This is the endMy husband and I were in the car driving to the farmer's market, early yesterday morning. We were discussing politics, like we do sometimes. We agree, so we tend to not talk about politics much.
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end -- The Doors
He is very opinionated, as a rule. A solid progressive who hated Reagan, even though he was only in high school at the time. He likes to say he is a social liberal but a fiscal conservative. Most of his political viewpoints come from a financial point of view that that it makes fiscal sense to care for the needy, except those views that are reactions to attempts to harm women, because he's like that.
I usually don't say anything, because honestly, it is definitely not to my credit that I don't know too much about economics, unless it's related to health care. I keep thinking I should do something about that but I never do. I find it boring and I am not talented in this regard.
He was talking about the debt ceiling, and the ripple effects of default.
I listened for a while, and then I just said, "it doesn't matter. It's over for us. This is the end of America as a power."
While I am not an expert in national finance, I am a student of history and a psychologist. What I love/hate about history is the fact that it repeats. Over and over. This is simply because people are exceptionally incapable of learning, as a rule, without experiencing it for themselves.
This framework of looking at the world is what led me to be so fatalistic yesterday. As money and power gets consolidated in the hands of the very few, it rarely turns out well.
There have been some articles of late noticing the parallels with the French Revolution. It isn't just the French Revolution. It's the October Revolution, the fall of the Roman Empire, the "teuerste Gesangverein Deutschlands" the burning of the Library of Alexandria and pretty much every single nation-state fail and crash and burn you can think of, all in the early stages of playing out on the House floor. The only thing that makes this particular episode different is the grandstanding to an increasingly worried international audience, courtesy of the Internet and MSM, as we immolate ourselves.
And this is why I get so aggravated when people talk about American exceptionalism. We are not exceptional. We are flawed beings trying a certain governmental philosophy with the same human-social issues as every other society and, like every other society, it all falls apart eventually -- because we are flawed. It all falls apart because we are inherently incapable of anything else.
In a fit of despair about human nature after World War I, Freud called it thanatos.
Most people, not even the last few psychoanalytic psychotherapists, embrace thanatos as a good theory. It's not a particularly good theory. But I certainly can understand Freud's need to explain the self-destructive impulse we have in every society. The always emerging intellectual laziness, the devaluing of our intellectuals and scientists, the consolidation of power amongst the very few and the unavoidable moral corruption that comes with that power. The destruction of education and access to information so that the non-privileged can understand who are the true perpetrators of inequality and misery.
Aristocrats know that the way you keep the torches and pitchforks off your doorstep are by pitting the oppressed against each other. You get some of the downtrodden to identify with the aggressor and become your enforcers by tricking them into thinking that some of your power will be theirs. This is basic Political Power 101. It works.
Well, it works for a while.
After that point it becomes kind of a crapshoot, because, as an aristocrat, you get greedy and lazy and more corrupt, and you care less and less about what you look like to the people you are stealing from. Then a couple of you might be a little more perceptive than others and say, oh...we need distractions, because the serfs are getting angry and the proletariat is grumbling.
So then you roll out "Bread and Circuses."
But, bread is expensive and impacts your preferred world view and so you don't bother with that after a while. You don't actually see people starving yourself, all of your friends are just like you, so how bad can it be? (Or food stamps for bread, whatever, those can't be important).
Now you just have Circuses.
That might work for a while, if they're entertaining enough.
And so this is where we are. With only circuses, and fewer and fewer attempts to provide affordable "bread" -- whether that be in a food distribution system that isn't safe or healthy, or like health care reform that will help people from going bankrupt just trying to not die.
This whole situation gets turned around in one of two ways, and only two ways. One, you have an upcoming generation that is educated, sensible, moderate, and is willing to build.
Two: you have unbridled anger, chaos, fits of rebellion, then revolution.
What led me to say that it is over for us was that I do not see Option One happening. The foundation for the creation of informed and engaged voters with a will to overhaul the government is the educational system. I do not think it is hyperbole to say that the K-12 educational system has been almost completely destroyed, and college is on the way too and is not accessible for many. For every progressive electoral success like California, you have many more arguments over contraception, the attempt to make elementary school textbooks "teach the controversy of evolution", the vilifying of liberals, non-Christians, non-whites, and anyone who might actually need, you know, anything.
When I say it's over, I don't necessarily mean the guillotine is getting dusted off, although I wouldn't bet a lot of money against violence in some fashion. I am saying America, no matter what happens from now on, will be a second rate nation-state, a great experiment that demonstrated democratic (the political system, not party) success for several years despite underrepresentation from some groups, but is now going the way of all societies: Create - Destroy - Start over.
I find it unspeakably sad.
Humans are nothing if not predictable, and are tenacious in their flaws.
Lost in a Roman...wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane