Why capitalism will fail…

…and, yes, I do understand that such a title as that places the author in one of those troubling lights, one that suggests he is either a rock-throwing, graffiti spraying, dreadlock-topped and angry young anarchist post-grad whose revolutionary thesis in the form of a graphic historical novel that attempts to redefine Bakunin as prophet and seer for the 21st century… or one of those “new age commies” with a lumberjack beard and a man-bun, looking to save the Earth by wrapping his lettuce, carrots, celery, e3ddb24c898167db1bee81136ed85e50--lumberjack-men-man-bunand radishes in planet-friendly, wax-process paper rather than storing it in plastic Zip-loc bags, the sort of zeitgeist common man of the 21st century who stays home and watches the kids while writing a socialist cookbook-cum-manifesto titled, “Thirty-seven ways to eat the rich.”

As much as I might like you to think of me in synch with such a seductive, rebel sort of image, along with the manly, disheveled ‘look’ that goes with it?  As much as that might boost my image?  Let me assure you, up front and out loud, that I am neither of those things, but probably both… in spirit at least, if not in fashion… and infinitely more radical and dangerous in fact than any Marvel-inspired stereotype you could imagine, armed as I am with opinions based upon facts and referential analysis of historical precedence.  But hey… relax, these are only ideas, little seeds I like to plant in the minds of the innocent and the unwary.

But enough about me… let’s talk about you.

The economy, they tell me, is booming.  Are you getting your share?  Of course not.  Saddled with student loan debt for a principle sum that seems to grow the more you pay 3b3e6d3fc7b3067f5a30afd139da02beinto it, money you borrowed for a degree that would give you a decent living if it translated into real-world value, perhaps you already know that the possibility you could own a home of your own probably seems like a pipe dream.  Mom and Dad might have left you theirs when they died and they certainly would have, but for the inordinately inflated cost of the medicine and health care that didn’t quite give them the longevity they’d hoped for.  Drug companies, co-pays and deductibles impoverished them, took what was left of their savings after their retirement plan succumbed to whatever economic reason that caused the fund to go broke.  They lost their home in the process… and you?  Well, if they were still alive, you would likely be taking care of your parents.  Sadly, those of you whose parents have survived may yet be burdened with their end-of-life care.  And… since you can barely afford to take care of yourself and a family, if you’ve been optimistic enough to marry and have children… how will you take on the more and greater debt that comes with such an added responsibility?

If that’s not your situation?  If you are you doing very well today in an economy that provides for the wealthy by borrowing from the future of everyone else… if you enjoy the benefits of corporate welfare like other wealthy Americans with a stake in huge monopolistic enterprises like Amazon… if you pay no taxes whatsoever?  How fortunate for you, but stop for a moment and think… how long can this go on?

For the rest of us, who are not so lucky?  Hyperbole and hypotheticals notwithstanding, the facts tell us this:  the opportunities that existed for our parents are not as prevalent today and for us as it was back then and for them.

It’s not hard to pinpoint the cause of such unprecedented economic inequality.  The facts are there, though hidden and mystified by those who manipulate the truth.  You ask, “What is truth?”  Ask a huindrd people and you will get a hundred different answers, but the truth doesn’t change.  Truth is not a marketable commodity.  Every fact, figure, or representation of truth is only and absolutely binary in terms of its reality.  A thing is either true… or it is untrue.  Truth cannot be enhanced, varnished, polished, rendered more attractive in any way except that it will detract from its essential being.  A fact is either true or it is not.  There is no liberal truth, no libertarian truth, no conservative truth.  There is only truth.  Everything else?  Dross and manipulation.

Convincement, the result of long decades of propaganda in the form of marketing and hucksterism brings us down to the pinnacle of possibilities in government evolution under the influence of capitalism… and what doesdt.common.streams.streamserver that look like, exactly?  In 2016 it led to the presidency of the ultimate huckster and capitalist poster boy, Donald Trump, the current skipper of a sinking ship of state that better resembles… and could very well be modeled after… the example set by the present Russian plutocracy under Putin.  Wealthy American oligarchs and right-wing corporatists now direct and control virtually every segment of the executive branch of our Federal government.  They’ve begun dismantling benchmarks, controls, and safeguards that have been established over long decades of progress in protections for the average American from the growing influence of monopolies and corporate monoliths.

I’ve often and unapologetically labeled Trump’s administration “fascistic” in the past and even progressives have criticized me for doing so, but it fits the description quite well if we can hear the opinion of people who lived in a time when fascism threatened the safety and freedoms of the entire world.  If you don’t accept my characterization, then read this… from Henry A. Wallace, Vice President under Franklin Delano Roosevelt (quoted in the New York Times, April 9, 1944) and then tell me you do not sense an eerie feeling of historical déjà vu….

Henry-Wallace-1947-resize-1

“The really dangerous American fascist… is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power… They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

(Snooze alert – in that the following two paragraphs may include boring descriptive reprsentations of economic concepts, but I will try to be brief.)

If we take the concept of capitalism down to its basics, it could be explained as an economic theory based upon the concept of property and commercial exchange that transcends the original method of trade, which was barter… a simple swap, where one commodity was traded with another comparatively valued commodity based upon the needs of both parties.  Capitalism renders trade infinitely more efficient by introducing commodity exchange with the use of money, which is any medium that represents value in terms of the need for which it is exchanged.  Trade assumes both the concept of property and the value of money.

Without getting into the details where the devil resides, capitalism is driven by needs… by the satisfaction of human needs and desires through trade.  But there is no equity built into the system that we know as a free market economy.  It’s all about competition for profit, some reward of extra value acquired by obtaining greater value in the trade than that value required to produce the commodity traded….. and blahblahblah… blah.

Simply put, capitalism is based on greed with the rewards going to those who can get more of everything than everybody else.  It collapses every now and then due to massive inequities and inflated values inherent with inevitable institutional dishonesty when greed is the defining energy source… and when it does collapse, everyone suffers.  Greed is at its peak today, so get ready for another major economic disaster.

I wrote the following assessment on Facebook back in October of 2016, before Trump was even elected, when everyone could not believe that the fascist pretender had a chance of becoming the “leader of the free world…”

“The pharmaceutical companies and the medical industry have grown fat and rich by developing pain medications that have caused drug dependencies in millions of people who would never have otherwise been led into a dependent lifestyle. In the meantime, criminalization of street drugs has led to mass incarcerations and created a for-profit prison industry that makes millions off the labor of prisoners in a new

14641896_1836548209891699_4428653627476757908_n

“The Lord provides” = Jacob Burck 1934

brand of slavery.  In the meantime, the price of life saving drugs which have been somewhat affordable in the past and necessary for the survival of millions of people are systematically and suddenly overvalued beyond the reach of any but the most wealthy Americans.

“Bankers commit crimes that result in catastrophic financial losses and economic collapse nationwide, putting thousands out of their homes and others out of their jobs. Not only does our government not prosecute these insidious parasites, but rewards them by bailing out their banks while they set up roadblocks that make it it virtually impossible for homeowners to come back from foreclosure.  Injustice abounds.  Social and economic equality does not exist in any discernible measure. We are not living in a post racial society, nor do we enjoy the same freedoms and opportunity that were prevalent only fifty years ago. We are moving quickly toward an oligarchy of race, privilege and wealth that fairly ignores the concept of the common good of all people in a democratic republic that once conceded this primary and indisputable fact… that we are all created equal.”

Tell me things have gotten better since then.  I dare you.  Capitalism will fail us again and again and again and again and… et cetera, et cetera… ad infinitum.

Okay… I get tired of criticizing things as they are.  I want to talk about things as they should be.  My next essay here won’t consist of any additional critiques… no continuation of an ongoing though relevant screed listing the numerous evils of American capitalism.  Instead, I will begin to present an alternative possibility, a thing to be accomplished, not through some violent Marxist revolution, but American style.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something absolutely different and quintessentially… unequivocally American as… you know….

 

 

What’s old is new again… and radical… and bold… and, suddenly, germane

In today’s repressive political climate?  Unless he was fairly well off and not really concerned about whether he could make a living wage… if he was a union man formed in the older socialist forge, your great-grandfather’s politics might seem controversial, perhaps even denounced as unAmerican by those who know it’s not, but fear it nonetheless.  Socialism, today, is an ideological brand name that’s not just fallen out of favor, but has been profoundly booed, tabooed and rendered lfvirtually unnameable as a viable political perspective in this nation through decades, more than a century of “legal” repression driven by political and social propaganda from the right.  McCarthyism and plutocracy notwithstanding, socialism is a term that has been rendered unquestionably profane in the mind of a majority of Americans, as though the mere mention of it conjures visions of Soviet dictatorships, violent repression, tyranny, even godlessness… corruption and vice beyond all comprehension… but hey…  buckle up, America, the “S” word is once more out of the box today… and it’s coming back, slowly, inevitably gaining ground… invading the American ethos.  Whether you consider it a revolution or a necessary and political evolution… it’s coming.  So, perhaps it’s time to put aside your fears, America.  Be objective and find out what it really means.

A near global financial collapse and economic depression caused by out-of-control financial monoliths, coupled with recently and broadly published facts and data concerning the present, shocking disparities in American economic and income inequality helped launch a profound public reaction expressed in a powerful, popular, though leaderless Occupy movement in 2011 and in the 2016 Democratic Primary election, an apparently unexpected phenomenon in which a self-proclaimed democratic

111014122911-occupy-wall-street-park-avenue-millionaire-s-protest-story-top

Photo from CNN.com

socialist Senator launched a viable and powerful challenge to the establishment candidate who had been considered incontestable.  And the Senator mounted that challenge, not with 1,000 dollar-a-plate private events and generous endowments from corporate giants and the occasional hedge fund manager, but with individual donations from ordinary Americans, small amounts from huge numbers of citizens who resonated with his message, a call for equality in all things… in economic as well as social circumstance, a purely socialist agenda.  These two major events and the proliferation of other, similarly progressive activist movements across the nation display the changing perceptions and the prevailing mood of the electorate.  It represents a growing challenge to established American political institutions.

Not that it’s new.  We’ve been here before.  More than once. And in ways that are eerily similar in both the cause and the reaction.  To quote Pearl Buck’s classic novel, The Good Earth, which was written about China before World War II, but has applicability in universal human concepts throughout history… “When the rich are too rich there is a way, and if I am not mistaken, that way will come soon.” 

Following hard times and economic failures in our own history, America came quite close, if not to a social revolution, at least to a social political evolution that involved socialist theories and expressed itself in various ways, primarily through militant trade unions and political engagement.  In one instance, the collapse of the stock market in 1929 and subsequent bank failures throughout the nation entirely upset the American economy and devolved into a dreadful period of economic hardship, devastating unemployment, bread lines, soup kitchens and great numbers of homeless men and women nationwide.  Our grandparents called it The Great Depression.

America’s response to the nationwide crisis was to elect the Democrat and progressive Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the office of President in an election that could be accurately described as a political tectonic shift.  Roosevelt’s New Deal launched bold programs and initiatives that were nothing less than socialist in both concept imagesand in fact.  They were not only accepted by the vast majority of Americans, but proved wildly popular and, eventually, thoroughly successful in bringing the collapsed American economy back toward an even keel.

Nonetheless, more work needed to be done, as those same financial institutions and corporate giants who brought the nation to economic collapse in 1929, began once again to embrace the same greedy practices in ways that clearly threatened to usurp the hard-won gains in prosperity through increased production and to use the profit thereof to enrich those wealthy families and financiers who’d survived the Depression.  The problem then, just as it is today was expansive  and crippling economic inequality.

In his Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies, delivered on April 29, 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke of the danger inherent in income inequality, calling out the growing concentration of wealth in powerful corporations and financial institutions at home, while alluding to the growing power of fascism in Europe, understanding the relationship between corporate institutions and the governance in both Italy and Germany.  He wrote…

“Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people.   The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger fdr-smile2than their democratic state itself.   That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.  The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living.  Both lessons hit home.   Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.  This concentration is seriously impairing the economic effectiveness of private enterprise as a way of providing employment for labor and capital and as a way of assuring a more equitable distribution of income and earnings among the people of the nation as a whole.”

