Socialism, American Style – Part One

“Socialism?  It’ll never work… never has, never will.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Two words… Vena Zuela.”

Actually, that’s one word, Bubba… Venezuela… and this brief exchange occurred in response to a statement I made about democratic socialism.  Needless to say, it quickly ended what might have been a futile attempt on my part to try and make up for a vacuum in historical and political education that might have been several generations in the making.

But it points out the fact that many Americans, perhaps a good percentage of them, judging by some of the responses my essays seem to attract, know little about socialism and what little they know seems to be shot through with many and similar false notions about both its concept and its history.  So these essays are intended to … if not educate, at least to present alternate perspectives that will essentially contradict much of the mythology and misinformation that’s out there.


Socialism has deep, ancient roots we can actually trace in recorded history, perhaps even farther back in time.  We could extend its existence to pre-history and the beginnings of human societal groups if the study of isolated primitive groups encountered by anthropologists in recent history is any indication of what those early tribal societies might have been like.  To be sure, the Bible, with its history of the early and primitive Christian “church” which is not to be confused with the post Constantine era, was noticeably communist in the social sense as recorded in the Book of Acts, chapters two and four.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”  Acts 2:44-47 (Italics mine)

And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.  Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  Acts 4:33-37

Tertullian of Carthage, who was an early Christian and who left many written works, lived from 160 to 220 AD.  He wrote of the Christian way of life thus, “One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives.”

There is little evidence, however, of Christian communism after the Edict of Constantine, which essentially took all the properties, temples, and religious paraphernalia of all the pagan religions and turned them over to the Christians.  The emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Empire and instituted special status for the ministers and deacons and bishops.  It changed the character of Christianity and initiated a new social structure, which essentially gives us the Roman model of Christian hierarchies.  What began as the scriptural model of the “last shall be first” and vice versa, suddenly became… with the windfall of land and wealth that had previously belonged to the pagan temples… an imitation of the Empire, with a new aristocracy in a top-down tradition of authority.  Bishops who’d considered themselves the “servants of all” became rulers of all… and that’s probably when Christian tithing and the Catholic “priesthood” first began, with an imitation of the pagan religious societies they’d supplanted… even to the point of mimicry of certain pagan religious practices and traditions.  But hey, interesting though it is, that’s another thesis altogether.

Christian communism was part of the social construct in many religious monastic orders in the interim, but it also enjoyed a brief secular revivification in mid-seventeenth century England, during the time of Oliver Cromwell’s interregnum government… when the nation’s monarch lost both his divine franchise and his head simultaneously.  An Englishman named Gerrard Winstanley, quite aggressively and in the spirit of the times, led a group of primitive Christian socialists that called itself the True Levellers.  They occupied and farmed public land that had been set aside and marked off by ditches and hedges, destroyed the boundaries and began farming the previously unused land and began living in a communal setting, sharing everything among their number… shamelessly cooperative.  Much like their apostolic forefathers, they pledged themselves to have “… all things in common.”

Cheeky blighters!

Landowners in the neighborhood, concerned that common people, who certainly outnumbered them, might get similar notions… fearing the possibility that every blighted knave who lusted after bread, might suddenly decide private property rights were not quite exclusive, nowhere near as sacred a concept as previously imagined, were terrified.  The possibility that their crops, their farmland, their cozy, comfortable country manors might suddenly be seized, appropriated by radical thought and agrarian reform was, for them, intolerable.

Oh… anarchy… anarchy!!

Some of them went running to the zealously Puritan Oliver Cromwell, accused these dangerous socialist upstarts of licentious behavior and impious predilections.  Eventually a few of them were properly shot for their heretical thoughts and the movement was dispersed accordingly.

Long before Marx and Engels came along and codified their own specific and somewhat complex brand of socialism, one that included, even necessitated global application through an immediate and somewhat passionate call for world revolution… there were several less complex, less global, but less successful movements that were socialist in nature.  Though they were based upon a similar premise of community and cooperation, they were often expressed in diverse economic models.  Some were peculiar to be sure, even bizarre in their approach to the ideal, but they were socialist utopia nonetheless, designed with the specific condition of mutual benefit for all of their members through a sense of equality and conformity in cooperative ventures.

