Sunday, October 01, 2006

The rosy scenario

I was looking for a quote from Kurt Vonnegut yesterday and came across scattered references in which he talked about how the U.S. has become a one party state and how he believes there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Those, essentially, are the conclusions I have reached.

Regarding the idea that the U.S. is a one party state, I didn’t get it from Vonnegut. I’m pretty sure that I first heard it from Noam Chomsky, but that doesn’t matter. I am not a follower of Chomsky or Vonnegut or anybody else for that matter. The question of whether an idea is valid or not has nothing whatsoever to do with who does or does not espouse it. That kind of thinking is known as the “appeal to authority” logical fallacy.

I did not have any kind of “Eureka” moment when I first read that the U.S. was a one party state. In fact, I thought the idea was ridiculous and I still find it easy to slip back into naive hope that democracy will prevail. But it won’t. Although it’s difficult to grasp that so much of what we’ve always believed is illusionary, the evidence for the one party state is overwhelming. Of course this is a mere blog entry, not a book with thousands of footnotes and an annotated bibliography, so I could not present all of that overwhelming evidence even if I did know it all. But for sake of argument, start by considering the ramifications of the facts that we had a coup d’etat in 2000 and that the House and Senate passed the Stalinization of America Act, or whatever they called it, a few days ago, which declared the president to be an all powerful dictator who can jail and torture anyone for any reason without any review by anybody. Then watch the twin pillars of your illusionary country dissolve before your eyes.

And there is nothing that you or I can do about it. Inexorable historical forces render the actions of individuals meaningless in the long term. I will even climb to the apex of apostasy and say that the coup of 2000 does not matter. If Al Gore would have been allowed to take office, things would eventually end up being more or less the same. The details would of course differ, but at some point in near future, we would find ourselves in precisely the same place. The anti-democratic historical forces have too much momentum.

I know this is not a popular analysis and I’m not at all saying that people shouldn’t fight it. I have the greatest respect for the people like Kos and Atrios who believe that there is a Democratic Party and that we can turn back the tide of history by electing them. In fact, my advice is to act as if we do live in a vibrant democracy and really do have the power to make positive changes. Maybe my thoroughly defeatist analysis is wrong? It’s certainly best to act that way, just in case. At least for now.

I say “at least for now” because, as non-Muslim American citizens, we can still say and do pretty much whatever we want without fear of losing our jobs. going to jail, being tortured, or killed by death squads. I do not believe that we will have these freedoms much longer. so if you are inclined to fight (non-violently) for them, now is the time.

But once it comes to the point where criticizing the government will destroy your life, my advice is to choose life. Odds are, you’ve only got one.