The State in America only pays lip service to the exercise of freedom. Presidents in the State of the Union rarely ever serve more than their image. The State is incapable of respecting in the least the kind of freedom I had once believed was my birth right; I cannot believe anymore in a President of the people. Perhaps naively in my youth I believed that presidents were capable of what Obama’s most ardent supporters believe him capable of, but doubt of this has begun to supplant confidence. Perhaps my mistake was to have taken freedom for granted; I am beginning to feel like one of Barnum’s suckers. Washington does seem like the Big Tent; Capitol Hill, the White House, et cetera, other rings.
Will our civil liberties always be present? I know the slogan of the ACLU is Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself. Good cause, good slogan, the need for vigilence is constant. But that vigilance must come from the people, not a lazy public looking for men like President Obama to do it for us. We saw Bush II and did not like what we saw; we heard Obama and liked what we heard, but hearing is never listening. We might as well shake hands with the devil anytime we let leaders in Washington keep vigilance for us.
The sense of vigilance our degraded state sponsored education can imagine is only one that serves the interests of the state; it might be something else entirely now, in that we will not think serving the state against the people is such a bad idea. The Cave dwellers again rebel against the light of day. We do prefer our shadows to the realities outside our caves. Twitter, Facebook, TV, the mirror, all of them our caves; inside ourselves, solipsists ever.
We have grown too accustomed to a state more increasingly unfriendly, bartering our civil liberties for a false sense of security; states for all times have rewarded publicans and rarely the people. America had once almost become contrary to this. Advertisements rule our sense of the real; psychologists say that the internet has made us even more self-absorbed, more inside ourselves. Metaphysics by Madison Avenue.
I do believe we were freer at a time before Reagan and Bush and Iraq one and two, and certainly the post 9/11 world; which is not to say that Bush II was worse than Johnson or Nixon. We were smarter, more literate, better educated and more willing to commit to social change in a tactile not only tangible way. Today, drug dealers, criminals, pop stars all party with the President and we somehow miss what’s happening. We have come a long way from the old New Left, even further from the Old Left, but let’s not lament yet.
It was the old left that informed many of the men I had come to listen to when I was a boy, my first lessons in American Democracy, politics, freedom, the exercise of liberty, which was never license (a confusion I see popularly spreading). But then my fantasies of the old left might not be as accurately conceived as they should be; among the old left, I include the Teamsters of the thirties and I know too many bosses who deserve the Nietzschean lessons from the Geneology of Morals.
I remember the Revolutionary slogans from the time of our Founding Fathers, whereby one stood out: The Tree of Liberty is Watered with the Blood of Patriots, and if I might add, sometimes that of the moneyed and power elites . . . le sange impur. But who gets to say when the shooting stops, or how many is enough? What Reign of Terror is next?
What did Jefferson mean about our obligation to liberty when he wrote in “The Declaration of Independence” that a people desiring freedom are obligated to throw of their chains? What are the inferences to be made in today’s economy and from close examination of power politics? In this America who is there Democracy for? I know that the rich get richer; I know we have a degraded sense of the possibilities of each man’s future riches, mainly because we have confounded possibility and probability. We tolerate the rich because we believe they do something for their money; they are not an idle rich aristocracy, no. But outside of drilling for oil, raping lands, putting protected land at risk of ecological disaster, what then do the rich do? Goldman Sachs was at the head of the 1929 market collapse and was there again in 2008. And they are Obama’s biggest supporters. Obama is likely to bite the hand that feeds him and his pompous forked-tongued wife?