the ugly writers

The End of an Era

Resistance is a measure of the ability to oppose. But, people don’t really understand that anymore.  Complacency is the zenith of mankind, and once it has been achieved it is a long slough to move backward. Which is almost funny, in a sad, helpless way. Rise up, throw off the yoke of oppression, and welcome in the dictators. It almost makes you want to cue the calliope, and summon the clowns.

Why, after decades, even generations of struggling for self-determination do we so willingly give the reins to despots? It must be a genetic defect.

Or, is it something more sinister, something darker? Really, when you look at the ruling elite, almost throughout history, it is a manifest of power hungry, megalomaniacs. Fueled by the desire to wield authority, and profit from the application of force.

Yes, there were those that seemed, in hindsight, to have been humane, kind, compassionate, maybe they just had a better press secretary.  And yes, a lot of mankind’s history is peaceful, prosperous and what seemed happy and healthy at the time, with leaders who, for the era were benevolent and kind. Decent people, who wanted to help their tribes, villages, city states, nations to grow, prosper and enjoy the security and wealth offered by the unique solidarity of living in large groups.  History doesn’t much care for the peaceful, though, and the eventual “liberators” were not too keen to have the knowledge of that kind of existence spread so they destroyed any evidence.

The world has never been short on people willing to take the job of being in charge, and if you threw in absolute control, power and the possibility to build an empire it was almost irresistible. There was never much change in the formula, Babylon, Jerusalem, Carthage was a threat to security and had to be destroyed. One of the key ingredients has always been to find a common enemy, build an irrational fear, develop an overwhelming sense of xenophobia, and tribal pride, then fan the wildfire.

America was founded as the land of freedom. Very lofty, noble, and ambitious, and for a while maybe it worked out. Though, the original inhabitants might have a few problems with words like “freedom,” “equality,” and “liberty” being tossed around too loosely by the new tenants. And in fairness, it was probably always tilted a little heavily toward the people with power, prestige, stuff. It just seemed better than the old country, or at least we had to insist it was or the whole exercise and all of the sacrifices had been wasted.

In most ways, though, it became the leader of the free world, the stalwart, dependable force of security. There were mistakes, sure, and lessons were learned. We took care of our friends and often tried to make friends of our foes. It was actually a grand experiment, in many ways. Freedom through cooperation, trade and mutual benefit.

Now, we have come completely around to the old way. We have different ways of appointing our supreme rulers, and they have to couch the language of dominance in terms that sound vaguely like they are performing a public service. A little “secure the border” some bellicose rumblings of “being taken advantage of.” Throw in a few vague notions of patriotism, and national pride, take advantage of unfortunate events to focus attention and fear on a group of “others, outsiders,” and you have the perfect recipe for the assumption of dictatorial power.

And people are clamoring for more, crowds fill auditoriums to chant the same tired cliches dressed in modern bunting, and the colors of old glory. The legislative branch is frozen by indecision because so many of the things the new leader is saying are only the ideals they have been espousing for years. Of course, they have been taken to bizarre, possibly dangerous extremes. But, they were drawn from the same fountain, so they are loathe to criticize. Of course, maybe I am just being kind, maybe they don’t care, the privileges being throttled are not theirs.

So, meet the new boss, same as the old boss. In so many ways, the more things change the more they stay the same.