Since the beginning, America has struggled between two destinies: God and Gold. The Virginians and southern colonies birthed by Corporations and Massachusetts and it’s offshoots birthed by the Cloth. Later Slave and Free. Internal migration has shifted the strongholds as we grew and the struggle continues. In the Pax Americana, God is embodied in American Values and physical gold has become the intangible notion of Capital.
American Values have become endangered in the 21st century. The change from liberalism to neoliberalism was mostly removing the morality from the pursuit of profit. Sweat shop child labor became acceptable again for low low prices. Factory shuttering and relocation to countries where worker exploitation is still in vogue has damaged not just an American’s earning potential but our integrity. American world power is more than the number of aircraft carriers we have. It is that the international community is held to our standards and those that fall short are not rewarded. The current administration has voiced that profits are more important than human rights, the cornerstone of Americanism. This has been unspoken policy for some time.
How else can we explain American business’ dependence on China as anything other than selling out our values?
The Great Firewall blocks the truth and free speech maintained in large thanks to American companies. Google gave the Chinese government the data of dissents who are now jailed or executed. How do we explain a major arms sale to Saudi Arabia? A country that practices gender apartheid. A woman last month was detained in the Philippines while fleeing to Australia to escape a forced marriage who was beaten and tied up like a slave by the relatives sent to retrieve her. Our former territory is just as horrific under the murderer Duarte.
The American Way isn’t just a marketing phrase for comic books. It is why the Union won, why the Reich fell, and why Americans are still dying in the desert. It would be an incomprehensible tragedy for Freedom and Justice to survive the jihad to be slaughtered in the boardroom.
– E. C. Fiori
It has been a struggle to post this last week. To find a purpose in doing so. In a world so determined to end itself, I feel attempting to stop the suicide to be a grain of sand caught in the oceanic drift.
On the right, a crowd whose empathy ends with their outer dermal layer. On the left, a crowd who see empathy as an end or rather see no further than feeling.
AHCA is a bad bill. It hasn’t been scored by the CBO and as such there is no analysis what it will do. It will cause people to lose coverage and thats enough for it to not live up to the GOP promise. They forgot the dead can’t vote.
P.C. Culture is a failed solution to real problems in society. After 27 years of academic witch hunts, it fractured the Dems coalition. Pushing former leftists into the Alt-Right. Kids still get gunned down by cops for no reason everyday.
The Alt-Right a vague coalition of reactionaries to whom 1950 is still hell. They are the product of the bubbles we built. Rejected by all, they have come to raze and pillage and rape. Armored in our beloved Irony, they are immune to shame and guilt. They are the priests and flocks of whataboutism and the ultimate product of the internet. They are something new. They wish to supplant democracy and install a CEO, one without a board to answer to.
Those of us outside their circle must decide if we wish to live in a society that self-governs or to bow. That decision must begin with real bipartisanship from both sides. ACA was always more conservative in its solution than progressive. The GOP could repair it and show alternative to single payer healthcare. Progressivism needs to promote concrete quantifiable solutions and worry less about when an ally trips. Those would be baby steps.
Art doesn’t function as a window and politics isn’t a football game. We can either accept the world and save democracy or drown in our own shit.
A lifetime ago, Jack Delaney recounted to me the exchange in writing of Fitzgerald and Hemingway regarding the rich. Fitzgerald wrote “the rich are different than you and me” and Hemingway responded in Snows “they have more money”. Fitzgerald in “The Rich Boy” said more than that line. His observation is true today, the minds of the rich work differently. As do the middle class (each chamber its own variation) and the poor. I am reminded of this each morning and evening while I read the New York Times.
Especially this evening reading Kyle DeNuccio’s essay on his gap year. It wouldn’t be unseemly to question why the NYTimes is in the business of publishing personal essays. It is a vapid bit of fluff from the child of a man who earns 1.3 million a year. His struggles are none. He overcomes the challenge of going to an overpriced liberal arts university for free by simply completing the required work and now thanks to the NY Times can call himself an author. He proposes that the government should loan kids more money they have to pay back so they can understand the value of a dollar not understanding that they already do. Kids on loans can tell you how much each class session costs them and must wring the last penny’s worth out of each of them.
I don’t just mean to knock on that one ridiculous essay but shine a light on something ignored by the media: Class. We talk about poverty and falling wages but we don’t talk about how more and more young stars and behind the camera talent are children or friend’s children of those that came before. Our media is frightened by the intellectual and cultural diversity of Americans. They certainly didn’t champion “Hell or High Water” as awards worthy as “Moonlight” even though “Hell or High Water” actually addressed the world it was set in. Give them degrees is the new Let Them Eat Cake because in the rich liberal view if you fail with a degree, you are without merit. Or that many crowdfunded project succeed not because of the internet but the social layer the creator was born too. Yet we hail the successes as pure merit.
The media endears itself to the rich who in turn keep the institutions afloat as they drift into irrelevance to most of society. Not that journalism is irrelevant but the churn that surrounds it. The essays of luxury both belittle the plight of the people in this economic era but belittle them by ignoring their existence. One can not walk away thinking the Times cares more about the rich. No one can look at the rise of alternative media and not see that besides alternative facts, the focus is on what is left off the Grey Lady and the other mass media icons. Whether it is DIY tutorials or comparisons between bargain brands, the articles address the needs of the community not just those in the penthouse.
In the online age, there is no excuse for mass media to be so class focused. There is infinite room in cyberspace. Perhaps, it is time for the rich to not be heralded as the only worthy lifestyle.