In response to similar economic inequality today, there is a new voice in America today.  And whether it comes from self-proclaimed socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or… from progressive consumer advocates like Elizabeth Warren, their message is similar and revolutionary… or for the faint of heart… evolutionary.

It sounds like this:

“When we talk about the word ‘socialism,’ I think what it really means is just 220px-Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez,_official_portrait,_116th_Congressdemocratic participation in our economic dignity and our economic, social, and racial dignity. It is about direct representation and people actually having power and stake over their economic and social wellness, at the end of the day.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“The billionaire class fully understands what is at stake. That’s why a handful of them SBY3PMQSJNFULFDPZX6QUCK63Yare pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the current elections. Their goal is not to strengthen the middle class, but continue the trend in which the rich are getting richer at the expense of everyone else.”

Bernie Sanders

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to Elizabeth_Warren,_official_portrait,_114th_Congresseducate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Elizabeth Warren

To be sure, these voices don’t always agree, but whether you advocate a kinder, gentler, and more just form of capitalism, or the gradual dismantling of all inequity and injustice through socialism… business as usual is definitely coming to an end.

Socialism in America has very deep roots.  The labor movement grew up in the same rough neighborhood as the socialist movement.  Their voices were virtually a chorus.  Many of those who fought for their rights in solidarity in labor, were also those who preached the message downloadof socialism.  Trade unions, though many curiously conservative union leaders would deny it today, are the perfect expression of democratic socialism and only one manifestation of socialist thought that pervades our history… quite in spite of all efforts to suppress it ever since that day when men and women found the strength in solidarity to stand up for their rights together.

Socialism in America has yet to be properly defined, even as those human rights upon which our nations was founded have yet to be fulfilled in universal suffrage according to the premise that all of us… every one of us… is due his or her dignity and liberty in perfect equality through a universal, Constitutional guarantee of justice under the law.

Socialism in America has yet to be properly expressed and reasonably defined, but to be sure, it’s coming.  There is much talk… and with cause… about the power and the influence of wealth on the political structures of this nation, but the inequality that exists today is as bad as that which existed in our past.  The force of it threatens our democracy as never before.  We can talk about the history of socialism… discuss the many theories concerning its structure and methods, but none of that will apply to the specifics and the ethos of American life.  The books could be opened and academics can polemicize for hours on end with the many and varied theories that purport to instruct and direct us, but theory is dust in the wind.  What’s failed in the past should not guidedownload (1) us in the future.

America will write its own book.  We the people will define our own society.  Just as we did once before… we will do it again.  We’ll not be paying the piper for his tune.  We’ll write our own… and the other nations of the world?  Just as they did when they saw what we’d done when we threw off our king and built our own and democratic republic?  Maybe they will take heart, one by one.  Maybe they’ll follow our lead and throw off the nominal slavery of corporate dominion as well.  It won’t be easy.

But like the lady wrote back in 1931… ““When the rich are too rich there is a way, and if I am not mistaken, that way will come soon.” 

The Green New Deal in a readable format and a video…

For the purpose of clarity and for my own use in comprehending the content, I copied and pasted the text of the legislation for the Green New Deal (House Resolution 109) into an MSWord .doc file and reformatted the language in less daunting form so it can be read more easily (hopefully).  It contains the same language, but in a smoother context, one that I find renders it less intimidating so I could actually make sense of it.

I thought I would pass it on to you, so hopefully you’ll take the time to read it.  Granted, it’s not much in the headlines these days, given the feud and fuss over the de-fanged and blacked-out Mueller Report, which, it turns out, is quite an indictment of Trump as it is… but rest assured, the people who rolled out the Green New Deal are not about to give up and neither should you.  The problems it points out are not going to vanish and the solutions it presents are bold, viable, and absolutely necessary for the future of us all.

