Monday, October 14, 2013

Carnivals of Folly

Here we are, four days before the United States of America defaults on its debts. Here we are entering into the third week of a partial governmental shut down because a tiny minority of idiots in the Republican party have brought us to this pass. We are facing self-imposed disasters of unknown magnitude and duration if sanity doesn't prevail soon.You have to wonder about a system and set of rules that could allow something like this to happen, but that's a question for another time. Right now we are all staring down the barrel of a shotgun, with a madman on the other end of it, finger on trigger.

As usual Chris Hedges has cogent observations. And as usual he looks at the system. Once you understand the system, you can understand this present mess. Here he is today in Truthdig:
The last days of empire are carnivals of folly. We are in the midst of our own, plunging forward as our leaders court willful economic and environmental self-destruction. Sumer[ia] and Rome went down like this. So did the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Men and women of stunning mediocrity and depravity led the monarchies of Europe and Russia on the eve of World War I. And America has, in its own decline, offered up its share of weaklings, dolts and morons to steer it to destruction. A nation that was still rooted in reality would never glorify charlatans such as Sen. Ted Cruz, House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Newt Gingrich as they pollute the airwaves. If we had any idea what was really happening to us we would have turned in fury against Barack Obama, whose signature legacy will be utter capitulation to the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, the military-industrial complex and the security and surveillance state. We would have rallied behind those few, such as Ralph Nader, who denounced a monetary system based on gambling and the endless printing of money and condemned the willful wrecking of the ecosystem. We would have mutinied. We would have turned the ship back.
The populations of dying empires are passive because they are lotus-eaters. There is a narcotic-like reverie among those barreling toward oblivion. They retreat into the sexual, the tawdry and the inane, retreats that are momentarily pleasurable but ensure self-destruction. They naively trust it will all work out. As a species, Margaret Atwood observes in her dystopian novel “Oryx and Crake,” “we’re doomed by hope.” And absurd promises of hope and glory are endlessly served up by the entertainment industry, the political and economic elite, the class of courtiers who pose as journalists, self-help gurus like Oprah and religious belief systems that assure followers that God will always protect them. It is collective self-delusion, a retreat into magical thinking.
Well, magic didn't get us to this pass, and magic will not get us out of it. Alas, what it will take to get us back on even keel--a collective acceptance of the concept of the common good--is, it seems to me, dead as a dodo, beyond resuscitation. We seemed determined to commit suicide.
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