Charles Fourier’s brand of utopian socialism was the most structured of the lot, based upon a somewhat unusual theory concerning labor and its more “seductive” qualities.  A self-styled social scientist, Fourier was quite specific concerning the construction of his communities, even to the design of the buildings they should use and

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though many communities were established around the world, none lasted much longer than the fervor of his disciples, which, sadly, did not survive beyond the seed money they planted in their ambitious projects.  Perhaps it may be said that, though the people involved were enthusiastic about the logical and humanistic idea of socialism, they lacked the necessary skills required to sustain it.  Nonetheless, Fourier’s socialist communes managed to plant their socialist seed on American soil with substantial communities in Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey and New York, even Kansas.  In Massachusetts, they attracted the scions of Transcendentalism and a great deal of notoriety accordingly.  In the end, however, the eccentricities of its founder and some of his bizarre ideas proved no decent basis on which to change the world, but I’ll leave the interesting details to the footnotes of history.  You can always google his name.

Meanwhile, back on the Continent… socialist theories were everywhere abundant.  Louis Auguste Blanqui was a leading socialist during the turbulent years of mid-nineteenth century France.  I would characterize him as socialism’s “angry man” and clearly an advocate of violence to achieve the aims of social progress.  Accordingly, he spent a great deal of his time in prison.  Whereas the utopian socialists, like Fourier’s disciples, proceeded to build their society anew separate from and quite in spite of the world around them, Blanqui insisted that the way was to be paved by revolution and the utter elimination of bourgeois society.  He was not, however, a Marxist, nor was he a social theorist.  His plan was “revolution now” and, though he believed that an equitable redistribution of wealth should follow in its wake, he evidently had no clear plan on how that could be achieved and sustained.

While Americans were struggling with the profoundly troubling institution of human slavery, with all the furies of hell unleashed in its Civil War, many socialist thinkers and activists found a receptive following in Europe, where the industrial and serf bondage of vast numbers of its poorest people lived with conditions that were not really much better than the actual slavery that existed in the American Southland.  The troubled society and unstable governments there, weakened by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, were a fertile field for the more compassionate thinkers of the age, men who were every bit as impassioned in their ideas of liberating working class Europeans as were the Abolitionists in America’s “free” states who sought to end the institution that upheld slavery in the South.  We’ll talk about their philosophical lineage and the conditions that led to actual socialist revolutions at various times in various European nations at a later date.  Mid-nineteenth century Europe was an ideological Petri dish that enabled the spread of socialism and anarchy, with plots and players by the score.  The subject is easily worth a few volumes, at least.

The intellectual marriage of the German economist and philosopher, Karl Marx, and his countryman Friedrich Engels, who spent much of his youth in England, could easily be called the Big Bang Theory of socialist ideology, the one unified theory that ultimately gave rise to the most successful revolutions… or more accurately at least, the longest lived.  I’ll discuss this dynamic duo, their prodigious beards, and the Communist Manifesto in the next essay here in a week or so, but for now… this will have to do.

Watch this space…

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Socialism, American Style by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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

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“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….

 

 

Dinner with Don Quixote

Don Quixote by Honoré Daumier (1868)

I have always admired the character of Don Quixote.  Why?  Because of his marvelous blindness.  He could see, yes, but only vague shapes he was forced to interpret with his fine imagination… a wonderful and singular imagination that was formed in the novels of old, novels with heroes and villains, novels from the perspective of romance, novels rife with idyllic ideals that were conceived by the minds of men like himself, men who longed for some sense of nobility in mankind, a mystical concept that was expressed in the code of the chevalier, a notion of heroics and the grandeur of chivalric valor, unwritten codes that prevailed in the novels written in the time of the Don’s creator… though not on the muddy highways, nor in the poor villages of Spain, nor in its people… nor in any other nation then or now… which notion likely never really existed at all in fact, beyond the hopeful fictions, the beautiful words that molded their illusory landscape.

Of course, neither did Don Quixote exist.  The old man was a character in a book, a novel at that, an intellectual vehicle, a literary trope, the projection of someone like myself, a writer, a man or woman… in this case a man, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

A writer tries to rebuild the world with a framework of words and the substance of figuration. So, by that token, in such a world, I can have dinner with Don Quixote. Perhaps a meal in my kitchen, simple  fare consisting of tuna fish sandwiches on soft rye bread. Cold iced tea or maybe beer… in big chilled mugs. For dessert, maybe fresh cinnamon and raisin spice cake with sweet, thick, rich, rich, rich butter icing and coffee. Of course, the food would not really matter. It could be anything really … roast beef, chicken, lamb, pulled pork. Food is only food.  The dinner is only a platform on which to build a conversation.  In that conversation, perhaps I could tell a story, inject an opinion, betray confidences. Because I so love the heart of Don Quixote, perhaps I would only listen.

Cervantes is dead … though his words, his mind, and the Don live on.