I’ve included links to both the original text and my own format below:

If you like to read legislative text in the raw, (some people are like that) go here:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/109/text

But if you are legislatively challenged and want to read the MSWord outline I created for easier reading, go here:
Click here to read the Green New Deal in plain English format

Feel free to copy it and pass it on to anyone who might benefit.  The more people who are aware of what it actually says, the less chance there is that Koch and Exxon funded think-tanks can fool us by trying to put out disinformation.

I’ll be writing more about it in the future, but I thought that this profoundly interesting and even engaging introduction to the content of the program might be worth a look:

Mobs, momentum, consensus, and the race to be the first to cast a stone…

Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling aloud for impeachment and a Republican group is buying advertisements on Fox that call for accountability.  The media, of course, is aflame with indignation… somewhat slow to arise, but welcome nonetheless.  How sad that it took so long for the “I” word to surface with any substance behind it, if indeed, the mob sounds and pitchforks can be considered substance,  Yet, even now, before any of these leaders have surely had sufficient time to read, much less digest the entire Mueller report… and before they have seen the likely most damaging information that the frog-faced Trump-friendly philistine Barr has seen fit to withhold from intelligent eyes, they are ready now, after more than two years of obvious and in-your-face criminality and corruption, to finally call up the posse, to saddle up and ride.  Sad that it took so long for our Congress to finally grow a spine.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m happy they’re so motivated now, dismayed perhaps… knowing that such lynch mobs sometimes lose their steam… knowing that the courts could now become the new and crippling blockades to action… knowing that the candidates and the righteously indignant whoevers will then point to and blame the judiciary as the new stumbling block to justice… knowing that this is but the beginning, so far from the end of it… assuming that Trump is no Nixon, having neither the wit nor the will to resign, but will fight this to the bitter end.

In the meantime, he will continue to fragment and dismantle what remains of our Federal government, a task that pleases many of those who now decry and defame him with newfound zeal for integrity, born-again passion for justice.  And by the time the mob starts to gather, it’s not really about integrity or courage… is it?  Life goes on and Pence is waiting in the wings.  The cure could be worse than the cancer.

Me?  I wanted the man impeached from day one, but I’m still reading the Mueller report and I don’t have a staff to do all the reading and write me a summary… and I never really trusted the media, so I’ll get back to you later with the substantive stuff.

For now?  Save me at least one very big stone that I may guiltless in good conscience cast with all righteous indignation and wrath.

Nancy Pelosi vs Franklin Delano Roosevelt… will the real Democratic Party please stand up !!

In a 60 Minute interview that aired on Sunday last, CNBC reports that Nancy Pelosi said, “I do reject socialism.  If people have that view, that’s their view.  That is not the view of the Democratic Party.”  All due respect to Nancy Pelosi, de facto leader of the party in minority that ascended once again to control at least the House, sailing into control on the winds that filled their sails… winds of change that emanated from progressive Democrats and other activists within her party determined to reverse the trends of economic inequality, corporate control of politics, and right wing hegemony, including candidates who were willing to openly identify themselves as democratic socialists… but, perhaps she’s not listening, or even knows the electorate as well as she believes.

It’s obvious, however, that the Democratic Party, the same Party that gave America its longest running, wildly popular President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is no longer the party of the New Deal, nor the kind of party that could so embrace the common good of all its members, giving Americans a legislative agenda that offered us Social Security, the WPA, the FDIC, the National Labor Relations Board, the Glass–Steagall Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Tennessee Valley Authority and countless other bold social programs designed to lift our nation up from the economic collapse in 1929 that was caused by the unparalleled greed of irresponsible bankers, financiers, and monopolistic industrialists.  These programs were vilified by conservatives in their day as a dangerously anti-American socialist agenda which, even in the current conservative climate, are today accepted as inevitable, necessary, beneficial programs that are every bit as American as Mom, the flag, and butter crusted, cinnamon infused, and sugar topped, sweet apple pie.

Nonetheless, and for years now, particularly during the past four decades… since conservatives in both parties canonized Ronald Reagan and began to sing his profane little tune of corporate welfare and the mythology of trickle down economics, Democrats have moved increasingly to the right with their economic policies, suffering a major tectonic shift, claiming territory once held entirely by Republicans, during the Clinton administration.

