It’s 2022. February.
The world is (as has come to be the norm) on the brink of war, with many small conflagrations keeping munitions industry investors busy counting their profits. Massive demonstrations lauded by the corporate media from January of 2017 until January of 2021 are now anathema, despicable and unjustifiable traitorous insurrections. Those who believe that abortion is a right because our bodies are ours to do with as we will now demand that others consume medications they oppose, … well, just because. Political incoherence reigns; truth is irrelevant, hypocrisy has become an art form. In the United States we are more polarized than at any time since the Civil War. The Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” is clearly in place.
But: … who are we and how did we get where we find ourselves? Who or what is responsible? How likely are we to survive as a civil society?
A fundamental analysis may be a good place to start answering these existential questions. As a political analyst, writer, academic and historian, it seems to me that a starting point is exploring the fundamental philosophical tensions that impact our sociopolitical decision making process and that starts with the dual nature each of us shares: we are both individuals and members of concentric rings of collectives, and the stress we place on one or the other of such natures is a dividing point. It seems obvious that reconciliation of both aspects of our nature, when possible, is the best policy. Both our autonomy as individuals and the collaboration required to participate in groups need to be respected in order for collaborative concepts such as the economy, the family, government, religion, education, etc. to function. But what happens when one or the other aspects of our nature conflict in a manner that cannot be resolved and one has to be prioritized over the other?
To collectivists on what has arbitrarily come to be defined as the left wing of the political spectrum, as the fictional character Spock noted, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few); individualists on the right disagree by favoring individual rights. Of course, there are those who react rather than philosophize and to whom logical consistency is irrelevant. Some of those can be classified as a center comprised of a conglomeration of the apathetic and those who have no fixed values but are conflict averse (a good thing). Unfortunately; a dangerous second group, a tiny minority, is comprised of a non-ideological but immensely powerful social cancer that has come to be referred to as a Deep State.
One form of Deep State or another exists everywhere and has probably always existed. There is a political theory that posits that humans are always ruled by an elite minority. Elite theory is superficially dealt with in Wikipedia where, in very general terms, it is defined as: “… a theory of the state that … posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite and policy-planning networks, holds the most power—and that this power is independent of democratic elections.” As with most articles in Wikipedia, it is subject to manipulation and its accuracy is not assured, but as a broad outline and starting point for research, it is at least adequate. In essence, Elite Theory claims that democracy is at best an illusion and a tool used by elites to manipulate the vast majority into actions of benefit primarily to the small group of dedicated individuals, families and professions who have attained and will not relinquish economic, social and political power. That certainly seems to the society in which we find ourselves; however, because it is so one sided that the gap between the wealthy and everyone else is increasing exponentially (see Piketty, Tomas [2013, English translation 2014], “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674430006), a populist counter reaction has been building and had a very direct impact on the United States presidential election in 2016, from both the left (the Democratic Party’s so called Sanderistas) and on the right (the GOP’s Tea Party). The right wing populist victory threw the Deep State into a panic, forcing it to reveal itself in order to stage a “soft coup” with the assistance of the Democratic Party, traditionalist Republicans, the corporate media and the newly emergent elite controlled social media platforms, and to impose authoritarian methods in the United States and elsewhere, including large scale censorship in order to prevent a recurrence. Left wing populists, led, in the Democratic Party by Tulsi Gabbard, were successfully contained with the assistance of perceived populist leaders like Bernie sanders and Elizabeth Warren who proved all too willing to work with Deep State elites to derail their own populist revolt.
With the essential assistance of the corporate media and social media platform censorship, Deep State elitists were able to manipulate the Covid 19 pandemic to assume unprecedented control by strategically sabotaging the world economy through socioeconomic lockdowns and medical mandates as well as by divisive social polarization that set the population to bickering over historical events rather than populist solutions to current socioeconomic crises, with race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and religion all used to distract the electorate while concurrently, protecting elite investments in the profitable armaments industry by aggravating international tensions keeping the world on the brink of war, both is a series of local conflicts and the threat of major power nuclear confrontation. But right wing populist resistance, overcome in the United States through media control and electoral gimmicks during the 2018 and 2020 elections, seems to have recovered enough to significantly impact United States congressional elections set for November of this year. Left wing populists, on the other hand, with the exception of followers of Tulsi Gabbard and perhaps Dennis Kucinich, seem quiescent, and are being driven by elitist manipulation into support of the Deep State, of censorship and of restraints on civil liberties, all policies which they have traditionally opposed and abhorred. They are now the “woke”, Cancel Culture warriors, the thought police of whom George Orwell wrote in the late 1940s. Ironically, the elites’ best friends.
It remains to be seen whether those on the “center” will prove as gullible as those on the populist left, as gullible as Abraham Lincoln once noted when he reflected that “you can fool all of the People some of the time and some of the People all of the time” or, whether even the apathetic center is fed up enough to bring the third part of that quotation into play: “but you can’t fool all of the People all of the time”.
It is interesting that right wing and left wing populists, while disagreeing as to policies, have a great deal in common and have usually been able to coexist, with the assistance of the apathetic and disinterested center. But not now, not today. Not when orchestrated polarization by Deep State elites have manipulated them into dysfunction through use of illusory issues, especially abortion and gun control now supplemented by racism, xenophobia and misogyny, issues not meant to be solved but rather, exacerbated for fun and profit. That is where we stand today, a day in February 2022.
Assuming that the electoral process has not been completely compromised through legislation and rules designed to facilitate electoral fraud, perhaps we may once again catch a glimpse of a populist wave this November. Unfortunately, one thing seems sure, elitist Deep Staters will not just sit back and watch, and in the long term, their faith in the usual disinterest of the vast majority of the citizenry in political matters which keeps them from participating as candidates and from even voting, is likely to return the elites to power (should it again be temporarily wrested from them), keeping the rest of us in chains, sometimes velvet but all too often in shades of stainless steel.
Exactly what happened with the socioeconomic revolts in 1776, 1789, 1848 and of course, in the nineteen-sixties!
Most children have beautiful smiles, at least until they are taught to hate. I wonder what kind of people the children born since 2019 will grow into given that hate has been converted into a virtue, given that they have experienced their socially formative years, in large part, in politically imposed isolation, with education limited, with playgrounds closed?
Children tend to be resilient, after all, they survive, even in Yemen and Afghanistan, at least if they’re not killed by drones. Will humankind perhaps have learned that calumny and ridicule and censorship do not change hearts, by the time they’re grown?
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo (“Bill”) 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 also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com