YOU ARE TRAPPED IN THAT BRIGHT MOMENT
WHERE YOU LEARNED YOUR DOOM
— Samuel R. Delaney in City of a Thousand Suns
Fifteen years ago I found something of promise in that quote from Delaney’s novel about a society shattered by the discovery that all of their foundational truths were lies, in the promise of the rebuilding in the City of a Thousand Suns. I still want to believe in the promise of a better future, the constant progress once promised by the USA. Now I feel trapped in the dark portions of the trilogy, the collapse of their society under the weight of it corrupt rulers, who fabricated a war to give the appearance that the surplus of production created by their technology was going to the war effort, so as not to share it with the plebes who lived marginal lives in The Devil’s Pot. When the fraud of their war was revealed, the great computer built to conduct their imaginary war, having nothing else to do, turned on them and began to bomb their cities.
Our country is also burdened with a corrupt ruling class, who deny the basic necessities of life the rest of the developed world delivers to their people, to finance an every growing war machine to assert its dominance and pad the wealth of billionaires. The militarization of the police is the arm of the war machine that will ultimately turn against us, would meet the protest current in France with armored cars, plastic coated bullets, chemical warfare and disabling ultrasonic weapons. American policing is fundamentally different that policing elsewhere in the developed world. It evolved out of slave patrols and private police forces like the Pinkertons that existed solely to violently break labor unrest. American police do not serve to product citizens from inevitable crime. It exists to protect concentrations of property and wealth and those who own it.
How did we get to this dark place? The United States of America was founded upon high ideals, although they were qualified by applying only to white, male, property owners, and countenanced slavery and genocide. Later generations took up the challenge and ended slavery, Jim Crow, and the 3/5’s-at -best status of women. Making those founding ideals universal at home and abroad was the driving ideal of the U.S. in the last century, but the window for future progress now seems to be closing. The forces who seek to crush and turn back that progress, draped in the cheap, Chinese-made bunting of patriotism, are led by those who would deny the facts of that second sentence, and prohibit teaching it to children. They seeks to put women back in “their place”, and LGBTQ people as well (their place being deep in hiding or denial). Universal public education was the last integrating and leveling feature in U.S. culture after the military draft was ended, and they seek to destroy that as well.
They are the former Republican Party. I call it former in that it in no way resembles the party of Lincoln any more than the modern Democratic Party resembles the Dixiecrats of its past (who are all now Republicans). They are so transformed in the last decade that I usually refer to it as the Trumplican Party.. The numbers of its natural membership, the wealthy and the rising cream of the middle class, are dwindling. The working middle class, those who keep strict office hours or work outside an office, is decimated by the Trumplican policies since Reagan. So they have chosen other paths to power.
First the Federalist Society, dedicated to replacing “activist judges”, began placing its own activist judges to rein in the natural democratic impulses of America toward the progress begun in the 1860s. And the former Dixiecrats in their party were appalled by the election of an articulate Black person as president. Back when Trump was just another birther, albeit one with a gilded bully pulpit, the part amplified its racism. It was not new. It is traceable back to Willie Horton, and the thick folder I was handed when I joined then Rep. John Breaux’s senate campaign about black voter suppression in Georgia, which is party rightfully feared would become a national program.
Like many narcissistic assholes, Trump has no real filters in his thought or speech because he cannot imagine he could be wrong. So he rose from his gold-plated throne and descended his garish escalator to light the cross like it was a Christmas tree, and set free the once obscured nature of the GOP of the the past to parade itself in public; white robes optional but not entirely off-color. Freed at last from the bounds put on bigotry after the civil and gay rights movemenst, they set out to re-Ozzie-and-Harriet the country, to make Archie Bunker not an object of compassionate pity but as a role model.
The Tumplicans took the pernicious notions of the John Birch Society and made them mainstream. Not only do they want to put partially-liberated people back in “their place,” they are no longer content to add In God We Trust to the currency in the belief that any Communist who touched it would burst into flames. They want to put their Christ in the classroom and pubic square, in the legislatures and the courtrooms, to make their America the Christian Nation it was very clearly never intended to be. The people who fled the bloody religious wars of Europe wanted nothing to do with such notions, and made that very clear when they transitioned from the Declaration of Independence’s clearly non-denominational Creator and God of Nature to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The word fascism is much in play lately, and I have read enough of Arendt and follow Umberto Eco’s definition of ur-fascism to be comfortable using it in this moment, and for the people who hope to unmake the U.S.A. in the name of saving it. As Eco points out, “There was only one Nazism [but] the fascist game can be played in many forms, and the name of the game does not change.” I directly assert that the modern Trumplican party is fascist, that its most loyal members have become the very people the Greatest Generation fought and died to save is form.
I am disturbed by the Neville Chamberlain-level naiveite of the so-called mainstream media and the current president. There is much nostalgic talk even today of bi-partisanship in Washington, as if there were still a rational opposition party. People ask “why can’t we all get along” as if we are not past that point, as if the police did not now openly murder the opposition as they just did in Atlanta. (An autopsy has shown that Manuel Paez Terán was sitting cross-legged on the ground with their hands up when shot.) All of the surviving protestors are charged with “domestic terrorism” because one Black Bloc knucklehead torched a police car.
Meanwhile the nut-fuck claims the people who stormed the capitol in an attempt to overturn a free and fair election are “political prisoners,” gays are universally called groomers while ignoring the hordes of preachers and priests who are actual pedophiles. We must not discuss slavery because it was something that happens all over the world, and never dare contrast it with the stated principles on which this country was founded. We must pass resolutions condemning the genocides of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot but never mention those started by Thomas Jefferson and James Polk with the Louisiana Purchase and Manifest Destiny.
They have their brown and black shirts dressed in plus-size camo, but they also have their militarized police, the war machine that will turn against us when the fictions of post-Reagan capitalism are exposed and the malcontents denied a piece of the dying American Dream take to the streets to demand more. We have an aristocracy of increasingly inherited wealth that mimics the aristocracy of old Europe. They are prepared to use the modern trappings of fascism married with good old pogroms against the insufficiently Christian to keep the people distracted. They rail against immigrants who are attracted by the no-questions-asked low-wage jobs with no concern for health or safety the wealthy offer them because they long to fulfil their vision of a christianist ethno-state with a population of Good Americans too cowed by fear of a ruthless, churchly government to demand better who will slaughter those turkeys and harvest those crops.
You are trapped in that bright moment where you learned your doom. The only question is what are you going to do about it?
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