To be sure, these neo-liberal Democrats retained those “radical” ideas that were inviolable in the minds of most Democrats, like equal “opportunity”, abortion rights, women’s rights, and other fashionable causes célèbres that identified them with a liberal brand, but only in so far as they did not compete with a conservative economic agenda that favored the heavy corporate donors who were so enamored of Clintonian Democracy.  These neo-liberal disciples of the apostle Billary now control the DNC and operate the strings of the corporate media like puppet masters in a Punch and Judy drama in which they assume the role of “Not Trump” as opposed to, say, the Party of Economic and Social Reform. So… where does that leave the progressives in the Party?

What does that bode for the future, when the leadership of the Democratic Party has no desire to aid or entertain the “green dream” of so many of its younger membership, now clearly the more active, not really interested in neo-liberal politicians who pat them on the head and tell them to get in line and accept the same sort of incrementalism and corporatist theories that have made paupers of the majority of working Americans.  Big labor pays Nancy’s freight while corporations spend millions in an effort to make unions illegal.  And our college-educated minority?  They are, too many of them, in debt and in servitude to their student loans for life… like most Americans who try to get ahead… saddled with crippling debt and no clear path to the elusive, if not mythic, American Dream.  Our aged are in danger of being priced out of medical care, in spite of Medicare… and they will be for the unforeseeable, and for some, very short future… for as long as pharmaceutical companies act like mafiosi with medications that should be as inexpensive as clean water, which is less expensive and much less clean than it was forty years ago… and in some areas?  Toxic.  Does any of this sound familiar?

But why talk about distressed populations?  They were abandoned long ago for lack of political clout, worthy now of little more than lip service.  Nancy Pelosi says in effect, if not with the words, “Let them eat cake.”  Does she imagine herself so correct that she no longer listens?  It’s time for the Party of FDR to go back to its roots.  Let’s hope that it’s not too late.  If the Democratic Party of today seems impotent now in relation to Trump?  Where will they stand next year when they demand more loyalty of the electorate than they’ve ever given us in return.

The parallax view from here….

“As an American citizen of German birth I finally testify that I am painfully familiar with certain political trends. Spiritual intolerance, political inquisitions, and declining legal security, and all this in the name of an alleged ‘state of emergency.’ … That is how it started in Germany.”  Thomas Mann in response to accusations by the House Un-American Activities Committee that he was a communist.

74a72e9d61ef6e8fb175031b4318632dThe novelist who gave us a classic novel, The Magic Mountain, was an early and fierce critic of Adolf Hitler and the poisonous culture of the Nazis.  Because of his public, even fearless words against them, he was forced to flee his native Germany in 1933, eventually finding refuge in the United States where he became a citizen in 1944.  Yet, even in America, he found himself similarly threatened and hounded by the forces of McCarthyism as he publicly protested and wrote against the oppression of American writers and intellectuals during the infamous House Un-American Activities Committee hearings that amounted to nothing less than fear mongering persecution, eventually leading to blacklisting and even to prison sentences as in the case of the Hollywood Ten.  As a result of his public criticism of yet another fascist movement, he was finally forced to leave the U.S. and return to Europe.

The McCarthy era was a low point in American history, proving beyond doubt that the fears of those Americans like Sinclair Lewis, who in 1935 imagined the seed of fascism could find fertile soil in the American psyche, were more than prophetic,  The House Un-American Activities Committee and the later McCarthy hearings in the Senate demonstrated that “it can happen here” and it did to the extent that the foundations of intellectual oppression and propagation of fear was laid.  All that was lacking was the proper demagogue, a role that McCarthy tried desperately to fill.  Thankfully he was thwarted.  The saving graces of our nation at the time were the decency and strength of its leadership, as exemplified in people like attorney Joseph Welch who challenged McCarthy at the Army hearings, and the power of the free press, the courage of journalists like Edward R. Murrow.  The eventual shaming of the demagogues who very nearly destroyed the character and intent of our Constitution was inevitable, but not before they exacted a terrible price on their victims, literally destroying the reputations and careers of thousands of people on the basis of lies and baseless accusation, creating an environment of fear and mistrust.

