Friday, September 27, 2013

The Voice of the People

Tom Paine advocating the adoption of an American Constitution, urged cool and deliberate heads to prevail, lest some rabble rouser

". . . may hereafter arise, who laying hold of popular disquietudes, may collect together the desperate and discontented, and by assuming to themselves the powers of government, may sweep away the liberties of the continent like a deluge."

He was thinking of a 17th century uprising in Naples, a populist and tax revolt that ended badly because of the failure to control the mob and left Naples under the control of the Spanish Crown.  It's not a unique story. It's easy to think of more before and after that one. Can I help but to think of the mad remnants of the former Conservative party now spending endless millions on endless lies -- infuriating, frightening and focusing the anger of Americans against our constitutional and duly elected government, for the benefit of it's would-be overlords?  Can I help it when listening to Ted Cruz begging Americans to go back to Industrial Revolution era health care practices now when it costs far more than it did then?  A hundred years ago, if a worker had to miss a few weeks because of an injury incurred on the job, in a job that demanded 12 hour days and 6 day weeks and that demanded the worker live in filthy tenements, he was evicted and his family dumped out on the street, forced into crime or prostitution, disease and untimely death. Today, we have frustrated overlords spending millions and millions to dress that up as "traditional Values"  "Family" Values and telling us we can't afford health unless we have wealth.  It's too expensive. We can't afford to have "takers." 100 years ago when what passed for middle class meant squalor, a time when most people died in poverty and disease, it was enough that a tiny few made a fortune often using business practices that would make us wince -- unless we're Republicans.

Direct Democracies have usually succumbed to those desperate and discontented elements no matter how well off they may be, often led by cooler heads of the greedy and hungry for power.  Perhaps the kind of tactics now practiced by those who spend massive monies appealing to the public to take direct action against things that will benefit them and harm the aristocracy are simply following an ancient script.  That's why we were supposed to be a Republic, to have educated, enlightened professionals of our choice to make choices for us. Now the men who would be kings encourage Joe the Plumber - a man of the people who like so many men of the people just aren't smart enough, educated enough and are easy to rile up, delude, enrage and control. That's just what Congress was not supposed to be about; spokesmen for self justifying power.

"The Imbecile bourgeoisie of this country make themselves accomplices of the very people whose aim is to drive them out of their houses to starve in ditches" 

Wrote Joseph Conrad, back when we were starting to move toward the modern era, perhaps thinking that would ever change.


  1. "A disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself" (Hannah Arendt).

    "the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe" (Mike Lofgren).

  2. I can't help visualizing the Sorcerer's Apprentice from Disney' Fantasia where Mickey Mouse loses control and gets into things way over his head -- raises up what he can't put down - if you will.

    If no sorcerer comes home to bail the idiots out, and I don't foresee one, we may just get to witness the GOPerdaemmerung. And if the Democrats can manage to call up someone who doesn't scare the disaffected conservatives and independents the center may hold after all.

  3. If there's one thing we've learned, it's that people never learn anything. One reason why, I confess, I don't follow la politique anywhere near as much as I used to. You can count on the public being as ill-informed as possible (it's as if they had a collective Ph.D. in being ill-informed), and large groups of politicians being as eager as possible to exploit the public's ignorance. That's about all you can count on. Still, we can at least hope that more than 50% of the people will refrain from stupidly playing "false equivalence" when it comes to the budget showdown: the only thing that would make the GOP happy is total defunding of all government programs, except of course spying and the military. That ain't gonna happen, so they will continue to menace the country's political stability and, well, just go around being miserable because they can't get what they really want.

  4. Following American politics is, as with following an ambulance or a manure spreader, something where it's advisable to keep one's distance.

    You're right, they never do learn, except perhaps when it's too late.


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