I Wonder if Baum and Orwell Ever Met

2018 Government shutdown

I woke up this morning uneasy. It happens a lot now.

One theme had a religious – philosophical – pragmatic theme, one involving trying to understand mass religious beliefs that defy quotidian experience. If the Abrahamic god incarnated to experience what it was like to be human, how could “he” have eschewed sexuality and how could “he” have eschewed a major part of life as a member of a nuclear family with a wife and children? How could “he” have eschewed life as a woman, or how could “he” have eschewed old age. The answer is a resounding, “He” is omniscient so “he” already had the answers, but that raises the question, “why then the experiment”? Was it just for show? Was it merely divine sadomasochism?

On more mundane matters I awoke reflecting on the probability that manipulative Identity Politics are responsible for the rising worldwide reactionary tide, a predictable reaction against ludicrous distortions and attempted solipsistic manipulation eschewing common experience. Yesterday, purported liberals hysterically criticized the opinion that the presumption of innocence has any continuing value when it involves people they don’t like or causes that for the moment they don’t find useful; they also hysterically criticized the opinion that freedom of speech applies to their adversaries seeing the concept more as the freedom to prevent others from speaking, kind of like the Puritans interpreted the concept of freedom of conscience.

I’ve had a long voyage towards the sociopolitical and economic perspectives I now espouse. I started on the individualistic right and have navigated the political spectrum, at least mentally, and am now unabashedly on the collectivist left, but a collectivist left with a profound respect for individual rights that do not clash with the rights of others. It may be that I’ll eventually wind up an anarchist, utterly disgusted as I am with the perpetual ascendancy of hypocrisy and self-reinforced stupidity, with short sightedness, with the lack of political and civic empathy, with hypocritical intolerance.

One of the things I and many who think as I do most resent is the perspective among Republicans and conservatives and libertarians that Democrats are representative of the collectivist left rather than merely more hypocritical fellow travelers along the neoliberal – neoconservative superhighway towards assured, lemming-like suicide; especially today’s destroy at all costs Clinton – Obama Democrats. They are not representative of the collectivist left, they are merely the shepherds of deluded collections of minorities politically enshackled into repeating mistakes that keep them from attaining their true potential; enshackled through the politics of fear and division and hate they attribute to their opponents, as though mirrors were alien concepts.

No wonder populism is ascendant all over the world, albeit unfortunately, reacting in directions that in the end are also self-defeating, also based on the politics of fear and division and hate. That is all too often the nature of political reactions: generation of complementarily destructive mirror images.

Among purported liberals “populism” is now defined as democracy gone wrong but that is only true if “democracy” is perceived of as successful elitist and oligarchic manipulation of majorities for selfish ends. A better definition would analogize populism with real democracy where, right or wrong, the electorate imposes its own political will. But the shepherds are out in force, their snarling dogs (the mainstream media) at their side, trying to bully everyone back in line, truth be damned, in for a penny, in for a dime.

Today, the real collectivist left, real progressives, real liberals, true to principles coherently applied battles on, as always, from the sidelines, from alternative and social media, attacked by the purported mainstream as “Fake”; now threatened, as Orwell foresaw, by censorship, albeit somewhat ironically applied through the corporatist (think fascist, for those who know that “fascist” is more than a pejorative term) oligarchy comprised of a melding of new billionaires, old money and the Deep State. But we’ve always been threatened and somehow, we’re still around.

In a melding of this morning’s twin reflections I wonder at the irony that so many of us on the real left are atheists, or at best agnostics, but that the messages of the purportedly sacrificed progeny of the Abrahamic god are our own, “love each other” and “do onto others as you would have them do unto you”.

As L. Frank Baum’s fictional Wicked Witch of the West is purported to have uttered as she melted “… what a world, what a world”!

I wonder if Baum and Orwell ever met?

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2018; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

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