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  • America
    united states of
    sheriffs & outlaws
    still loves a hero
    & a good bar-room fight
    Pat Garrett vs Billy the Kid
    Bonny & Clyde
    the ol' do or die
    no town is ever big enough
    high noon on a dusty street
    guy in white guy in black
    square off in November
    whole town behind the window
    movie is decided when
    someone gets shot

    (from Roy Rogers, Trigger & Bullet)

    In July, I wrote What’s In A Name? trying to address the moniker of 9/11.
    Later that month, Roy Rogers,Trigger & Bullet tried to address the gun-slinging enigma that is America & the issue of the then distant, but looming presidential election. Two days ago, a cowbird colleague wrote how he detested politics & as I silently read his words, I knew that something 'political' was in gestation, wanting to be birthed.

    Like other timeless pursuits (Art, Music, Literature), Politics has undergone vast change & no longer is seen in its historical context. By that, I wish to suggest, that the august & eminent tradition of philosophers, thinkers, idealists & agents (revolutionaries) of political change has effectively ended.

    Ended I say, not so much for lack of recruits or problems worthy of solution, but because the 'art' (or should it be 'business') of politics has been taken over, lobbied-out, mergered, sent overseas, & monopolized by big money interests.

    Remember the term, redneck? Yes, that over-simplistic, home-grown, chauvinist kind of understanding; usually attributed to out-of-door work, normally associated with farming or ranching, which carried with it its rural platitudes of commonsense. Redneck. Stand-up comedian Jeff Foxworthy (to name but one), made a lot of money championing the cause.

    Rednecks, always the butt of the joke, we would laugh at their expense, because we, society’s erudite informed, kept coming back to these, our own origins in baseness, (a kind of litmus test for reality) to determine just how far we’d progressed (or fundamentally, how little things had really changed).

    There’s a new term for redneck today, it’s called politically incorrect. Since the 1990s, the urban sophistication of “politically incorrect” has replaced the moronic limitations of redneck. However, (as we have all come to understand with shocking consistency), while the names for things get changed, the human remains the same. And this is what I would like to address today.

    In our global village most of the systems of privilege are intact, be not swayed otherwise:
    White European is still the pedigree of distinction.
    Men still make most of the decisions outside of the home.
    Decision-making men surround themselves with competent subordinates, many of whom are personal assistants, secretaries, and most commonly, female.
    Personal wealth is still the ultimate measure of value in the world.
    Physical appearance is still the dominant first impression.
    Finally, English is the language of choice.

    Please examine these statements closely before reacting.
    If you are a white male of European descent, accustomed to women in subordinate positions, have a
    million dollars in assets, & speak English you are privileged. Perhaps not at all powerful, but most certainly, privileged.

    Neither are positions of privilege necessarily positions of power, though more often than not, they are synonymous, colluded & confederate. Much of our consternation about power & privilege seems to stem from an unfounded desire to defy gravity; that matter, in a single lifespan, can attain a higher plane of existence. As though impermanence wasn’t in fact, the vast, even playing field we are so desperate to compete upon.

    The novelty of civilization’s infatuation with democracy, has finally worn off. Those with power & influence, the so-called 1% (let’s be more inclusive & expand it to 10%), must be lately breathing a collective sigh of relief, now that the dust from 'things in flux' has settled somewhat, returning to its timeless state of 'things as they have always been': that the powerful rule the world & the affairs of the world.

    In our brief sojourn on the planet (as homo sapiens) things have never really strayed too far from that overarching principle. Whether it’s beads, conch shells, value-in-store, diamonds, gold or crude, those who have the most reserves of these (history has shown) shall be deemed the most powerful.

    From Africa to Asia & back through Europe, this process/development has migrated & morphed with the best & the worst of us; across deserts of disease & plague, over mountains of war & destruction, across seas of injustice & unkindness...& most recently, the 'way things are' arrived in America.

