by Milo Clark
(Swans - December 18, 2006) Lee and I live a nearly idyllic life in rural Hawaii. Doesn't stop me from worrying about the rest of things, though.
John Dean wrote an excellent book, Conservatives Without Conscience (CWC). I read several reviews before a friend sent me a copy. In spite of the title, reviews miss a key point about conscience. CWC's don't have any that I would recognize. The key words missed by most reviewers are related to scruples. Being without conscience is one thing, acting without scruples in another. Winning and keeping authority are the names of their games. Costs like collateral damages are no object. Explains Rove to a T. Explains neocons, too. W? For sure. Cheney? In spades! Dean sees Cheney as driver.
Timothy Robbins did a fine, if overwrought, pseudo documentary about an unscrupulous CWC senatorial candidate, Bob Roberts, from Pennsylvania. Gore Vidal plays his opponent. Bob Roberts was done in 1989-90, released in 1991. Prescient. Maybe W cut his Texas teeth on Bob Roberts. See the Rove prototype.
In Daniel Quinn's Ishmael terms, the takers have overwhelmed the leavers. Lukacs's intuition that we would again descend into barbarity proves accurate.
Historian Neil Ferguson goes Spenglerian about the descent of the West in the twentieth century bleeding copiously into the twenty-first.
Swans readers may recall that trying to solve problems using the tools, techniques, and thoughts that create them is silly.
Bounce around the world and see that there are no fewer instances of gut-wrenching injustice. No more apartheid in South Africa yet Darfur engages little more than oblique sensitivity, sympathy or compassion from world governments or the United Nations. Not much oil in Darfur notes the neighborhood cynic. Rwanda redux anyone? HIV/AIDS runs rampant. Depressing.
The Anglican Right Reverend John Papworth, founder of Resurgence now 40 years ago, recently penned an excellent little book about alternatives to big government, big business, and big everything else. Village Democracy says we need to get back into local models within which everyone can know everyone else and have relationships now rare. Community is where the decisions need to be made. Adam Smith, moral philosopher, made much the same point, also ignored, in Wealth of Nations. Hillary Clinton is right about the need for village.
Papworth, now in his mid-80s, is a product, and part and parcel, of the "small is. . . ." school of society. Leopold Kohr, Breakdown of Nations, Fritz Schumacher, Small is Beautiful, and Kirkpatrick Sale, Human Scale, represent a core group of this school. Papworth and friends can now be found in a tiny little journal, Fourth World Review. Antithesis of slick.
Kohr suggested that there is a right and perfect size for everything. When that size is exceeded, implosion results.
Kohr said true radicals are impatient for changes which benefit people. Sounds right to me.
They all argue that the problem is system not process. Doesn't really make much difference which or what reforms or changes may be advocated if the system remains intact. Two-party system not working? Go multi-party. Go parliament. Congress sold out? Switch to Democrats. Bureaucrats driving you nuts? Go local. No solutions, you say? Right. Same, same.
Unless you relate to each other as community, within community, no reform or change will emerge other than change for the sake of change, which leaves things about as they were. Again, it takes a village. So change again and again and again to end where we are? No way. That is all process, which leaves the system as it was and is.
What systems might be better? you ask. Good question for 2007.
If 2006 was not a year of implosion, I don't know what else to call it. It remains fairly clear that if it weren't Iraq, it would be someplace else. Roll back Iraq and roll out the next war. War remains the constant. Change of place has little to do with it.
2006? A very big disappointment. I had hoped and naively believed that we wouldn't have to do it again after Nixon and Iran-Contra and . . . . you name it. Actuality is that we are doing it again and most likely will do it again given an opportunity or given the skewed leadership that finds war so seductive. Is it only the leadership that is seduced?
Most intriguing figure on the world scene? Ahmadi-Nejad. Fresh or fetid?
Time for women to take over? We can give it a try.
Meanwhile, huff and puff and blow 2006 into history.
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