Since recent events have made it plain that our country is so big and complex that game-players have been able to manipulate our systems and that resentment over neglect and change have caused us to ally with people known to be con artists, in politics only for the purpose of vengeance and profit, the conversation about what a nation “is” has intensified. The essay linked below addresses some things like political alliances, allegiance to institutions, and uniformity of language.
“There are two sides to the nation-building coin: the extension of political alliances across the terrain of a country, and the identification with and loyalty to the institutions of the state, independent of who currently governs. The former is the political-integration aspect, the latter the political-identity aspect of nation-building. To foster both, political ties between citizens and the state should reach across ethnic divides.”
“In 1831, when Belgium became independent of the kingdom of the Netherlands, most of the new rulers of the country had long been members of these French-speaking associational networks. Without giving it much thought, they declared French the official language of the administration, army and judiciary. Despite forming a slight demographic majority, those who spoke only Flemish were not part of these networks, and were therefore excluded from the central government. Until the end of the 19th century, the Flemish were ruled as an internal colony of Francophone Belgium. Early nation-building failed, the language divide became heavily politicised during the 20th century, and the country is now close to breaking apart.”
This “breaking apart of Belgium” is described in this link. I didn’t know anything about it until recently, but I’m not that surprised.
In Valier the idea of Belgium is an origin story that comforts the older inhabitants. They enjoy pointing out “Belgian Hill”, not far away. This link is a good introduction: https://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2017/04/16/century-old-bell-its-way-home-old-belgian-church/100493444/
I wrote about the Belgian origins of Valier in an earlier post. There was no hint of what was happening back in Europe, except that one man expressed a romantic desire to visit “the old country,” which he assumed would be inspiring and reassuring. Even so do we fool ourselves.
This post is meant to point out the universal tension between democracy and capitalism. Many people would call this country a capitalist democracy while others would call it democratic capitalism, but I’m not sure the two can even go together. Specifically, there are many levels and kinds of capitalism, which is controlled by the idea of money as an indicator of class with accompanying privileges and exemptions. The idea is simply to accumulate cash, however possible, because only cash is virtuous.
Democracy is meant to be the most fair and stable way of running a group, because it includes everyone. But I’ve come to understand that there are two kinds of democracy: passive and active. The basic idea is voting, creating a voice for the majority to express their opinions. The biggest flaw appears in terms of the protection of the minority, whether they are kept free. Much of the willingness to understand that minorities may be tomorrow’s majorities, is based on their one precious commodity no matter what their cash level. The minority must vote or be oppressed. If the majority are using voting (and money) to oppress the minority, they are sowing dissension, sabotage, and ultimately revolution.
For instance, gerrymandering is an obvious strategy when class is localized, opposed to democracy which is everyone uniformly, but this is where ecology begins to enter the game. The accidents of location mean that wealth is not evenly distributed. Where weather is good and resources abound, people get prosperous. Then they might use their money for selfish goals, like buying everyone else’s freedom.
Thinkers have pointed out that once there is a ten per cent majority of people with more money, better education, connections through imposing institutions, they can create a closed system that keeps minorities out. This has recurred over and over through time and is obvious now. Abandoning the idea of voting, the shut-out minorities are now gathering in the streets to demonstrate. Some people expect violence. Some people WANT violence.
Trump is like a toddler testing for the boundaries of his power. He hasn’t come to any of them yet. There’s a bit of a bull-fight in his practice of flaunting our outrage in our faces; the red flag of contempt is effective even when we don’t quite admit that’s what it is. He’s not getting richer — he never was rich anyway — and he’s not creating a new good, an effort to heal and improve. Rather he attacks children and supports brutes.
So far I have faith that there are wise and judicial people quietly using the rule of law to cage and depose him, but it is astounding that he comes to basic legal and moral rules, violates them, and simply pretends they aren’t there. His “party” (unlike any party I ever attended) is too senile to react. We’ve left questions of collusion, we ignore his status as “mobbed up,” and we are now on the territory of treason, a hanging offense. At this rate the guilty will die of old age before they are brought to justice. Or their keepers — Trump has keepers — will find that the best way to eliminate a nuisance is termination.
The system of democracy needs renewal, maybe regionalism of government. Our voters had thought that Trump was outrageous enough to change their oppression, give them a chance, but he’s so dangerous that they don’t really want to get involved. They are like a drowning person who fights the lifesaver, can’t recognize him. But who is the rescuer anyway? What’s that person’s name? Is he or she on television? Where’s our Hercule Poirot?