I suppose that I was saddened by the fact that Cervantes wrote the books in such a way that the Don eventually died of a broken heart… but isn’t that the fate of any man or woman who aspires to an ideal and does not settle for the way things are? It’s no coincidence that the brain is the organ within us that is closest to the heavens, or that the bowels are closest to the earth.  Our heart, however, lies somewhere between the two. In a way, the concept is comedic and so it is, or was, that in the cynical mind of Cervantes, Don Quixote must surely die aggrieved for his lofty and insensible perceptions.

It’s the natural consequence of truth.

The world could care less about any individual soul, man or woman, when there are so many… more than seven and a half billion last time I checked.

“Hah…” they seem to say, if not aloud… surely they’d never say it aloud, but you read the words in their tones and their eyes, “…foolish old man.  Where do you get such impertinent notions?  Just die, fool. We need the bed. We need the space you’re taking up, the air you’re sucking in, the food you turn to waste.  Die already!”

So it is… and to say to hell with the world, I have dinner with Don Quixote.  This meal we share is not unusual, I think. Maybe an early supper in a clean, noisy diner in a truck stop on the Interstate.  Perhaps in Missouri or Oklahoma where the food is seasoned with pity and priceless understanding by immigrant cooks with fresh spices and hope… food meant to caress the troubled soul, quiet the restless mind, and leave the appetite sated. Meatloaf, perhaps, with mashed potatoes, peas and corn… or maybe with gravy and rich mac and cheese, a bowl on the side with sweet black-eyed peas. The meatloaf has this crispy, dark brown edge and on the top of every slice, a thin red tasty glaze of baked sweet ketchup.  Lots of coffee.  Pretty waitress.

The conversation?  Dreams. Beautiful dreams… and maybe dark dreams as well, but dark with a twist of charity.  Laughter, tears, emotions swell.  I am a writer. This is what I do.  This is who I am.

Under the sun… nothing new, nothing new, only bigger. The coming storm and the Green New Deal…

“I, for one, do not believe that the era of democracy in human affairs can or will be snuffed out in our lifetime. I, for one, do not believe that the world will revert to a modern form of ancient slavery, or to controls vested in modern feudalism, or modern emperors, or modern dictators, or modern oligarchs in these days. The very people under iron heels will themselves rebel.”

These words spoken on November 11, 1940, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a speech commemorating Armistice Day, the annual celebration of the end of first World War were prophetic. Spoken a full year and some weeks before it was even understood that there would be another World War. In a time of peaceful sublimity for America, if not for the world, the words were composed at the height of New Deal successes following the Great Depression.
Then, more so than today, the American people still understood the tyranny inherent in the marriage of unbridled wealth and political power, the great house of cards that collapsed in 1929, when the exclusive, privileged world of the financiers, bankers and other wealthy financial predators collapsed under the weight of its own greed, taking most of the country and much of the western world along with it into devastating economic collapse.
The New Deal, a huge, multi-faceted government program that served the common welfare of all Americans, an ambitious program that was vilified in its inception as a socialist dream was an unqualified success, finally brought order into the economic chaos, rebuilding the nation, restructuring our priorities.
But today and once again, our economy is at the perpetual edge of collapse as another and more powerful breed of financial predators than those who caused the 1929 collapse threatens not only our financial system, but the very air we breathe, the water we drink, as they seek to establish a more crippling autocracy than the common welfare of our nation could ever sustain and must not continue to tolerate.  We do so at our own peril.
This is the reason and the necessity for the Green New Deal. And like the old New Deal, this Green New Deal has been labeled a socialist dream. but it may well be the last chance for a peaceful political movement to take us back to a proper and sensible path before inevitable environmental and economic collapse necessitates the kind of violence that will always occur when the rich become too rich at the cost of our common welfare as a nation… the most influential nation in the world… such that collapse here at home will have profound echoing effects worldwide.
The Green New Deal.  If you don’t know what it is… now is the time to find out. Ask me. I’ll tell you how. But don’t wait too long, lulled by the silence and the peaceful sublimities that so often precede the most violent of devastating storms.

What is this Green New Deal exactly? And why are Republicans….

…..and neo-liberal Democrats so dead set against it they are ready to dismiss it quite out of hand?

