And the Votes are In: The American Elections of 2010
“We Irish think otherwise.” Bishop Berkeley
The results are in! The people have spoken! Christine O’Donnell has lost, and Harry Reid is returned to the Senate. California and New York are liberal, and the heartland of Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky are conservative. Duh?
In other words, the U.S. remains what it has always been since the days of slavery–a deeply divided country, now slaloming down the slope by leaning to the Left in one election, and then to the Right in the next. A vote of No Confidence has been given to Obama, and unless he becomes dazzlingly different he may be–like LBJ challenged by Eugene McCarthy before him– forced to step aside by the Democratic Party and not be allowed to run in 2012 to his certain defeat. Since Obama has abandoned the Left of liberal progressives and is hated by the Right, the center that he clings to cannot hold. The desired Media Main Event for 2012 could be a hockey face-off between Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin—the battle of the Amazons! Since Rupert Murdoch has supported them both, it also might just indicate that the two party system has become a hidden puppetry show put on by the two hands of a single body.
The American election of 2010 has shown that a handful of billionaires can redesign the nation-state more to their liking by using the new campaign finance laws and the media to produce a gridlock government in which legislators cannot get in the way of the corporate jets that fly above them to get things done their way. No elected leader, Obama or Merkel, now has the power to govern anymore, because government has become a subcontractor to Business.
But in their outburst of irrationality, the Tea Partiers have shown the rest of us that they are suffering from Pre-Catastrophic Stress Disorder, or PCSD–which is a kind of mass hysteria that takes hold of you, and so in return you hold on tightly to whatever it is you believe in: Islam, Greater Israel, the Second Coming of Jesus, the Market-System, or Selfish Genes.
You may have first heard about PCSD in the case of animals in China, who got antsy before a large earthquake. Birds took off suddenly without a thunderclap. Animals in the zoos became disturbed and restless. I rather think animals hear some ultrasound of the tectonic plates groaning before they snap into the earthquake we observe—of course, too late to get out of the underground garage and head into the middle of Boston Common or Union Square in San Francisco.
Sensitive Jews in Germany in 1933 heard the break with the past before the crashings of Kristalnacht in 1938 and got out in time. The others went into denial, talked unconvincingly about the Germany of Goethe and Schiller, but looked out at one another with eyes of silent terror as expressed in the paintings of German Expressionism or The Scream of Munch.
Now, in America, it is not the Jews who suffer from PCSD, but my people, the Scots-Irish, or, in the vernacular of the Country Club WASPs, the Poor White Trash—they of obesity, junk food, and cigarettes.
Obama is their personal nightmare: an “uppity [N-word]“ from Harvard who they think is seeking to create a Socialist Superstate ruled by Ph.D.s who will tell them not to smoke and what to eat. Obama dared to put a West Coast Chinese Nobel Laureate in charge of Energy instead of a Texas oilman, and he forced health care down their cigarette-coughing throats. You may call it health care, but they know it is the beginning of the latter days in which the Anti-Christ will rule and the Mark of the Beast will be inscribed on them—a bar code of their complete medical history and beliefs.
When the Poor White Trash–or PWT–complain about “the Nanny State,” what they really mean are the new laws that forbid them to smoke in bars, or suggestions from New York City mayors that they not be allowed to spend food stamps on Cherry Coke and Twinkies. From rural Maine to rural Idaho, the PWT wish to be left alone to continue to think of Cheese as the main ingredient inCheetos and Kraft Macaroni Dinner, and fruit as the raw material for Fruit Loops. Whatever giant corporations dish up as junk food or food for thought, they will eat it up. Big Tobacco will offer them cancer and emphysema; agribusiness will offer them morbid obesity and diabetes, and they will gladly go for their favorite brands and blame Obama for their ills.
The PWT fear the Nanny State that will measure their IQs, and, finding them wanting, ship their kids off to Federal Public Schools to use them as white rats for new drugs like Ritalin that will turn them into orderly and obedient sissy liberals. They would rather, as they have always done, unthinkingly send their nutritionally brain-starved children off to die, not for America, but America’s corporate interests with Cheney’s Halliburton, the Koch Brothers’ Koch Industries, and Murdoch’s Fox News. They have been poor and taken the King’s Schilling or labored in the mines of Wales or West Virginia for centuries, so they suffer now from a genetic auto-immune disease in which they are killed by their own defenses and now vote for the rich who use and abuse them.
And the rich, in their turn, learned long ago how to turn working class neighborhood toughs into Black and Tans to suppress the Irish or American soldiers to terrorize the natives, be they Apaches, Iraquis, or Afghanis.
I come from the working class. My father fought in World War I, my uncle died in World War II, my brother fought in the Korean War, I was destined for the Viet Nam War, but because I was already a victim of open air atomic bomb testing, I was 4F; but the family made up for my inadequacies, and my nephew stepped in as a Marine to fight in Kuwait. Whenever we in the working class become educated and begin to wise up to notice that American defense industries produce a war for every generation, the rich say that we are conspiracy theory nuts or, ironically, since they invented the game, engaging in un-American class warfare.
But I am not proposing a conspiracy theory, simply a description of the cultural evolution of human society. First there were hunting and gathering bands; then came clans and tribes of pastoral nomads; then agricultural city-states expanding into empires; then industrial nation-states. We have now evolved from a system of patriotic belief and cultural identity based upon territory determined by national boundaries to emergent noetic polities determined by states of mind.
Patriotism is no longer a love of country–as it was when I was a child in World War II–it is an ideological hysteria generated by fear: fear of immigrants and illegal aliens, fear of scientific intellectuals, fear of being absolutely useless and unneeded in a world of high technology and groundless wealth made up out of Goldman Sachs’s consensual delusions and fictive instruments of exchange.
As I have argued before in more than one of my books, “Evil is the annunication of the next level or organization.” Oxygen was once a toxic outgassing from cyanobacteria, then it became the foundation of a new biosphere. Vikings were once pirates, but then they became the founders of cities like Kiev, Limerick, and Dublin, and became the first people to project the new oceanic civilization across the Atlantic. So now in the early stages of the emergence of noetic polities, we see the shadow-form ahead of us as behind us the sun sets on the nation-state. The global billionaires, like the global Vikings, pirates, and privateers before them, know that whoever owns the myth of the new world-space and the new media, owns the minds of the masses. Thus, in the new State of Entertainment, the people are happy as long as they can watch TV and dream of becoming an American Idol.
But do notice that in the myth of the new world-space with the differing cases of China and the USA, how seemingly opposed governing systems tend to converge in a new anti-democratic authoritarian capitalism.
Of course, after the catastrophes we have brought down upon ourselves are no longer intuited but openly perceived, it will become a case of Last Man Standing. Will the winner be the globalist Directorate, or a resurgence of warlord states as James Lovelock has predicted in his book, The Revenge of Gaia, or of smaller bioregeions and scientific economies like those of Massachusetts or Switzerland–instead of the former continental United States or Western Europe? Or will the winner be a “Freemasonry of Science” as predicted by H. G. Wells and his “Wings Over the World”?
In an open chaotic system, the results cannot be predicted, so no one, no matter how smart, imaginative, or divinely inspired knows the outcome. But as a poet, I will settle for the inspired words of Bob Dylan to agree that: “Something is happening, but you don’t know what is, do you, Mr. Jones?”
William Irwin Thompson (born July, 1938) is known primarily as a social philosopher and cultural critic, but he has also been writing and publishing poetry throughout his career and received the Oslo International Poetry Festival Award in 1986. He has made significant contributions to cultural history, social criticism, the philosophy of science, and the study of myth. He describes his writing and speaking style as “mind-jazz on ancient texts”. He is an astute reader of science, social science, history, and literature. He is the founder of the Lindisfarne Association.
His book, Still Travels: Three Long Poems was published in 2009 by Wild River Books. Order a copy from Amazon.
Works by William Irwin Thompson
Memoir – Farewell Address at the Lindisfarne Fellows Conference
Memoir – Pilgrimage to Lindisfarne: 1972
Memoir – The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 – Part I
Memoir – The Founding of the Lindisfarne Association in New York, 1971-73 – Part 2: A Community in Fishcove, Long Island
Memoir – Building a Dream – Part One: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – My Dinner with Andre Gregory: Lindisfarne-in-Manhattan, 1977-1979
Memoir – Building a Dream/The Shadow Side Part Two: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – Building a Dream/The Cathedral Part Three: Lindisfarne in Crestone, Colorado, 1979-1997
Memoir – Conclusion: The Economic Relevance of Lindisfarne
Memoir – Raising Evan and Hilary: Reflections of a Homeschooling Parent
Memoir – Sex and the Commune
Memoir – Raising Evan and Hilary
Memoir – With Gregory Bateson’s Mind in Nature
After Heart Surgery: Hokusai’s Great Wave
A Lazy Sunday Afternoon
Nancy Grayson’s Bookstore
On Reading “The Penguin Book of English Verse”: on my iPad and Exercise Bike
Wild River Books/Poetry – Nightwatch and Dayshift: Cezanne
Anatolian Days and Nights and the Cultural Evolution of Spirituality
And the Votes are In: The American Elections of 2010
Avatar – When Technology Displaces Culture
Bedtime Story for a Civilization
The Big Picture: Reflections on Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
The Big Picture, II
Child Abuse and the Catholic Church
The Digital Economy of W. Brian Arthur
From Shamanism to Religion, Part Two
From Religion to Post-Religious Spirituality, Part Three
From Religion to Post-Religious Spirituality: Conclusion
January 1, 2011: Reflections on the Philosophical Notions of Republicans
January 6, 2011 – Part Two: The Etherealization of Capitalism
Nature and Invisible Environments
Of Culture and the Nature of Extinction
On Nuclear Power
On Religion – Part One
On Religion and Nationalism: Ireland, Israel, and Palestine
On Transnational Military Interventions
A Pagan Ur-Text of the Lebor Gebála Érenn
Part 1 – The Shift from Industrial to a Planetary Civilization
Part 2 – The Shift from an Industrial to Planetary Civilization
Part 3 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – The Recovery of a Cosmic Orientation
Part 4 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civlization – The Global War for Drugs
Part 5 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – The New Jerusalem
Part 6 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Catastrophes as the Spur to Institute Tricameral Legislature
Part 7 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Complex Dynamical Systems and Tricameral Legislatures
Part 8 – The Shift from a Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Israel and Palestine: Sic transit gloria mundi
Part 9 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civlization – On Sarah Palin and the Technocratic Society
Part 10 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – On Conspiracy Narratives as Expressive of the Transition from the Nation: State to the Noetic Polity
Part 11 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Global Awareness and Personal Identity
Part 12 – The Shift from an Industrial to a Planetary Civilization – Conclusion: The United Nations
Political Meditation for the Fourth of July, 2011: Can We Shift from Empire Back to Republic?
St. David’s Day, 2011, Technology and Social Change
Saint Patrick’s Day, 2010: Us and Them: Identity and the State
Some Reflections on Hurricane Sandy and an Outline for a New Civilization
Technical Hubris: and the Sinkhole of Obama’s Centrism
Television and Social Class
Thanksgiving Day, 2010: The Uses and Abuses of History
The Elections of 2010
Thoughts on My new Kindle App: on My Mac iPad