Monday, January 14, 2013

Where would you start..?

You all probably know that I am not sanguine about the prospects for my country in the long term. Even in the medium term, for that matter. The forces of entropy combined with the forces of oligarchy are simply too strong.

The resurgent power of the myopic rich, for example, who have like their predecessors the Bourbons learned nothing and forgotten nothing from the last time they shat the national bed back in 1929. The decayed public press that seems every day more and more supine and fawning towards the purveyors of power (both in government and in "business", to whatever degree those institutions may be distinguished from one another these days...), wealth, and celebrity while both ignorant and contemptuous of those of us not wealthy, powerful, or a guest on this week's Oprah.

The utter lack of power, and influence on the levers of power, of those individuals or institutions that DO lean towards fighting for those of us not in the two-yacht family; the labor unions, the muckraking journalists, the iconoclastic politicians.

No. I do not see this nation being anything but colder, leaner, viler, and less welcoming for those of us not born to the purple in the coming years.

But that is merely the "big picture" sense I have of the current arc of the United States. There's no genuine frisson of immediate fear there, no bright flash of sudden fury; just a slow, smouldering groundfire of anger at the coterie of inelegant fucktards whose gibbering idiocy pushes my country back to the future of the Gilded Age at home and constant inchoate farkling about overseas.

Rather, it is when I am forcibly confronted with the immense magnitude of the sort of short-term, immediate dumbfuckery my nation is engaged in both at home and abroad that I really despair.

And the real reason is; let's assume for the sake of argument that a critical mass of both the public, the press, and our government officials - 54%, let's say, of every one of those groups - woke up tomorrow slapping their collective and individual foreheads and groaning "What the fuck have we done?", resolving immediately to take action to address the issues currently rending our body politic
...massive unemployment, deepening financial inequality, the continuing desuetude of a large dienfranchised portion of the citizenry, the trifecta of poverty-ignorance-want that have that portion a subtraction on our collective polity rather than an addition to it, and a ridiculously misapplied "defense" policy that drenches our military with largesse while the only active foe is a band of raggedy-assed jihadi wannabes and the only even-close-to-peer-foe is too busy poisoning itself to even come close to taking a whack at us while refusing to even attempt to take a clearheaded view of where all that money and time is going...
my thought would be...what the hell could they do about it?

About a quarter to a third of the public is completely lost. Drowned in tinfoil hat fears of islamic enemies and drenched in idiotic obsessions with trivia utterly disconnected with the welfare of the commons - things like abortion, prayer in schools, vote fraud, and whatever-the-hell-other bizarre shit Fox News has shoved through their ear- and eyeholes into their tiny little brains, they will not ever consent to rational government. Charlie Pierce neatly sums up the approach that this toxic minority, this confederacy of dunces, brings to the Republic;
"All the politicians and all the people down there covering them, and all the people who are now expressing such utter disbelief that poo-flinging monkeys fling poo. We have had at least two years — I would argue at least two decades — of organized denial of what the Republican party actually has made of itself. We have had at least two years — I would argue at least three decades — of tolerating barely disguised nihilism as legitimate conservative thought. Now, chickens are back on the roost, the inmates are running the asylum, and crows do sit upon the capitol, and compromise never has been rendered more of a curse than it was today."
There's just no there there. No sanity, no proportionality, no civic duty, just the filthy raw greed of feral children who see no need for the game to continue if they don't get everything exactly as they want it.

And because the lunatic that doesn't just threaten but is really willing to blow up the orphanage will always have the advantage over the sane people who don't want the orphans to die these fucktards will always have the ability to knock over the milk carton.

And that's just the proles. Amongst the nobility, in and among our governing classes there is the block-like stupidity and persistence of fucktardry that comes with the complete lack of accountability or even fear of accountability, of anyone anywhere within the structures of political power for such fucktardry.

Think of something fucked up that has happened since September 11, 2001. Invading sovereign nations based on lies. Warrentless spying. Secret prisons. Torture. The utterly insane and dysfunctional metastasizing of the national security state. Foreign entanglements conducted without the slightest shred of evidence of national interests and, in fact, often the strong evidence of the likelihood of harmful blowback.

And who has paid for these, whether in terms of public shame or private suffering?

Where are the prosecutions, the convictions, the imprisonment of the torturers? Of the people who ginned up "aggressive war" that sent those nasty evil Nazis to the gallows? The people who murdered helpless captives during "enhanced interrogation" AND those who authorized those interrogations AND those whose literally-tortured legalese paved the wide path to Hell for those interrogations? Who spied on people without warrants or without any real reason other than "suspicion"? Who are part of the Obama Administration's Star Chamber, where death warrants are signed and delivered without a shred of speedy and public trial or any evidence at all, for all we know?

So it appears to me that we have lost any hope of gaining the attention of the our rulers, even assuming that there was not an indigestible bloc among the citizenry that would fight any such attention-demanding AND that there was a genuinely decent press to amplify and clarify such a demand.

The well we have dug ourselves (not the vast well of inequality and undemocracy we are delving in the future but the immediate malfosse of stupidity, greed, anger, sloth, and all the other Vices we have let ourselves indulge so freely in) is, therefore, so deep and so dark that we do not seem able to even see into it, much less pull ourselves away from it.

The voices crying out that the danger is not just ahead but upon us are few, scattered, and too weak to penetrate the fog of indolence and stupidity that lies so thickly over the U.S. public.

This notional sovereign is asleep, or distracted, or mad, and the ship of state seems destined for some unknown iceberg somewhere ahead that I cannot see and do not conceive of but cannot imagine is not waiting for us. And given that we cannot seem to agree, much less address, these immediate and obvious fooleries I have no hope, none, that the prospect for a safe landfall for my children or their children is toward.

I simply can't imagine; if you were to spark such a hope, where the hell would you start?


Ael said...

How about full employment.

Alas, you know that we are regressing when you start agreeing with marxists.

FDChief said...

I had a pal who was an old-school Red who used to say that hardcore capitalists made the best propaganda the Marxists ever dreamed of.

And looking back at the past decade I'd have to sadly agree...

Ael said...

To tackle the problem of "where do you start" you have 3 basic options
1) flight.
2) fight.
3) hide.

I assume that you (like me) are basically in hiding (hoping that the eagle with its sharp claws goes for some other poor mouse). I further assume that you want to abandon this time honoured strategy of mice, rats and rabbits.

Thus your choices are to flee or fight. Fleeing can work, but exposes you to other dangers. As a technical expert, I suspect that you have somewhat portable skills.

Further assuming that you decide to fight rather than flee, then the traditional choice is political activism. Again, the tradition is to start locally (where successes will much more directly affect you and yours than any likely immediate success on national issues.) Get involved politically. You have a talent for writing. Get to know the local political organizations. Determine if you can co-opt one of those organizations to suit your desires or if you need to build you own organization. (in which case your prior experiences will suit you well.)

With your experience as an NCO and your talent for communication you are be a prize catch for any political organization. If you have gone to any local political events you know what I am talking about. Shop yourself around.

FDChief said...

I guess my concern is that to become anything more than another brick in the wall I'd have to jump into the local political scene and devote myself to someone. We do have some pretty progressive pols here, but in a sense that's the problem; there's not a whole lot of room to make changes. Like most of the rest of the country, Oregon has been pretty well gerrymandered. The blue parts are blue, and the red parts red. Short of a true catastrophe like '29 that doesn't look like it's changeable...

The one place I have given some thought to is trying to organize GOTV in the "red" parts. But even the poor folks in a lot of rural Oregon are pretty hard-right. Trying to get them to vote might not end the way I'd like it to.

The other problem being that at my age my job isn't so fungible that I can afford to lose it at this point. So it puts a hell of a lot of limits on the amount of politicking I can do.

But I think the biggest roadblock I see is that as I noted in the post, there's this immovable object the combines 1) the hardcore Right, 2) the culture of "what, me worry?" in D.C., and 3) the immense who-gives-a-shit attitude amongst about half of the remaining 2/3rds of the public.

I mean, with ol' Doc Maddow, and Krugman, and Colbert, and all the great lefty bloggers out there all the way back to Steve Gilliard slamming the hammer into the collective forehead and this is the result...

I don't know if I'm ready to break my heart that hard yet.

Ael said...

Play to your strengths, not your weaknesses.

You can write well, do research and mostly draw cartoons. None of these things demand appointment type time commitments.

These talents have *got* to be useful politically.

Futherrmore you know how large and stupid organizations work. You also know how to exploit them. (Any NCO does). Finally, you can organize people to do specific actions.

Again, find some *local* organization or three and see where your strengths can help. Maintain some organizations web page, run a mailing list. If nothing else, you can write up grant applications (of various kinds).

Lisa said...

Ael has some great suggestions.


the fog of indolence and stupidity that lies so thickly over the U.S. public.

This notional sovereign is asleep, or distracted, or mad, and the ship of state seems destined for some unknown iceberg somewhere ahead that I cannot see ...

I share your view, and feel strongly the "ship of state" has put them there. ISTM people fall so readily into nattering mindlessness ... just keep the nachos and media feed coming.

Podunk Paul said...

Whatever you do, Chief, make provision to save this blog, since computer stuff becomes almost impossible to retrieve as programs evolve and change. Like the diaries of Samuel Pepys or Mary Chestnut, your work will, I venture to say, become more valuable with time. And it will enable your grandchildren and great grandchildren to know you.