A fairly bad sci-fi movie…but this scene has much in it to, as the talking heads say, “unpack.”
America is involved in an invisible civil war right now the rest of the world is very much aware of. Other nations are looking on and talking about it but here we cannot see the forest for the trees. Since 1945 the human race has collectively trembled at the thought of nuclear war and a new dark age, if not extinction. Just when it seemed the threat of nuclear warfare was diminishing we are now faced with civil unrest and the possible unraveling of democracy.
I tend to blame it on smart phones. I do not own one but I have certainly been a witness to the effects of this technology. The worst feature is the time that was previously used watching and contemplating the news from a few trusted sources is now…a thing of the past. There was a time not so long ago that a significant percentage of the population had some knowledge of the history of our species and how the different systems of government mostly have not succeeded. The single most successful attempt at a government seeking to do the most good for the most people as I have explained it to some of my coworkers is incomprehensible. They simply do not have the foundation to understand it. The history of Embedded Liberalism, which sustained America before and after World War II, is now almost completely unknown. Demagoguery has become the new guiding light. Guiding us off a cliff.
From The Washington Post (Abridged):
Opinion by E.J. Dionne Jr.
Donald Trump took his campaign against American democracy to North Carolina on Saturday and offered a rambling, grievance-laden harangue that ought to catalyze Republican leaders to repudiate a man whose lies, bigotry and irrationality are turning their party into a moral sinkhole.
Fat chance, I know. But Republicans should watch Trump’s 90-minute diatribe in its entirety. They might realize that tying their fate to a washed-up demagogue and the extremists he cultivates is not only an affront to decency. It could also be a colossal political mistake.
Most Washington Republicans say they want to “move on” from Trump. But they avoid anything that might offend his delicate sensibilities or those of his supporters.
Sorry, guys, but you won’t be able to “move on” to the responsible governing you purport to believe in until you confront the anti-democratic virus in your party and the vile man spreading the contagion.
And spread it Trump did during his 90-minute soliloquy at the state GOP convention in Greenville, N.C. Almost everything he said drew raucous cheers — except, curiously, his taking full credit for the pandemic-ending vaccines.
Now, I suspect that a substantial majority of Americans — certainly this one — would prefer to ignore Trump and let him rave into a void.
Alas, there is no void, as his adoring crowd demonstrated Saturday.
They warmed to his staple attacks on “criminal aliens” and “murderers, drug dealers”; his calls for China to pay $10 trillion in global “reparations” for covid-19 damage; all of it peppered with distorted critiques of President Biden’s policies. To cover up his own pandemic failures, he joined his allies’ escalating campaign against Anthony Fauci, whom he called “a hell of a promoter” but also “a radical masker” who had been “wrong on almost every issue.”
Trump’s most energetic moments came in service to two of his favorite causes: the “disgrace” of the 2020 election and defending himself.
One falsehood followed another about “thousands and thousands of people, dead people” casting ballots, dropboxes as tools of fraud in “the most corrupt election in the history of our country” and the supposed manipulation of mail ballots by Democrats.
And referring to the ongoing investigations of his business activities, Trump denounced New York’s “radical-left prosecutors” and their “crusade to inflict pain on me.”
You might dismiss it all as a nostalgic road show but for this: Polls show that most Republicans believe Trump’s preposterous election claims. Republican politicians in at least 14 states have deployed Trump’s fantasies as excuses to pass voter-suppression measures, some of which read as if they were translated directly from the Russian or the Hungarian. Imitating the efforts of strongmen abroad to undercut free electoral competition, some of these laws empower partisan bodies to set aside honest ballot counts.
And while Washington Republicans coddle Trump or fall silent, many in their party embrace the lunatic fringe.
Take the bizarre QAnon conspiracy. Pollsters at PRRI recently asked Americans if they agreed or disagreed that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”
An astonishing 23 percent of Republicans agreed, and 28 percent of Republicans agreed that “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”
Not being a rocket scientist myself, it might be well to try and effect that old liberal saw and actually educate the average person (with an IQ of 100). This needs to be done in a reasonably short period of time (45 minutes is, if I recall correctly, how long the average person can pay attention). Unfortunately, as I mentioned, smart phones have chopped that 3 quarters of an hour down to likely less than ten minutes. I suspect four “episodes” of about ten minutes and not too densely packed with information, is what might work. My father once told me there is a “rule of three” that can be applied to most things and three points to each episode seems to be a good idea. So I am going to try and do that…and as my daughter urged me, put it into a podcast.
One Dash One
- Communism is an ideology whose main feature is the abolition of private property.
- Capitalism is an ideology whose main feature is the unalienable right to private property.
- Socialism can be seen as a system utilizing both features in the most utilitarian (the greatest good for the greatest number) way possible. It is not that hard to understand.
