Duck! and Gather

Archive for December 2009

What’s my socio-political forecast for the New Year? What he said.

It’s scary reading. Quite dire in outlook. But, IMHO, definitely in the ballpark of what’s to come.

But where I differ significantly from Mr. Kunstler is in his apparent ignorance of the upside of the demise of American culture. He notes that, unlike the rest of the world, and unlike America of the 1930s, America of 2010 has no cohesive “culture”, in the way history has understood that term (i.e. same race, food, heroes, religion, behavioral norms, national identity, etc.).

In bleak times, tight cultures can survive because people waste no time in pulling together to help each other out. Everyone is everyone else’s brother in these cultures.

Since America has no cohesive culture, people like Kunstler see clearly the chaotic threat of collapse.

But what I’ve long said is that, while America has no culture, it does have a dominant meme. Namely: freedom, baby, freedom. Freedom is the ability to decide, today, that we will change everything about how we live. Change what we eat, what we do, how we do it, how we behave, how we interact, with whom we interact, etc.

Everywhere else in the world, freedom is curtailed by the headwind of culture. Making those kinds of profound changes anywhere outside of America, people must buck their own cultures to do so.

But in America, there is no culture to buck. And everybody is “us”. There is no “other” left to scapegoat in the America of 2010.

So unlike Mr. Kunstler, I’m completely bullish on the prospect that, when the time comes, and the times leave no alternative, we Americans will radically change how we live, and do so in a way that is more efficient than not.

Indeed, our national lingo has ready-made aphorisms for prodding those among us who are slower to change: “Get over it!” “Just do it!” “Go for it!”

Yes, America may be a cultural wasteland. But we are the People of Change.

A week ago, on Christmas Eve, I walked over to our neighbor’s house with our daughter to bring over some gifts for their daughter. They were having a party. I joined the men sitting around a table on the outside deck, drinking wine, and chatting. One of the men was roughly my age, but on the other end of the spectrum, politically-speaking.

When the topic turned to health care reform, this fellow launched into one of those easily debunkable wacko right-wing nut-job strawman “death panel” “socialism” arguments.

That was the moment I finally started feeling good about Obama. Or at least a little better. This will take some ‘splainin’ …

You see, for a year, I’ve been receiving emails as a member of the “Obama nation”. (I had signed up in the summer of 2008 to join the chorus of people railing about Obama’s FISA-flip.) In these mails, the Obama team all but gloats about the great “changes” they’ve brought to this country.

These are things Obama won’t say to the nation. Just some stuff he says to his “base”.

But the irony is that it is his base that knows exactly what a putz Obama has been since January. What a weakling. What a loser.

I mean, coming from the Left, I’m fully aware that since March, when Obama kicked off health care reform, the health insurance industry as a whole has done quite well, thank you.

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for the money has gone too far

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December 2009