    For a while (let's say a hundred years), it seemed like the pursuit of happiness might take over from the pursuit of wealth, but that pioneer plan was fundamentally flawed from the outset: it was predicated on the idea that the average person could become successful, improve their situation through hard work (labour for wages) & make a meaningful contribution to their community & nation (just like the powerful & the privileged).

    Oh, it worked for a while! Some of the world's most powerful were even dismayed; many Americans among them, at how ordinary people could convince themselves so that they mattered, that they counted in some significant, progressive, contributory way. Ah, what a nice idea it was! & many advantages accrued (trickled down) to the less privileged, the vulnerable, the poor & the impotent as a result.

    But it could never last! Slowly & inevitably, the cost to the privileged to underwrite this idealism was far too dear. The thought of inalienable rights, universal education & indiscriminate access to privilege was more than the privileged could bear. So they got together. They had to, since they have always been a minority.

    As a result, the few consolidated to protect their interests & made it appear to be in the interests of everyone. They pooled resources & used the illusion of democratic representation, equality, justice & the American Way to advantage (against itself) by abetting human nature in its course: the erosion of virtue (idealism) with vice (realism).

    Thus over time (from Lincoln's assassination to Kennedy's), the oh-so-hoped-for land of promise, that best dream man had ever dreamed (Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité), grew tarnished & threadbare, its best representatives assassinated or siphoned-off, & banking institutions with their pound-of-flesh schemers, saw windows of opportunity, financing the need to keep the illusion alive.

    Once the privileged grasped the critical importance of controlling newspaper & television media, they cemented their monopoly on power.

    One of the direct results of this slow but steady deterioration of the original American ethos was the need to clone (if you will), a stand-in ethos based on form, not content, appearance, not substance. Now that it is done, in the bag so to speak, the 10% who decide the affairs of the world, are sufficiently satisfied with the results of America’s decline; its adolescent angst of having to mature, its mid-life crisis, its impossible debt.

    ‘Things as they have always been’ (you’ll be chagrined to know) is back in the saddle, running the show, after a brief hiatus. Since the first ‘parliaments’, medieval monarchies had to yield to the same forces (which, with striking similitude to a wolf pack or a lioness pride, bring down big prey by ganging-up, making compact & strategic incisions, bleeding the vitality from the creature impelled by fear, that finally, succumbs to death).

    When was the last time you heard speak of the Divine Right Of Kings? Something quaintly nostalgic in us tolerates it still, as we look disbelievingly at royal pomp & circumstance, but enjoying the Disney-like proportions of the prince & princess fairytale.

    Historically & according to expediency, the business of politics has decapitated royalty on one hand & then chosen to restore them to power on the other. Commoners en masse, riled first by a Cromwell in England, then by a Robespierre in France, were brilliant examples of how the business of politics can be fired by idealism, extinguished by realism.

    The Imperial expansionism of pre-industrial Europe saw the emergence of a merchant middle-class & in a timeless dance, these aspirants to privilege bred their number, bolstered their ranks & with the help of steam engines & mass production capabilities, became the perfect foil for the privileged who, behind their backs, arbitrated their rise & their fall.

    The governments we elect are phantasmagorical hallucinations of this remnant ideology with which we’ve distracted ourselves for slightly more than two hundred years. They are not even puppets of power. The truly powerful have nothing to do with this political level of the charade. Banking institutions & their ubiquitous, money-changing offspring, determine policy & direct the course of events (which, as far as possible, dovetail with other bodies of power & the international policy they have in concert, already put in place).

    What am I trying to say? To make the most of it (existence). To dismantle (perhaps dispel) as many of the passed along paradigms as possible, accepting with its accompanying grain of indignation the fact that 90% of us, (the mass of the world) do not effectively matter. We are meant to be consumers of what it is we are told. I have written here more than once that, acceptance is everything. It allows us to assign more efficiently, priority in our lives & lends a grandfatherly kind of perspective to hardship.

    Therefore, find simple truths in the lives of the people who surround you, better ways to communicate charity, a handful who return your devotion, & a quiet room with not much in it, where you may cook, sleep, meditate & create.
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