I know many on the left will give this post title an eyeroll but I must speak about the two wars on Christmas: one waged by the secular leftists and the other from Radical Islam. The left has long sought to undermine the separation of church and state by submitting religion to federal control. People must petition Congress for religious exemptions. That is not what this country was founded on. The government does not grant us rights. Our religious institutions Christian or other are not granted passage by Big Government. This is why battles over the building of Mosques disturbs me. It isn’t for the President or the selectmen to decide. We do not have the right to stop peaceful worship if they own the property or at least have legal access. I believe both the the left and the right have assaulted our religious rights.
The war on the Western world from Radical Islam is a clash of civilizations. Christianity and Islam can and do coexist in Western Civilization. Not that there aren’t conflicts between religious groups under liberal order but our values as a society push us towards unity and respect. Radical Islam under its strict literal theology cannot exist within the West. It’s practice goes against all of our values. If the West is defined as uncertain and fluid then Radical Islam is defined by the opposite. The temptation is it promises a known purpose in life. In the West, religion and work (our institutions of purpose) have been under attack by the political elite. The resulting society promotes unlimited freedom by removing dedication and devotion as values. Purpose limits choice. True freedom is being adrift in space without a footing to stand on. People want to have a purpose, at some level we need it. As the work that gave employee’s pride is automated, a pillar of society teeters. We don’t need more stuff to throw away, we need more purpose in our days. I have been told of a notion where freedom from work allows us to achieve higher purposes. I don’t agree with it. An attempt by the left to marginalize people’s lives. Autowork gives more back to the community than art and is no less noble. That’s the problem with the Progressive goal to achieve the end of history. People want to be a part of their lineage, not escape it.
The converts to the radical civilizations (Radical Islam and Neo-Nazis are just the most aggressive) flee the increasingly inhuman West shedding its values without replacing them. Multiculturalism isn’t a value as much as the absence of one. The American Melting Pot wasn’t a place where you kept your way of life as much as subvert your rituals to the American way. You came to America to be American. Immigrants make America great by becoming American. Entangling the threads of their traditions into our quilt. The american ethnicity is multiracial and our DNA is global but at our heart we are all brothers and sisters under and for the Republic and all for which it stands. In reading the Atlantic review of “Silence”, one would assume Art was created outside of religion when until recent history it was a tool of faith. The reviewer believes taking religion seriously is radical. I find that to be belittling to say that the ancient mysteries of religion especially the inevitability of suffering were not a legitimate source of Art. The left has turned tradition radical. Until the liberal order reclaims its history it will be on the losing end of a war they refuse to admit exists.
Everyone knows the house always wins. The American republic may have an elite, but as this election show, they don’t own the system. Trump showed that for both media output, both left and right publishers endorsed Clinton. They might pay eighteen bucks to see a celebrity, but they won’t let that celebrity decide their fate. There is no house in America, just we the people.
Can we all be free? I don’t pose that rhetorically. Can both an evangelical who believes homosexuality is a sin and a gay man both have their own liberty. Yes is the easy answer how is harder. Marriage is both a religious and civic institution. Each equally important to their adherents. On a religious level, it is the opposite sacrament of ordination. It is a sacrament of service and the purpose and cornerstone of life. For that institution in many faiths, it is between a man and a woman to bless procreation. On a civic level, there are massive tax breaks, legal rights, and other financial implications. The right to visit a dying loved one in a hospital is one of the few non blood related paths to visitation. Simplification of Inheritance is another big legal benefit and a big one in avoiding estate disputes with family members who don’t support homosexuality. Marriage as a civic institution that affects all major aspects of life and no citizen should be excluded.
In society, the two marriages meet mostly just once: the ceremony in which both share many of the same rituals. If a person believes marriage as a central part of their religious life, should they be forced to service those who go against their beliefs? It is a tricky question, it is a different comparison then Neo Nazis and Jews or Klansmen and Blacks. Most current scientific evidence points to biology as a major portion of being homosexual. The exact source is unknown. On the Christian end, they have an issue with the sin, not the human. Their issue is what they will be participating in if they provide their services. If we accept that articles of clothing to be untouchable expressions of faith then can we saying participating or rather not participating in a ritual be considered differently.
On the opposite end is the case of Kim Davis. Her job as county clerk came with a job description that included complying with all laws. If her beliefs interfered with fulfilling her job duties then she shouldn’t have been hired. I am a strong supporter of anti discrimination laws based on religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability in the wide and weird array that those categories cover. We all have the God given right to Life, Liberty, and Property. While I believe in the freedom of association, I do not support businesses that receive special tax status to both benefit as an individual and as an institution. I think being open to the public and taxed as such should mean offering your services to all. I think that the solution for the religious/ civic divide may be for the religious business owners to operate by appointment or member only basis without tax exemptions or benefits.
Freedom was never intended to be defined as doing whatever you want when you want to. I think people forget the beauty that our country was founded on. They believed that people would choose the greater good over private passions and interests. Their moral character would temper Capitalism that people would choose to earn less profit and have less luxury for the benefit of their countryman. They correctly feared the path of Rome. The Roman nobles entertained themselves into Tyranny. Entrenched wealth that belonged to citizens of nowhere. It isn’t always flashy like Trump Tower. If you drive through the nooks of Los Angeles, you will hidden many hidden mansions. Sometimes a block over you’ll run into a tent city that may stand for months until the cops are called not that anything changes but the location the city is rebuilt on. When they repeal the estate tax, the only thing missing will be titles before their name. As they fly to their homes in global villages outside of the nation the land is in. People who focus more on the world then the people who live in it. Disruption for convenience. Our decadence is toxic.
Much like the Federalists of 1860, I will not give up on our union and republic. We will heal our divisions. Americans come back together.