Note — I’m sick and tired of Trump and his crap, but it’s Halloween, so what better ghoul to get us started! Plus, as the article suggests, some things can’t be ignored, not without increasing the risk to ourselves and our loved ones. Some things we have to acknowledge, even if they’re unsavory and foul. We have to understand what drives them so we can get to the bottom of them and exorcise them.
[Previously on Ignore The Nutjobs At Our Peril: The big players loophole their way into an advantage the average American can’t employ, and small businesses fall prey to the advancing corporate machine, and the middle class dwindles — let’s not even mention the poor — and the vast majority of Americans lose faith in business as usual.]
People in the USA are hurting, and they know that the way it’s going, it’s not going to get better. As things stand, even in the best case scenario, it’s going to get worse. The system is a mess. Medium and small businesses are hurting. The average Joe and Jane are stuck. Little by little, their resources will be diminished or appropriated, their standing eroded, their prospects chiseled away and their future stolen from under their feet.
And we haven’t even touched the racial problems across America. A racism that has been simmering a long time, waiting to blow. White America is livid, terrified it’s no longer in charge, the fear working its way through the system, between the lines, getting worse every year.
With the advent of Trump and his demented rhetoric, white-supremacy America sees an opening. Time to (re)take charge, they say, deeming themselves resurgent heroes, erecting a platform from which to rage and plunder, making the most of old prejudices, standing in the way of progress, against the core of a just republic. America’s hard-earned strides forward are getting rolled back. The movement is threatening to steal a generation, and has got to be pushed back, repelled and defeated in a landslide, or else the USA and the world in general are taking a huge step backwards.
Imagine if this happens. Persecuting people for their skin color and religion will grow from norm to policy. The West will degenerate and tumble. Our countries, once bastions of openness and functionality, will fall prey to revanchism.
We’ll see people we have known and hung out with for years turn into postmodern-day blackshirts and brownshirts who roam the neighborhood streets and the world wide web looking for transgressors, eager to cleanse the area of whoever they deem inappropriate to our culture; sending ethnics away; imprisoning them, or generally punishing them for not subscribing to our belief systems willy-nilly.
We’ll turn into a western kind of Soviet Union. A kind of Saudi Arabia. An Islamic Republic of Iran-type thing.
If you gasped at the last sentence, hold that thought. I added it for a reason, prepping the way ahead.
(Boy, you’re going to love where this is going. You can already feel the contradictions working through the consensual narrative, I know, and they’re packing razors, the Occam type, shaving down the conversation to simple analogies, introducing common sense to the debate. Don’t worry, we’ll get there in due course. I hope you enjoy close shaves, and no, don’t fidget or you’ll get cut. Or, you can bail out now, if you’re not comfortable. Do it while there’s still time, prevent yourself from facing these contradictions. Preserve your monolithic understanding of this world and its underwritten ‘order’ by tailing off.)
For those of you still reading, you’ve probably thought long and hard about it. The dangers of white-supremacy America are all too obvious.
I’m here to raise attention to the non-so-obvious risks. This includes the politics of crisis and the mindsets that bubble from it, left and right. All social and political causes come with caveats, even righteous ones. Resistance is necessary, but it’s often dangerous, fraught with peril and temptation. Take a cause an inch too far and it overshoots its target by a mile, and pretty soon we’re lost down a road from which there’s no turning back.
Progress is not immune to the phenomenon of overshooting and getting lost down dead ends
A cause like all others, a super-cause of sorts, progress comes with a certain amount of arrogance, some of which is necessary, some of which is duplicitous and self-defeating. Progress underlies every kind of approach, looking to improve on life on a variety of platforms, and it is pervasive and righteous. In the name of a better and more inclusive world, a finer world, progressive people easily shut down others, becoming increasingly self-righteous and intolerant in the process, leading to a tyranny of sorts, an oppression in the name of whatever noble cause they represent.
It happened with the Bolsheviks who rose up against the Czar and his corrupt and oppressive feudal system. The Bolsheviks had every moral right in the book at first, not to mention progress on their side, a cause that was forward-thinking and progressive.
Over the years, by a weird turn of fate, these progressive revolutionaries, these righteous ‘majoritarians,’ lost the plot and went berserk on the very people they were supposed to represent, all in the name of the ‘majority.’
It happened with the French republicans, too, who took up arms against the exploitative and oppressive French monarchy. It was a do or die period, a time for harsh measures. The guillotine, the republicans’ proud revolutionary invention, was an efficient but humane way to dispatch their enemies, they claimed. All in the name of the republic.
We all know how that experiment ended, and what a detour the republican cause took before it became a global staple.
How about the Nazis? (Didn’t see that coming? Nothing is off limits here!) The Nazis started off in 1902 as a legitimate popular movement. Their aim was to resist the humiliating and crushing terms of the Treaty of Versailles, a treaty that had reduced Germany to a super-inflated failed state. Germany had gone asking for it, or so the victors thought. The victorious Allied Powers, desperate to avoid another Great War down the line, placed the German people in a cruel economic vice, all in the name of international providence, and the rest is history. Up came the Nazis, bubbling out of national pride to defend German decency, going from strength to strength, slaughtering a few million people in the process because they wanted more living space, they said. From a justified cause in 1920 to the brutality of the Blitzkrieg and the Holocaust in the 40s.
The list goes on. The misstep and overshooting of progress continues to this day. The Germans again, just a couple of years ago. Despite what their ancestors suffered almost a century ago, the Germans chose to subject the entire state of Greece to a state of chronic dilapidation through an array of humiliating and destructive terms that came in the form of three callous memorandums: a financial aid conceived in bureaucratic, technocratic hell, reducing the failing Greek state to a humiliated one, all in the name of sounder economics and a united Europe.
And the Greeks, it happened to them, too. Despite being the butt of top-down financial callousness for a number of years, they treated the thousands of Syrian refugees and migrants pouring across their borders with a combination of kindness and cruelty that revealed not only the absence of firm state policy on the issue, or EU policy in general, but also the way things work in real life, on the national and international levels. When handled with heavy-handedness from the top down you tend to mete the same kind of heavy-handedness to those who look up to you, whose sheer presence screws with your affairs. Frustrated and unfocused, you kick, scream, and lash out at anyone who complicates things, even the less fortunate. Trickle-down economics, the atavistic kind.
It seems that we’re all guilty of something, to each our own. We suffer and let suffer.
Let the ones without sin cast the first stone, goes the story
Unfortunately the ground is littered with stones and shattered glass houses. Throwing stones is the way people try to punish others for throwing stones in the first place. It’s a vicious loop, correcting error with error, using violence against violence and injustice against injustice. People rise up against their oppressors, brandishing openness and progress to make life better, and in the process they end up abusing the privileges they earn, throwing the less fortunate back inside the gauntlet.
It happens whenever groups with grievances get carried away, issuing decree after decree with mounting righteousness, abusing their newly-acquired authority and its moral high ground until you can’t tell where the old oppression ended and the new one began.
The arrogance of progressives and revolutionaries in general, all the minorities who successfully oust their oppressors to claim a destiny for themselves, all the persecuted and once-oppressed, they tend to overplay their hand and screw things up big time, not just for themselves but for the overall system. They lose direction, not to mention their moral compass, becoming the very people against whom they had been protesting all their lives.
It doesn’t happen overnight. The process takes years to unfold, this ironic degeneration. It’s a glitch in the system, an economics thing. All systems are subject to entropy and corruption, righteousness and oppression. There’s always an Other to disagree with. Mismanagement of human and material resources. Privilege tends to be abused. The moral high ground becomes either a double standard or a war hammer.
Look at the USA, for example, how the gentle giant who liberated Europe from the Nazis and kept the Soviet Communists at bay eventually came to act in the belligerent, destructive manner so familiar to everyone during the last forty years. Left and right politics has little to do with it. Both US parties have been complicit to the double standards the US employs, and here we are, stuck with a giant who somehow transformed itself from a power of peace to a meddling superpower that creates pockets of instability and war around the world with systematic effort.
Of course it takes two to tango. The Soviets were doing the exact same thing at their end, fomenting destructive politics around the world, spreading communism and its damn franchises wherever they could.
But the Soviets collapsed — crash! — and good riddance to a system most monstrous and odious (there’s little I despise more than Soviet communism, it truly horrifies me to see what that system did to all those people, how it robbed them of their very souls) a system that resembles abused religion. An ideology that subjected millions of people to total subservience, robbing them of the urge to excel. Making them paranoid. Smashing them into a flatline. Killing their spirit in the name of a highhanded cause.
I despise communism with a passion. And good riddance to its bullshit, and not a moment too soon, but the world’s problems haven’t gone with it. There’s plenty of injustice and exploitation taking place, even in a post-communist world, and much of it comes from the so-called free world. The USA continues to pursue its destructive foreign policy, driving NATO’s overextension into the East, which even some NATO generals have branded a faulty and self-defeating strategy, one which confirms the West, the USA in particular, as a meddlesome player in world affairs.
Let’s apply an analogy to see how it works. The world outside the USA, especially the world beyond the EU and South Korea and Japan, are for all practical purposes the middle class and poor of the world combined, and the USA is nothing but a giant corporation muscling its way into their territory. It screws with local enterprises, sinks its talons in, taking out small business, establishing franchises, controlling the show.
Wow! I just heard some progressive heads explode into a migraine.
(I know! To be confronted with the arguments one uses against one’s local adversaries, the adversaries he or she deems heartless — to be confronted with the same arguments and realities, realizing that your country as it stands, business as usual, does the exact same things to so many people around the world, wow! Mad!)
(Note: the same applies to all developed countries, whose corporations outmuscle local ones in developing countries. The US is just an example.)
It’s more than anyone can handle, no matter how open-minded one is. Those who hear this either wipe it clean or come up with a label for the author. Traitor! Foreigner! Agitator! Terrorist! They shift the conversation to accusation, looking for easy ways with which to deal with the arguments presented to them, shutting them down in the name of whatever cause they can muster. They deflect and argue over the writer’s intentions — why he’s writing the way he is, what his secret motives are, he must have some — all the while not dealing the real issues, with the fact that their progressive and open-minded country is acting destructively and with great and ironic callousness where the less fortunate are concerned.
Again, this tendency to deflect and not focus on the real issue, this ability to be guilty of the very thing we’re fighting against, is a trait shared by all people. We’re guilty of the very things we oppose, doing harm to others without even realizing it. We rationalize our actions and make them sound necessary, or inevitable. Progress requires sacrifice, we proclaim. We tried helping out these people but they attacked us, so we have to take out the bad guys among them before they can make progress. We do things better, why aren’t they taking notes, learning from us? Why are they holding back? Etc etc.
To an extent, we’re justified in defending our way of doing things, and in getting into conflict with others. This is the real world, not a fairytale. People get involved in arguments and fights. They injure, suffer injury, and sometimes kill and die in the process.
But it’s the denial that makes the difference. The unwillingness to see the limits to one’s ways as one goes about one’s business. The irony behind the process, how business is done in the name of progress and openness, in the name of which people become less open to discussion and more prone to judgment, then to a shutdown, then to the exercise of authority because, hey, we have to defend our principles. Because we have the right, or God on our side, or just because we feel like it. Because we can.
It hurts to realize that we’re not that much different from our opponents.
When confronted with the raw reality of our actions, most of us go in full denial mode, rationalizing our choices, looking for ways to find fault in others, and to an extent, it’s a natural reaction.
But it’s also self-defeating.
Others still, they try to beat their opposition to the ground, deleting the need for a conversation, which kind of perpetuates the problem.
And so on and so forth, or, in this case, round and round the vicious circle.
Authoritarianism in the name of progress and openness and tolerance. A subtler kind of bigotry. A form of morality and power that risks causing immeasurable damage as it marches down Main Street, claiming to have the future by the balls. This tolerance that tolerates nothing other than a world that adheres strictly to its interpretation of the world, well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how unsound the premise is.
This is going to end badly, if things keep moving this way.
They don’t have to. There are ways around the self-sabotage. It’s possible to straddle the line and retain some kind of measure over the proceedings. A much-needed rationale that’s mindful and self-aware. It’s one thing to contain hate speech and hate crimes, and crime in general, and quite another to crack down on anyone who dares voice an opinion that happens to be unpopular at any given point in time, especially if that opinion is well-founded and -articulated. The lines are blurry, yes, but there are ways to straddle them, and it begins with not getting your knickers tied in a knot at the sound of something you don’t like.
Remember when the ultra-‘patriots’ of the George ‘Dubya’ Bush era branded those who disagreed with them ‘traitors?’ All it took was for a leftist to open his mouth and say ‘peace,’ ‘patience,’ ‘slowly,’ ‘negotiate,’ and the neo-cons had them pegged for treason! Remember how idiotic and self-serving that approach was, and how everyone with a brain called it out for its hypocritical stupidity?
Well, it goes both ways. There’s a lot of finger-pointing and finger-wagging these days, a whole lot of branding taking place. You raise the issue of religious fundamentalism and you’re good, but tackle Islamic fundamentalism and suddenly you’re a motherfucking lowlife, by default. It doesn’t matter what you said or how well you argued the point, what facts you used and what sources you cited — if you raised the issue of Islam when talking about San Bernandino, or any such event, you’re an Islamophobe, a hater, scum, end of story.
(The opposite and equally brainless reaction is, of course, to call Barack Obama a Muslim terrorist who wasn’t born in the US, and whose secret agenda is to hand over the US to Kenyan agitators. Talk about over the top. From one idiotic extreme to the other.)
The same goes when raising an issue on minorities, any issue, any minority. No matter how well-crafted your argument may be, you’re deemed guilty of having broached a taboo subject, and are immediately and without further ado typecast as a bigot of some kind, and marginalized, and told to shut up and never broach the subject again.
It would be good to remember that there are functional ways to tackle the hot issues of the day, taking out the hate from all conversations. It starts with responding to the content, engaging with what is said and responding to it in a manner that wins the day.
The flip side it to respond to the context, or to extrapolate willy-nilly, labeling before listening, which is how all narrow-minded causes advance, by narrowing down the conversation to a few acceptable talking points, until the way ahead is so thin and tenuous, a collapse is inevitable.
This is not a democracy, this progressive crackdown-way of doing things. It’s the beginning of cultural and political righteousness, which often leads to groupthink, which leads to civil conflict.
Remember when the Nazis started out in the mid-twenties? (Back to that example again.) They acted in the name of the weak and humiliated. They represented the resistance against unreason, the fight against the big shots of the day who had trashed Germany with their overshot righteousness. The Allied/Entente Powers had had enough of Prussian belligerence, so they decided to manacle the German people after the Great War, and that didn’t go down very well. Germany syncopated. People suffered and died of hunger and malnutrition. The super-inflation of the Weimar Republic swept the streets and households. And the Nazis found a footing.
These justifiably indignant radicals, these Nazis, they protested the degradation and humiliation of Germany with ever-increasing radicalism. They rose to defend the weak and tormented Germans among them, and, as it happens, got carried away with their firestorm policies, deciding it would be a good idea to vaporize a few million Jews to make up for the humiliation of the German nation, plus invade the whole of Europe while they were at it, and declare war on the US, too, for kicks, and here we are, happily standing on Nazi bones, pointing at their downfall, telling the world how awful and misguided these people were.
Dare we follow in their footsteps, carried away with whatever cause we represent? No matter how right we are, or think we are, there can be too much of a righteous reflex. People do awful things when acting in the name of what they deem the greater good.
Speaking of things going sideways, people losing perspective, remember Iran and Saudi Arabia? Those countries we mentioned we don’t want to be like, which, as a comment, made you wonder what the motives of this article were — if the author is a xenophobe, a bigot, an Islamophobe etc? Well, this is the point the article makes. We’re quick to deflect and judge based on the side points, without paying attention to the bigger picture. Iran and Saudi Arabia have been systematically and with the blessing of their entrenched authorities suppressing human rights, especially women’s, minorities’, and people who don’t abide by the state-sanctioned theocracy. Their systems are geared to crush dissenters to a pulp before they allow any form of criticism to rise to the surface.
And yet many of us, some of whom belong to the progressive cause, openness and reason our MO, rush to vilify those who single out Saudi Arabia and Iran, anyone who calls into question Saudi culture and Iranian politics. So caught up are these progressives in their need to judge on a whim — trigger-happy judgment, I call it — they’d rather bite your face off and call you a thousand names before they hear what you have to say, let alone consider it.
A precarious kind of progress, this is. It takes all of us down a slippery path, losing its footing at every step of the way.
Business as usual
If we fail to address the underlying problems with honesty and conviction, not just in the US but around the world, we’re headed for a global crisis.
But since we’re days away from the 2016 US election, let’s focus on the USA and its farce-slash-poison of an election.
Trump! Ousting Trump in order to preserve business as usual is not a lasting answer, not by a long shot. Get rid of the guy, yes, and not a moment too soon! Toss the sucker in the ash heap of history where he can waste away with the rest of the scum.
But to preserve business as usual, no, bad idea. Things are going to get a hell of a lot tighter and angrier and more volatile down the line if that happens. Business as usual abuses the playing field — it has been doing so for some time — and if its shortcomings are not addressed today, something’s going to give, maybe now, maybe later, and it’s going to give big time. And after it gives big time, it’s going to take big time. Like all ‘bolsheviks’ do. Left, right, it doesn’t matter. Give them the opportunity to rise, riding the wave of legitimate grievances from ordinary people, the bolsheviks and fascists of the day ride these grievances all the way to ruin and back, no matter their political dispositions, taking advantage of the disillusioned people they’re supposed to represent.
It’s happening in Britain right now. Theresa May, prime minister extraordinaire, and by extraordinaire we mean a disaster in the making, is trying to deliver the claptrap for which Messrs. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove campaigned, all that extra money that doesn’t exist, all the false promises regarding British sovereign might, British pride, the return of the Empire’s good old days, all that nonsense, she’s trying to deliver on these promises, and she will fail monumentally because it’s all horseshit.
Plus the pathologically xenophobic and utterly bigoted legacy of UKIP’s Nigel Farage and his unreasonable, mendacious and hateful rhetoric on minorities. Britain has to deal with that, too.
It’s happening in the UK right now, the nutjobs taking charge, carving out a new direction for the British nation, heading down the drain
Will it happen in the USA, too? Let’s see if Trump’s the one to do it, or if it will be someone else; Trump 2.0, the sequel. The Aliens to Trump’s Alien.
Or maybe, just maybe, those who vote for Hillary will make sure that the establishment gets its act together and changes its tack. Maybe they’ll demand of Hillary Clinton to right the errors that led to today’s political and cultural volatility, this tremendous economic instability, this uncertainty and disillusionment the US is faced with today.
Tall task, isn’t it?
Yes, the system as it stands is a major problem. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t be in this damn mess in the first place. We wouldn’t have Trump to deal with.
Speaking of Trump, as everyone has clearly seen, he’s gone mad, look at him — all senile dementia-slash-teenager-bully on everyone — and does not deserve to be president.
So yes, do not vote for Trump. He’s a disgusting, demented bully.
But keep the system as is?
Not a good idea. More of the same is not the answer. The system, as it stands, created this mess to begin with, and it’s not the answer we’re looking for, not in the long term. Its victory should and will be of no value to anyone save those invested in business as usual.
If anything, it’ll bring about someone worse than Trump.
Spin Doctor is calling it, right now: prepare for someone much worse than Trump, a person less rich, perhaps even poor, a classic bolshevik of sorts, a firebrand with nothing to lose and a country to set fire to. A firestarter with political knowledge, someone who knows how to manipulate not only the media, as Trump has done excellently in his campaign, but also the political machines around the nation, assuming power along the way. Someone with no fortune to lose and every vote to gain, so long as he or she reminds people that the system as it stands, business as usual, is what got the world in this mess, and it’s time to put an end to it.