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) were joined by Democratic lawmakers from both the House and Senate on February 7, 2019, to introduce Green New Deal legislation. (Photo- Stefani Reynolds)

Chances are you’ve heard people both praise and vilify House Resolution 109, otherwise known as the Green New Deal, but it’s just as likely that you haven’t really been given a sense of what it is and what it contains.  A bold, expansive document, it is a comprehensive listing of priorities for the Congress and Senate to consider as it tackles issues that many Americans perceive as necessary for the survival of our basic institutions and the future well-being of all Americans… with the emphasis on the word “ALL…”   The document specifically outlines a series of problems that affect every American and provides solutions that benefit our collective interests, addressing not only the devastating and observable effects of man-made global warming, but advancing the perspective that the radical changes we must use to correct them should incorporate methods that benefit every American, such that no single group or segment of our population is forced to bear a disproportionate share of the necessary cost.  Indeed, if all the proposals are implemented, the plan could very well rebuild our infrastructure, strengthen our nation, and provide a more egalitarian economy simultaneously.

I’ll be writing about the Green New Deal in several posts over the coming weeks, but for now, I would like to give you a link to the House Resolution, so you can read it yourself.  Click on the link below for a .pdf file:

HR109 – The Green New Deal

The Resolution is presented in the usual legal format.  I’ve produced a file that presents the same text in a more readable outline form and will post it here soon.

Watch this space !! 

If you do?  You could become an expert on the Green New Deal… able to leap tall misperceptions with a single declarative sentence… able to deflect the speeding bullet-points of right-wing detractors… and you could become the envy of all your progressive friends, while standing for truth, justice, and the American way.

If I could be given a super power, that’s what I’d ask for.

First, they came for the opposition…

Last night we got a glimpse at what Trump’s future agenda could be during a telephone interview on Fox News, preceded by a monologue and vilifying tirade against critics of the President delivered by Sean Hannity, who might be called Donald Trump’s new Minister of Propaganda on what amounts to State-sponsored television. Before speaking with Trump by phone, Hannity made wild claims and accusations which he accentuated by calling for the investigation and criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton and many others, including various and former government officials such as the former Director of the FBI, James Comey and other individuals Hannity characterized as criminal conspirators in an attempt to seize control of the government.

In his accusations, Hannity even went so far as to cite specific Federal statutes under which each individual might be indicted. Before the interview with Trump, Hannity spun a narrative concerning the intent of the Mueller investigation, framing it as an attempted coup… making outrageous accusations against specific individuals, fabrications he sought to bolster with contextually cynical misrepresentations in cherry-picked and curiously edited video clips that, if you were at all familiar with the original context, you would immediately recognize as outrageously inappropriate in reference to Hannity’s claims.


The actual phone interview with Trump was every bit as bizarre, with Trump reinforcing the claim that the Mueller investigation was nothing more than an attempt to unseat a duly elected President, an attack by a shadowy cabal of professional government bureaucrats that Hannity and other extreme right wing pundits often and consistently label as “the Deep State.” If it did not represent a looming, dangerous, and dark perspective from a mentally unstable individual in a position of power, these characterizations and clear threats of retribution by the President and his allies against anyone who dares to criticize or investigate him for wrongdoing would be laughable. But, in fact, it’s not in any way amusing. It’s all getting very real… and I wonder if we are not on the verge of a moment in time, the fulcrum of an historical narrative that we will one day identify as the beginning of a sinister evolution.

Will democratic government perish…

….when the people lack the will or the wit with which to make intelligent decisions concerning representation and leadership? In an age of unprecedented bias in corporate-owned media, in which the underlying premises of accepted, proven facts can be utterly questioned and even altered in a constant drumbeat of propaganda, can the electorate be so fooled that they begin to believe every packaged lie that is given them?

The election of Trump and his subsequent and unbelievably bad behavior in office challenges the basic assumptions of our Constitution. What happens when… even after this behavior proves consistent and troubling… the public refuses to remove him from office in an election that may or may not be as reliably honest and secure from subversion as we have come to expect? After all, it appears that the constitutional remedies provided in the Articles of impeachment and the 25th amendment are not being seriously considered by the President’s cabinet or the leadersahip of the House and the Senate. What will happen if the “peaceful transfer of power” we have come to expect following our elections is finally challenged?

These are questions that seldom if ever came to mind before the Trump administration began to display an inherent and troubling disregard for both the moral constraints his predecessors respected and the mandates defined by our Constitution. The men who designed our government carefully structured its elements to ensure its lasting applicabilty, with every regard to providing constraints against the possibility of institutional corruption and the danger of autocracy, but they put down a rather large bet upon the idea of a democratic republic. That gamble hinged upon a participating and intellgent electorate.

In 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to William C. Jarvis, “I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

I believe this is the priority in response to our present dilemma, but like good wine, an educated electorate able to respond to the dangerous and anti-intellectual trends of authoritarian populists takes time.

If we start today……………

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada June 18, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker –