Capital ‘P’ People

People is a word that demands the upper case here and elsewhere, anywhere in discussions of the political significance of The People in the dynamics of power in a society. The People as an institution in the socio-political nexus carries weight, bears it with a density great enoug to counterbalance that of the State. The word we use with upper case is other than the simple reference in lower case, ‘the people.’  When we talk about The People, we are talking about Jefferson’s We the People. The People are, as mentioned above, an institution of power in a society, again the only one large enough (a largeness coming from its numerical advantage in “the people,” a plurality in number and one inherited from the designation given the word in our socio-linguistic negotiations), as well as dense enough, to be of any significance against the weight of the State, and the State does have great weight and it does bear it down on the People whenever it can, especially when the People are fragmented as people often are in societies where States increase their weight, or the significance of their weight by getting people to abandon their role as The People, sometimes for the seemingly more lucrative role of The Public, this latter distinction being the people in service of the State.

But we the people are fragmented, which would not be so bad if we could manage our solitary confinement in our skins better than we seem able to, always deferring to agents of State power in the persons employed by the various media who sell us sets of values we are supposed to have, supposed to want, received ideas funneled through their channels into us the way a French goose farmer force feeds some of her geese to make foie-gras. We might better handle this fragmentary isolation, molding an archipelago of individuals, if we could read and write better than we do, currently at a level too far below the kind of literacy that is intermittently raised whenever civilizations are ready to take steps forward, not something they do always or even often. If literacy had a higher place in our thoughts, a more commanding respect from ourselves, we might read better for sure, but we would also write better as well, and i defense of a democracy that is rapidly slipping because not-literate-enough has masqueraded as special and talented for too long.

The fore mentioned simple separate person is often more easily dismissed by power than honest, genuine and passionate critique that employs the energy of a form that has often been used against power and has never really been employed by power–the literary. Power has sunk low; petty power and authority is often no better than the commonplace reader who probably never writes; reading and writing are mutual and reciprocal aspects of literacy. You cannot ever really do one much better than the other, depending which one reaches ascendancy over the other, which is not only common but always. The Literary Essay as I use ut then is most importantly an organ of Truth, also by necessity in upper case. We need to read and write much better than we seem able to do at present, a lot better to be able to maintain the higher level of respect for literacy that us necessary, for those who can really perform the task, if we are going to protect our freedom; that is, if we are going to manage our democracy for the betterment of all people.


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