A Dismal Era We Live In

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Gottfried has lately published on LRC a "pathologist's
" on his students at the college where he teaches
history. What he says about them applies to a lot of the people
I know here in West Texas, indeed a great many of my friends. He
wishes not to put down his students, and I do not wish to put down
my friends. I agree with Gottfried that the real problem is "making
constitutional self-government operate in a society that is too
unwieldy, politically apathetic, and self-indulgent to care about
republican freedom."

perhaps I go further and outline an apathy of my own; I no longer
think we have the option of "constitutional self-government."
It disappeared irrevocably, unnoticed, sometime, somewhere, in the
last two centuries.

my friends are not so stupid. Perhaps I am the idiot banging his
head against the wall in the attempt to eliminate headache. They
seem to me to be saying, pretty much en masse, as revealed in their
behavior and on a few occasions by their actual comments to me:

don't bug me about what the boys in Washington are up to. I'm busy
with my work and family, and have damn little time left over, and
what I have, I intend to enjoy – you know, a few beers, a little
TV, some zig-zig, and an occasional trip to change the scenery."

say further, "And as far as this weird war against terrorism
and the police state stuff you want me to get excited about, what
the hell can I do about it? I agree with you that the first duty
of an intelligent man is to stay out of the hands of the police,
but with all your shouting and the shouting of those Net folk you
like, you are increasing the likelihood the gendarmerie will be
around to check you out. And anyway, Bush is right; those Arabs
are bad guys who want to kill us, so what's the harm if Bush and
his gang return the compliment?"

oh yes, God bless America."

other words I conclude that "My Fellow Americans," as
FDR used to address us when he was cranking up to a particularly
bogus statement, are sound asleep and totally content in their ignorance.
I notice that the mainstream pundits are careful to pander to that
condition, and to raise no issues or points that might tend to unduly
disturb the sleep of the just. They agonize within the borders of
"acceptable opinion," whereas I have become addicted,
as to a drug, to opinions that hold the entire central government
apparatus to be inessential, infinitely troublesome, and fixed in
detestation of the citizenry it fleeces with such raw delight. A
pox on the lot of them.

we learn that Bush has okayed the bumping off of Saddam. Great move
for a so-called committed Christian. But this causes no more excitement
in the American Heartland than Ariel Sharon's imitation of Mussolini,
or any other of the outrages du jour.

we hear it proposed, to the usual preternatural calm of the populace,
that our military are considering the use of nuclear weapons in
going in to "change the regime" in Iraq, since "Americans
won't accept" the 80,000 casualties (or so) an invasion would
result in.

have lately felt myself to be living in a kind of Kafkaland, where
functionaries stir about, people come and go on their personal errands,
and heralds come out like clockwork robots on the hour every hour
to tell us, for heaven's sake to look out, the terrorists are everywhere;
but the whole thing is quite unreal. We are in a period of suspended
animation awaiting a true catastrophe not just another announcement
of the danger of one. But, like a sleeper in a nightmare, we are
unable to do anything to avert what's coming.

voices when we whisper together are like wind over dry grass or
rats’ feet over broken glass."

Reese says we are ruled by a mere 7000 or so people, our controlling
elite. I believe it, and I have long believed they are uninterested
(except in the way one keeps track of skunks) in what I or any other
slobizen of the land thinks foreign or domestic policies should
be. They are quite certain that they know better, and that they
will prevail. When it comes to self-confidence and unbounded optimism
in the face of the direst warnings that trouble lies ahead, these
people make Hitler look like a witless namby-pamby tacking and veering
wildly in the very lightest winds.

the gods would destroy they first make mad."

agree with the irrepressible Murray Rothbard and the equally irrepressible
Lew Rockwell that the work of the honest pundit is to establish
the intellectual illegitimacy of the state. I hope this piece is
another Lego block in that construct. We are not going to convince
the gang in Washington, or their masters who are deeper in and higher
up in the circles of real power, of anything.

have to hope that following the catastrophe, whatever it proves
to be, there is a framework for rebuilding that will reject the
people and policies, all of them, that have brought us to this dismal

19, 2002

White [send him mail] writes
from Odessa, Texas.

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