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Tuesday, January 10

The straw that broke the camel's back

"These days it seems that only Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum know that there is a working class in this country."

Law Professor and social scientist Stephen Diamond made the above observation almost in passing in a January 7 post on his blog but he reiterated the theme in another post on the same day (New book on Obamas stirs controversy -- but why?):
[...] Readers of this blog are long familiar with the political history of the Obamas, from their apprenticeship on the south side of Chicago where Obama worked closely with former radicals like [former Weatherman terrorist] William Ayers and Mike Klonsky, who had turned away from their earlier pseudo-marxism for a new form of poisonous racial and identity politics. And although it is no longer polite to recall this, there was the 20-year record of the Obamas sitting in the pews of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s black nationalist church in that same southside milieu.

So while the details [of New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor's book on the Obamas] help put some nuance on the real nature of the Obamas’ background and race-driven approach to politics, you have to wonder at the surprise of the professional political class.

The larger story here is the collapse of traditional American liberalism. Remarkably, if you turn on Fox News Cable you will hear [avowed political conservatives] Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum talk endlessly about the problems of the “working class” but liberals fear being tagged “reds” if they use the term. Instead, multiculturalism and identity politics are the order of the day.
[...]
I doubt that fear of being tagged communist is the overriding reason for the reluctance of self-described liberals to invoke the term. I think the reluctance to frame America's problems in terms of the working class has more to do with the collapse of liberalism Steve refers to. When it comes to the point where Steve, a dyed-in-the-wool Leftist, has to hold up statements by Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum as rare examples of American political liberalism, that's a warning that something is seriously out of whack with U.S. politics.

Indeed Steve, whose political viewpoint is built on the rights of the worker, would be unrecognizable as a Leftist to many Americans, so complete has been the takeover of the American Left, the Democratic Party and liberal ideology by Americans who have as much to do with the Left as the defense hawks and advocates of constantly expanding federal government who've taken over the Republican party have to do with political conservatism.

When one notes that the collapse of American liberalism (or 'progressivism') finds parallel in the collapse of American conservatism, the largest story in American politics isn't even about the collapse of American liberalism; it's about the collapse of the American political system. The collapse has left most American voters believing that no matter which party they vote into power in Washington, the result is pretty much the same with only the most superficial differences.

The Cuckoo Clock Factor

It's fairly easy to identify the American two-party democratic political system as a factor in the collapse of the country's political system, which has made 'independents' -- registered voters who don't belong to the Republican or Democratic parties -- the deciding voting bloc in the upcoming presidential elections. Although there are several political parties in the USA (there's a Green party and even a Communist party) they operate within a two-party system that is stacked against them at both the state and federal levels, as Ralph Nader learned the hard way during his last presidential run.

The stacked deck has meant that Americans whose views don't fall within the traditional political platforms of the Democratic or Republican parties but who want to pursue an activist agenda have gravitated to one of the two major parties. The situation wasn't a large problem during eras with straightforward and relatively few political agendas. But today you just never know what will pop out at you in the guise of a Republican or Democrat. It could be a Green Fiscal Conservative whose idea of a foreign policy platform is freeing Tibet or a Pro-Gay Rights Fiscal Liberal whose foreign policy consists of bombing every government that doesn't have the hang of the American idea of human rights.

Then some wonder why this blog, dedicated to U.S. foreign policy in the 21st Century, abandoned all hope of discussing foreign policy. The 21st Century of policy-making in America has turned out to be a cacophony of cuckoo clocks, all set at different times.

However, the Cuckoo-Clock Factor leaves unanswered why a situation that is fairly obvious flew under the American public's radar for so long that it crashed the country's political system.

So is the solution to abandon the two-party system? I think that would only give the underlying problem more avenues to manifest. If you drill down to bedrock the collapse of the American political system is the most obvious indication that large numbers of Americans are not happy despite their assertions to the contrary when pollsters quiz them.

How did it come to pass that so many Americans, who live in what is arguably the freest and one of the most prosperous countries, and who're protected by the world's most powerful military, came to be unhappy -- and so unhappy that they made a complete mess of a very nice political system?

The answer, down at bedrock, is that Americans have been submitting themselves to inhumane conditions and now they're rebelling. The male human is hardwired to be always fixing things. Today you need a degree or two in engineering to fix even a toaster oven so you just replace it, as you do for all the other things you can't hope to fix by yourself.

So do not wonder why the rise of the white-collar male worker has followed the rising curve of hideously complicated government schemes to fix not only the United States but also the entire world.

What was that wonderful line in Jurassic Park? "Nature always finds a way." Yes, it always finds a way, and this applies to human nature as well. So if you stare in horror at the crazy ways that American federal and state governments have found to spend tax money, realize you're seeing what's called 'sublimation.'

Meanwhile, the American female has been stripped of her primary source of happiness, hardwired into human female nature, which is having life-and-death power over others.

So do not ask why so much of current American politics translates into asking, "Where does it hurt?"

We've gone way beyond "identity" politics; we're into victim politics, whereby every American is a victim of something or someone and preferably a victim of multiple things and persons.

What do you expect, when you strip from women the jobs of doctoring their families and performing childbirth management? What did you think would happen, when women have to ship off their deceased relatives to a mortician instead of having the responsibility to prepare the bodies of their family members for the final journey in this world?

We're the gatekeepers between this realm and what's beyond, the door between life and death. And you want to hand us a degree in sociology and say be satisfied with that much power? Are you kidding me?

Get it straight: the rise of Mommy government has followed the rise of American females who no longer have the responsibilities they're built to undertake.

The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

And all this is piled on top of stripping fathers and mothers of responsibilities in their ways of insuring the family's survival. Just one tragedy spinning out from this anti-human situation is that most American sons never even see the inside of the offices where their fathers work; they have no clear idea of what their fathers do to support their survival. It's the same for daughters. So even if you told an American daughter to treat a family member's gaping wound she wouldn't know how. She'd have to go to the Internet after she dialed 911 and try to figure it out from there while the blood was spurting from the wound.

Taking away even the most fundamental responsibilities from males and females has been the straw that broke the camel's back in the United States. Human adults can't be stripped of profound responsibilities, responsibilities which are an integral part of their badge of belonging to the human race, and expect to be happy about it.

We're able to recognize that it's cruel to strip from working dogs the responsibility of work. But we see nothing cruel about setting male and female humans in cubicles in front of a computer screen and telling them, 'That's your life. Pick up your kids at 5:00 PM from the day-care center and deliver your car to the repair shop, and see a doctor about that rash on your hand.'

But again, nature always finds a way to manifest itself, so happily Americans are endlessly creative when it comes to finding ways to rebel. The unhappy part in this case is that when you get to the point where you have to break your political system just to scare up more personal responsibility, this is a national problem.

Meet the real John Galt

How to solve the problem? We can't return to every man fixing everything of importance to the family and every woman doctoring her family. I've told before on this blog that I think that the American Paul Glover -- the Paul Glover who was at one time considered as a Green Party candidate for U.S. president, and who once walked from Boston to San Diego to see for himself what America's real problems were -- has the solution.

The catch is that Glover is too busy improvising hands-on solutions to write up his ideas in any formal or extensive fashion. This leaves us with the prolific writings of the Englishman Phillip Blond (Red Tories), who came to the same basic solution Glover hit on, or who was inspired, perhaps unknowingly, by Glover's ideas. (I suspect that in many Americans have been influenced, if only unknowingly, by Glover's views.)

In any event Glover's basic idea has found some expression in the Localism movement that Blond promotes (not the faux, federal-government backed localism), but Glover's vision of America is still a dream. He sees the nation as a network of interconnected industrial/residential nodes in which the residents of each node have tremendous responsibility for the welfare of each node. So what he envisions, at root, is the responsibilities for running the country chopped back down to human size.

The vision does not exclude a federal government but such would have far fewer responsibilities. So in way Paul Glover, a Green party member, is the 'real' John Galt because what Glover is talking about is a version of Galt's Gulch applied to the entire nation. And by the way, Glover is also a real community organizer; when you put what he's done alongside the community organizing efforts of say, Barack Obama during his Chicago days, you realize there's great variance in the concept of the term.

Would Glover's vision of America lead us to tribalism? Would it break up the union? I think it could be argued that the Occupy movement and several movements to secede from the union are warnings that either we adopt some form of Glover's vision or find ourselves overtaken anyway by tribalism and balkanization.

Every solution generates its own set of problems. As a World Bank economist once told me, you can't fix anything in this world without breaking something, somewhere down the line. But when you consider that Glover's solution places huge responsibilities on individuals, this is the way to fool male and female human nature into believing that nothing much has changed since the old days.

To put all this another way, there are millions of Americans who perform jobs that are vital to the nation's survival and the survival of their families and communities -- but giving them a glowing performance review and holding a dinner in their honor on Father's and Mother's Day is not enough to persuade human nature that it's tremendously important.

It seems there has to be a very direct sense of 'doing' to persuade human nature, and I doubt it's fooled by hobbies that attempt to fill the sense of a void at the center of one's life. I also think it's putting the wrong kind of responsibility on religion to expect it to fill the void.

John Galt appeared at the point in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged where the American government was collapsing. So it was for Paul Glover. When one considers that Rand and Glover are poles apart in so many ways it's striking that two such very different American philosophers pointed to basically the same path to restoring American greatness, which was that Americans take more individual responsibility for their governance.

Are we ready yet for that much responsibility? In this era we have wondrous technological tools at our command, tools that are meant to save us labor. The trick, now, is paradoxically to find ways to use the tools to make more work for ourselves, not less -- but work that carries with it great individual responsibility. A tall order, to be sure, but hey we're the land of tinkering genius.

Study Paul Glover's website (link above) for inspiration and practical ideas, which flow out of him in a seemingly inexhaustible supply.

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