Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Let the Interesting Times Roll

Suffice it to say this morning's news is not welcome, on my front...but to create a thoughtful, and honest, response to these events will take time. I know it isn't over...but if the numbers I've read are right (Ohio around 140,000 advantage Bush, 250,000 absentee and provisional ballots), the odds are very high that a man I feel is fundamentally unsuited for his job will be allowed to continue in that capacity for another 4 years.

I have a lot to say, but don't know how to say it yet. That is my job, and I hope I am suited for that.

In the meantime, I was planning on posting the following today, no matter what the outcome. Just my real take on the matter, once the partisan shite gets stripped away. Courtesy of Tone, I offer you this, from Section 23 of The Antichrist, by Friedrich Nietzsche:

"But when faith is thus exalted above everything else, it necessarily follows that reason, knowledge and patient inquiry have to be discredited: the road to the truth becomes a forbidden road. — Hope, in its stronger forms, is a great deal more powerful stimulans to life than any sort of realized joy can ever be. Man must be sustained in suffering by a hope so high that no conflict with actuality can dash it — so high, indeed, that no fulfillment can satisfy it: a hope reaching out beyond this world. (Precisely because of this power that hope has of making the suffering hold out, the Greeks regarded it as the evil of evils, as the most malign of evils; it remained behind at the source of all evil.)"

Make of it what you will. I'm not in perfect agreement, though I love the wit: I think hope has a disciplined form, one that I first truly encountered on September 11, 2001, and one that, in the coming days, will require much work on my part in order for it to prove sustainable.

In the meantime, thinking--and a welcoming to all who might read this to share their own thoughts, in the form of comments, here.

A disciplined form? I tend to think that true hope is organic and too divorced from reason for one to impose anything like discipline on it. Consciously constructing hope in a disciplined manner smacks of self-delusion, which has more to do with mania than the more visceral sense, however irrational, that things will work out for the better in time. Driving home from work this afternoon, I caught the first half of a Terry Gross interview with one of W.'s old speech writers. He was talking about the evangelical christians--whose vote turned out to be so important in this election--weren't the inflexible radical right-wingers that popular belief makes them out to be, but that rather they were actually quite conciliatory as long as their basic views were respected. With that as a sort of mental launch pad I began having thoughts about how perhaps W.'s overt religious orientation might actually have been inflated in the course of one of Karl Rove's schemes to build a powerful voting bloc out of a subgroup of Americans, and maybe he's not that crazy in real life. But that doesn’t jive well with what we've seen of W.'s behavior and policy. He does reckless things for foolish reasons, he has a broad contempt for the rule of law and consistently and shamelessly sides with corporate and moneyed interests over the good of the people. But faced with the prospect of another four years under this twit I was eager to construct a fantasy about how perhaps things weren't as bad as I know them to be. And that's the nature of hope; irrational, essentially undisciplined. Disciplined thinking and reason begets pessimism, at least in this context.
Context being the issue, really.

Right now, for me, the question of hope is how to best think of a way forward. As far as I'm concerned, this vote is the final nail in the coffin so far as those principles behind enlightenment documents such as the U.S. Constitution are concerned. So. Assuming that I've properly sussed this out, what next? Well, I could opt to party like it's 1999, give in to the apocalyptic thrust of many who support this bastard, accept that even scientifically, we're eventually doomed, and it might as well be sooner rather than later...or I can work toward a more sustainable vision. Thus rational hope is born.

Why do we continue to make efforts toward what we think, individually, are improvements, in the face of such nonsense? Basically, I'm not quite buying that this is entirely 'organic,' or at least no more organic than is reason--and that if hope is sustained through an effort of will, then there is some intellectual aspect of the process, as well as simply emotive.

As regards American Democracy, I'm not sure it's even worth sustaining. In the wider context, I guess I'm trying to make a 'nuanced' argument for believing we will all survive this madness, even if America doesn't, and there will come a time when we can institute some of the more imaginative of our solutions once these particular toxins have worked their way out of the human machine.

Interesting times indeed. Luckily, I'm getting work as a cook, and that should keep me on the outside, even if nothing else does. Not to mention incredibly busy, on the physical side of things, which should stave off depression.
Hmm, agreed; context and symantics. In any event, the way forward is likely to be very nasty in near term. There are already some low-frequency grumblings about Iran and its nuclear ambitions, the Bush administration sticking to its predictable position that you can't coddle these folks with carrots and that you should just cut straight to the stick. If we invade Iran there's really not much hope of avoiding an all-out war between the West and dar-al-Islam. That's going to be horrific beyond description, and it will likely have apocalyptic undertones. But all of this is really symptomatic of a deeper problem, and that's the fact that America's bloated economy and general expectations of lifestyle depend on the availability of cheap oil, which we don't possess. Saudi Arabia is tending toward fundamentalist extremism, which threatens the largest oil supply available to us, and this coupled with the fact that global oil consumption is increasing rapidly while major new discoveries elude us (there have been no major new fields discovered since the early seventies) tends to point to a time in which our oil-based economy will have to undergo tremendous, turbulent (and possibly violent) change, or collapse completely. Such a rapid change will likely entail a lot of economic, political and social horrors, and frankly I think that we're starting to see the beginning of that.

The basis of my hope, then, is very similar to yours. I tend to agree that the America we know and its democracy may well be headed toward ruin, and I don't relish this. However we've gotten very fat, happy, lazy and complacent here, and things will probably have to get really bad before they can get better again. If that's the case, then I welcome the change--let's just get it over with.
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