This person will come, and he or she will make Trump look like an overgrown baby with a tantrum problem, and people will vote for this person, and THAT will be the biggest FUCK YOU in modern American history.
Ask the Germans. The Greeks. The Brits. They’ve either gone through this, or are going through it now, propping up monsters to lead them out of the mess they’ve gotten themselves into with their business as usual and their overreactions. They know all too well how public opinion and resentment of the callous and clueless elite class and its highhanded policies can lead to the election of populists with nothing to lose, populists and firebrands who act in the name of the greater good, or so they claim — demagogues who represent the disillusioned and ravaged middle class. It’s all about the middle class. Forget the poor people, no one cares about them in this day and age. The tyrannies of the world will be raised in the name of the middle class, the globe’s new proletariat, like it or not.
This is what is happening in Britain, in Germany, in Greece, in Spain, in Hungary and Turkey and the Philippines.
I don’t like it. I don’t want to see the middle class be taken advantage of by today’s populists and demagogues, but it’s happening.
I don’t want the middle class to become the new proletariat because the proletariat is a foul concept, in whose name atrocities are committed.
I don’t want the Trumps of the world to rise to power. I don’t want to keep having the same discussion, going nowhere. I don’t want to see the world take a huge step back.
Nor do I want the system to continue as is. Business as usual ravages the nations of the world, the cultures of the world, the entire planet. Privileged elites with lots of degrees but no real education and understanding of the bigger picture, or the inclusive nature of progress, are at war with each other, taking us down their narrow-minded, vice-ridden ends. For a few pussies more. For a few dollars more. For a few more people to boss around and feel good and strong about themselves. For a tonload of decrees and authority, of which they can’t seem to get enough, addicted to power as they are, insecure bastards and bitches of abused privilege, a clueless aristocracy for the new era.
And the people of the world, they’re to blame, too. It’s business as usual in the name of getting on with normal life. The people — Tom, Dick, Harriet, your average persons, they perpetuate it. Everyone complains about how bad things are but they keep voting for officials and politicians who perpetuate the problems by taking the easy road — politicians who make sure there are enough jobs to go around even when said jobs devastate the environment and poison the sea waters where we catch the fish we eat, and the drinking waters reservoirs, and the air we breathe, turning the environment into a huge dumping ground — all in the name of the people and our short-term needs.
It’s in the name of ‘the people’ we have leviathan welfare policies whose mismanagement and abuse are bankrupting entire bursaries, entire countries. The system of clientelism, taking care of those who vote for it, it’s done in the name of a disillusioned, misguided, misinformed people, for the people, by the people.
See, when I dissed the proletariat a moment ago, that was probably another ‘OMG what the hell is he saying!’ moment for many readers, but I had my reasons. There’s no way in hell I’m pinning today’s problems on the elite alone. The damage done by business as usual, it takes two to make it happen. Elites and the people alike, they promote it. We’re in this together, equally accountable for the sorry state in which the world has found itself.
If we don’t deal with the problem spherically, across both sides, it will consume everyone, well, the people anyway. The elites tend to get away with murder, so they won’t suffer much, if at all, unless it’s the French revolution all over again, dainty made-up heads rolling down the streets — or maybe the Russian revolution all over again with its chain gangs and gulags for all enemies, poor or privileged. There are ways for the elites to pay a steep price for promoting business as usual, given the right/wrong circumstances.
One thing’s certain: business as usual leads to violent abreaction, which devastates the land before making things better, if it makes things better
Do NOT vote for Trump. He’s an entitled demented bully, so keep him out of office. But don’t rest on your laurels either, if he loses, because nothing will have changed, not unless something is done about business as goddamn usual.
With those French words I leave you.
Have a good buildup to the election, and, if you haven’t voted already, think about what you’re doing.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
From your delightfully unreserved and tricky Spin Doctor,
Eyes open, mind sharp,
And Happy Halloween!