• A Dismal Era We Live In

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    Paul
    Gottfried has lately published on LRC a "pathologist's
    report
    " 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."

    Or
    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.

    Perhaps
    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:

    "Look,
    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."

    They
    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?"

    "And,
    oh yes, God bless America."

    In
    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.

    Now
    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.

    Next
    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.

    I
    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.

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

    Charley
    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.

    "Whom
    the gods would destroy they first make mad."

    I
    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.

    We
    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
    pass.

    June
    19, 2002

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

    Tom
    White Archives

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