A regular reader put forward a lengthy lamentation that began in this way:
Lately I have begun to feel, as a result of my own efforts to awaken others to our plight and call for resistance to the policies of our regime, that there is a much deeper dynamic going on within our society that may explain why it seems that so many seem impervious to the descending darkness enhanced by this criminal regime. Like you, I have hoped that it was largely the ignorance of an unenlightened and brainwashed portion of our citizenry that hold such views, and that a dose of sobering reality and ‘ truth’ could perhaps open them to the criminal enterprise behind the many atrocities we are witnessing, such as our rigged election system, preemptive wars, torture made US policy and the removal of our liberties as our corporatocracy moves us ever closer to full-fledged fascism. If only we could expose the deep irrationality that constitutes much of the public’s support, we would find a growing outraged movement towards its opposition. For the past several years, I have attempted my best to do whatever I could to expose that irrationality, including organizing protest marches, writing, correspondences and discussions with as many as will listen, and circulating far and wide the many great articles you and others have written to that end.
However, I must admit that I’ve pretty much come to a reluctant conclusion that there will be no way out of the monstrous reality we have become in this country, only a possible way through it for some few survivors once it all comes apart for ‘civilization’...
I responded to him with the following:
A very interesting and eloquent crie de coeur. Thank you for sharing those thoughts here.
I, too, have deep concerns about the possibility that America is not going to rescue itself from darkness. But I also see other possibilities that seem quite as strong as that very dark one. (Where my hope has dimished is that it has become very difficult for me to imagine the kinds of very positive scenarios -–2009 under a new president being like 1933 in having a crisis bring forth a positive transformation of the country-- that seemed to me entirely possible just a year ago.)
First, one matter of substance.
The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been impressed by the capacity of a society to “muddle through.” It doesn’t NEARLY satisfy me, because I have a passion for people looking at the truth, for them going through the sometimes traumatic processes of growth that come from looking at the truth, and in this way for the truth to have done some important work in making the world Whole.
That’s my trip.
And I very much wanted this triumph of truth and insight to happen, for example, in the wake of the Vietnam War. For years, as this country dealt in lies and blunders and tragedies in that conflict, I yearned for the day when America would take a good look at all that had happened and take to heart “the lessons of Vietnam.”
Then came the end of the war in 1975 and, lo and behold, the 70s went by and IT NEVER HAPPENED. There was no major confrontation with reality. The supporters of the war made up their versions of the history, in which they’d never been seriously wrong. And the protesters continued to believe what they’d long believed. And there was no breakthrough to national self-understanding, repentance, wisdom.
And yet, the nation muddled through.
Some of the impact of the war did induce some primitive kinds of learning of lessons. The U.S. was for a time very eager NOT to get involved in some other war on foreign soil. The military was particularly eager not to be put in that position again (see the “Powell Doctrine,” as an example of an effort --not all that impressive, conceptually-- to avoid quagmires). And some others of the values (from the part of America that had decried that war) gradually seeped into the body politic.