All of that seems now to have returned and we are once again faced with the ugly specter of fascist intent and unprecedented demagoguery in the person of Donald Trump.  Time and again, this amoral, despotic individual has proven himself invulnerable to every criticism, moving by incremental steps toward autocracy by pushing against the moral and institutional constraints that we always believed were inviolable.  He toys with Congress, attacks our courts, vilifies his critics, challenges and ruthlessly mocks the authority of anyone in our government who tries to oppose him.

On any given day, one could point to any one of a dozen of his actions as a dangerous precedent, the sort of behavior that would eventually bring down any previous politician… and yet, it almost appears as if he draws strength from every cry of “foul” that comes his way.  What is it that makes this man invulnerable?

Has he so wearied his critics with his lack of shame that they simply give up in frustration?  We know well enough that for all his faults, his enablers are willing to forego any appearance of personal integrity for the rewards they receive when he satisfies their corrupt intent, giving them the license they’ve always craved in pursuit of autocracy.  But now, even his greatest critics within the government seem impotent, utterly restrained from meaningful action against him.

Is it possible that they too see opportunity in the phenomena he’s unleashed?  Are they afraid of him?  Or merely and similarly as jaded as his enablers. The answers may not come from a normal perspective.  Perhaps they will come from a parallax view, an unpopular and skewed perspective from the fringes of our society, from a perspective that may no longer exist in our contemporary culture.  Perhaps it will come from the distance, from the past, from the echoes of what we once held dear but seem, somehow, to have lost.

Where is our Sinclair Lewis?
Where is our Thomas Mann?
Where is our Joseph Welch?
Where is our Edward R. Murrow?

Or have we become the very force that feeds the beast we fear, if not through outright support, then with silent acquiescence?  Is this present circumstance the sum of our failures, the substance of our corruption as a nation?  If we hope to survive, we’d better find out just what it is we have lost and regain it.  And soon.

Time is not our friend.

Racing toward a different kind of world with apathy and elan… America descending

I’ve written about this before in other venues, been criticized for the analogy accordingly, but I truly never better understood until recently, if at all, how the German people allowed such a bizarre, motley crew of bigoted fanatics, political extremists, and the outright criminally insane… how they allowed such dangerous, posturing fools as those surrounding Hitler to march them so proudly into self-destructive trends with such obvious intent from the outset.  One need only read Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, which was published in two volumes in 1925 & 1926 to understand how he might respond in the 1930’s and 1940’s as a leader of the German Reich.  The predictability was stunning.

AFP_L72YNBy the same token, one need only observe the people surrounding Trump… to have listened to everything Trump was saying before he was elected to the office of the presidency of the United States in order to not only know how he would respond to the power given him, but to accurately predict that he would seek to abuse the office, broach the legal limits thereof, and to personally enrich himself from a position of authority in our government.

Nonetheless, early and numerous critics of his amoral and despotic style notwithstanding, who among the red-hatted throngs that followed him from the start could possibly predict that Trump would so easily discern the corruption around him and use the profound lack of integrity extant in American politics today to his advantage in dismantling the very government and its Constitution which he is theoretically sworn to uphold and protect?  Certainly they cannot still be blind to his character… or, more properly, his lack thereof. Do they even care?  And if not, why not?

So many American people, like the Germans before them, seem to need and to love a strong man who will soothe their fears concerning uneasy perceptions of threats from within and without.  For all their denial… for those, at least, who do not say such things aloud for fear of criticism… his message is unwavering and infinitely clear.  It’s a very dark message.  Is it now the message of America?

I’m reminded of the Bible verse, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

I have no doubt that the critics of Hitler, those who were not fooled by their fears, could easily discern the subliminal truth in the evil of his message.  Were they happy enough to shrug their objections aside when the German economy rebounded as it re-armed itself with a mad sort of pride in its growing invincibility?  Is that why they let him continue?

They did, you know… let Hitler continue.  He could never have done what he did if they’d truly opposed him when opposition was possible.  Is that what’s happening here?