Lions and Tigers and Bears. …. Oh My!

Lions and Tigers and Bears. …. Oh My!

Full employment is not a panacea. Slaves enjoyed “full employment”, and more than full employment. They “enjoyed” free health care of sorts, and “free” room and board. But that’s not the type of panacea we’re looking for. On the other hand, hyperbole and hysteria aside, that is more the direction we’re drifting back towards; however slowly.

The gap between the wealthiest and poorest is expanding, not geometrically, that’s true, at least for now, but much too quickly and with much too much inertia to stop, possibly ever.  It’s like when a rocket attains escape velocity but we were not invited on the ride.

With the wealthiest in control of the economy, the government (both major political parties here as well as most major parties in what we call the Western World, although on a globe, how much sense does that really make?), as well as the mainstream media, there can be little to no prospects for sustained improvement and perhaps none for resolution. In the short term, improvement is not a logical option for the controlling segment of our population as improvement for the poor means a detriment, however slight, to the wealthy. It was neither logical not pragmatic, in the short term, for slaveholders to abolish slavery, so they didn’t. Why would things be different now? And the long term, well, … that’s for us to dream about mañana.

Behaviorist strategies, tactics and techniques utilized through control of the mainstream media in a democratic context make it relatively easy to lead us towards terrible electoral choices and no, I am not referring to the current administration, at least not to the current administration alone. It bucked the odds to win the elections although governing is another thing. The strategy of divide and conquer is firmly in play domestically, now more than ever. The gulf between each of us and others is being rendered “virtually” impossible to breach, as more and more “wedge” issues are brought to the fore, if they really exist, and just made up where they don’t. Abortion, gun control, gay rights, religious liberty, take your pick but now supplemented by something as ludicrous as created outrage over two horrible health plans on the one side, and purported immigrant rights, that have never existed in our xenophobic society on the other. Imagine, the political party that proposed a border wall with Mexico in the first place, and whose political stars voted for it while in the Senate, and whose last president created the concept of strict vetting of immigrants and refugees from war zones he and his former secretary of state created, now uses its temporary control of the federal judiciary to block what they promoted because it’s the other party doing it. And the mainstream media cheers on.

How stupid do they think we are? Pretty stupid! And it seems that looking at us collectively, they’re probably right.

How many requests for political contributions do you get in the average day, accompanied by hyperbolically hysterical pleas? I may get as many as a dozen but generally at least four. And each of the accompanying letters seeks to generate more and more hate and to divide us more and more. And we seem fine with that although the truth is maybe we’re not but we just don’t realize it. The mainstream media tells us what it is we’re all thinking, with polls that prove inaccurate in the end, but gauging real probabilities is no longer their role. It’s pushing us to either climb on the bandwagon lest we be left behind, or to panic. In either case, furiously!

And we’re permitting it. We are permitting ourselves to be manipulated through fear and hate so that we do nothing to change the downward spiraling reality we face. A world where war and human rights violations are the norm in the purported name of democracy and liberty and where technological innovation, rather than being the patrimony of humanity to improve our lives, is a tool to lower our wages and benefits and standards of living. And where hate and fear spike our emotions while they drain our resolve (and our checking accounts and petty cash). Just one more donation, please, even if it’s only a dollar, signed incredibly wealthy celebrity smirking (but not to our faces).

It’s not the Russians, or the North Koreans, or the Iranians, or the Chinese we have to fear. It’s the leadership of our current major political parties, our own financiers and industrialists and perhaps, most of all, our malevolent mass media which makes it all, not just possible but probable.

Perhaps we have to recognize that democracy just doesn’t work, that we lack the responsibility, resolve and self-discipline that it takes to make it work. That rather than being in an analog of the early Roman Republic, we are an analog of the Rome the philosopher Seneca bemoaned when he concluded that the Republic could not be restored because the Roman citizens had disappeared, lulled by bread and circuses and bullied by fury and fear. It may be that we find ourselves in that juncture between Julius Caesar, the “populist”, and his grandnephew, Octavian, the first emperor (or first citizen as he was formally called) when it was really too late to do anything but try to make the best of our rape.

What a sad lot we’ve permitted ourselves to become. The French revolutionaries found a sick and bloody way out of a similar dilemma but the powers that be have learned much more from that experience than have we and are much better prepared to deal with the “mob”, should it ever awake. We permitted ourselves to become a police state surrendering our freedoms and liberties in the name of security, security which our constant foreign military incursions render illusory. Damn you George Orwell and your “I told you so’s”.

I can almost hear the echo of Benjamin Franklin declaiming that those who trade liberty for security lose them both. I know, I know, you told us so too, and earlier as well.

So, anyway, off to your protests and send in your contributions, and hate your neighbor as you ought to hate yourself. It may be that our best hope is a drug induced haze with plenty of alcohol and a hope that enough smoking will cut short the crisis, at least as to us.

Here’s to ya all!

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved

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