself a civilized nation. Under the present regime (going back about 30 years) we are a savage third world country pretending to be a rich and civilized country. Our very rich are as out of control as the French aristocrats just prior to the revolution. Those who want to privatize America (and a privatized world) are winning, and no one in power is putting up much of a fight.

And yet our rulers (both in the government and in the trans-national corporations) still use the story that we are the premier democracy and the light of the world. Let’s admit that this is a lie. We are an oligarchical plutocracy waging a imperial war on the world, using economics where possible, and force of arms where “necessary”. In short, we are no longer fit to sit at the table with the true civilized world.


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The Puppet Show of the Apocalypse

June 19, 2013 1 comment

puppetI am sitting at my kitchen table.. It is early June, an election year. I can hear the television droning softly from the living room, bringing me the evening news. They are reporting on one of the men vying to be the presidential candidate for the out of power party. He has apparently just implied something insulting about women and rape. Cut to an ad for viagra. Outside my back door I can hear the soft hum of bees and the little screeches of birds looking for a nesting spot. Outside, in the real world, everything looks just fine–on the surface. Just don’t look to deeply or you would see a flower that is the main food of an important butterfly, which now blooms a week too early for the caterpillars to eat it.There will be none of that type of butterfly this year, or likely ever again in these parts.

Now it is late October. The evening news is on. If I were to look around the corner at my television I would see two men speaking about who said what in the latest scandal, and how they are not to blame for it, and how they would bring prosperity back to the middle class, one by lowering taxes a bit more and the other by cutting a few programs.There are a least 12 political parties in the United States that have candidates for president. But only two of them are allowed to speak publicly where it counts, on television. In fact, one of the “lesser” candidates is outside in chains. Her crime? Trying to enter the hall where the debate is taking place. In other news a hurricane just wiped out two small towns in the delta, foreclosures are up again, and there is unrest in one or another impoverished country.

The puppet show continues. The puppets may be politicians, or celebrities, or, quite often, news “providers” We see their lips move, and words come out. Meanwhile, in the real world, outside our doors, a million more pollinators died. A large American company released another organism into wild nature that will eventually cause a food shortage for a key species, causing an entire ecosystem to crash. On the streets of America, huddling under a freeway over-pass, two children are hungry. Their parents lost their jobs, first him then her. The house went a couple of years later.

In other news, the stock market is up by 30 points, and a Republican congressman just floated a bill to close down what is left of the food stamp program after the last time it was gutted. No one connects the dots. If the tax code were merely put back to what it was in 1950 there would be no hungry children, no homeless families. It is OUR children that are going hungry. Or they used to be before a culture of pure self interest took root and we all became individuals, divorced from any notion of a “community”. Instead, the puppet show drones on–” These welfare families are ruining the country–stealing your prosperity” they say. Who can remember the concept developed in Nazi Germany of the “big lie”? Make the lie big enough and repeat it often enough and it becomes the “truth”. It is the social safety net that is ruining the country, not the top one tenth of a percent that are hoarding sixty percent of our wealth. Repeat after me…

Outside in the real world 14,000 more hectares of rain forest fall. It seems that clear cut rain forest makes great pastureland for the cattle that another large American company prefers for its burgers. That and a bunch of filler, sawdust maybe.  Cut for a commercial. Happy kids eating happy meals. The kids under that overpass eat them, but no one would call them happy. It is all they can afford, and they are lucky to get that.

The puppet show continues. In Oakland another shooting, in Mississippi a flood. A Kafkaesque international manhunt for a whistle-blower. His crime? Telling the truth about criminal activity in his government agency.  Outside in the real world, there are forests silent as graves. Empty forest syndrome. The puppets drone on as we preside over the biggest mass extinction since the dinosaurs. And we are likely the new dinosaurs. Honey bees account for about thirty percent of the human food supply. Even the “food-like substances” that we in the developed world are receiving from the processing plants rely on some form of organic base. Cut to commercial for pesticides. Kills everything, don’t worry. We don’t need insects. Or anything else in the food web that might be collateral damage. Just spray and enjoy the antiseptic landscape, and then pop open a beer and watch more of the puppet show.

A large ship full of plastic goods arrives from Asia. The news anchor jokes about hitting those sales. A large American company, a discount store, boasts that 60% of Americans shop at their stores. Meanwhile, across the world, large piles of old plastic burn, and the air stings. Meanwhile, in the real world, there is a 270,000 square mile garbage patch, filled with the detritus of the free market. Nothing lives there. Anymore.

The puppet show continues. I sit at the kitchen table. It is early summer.I can hear the drone of the evening news. There was an oil spill from the Tar Sands along the Canadian border. It hit an Indian reservation. Nothing can live there now either. The black earth is poisoned and will remain so long after we are just bones. In other news, a stringent anti-abortion bill passed the house, but is expected to die in the senate.

Outside, in the real world, I can hear the soft hum of honey bees in the Bottle Brush. I can hear the chirps of the hummingbirds and the tiny song of dozens of bird babies as the mama birds bring dinner home to the nest. I live in a very fortunate place. It is hard to see that anything is wrong on this gentle summer evening. It is impossible for us to detect the loss of diversity, the collapse of ecosystems, with the information gathering tools that we have. Even when we see it it is almost impossible to see that our way of life is at fault. Further-even if we see both the destruction and our part in it–there seems to be little we can do. And until we collectively decide to commit our full energy to tearing down the machine we have built and replacing it with something that supports the entire biotic community, it is true.  Nothing can be done.

I turn back to the puppet show of the apocalypse. In other news, the largest fire in Colorado history took another twenty homes. As for the weather-it’s gonna be a scorcher out there…

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