From time to time, events unfold that are so large in scope, so all-encompassing in their implications that one's initial response is muted by an inability to categorize it all within the realm of experience. Previous reference points prove of little service. One's image of oneself and one's place in the world is under siege, perhaps even in danger of being torn away. One stare's into the abyss, until the abyss removes its dark shades and makes direct eye contact. The mind buzzes; one's thoughts scuttle in circles like stunned insects.
On a collective basis, we as a nation are living through such a time. At present, we are witnessing the descending spiral of Icarusian Capitalism; our sacred delusion of the perpetual ascendancy of a god-like market place lies broken in the dust. Malls and Mcmansions stand abandoned, desolate as the edifices of forgotten gods, as the come-ons of the salesmen of deregulated capitalism are churned to spittle amid a cacophony of collapsing market platitudes.
Fortunately, when false convictions fall, it is possible for a leveling of sanity to prevail. But there can be no more hubristic flights borne on waxen wings. No more multibillion dollar confidence scams from Wall Street. No more smash and grab imperial wars. No more tea parties for the dim and deranged. There is the banality of evil, and then there is the evil of banality. Both, the present era has produced in abundance. From about the late nineteen-seventies to the present, The United States all but ceased manufacturing products and went into the business of manufacturing marketplace hype, baseless fears, and illusionary enemies. Due to this economic and cultural derangement, a dark tower of self-imprisoning delusions has circumscribed our nation's fate. Is it any wonder the quintessential dark lord of the darkest tower, Dick Cheney, will not exit the scene?
And what will foster real change? Not pleasing sound bites and rousing oratory from President Obama, then a continuance of many of the pernicious policies of his criminal predecessors. Conversely, the iron gates of Hell must crash closed behind us. The absence of light must grow so unbearable to us that we're willing to ask how is it we arrived in this place and become willing to challenge our most cherished concepts about ourselves and our place in the scheme of things. That is the sort of "indefinite detention" the nation could use. What is needed is the audacity of hopelessness.
President Obama and the Democratic Congress could have ridden a wave of public discontent towards meaningful reform, but instead they have hugged the shore. And they seem to be surveying the property, scouting locations to build beach house retreats for their elitist benefactors and the militarist fantasists whose tsunami-sized arrogance wrought the present destruction in the first place.
It is high season for those virtuosos of displaced anger, because not only the nation's treasure, but its élan vital, has been squandered inflating the bubble-borne vanities of the ultra-wealthy up to the point of economic immolation. The elite have perpetrated an act of catastrophic clownishness so massive that it has left the rest of us stunned, and left to pick amid the debris of our exploded hopes. Bur hopes do not die pretty. Once dead, they do not rise like the redeemer gods of myth; instead, they stagger about, rotting and snarling like B-movie mummies. They leave us with our mouths tasting of ash. Our hearts choked by dry thistle.
Yet the buffoons of Wall Street and the killer clowns of our militarized Disneyland strut and swagger past the smoking ruins they left behind after their high-end looting spree. In their plundering, the only thing they didn't steal for themselves was any sense of self-awareness. Or is self-awareness necessary when you're obscenely rewarded for your narcissistic follies? What motivation would a high-chair tyrant have to modify his self-centeredness when he is shielded from the consequences of his bratty machinations? Why become an honest actor in the realm of human events when one can strut through life with a con artist's inexplicable sense of entitlement?
And what about the rest of us? The financial elite, by means of their bagman in the Executive Branch and Congress, continue to plunder our hopes for a meaningful future byway of that legal larceny popularly known as the bailout, i.e., the latest transfer of wealth from the bottom upward. This is why the buffoonish tea-bagger types hoard their resentments. All they've been left with is a heap of fragmented hatreds. Those toxic baubles they shore against reality.
Tragically, when not addressed, fear and resentment will increase in intensity and can become an exponentially growing feedback loop of paranoid rage. At present, such a process has created that haunted forest of the airwaves known as right-wing talk radio. It is the voice of anger feeding off of itself, and it seems dangerously close to reaching the point of hypertrophic breakdown. It is the audio analog of a belief system in exponential decay ... The more the rot increases in the system the more Glen Beck babbles and weeps. It is physically manifested in the cataclysmic ecosystem of Rush Limbaugh's repulsive bulk ... his corpulent carcass is the morbid bloat of unregulated capitalism.
Heracles and the Lernean hydra
image from flickr.com by Eva the Weaver
Right-wing hatred is a many headed hydra that feeds on fear and desperation. It cannot be fought by attacking its spindling heads, each of its hissing mouths dripping with black poison. Instead, one must make thrusts at the noxious heart of the raging beast. But one cannot know where the heart of an external monster beats without suffering the agonies of one's own. Accordingly, one must allow one's heart to be broken. And don't look to Barack Obama's bland charm to mend it. Because the honest grief of the heart provides a point of reference, a foundation of knowledge, as to why the monster is inconsolable in its wounded fury; hence, this provides a strategic starting point as to how to fight it.
And that is why we must release the photographs of torture. Moreover, we must bring public ignominy upon the respectable psychopaths in high places who mandated these policies, plus bring a leveling of shame upon the high-flying, highchair tyrants of high finance who exploded the global economy. Our ugliness must be public like a frog. The nasty secrets must be revealed; the mortifying pictures gazed upon. Our stomachs should seize up in revulsion. The ordeal must exact such a degree of revulsion within us that we will never again allow these despicable practices to transpire on our watch.
There is a stench of putrefaction rising from beneath our feet. We must uncover the corpses laid under by empire. Being placated by Barrack Obama's bland charm -- in the same manner we were cowed by George W. Bush's infantile petulance, amused by Bill Clinton's brilliant, bad boy seductions, and drugged by Ronald Reagan's stupefying 1940's Hollywood bromides -- will only defer the reckoning and render us ignorant stooges in the impersonal sweep of history. As a people, we have a choice: We can be strengthened by embracing uncomfortable truths, or we can grow enervated and enfeebled by pushing them away.