It’s like being in a deep cavern with only a little flashlight that happened to be on your keychain so you could find the lock-hole on your front door. The world has suddenly become inscrutably cosmic when you expected at this stage to be familiar with everything, know how to proceed. The dinosaurs we thought were extinct survive as chickens and now begin our extinction by spreading chicken flu through populations as terrified of vaccinations as they once were of plague. Our magical antibiotics have joined the viruses and bacteria in their view of humans as consumables.
The media deskriders look just like the political spokespeople, bony, bleached, and dentally over-endowed. They speak very carefully and say “we” quite a lot while they explain the old white Euro-men who are dying out, much sooner than we expected.
Trump, who has been zombified by Alzheimerish brain-eating whatever-it-is (partly hereditary — his dad had it), is reacting to two invisible cabals hiding behind him. They are at war with each other. One wants to keep everything the same, the other is trying to own the world no matter the risk of war or environmental catastrophe. Ironically, as Saturday proved, the final result is the creation of the Third Party, the “New Resistance” as Bruce Springsteen calls it, which is what some tried to build in the course of the election as a more orderly way of facing the chaos of the future.
So much of it is about social status and economic class, but the irony is that the new high status is only an inflation of the kind of mercantile mindset that Queen Victoria embodied and that defined the bourgeois. In fact, both she and Trump are citizens of Quark’s Ferengi country, that profit-driven bar on StarTrek. Even Academia has turned into a game of buildings, a world in which sports arenas are named for chewing gum manufacturers and the real money is in shilling for rubber shoes. The academics who once stood for ideas and risk, are now teaching game theory and goofy economics (invisible hands, trickling down) that don’t turn out to be true.
The essence of the middle class is merchandizing and the industrial world behind it. Government creates an imaginary set of rules that constantly struggles is rewrite, gerrymander and elaborate those rules. If people get restless and approach the idea of revolution, then there are quickly invented some strategies that will seem to please them.
I never quite forget that my father’s family, in Canada, had one prosperous period in their lives based on the import of Kovar harrowing machinery which was effective against quackgrass. They imported the parts from the USA, assembled them, and sold the completed machines in Manitoba. I can never remember whether it was Canada that imposed a tariff on the parts or the US that imposed some kind of penalty on the export of them. The karmic payoff was that herbicides soon made harrowing weeds obsolete. Instead of selling chemicals, the family moved to Oregon. But then there is another payoff, decades later, which is possibly Alzheimers from the chemicals we’ve put into our environment.
My father’s classmate at the U of Manitoba, was Rudy Peterson, a strong contributor to the Green Revolution which made growing more food possible, so much so that briefly there was enough food. But people, happy and fat, multiplied — so now there is famine again. And also thirst.
In some circles Euro people trying to think about this cave and our tiny flashlights, are re-telling Plato’s cave story about how our “reality” is only shadows on the wall cast by the real sunlight outside the cave. But we don’t want to talk about that. We want to get high on the darkness — or at least the kids do — teasing our brain chemistry with terror and grisly simulations that squirt blood. But these are the kids who get on the school bus with no coats when the temp is below zero, because they assume that the bus will be dependably and controllably comfortable. NOT.
How do we keep ourselves sane? A big part of the mercantile universe is regimes and prescriptions meant to do that. Some of these recommend simplicity, restraint, and asceticism. Others reason that if we’re all doomed, we might as well go for it. Pass the chocolate. (Oh, sorry. Now it's reclassified as healthy.)
I only have a few small observations. One is that people are NOT things with boundaries and predictability — they are evolving processes using the mutating mechanisms of interacting cells that always kept us alive in the past and which are mostly unconscious, out of the control of our intended results. We’ve been so proud of our conscious and deliberate minds that we simply deny as insulting any consideration of ourselves as “animal” reactions to the world’s terms of survival.
In some ways “Frontier”, the series, is pretty simplistic and overly brutal, but it is a timely reminder of what drives history. Greed, revenge, twisted merging of sex and violence in a world that simply waits for us to be over, so they can go on with the interactions of creation. But it is only a “frontier” from the point of view of the outsiders, the invading species. Those fur-bearers — the ones that grew the hides — were at home.
A horse can only be ridden until it realizes that it’s far bigger and more powerful than any human. Populations can only be controlled until they realize much the same thing. Every now and then public school students realize this, maybe only classroom by classroom. I’ve seen it. A country is only a country so long as it serves the people instead of some dictator who cannot keep his brain operating.
Too many people think education is buying a certificate, which is a piece of paper that can be demanded from the withholding teachers and principals. It is. But it is elf-gold. Empty. Useless. What counts is the process laid out to lead a person through a set of realizations and skills. That’s what the teachers and principals are supposed to be creating, not rules about wearing hats in the building.
Trump will never realize that he is empty, CANNOT do the job of the president, because his emptiness prevents any kind of learning or, indeed, the simple experiencing of what the rest of us call reality. There is no flashlight on his keychain. Just a lot of keys to doors that don’t exist.
Now about that Third Party . . . Can we redefine the “upper classes” so they aren’t about pink marble and gilt furniture? What are the specific merits of meritocracy?