There is socialism that leans way to the left and socialism that leans way to the right.
Much of the political violence that has brought down empires through the centuries and is presently plaguing America in the form of Trumpism concerns these three principle talking points- Communism, Capitalism, and Socialism. One of my wife’s teachers in seminary, very famous in theological circles, taught her- and she taught me- about “latifundialization”, and in this first episode I want to talk about the term latifundialization. I believe it is the best way to understand the three principle political talking points in our society today, which are Communism, Capitalism, and Socialism.
Historians have a saying that we are all children of Rome because much of the way the modern world works can be traced back to ancient Rome. Our representative democracy is an example of this. Rome, like most Empires, started out as a rural community of farmers that banded together to collectively protect their individual parcels of land. Collective and individual are two key words here that are often spun and misrepresented by politicians and demagogues. The term “collective” is endlessly demonized as just another word for the great satan known as communism but it is really an idea that must NOT be demonized. Cooperation as a collective operation is what makes human society possible. A poem written in1624, “No Man is an Island”, explains this quite well. No house stands divided against itself.
As Rome became an empire through the centuries the small farmer gradually became no more as rich and powerful individuals and families acquired and combined all the land into giant estates called Latifundia. This same story plays out in the bible and in almost every nation across history. Capitalism is essentially about ownership of land, and in the modern world, possession of that magical property called money. In the ancient world it was also ownership of other human beings. Slavery was the civilization-building fossil fuel of the ancient world and it was slaves that worked the great estates of the rich. In 1917, as the first world war raged, Russia’s impoverished masses, many who were essentially slaves in everything but name, rebelled. The corrupt Czarist regime fell and thus the evil empire known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, also known as the Soviet Union, was soon to be born. Communism was on the march.
The story I am telling leaves many details out of course. How much this misrepresents depends on the preexisting bias of the writer and reader. My favorite telling of the story of the American New Deal is damned as pure nonsense by those on the far right and is also maligned by the left. I have related it on this blog before and it goes like this:
The greatest danger to democracy after the civil war (until recently) was generated by technology. Fossil fuel fired factories and steam engines in ships and locomotives began to pour wealth into individual pockets in amounts never seen before in history. The legend is that Teddy Roosevelt saved America from the Robber Barons at the turn of the century but the corruption they had created finally destroyed the U.S. economy in 1929. The communists and labor unions suddenly became quite powerful as near-starving soon-to-be homeless people tend to come together “in solidarity.” The second President Roosevelt, FDR, was approached and told if he did not fix the problem then another Russian revolution was certain- this time in America. Thus was born The New Deal with progressive taxation as high as 91 percent on the top earners, social security, jobs programs, and unemployment insurance.
This system is called Imbedded Liberalism. The term liberalism here actually has the old meaning which is the opposite of what people think of as liberalism today. It is essentially socialism that leans way to the right. It allows people to be relatively rich and keep a certain amount of the wealth they acquire. This is absolute blasphemy to capitalists and very unsatisfying to communists. It is about redistributing a “fair” part of the wealth from the few to the many by way of progressive taxation. The more you make the more you pay. Capitalists call it blatant theft from the individual and communists consider any private wealth to be theft to start with. See how that works? What this system seeks to accomplish is to prevent a few percent of the population from impoverishing the rest or overthrowing democracy by way of their obscene wealth.
The rich pursue propaganda and demagoguery as the path to preserving their vast wealth while the poor pursue…getting a job so they can pay their bills.
It is the demagogue-
(noun “a political leader who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument.” a gifted demagogue with particular skill in manipulating the press“)
-and the new technology of algorithms used by social media companies that have pushed the mightiest nation in history to the brink of a second civil war.
Out of control capitalism with a few living in luxury owning everything while the many labor in squalor with nothing is nothing new and goes back thousands of years; latifundialization. To manipulate the wage slave into being “happy” and worshipping their semi-divine masters is the oldest game of all. We are told we too can be gods with a little g if we work hard enough. The reality is that only a tiny fraction of our labor is returned to us. Most of it goes in the pockets of those in the layers of control above us who do very little except make decisions. The decisions that benefit us least of all. That is the truth about greed and amassing wealth- it is a Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest game and almost all of us are born into the bottom of an artificial food chain. In reality we are not lions and lambs; we are all human. Some are smarter but not deserving of 740,000 times more than the rest (Bezos fortune upon retiring at age 57).
They will tell you they do deserve every penny and the rest of us do not. You decide. In 1789 the French, inspired by the American Revolution, decided the rich did not deserve to own everything while they went hungry and soon after there were many Guillotines.
The anarchy and chaos of revolutions often result in something far worse than the original injustice. The odds are not good. Fascism is not good.