Interesting Times

"May you live in interesting times," the ancient curse goes. We do. The principle of individual liberty bequeathed to us by the rebellion of 1776, even despoiled as it was by the Constitution of 1788 that made mercantilism the law of the land, has gradually been rendered totally meaningless by our self-serving State, step by step, over the last one-hundred-and-fifty years, as predicted. Less obvious, the principle of the dignity of mankind bequeathed to us by centuries of European Christianity has been rendered totally meaningless by all self-serving States, step by step, over the last three hundred years. Meanwhile, our understanding of nature has grown beyond any expectations, and our application of that understanding has given mankind the power of life or death over our planet itself. We are the mighty warrior State, with no principles left to guide us at all. "Interesting times" means for us living on the brink of self-extinction.

I imagine that my apocalyptic conclusions come as no surprise to most LRC readers. I have read that some neocon warmongers even use such conclusions to justify their wanton mass murders, because, as Keynes justified wanton mass theft, "In the long run we’re all dead." If so, they are welcome to lead the way, please. While the argument in favor of this point of view is nearly impeccable, considering that political government always arises from the use of force, and always expires from the use of force, there are a few small exceptions in modern testimony that promise some hope for a better result.

In 1999 I wrote a little piece called "Where Have All The Boomers Gone?" (updated for LRC in 2001). In those days, and for the previous twenty years, I had lived in a remote community in the coastal mountains of northern California, where I knew no one who could talk about such things. I was infuriated by the despicable Slick Willie regime’s bombing of Belgrade, our war to protect the Al Queda drug cartel in Bosnia, without a squeak of protest from our Vietnam generation. I expressed my impotent fury on innocent paper, and thought I was done with it.

Then came the bloodless political coup of 2000. Surprising me, Clinton stepped down, and took his generous perks and pension, and passed the tyrant’s scepter to the person chosen by one-sixth of the population to rule. (Serial tyranny is a new play in the political game; names and faces change, but the game remains the same.) The boomers seemed indifferent.

Then came the mysterious hijackers’ suicide attack, the predicable but equally sudden Patriot Act, and the planned pulverizing of Afghanistan that sent this regime’s ratings soaring despite the disappearance of the prime suspect, whatshisname. Perhaps this all happened too fast for people to connect the dots, as they say, but the propaganda for a war against Iraq was drawn out long enough for everybody to get the picture. Finally, the aging boomers appeared to protest this overt imperial military aggression.

Not that it influenced this regime — reality doesn’t touch this regime — yet it indicated a kind of awakening to me, and that gives me hope. More and more cities around the country are pledging to deny support for the Patriot Act, and that gives me hope. People are taking a second, a third, a fourth look at what has happened since 2000, and even the talking heads are asking questions that approach relevance to the facts, and that gives me hope. The lies and the fabrications of this regime are becoming ever more hysterical, exposing them to ridicule, and that gives me hope.

Maybe, just maybe, mankind’s will to live free and thrive will push the warmongers back into their dark bunkers to brood on their hatred in solitude, and leave us alone. Then we may have a chance to survive our interesting times in peace.