I’m feeling rather gloomy this morning. I have more work before me than I care to contemplate...probably more than I can finish in what remains of this lifetime. And I look upon the current presidential contest, and the ugly things that are going on within and around it, and the way nearly all of us simply accept it all, resigned to an ever-accelerating fall from any sort of dignity and responsibility to the lowest sort of venality, and I wonder how anyone can remain optimistic about America’s future.
Yet there remain some who call for a throwing-off of our chains – who insist that now is the hour, and that despite our defaults to this point, we are the people to do so. One of the most persistent and eloquent is Robert Gore:
Obesity is the apt symbol of our age: physical—an epidemic; mental—social media staring and sharing for hours on end; fiscal—the bloated debt; political—Washington, D.C. Those who murder by poison have done quite well for themselves, but the victim is in extremis, drowning in his own drool, crushed by his own fat. President Obama may represent the final and fatal dose, or he may be the deus ex machina that prompts the patient’s last-second realization that something is dreadfully amiss, rousting him to take action against his would be killers. Newly animated by righteous anger, the victim springs from his putative death bed, flushes the poisons down the toilet, and tells his tormentors to go to hell.
This may seem melodramatic, but it’s precisely what needs to be done. Government feeds America its poisons, and a little less or variation in the dosages does nothing, except perhaps prolong the death watch. This is the nation whose citizens fought a revolution for its freedom; initiated a dramatic experiment in representative and limited government, the protection of individual rights, and equality before the law; eliminated its shameful slavery; powered the Industrial Revolution’s explosion of innovation and progress and the Information Revolution’s transformation of computing and communications. The idea that this nation requires the malignant mercies of an all-knowing, all-caring, all-powerful government would have been loathsome and repugnant to those Americans.
Inspirational, eh what? Filled with the spirit of liberty and the fire of optimism. But:
This is the nation whose citizens fought a revolution for its freedom...
We are not those men.
...initiated a dramatic experiment in representative and limited government, the protection of individual rights, and equality before the law...
We are not those men either.
...eliminated its shameful slavery...
We are certainly not those men.
...powered the Industrial Revolution’s explosion of innovation and progress and the Information Revolution’s transformation of computing and communications.
A bare few of us can claim to be any of those men.
We are a degenerate people. Ours is a degenerate age. We lack pride, confidence, courage of conviction, and any sense for what is real and true and enduring. We were bred for our fetters...and few of us even have the force of will to demand that our chains be struck off. We haven’t even the clarity to recognize and name the destroyers we've admitted to our midst. We passively await the rough beast of which Yeats wrote, hoping only to live out our term before being eaten...or failing that, to be eaten last.
Do not expect a revolution. Do not expect a swelling of resistance to oppression. Do not expect that a people so long and thoroughly conditioned to submission before arbitrary authority will suddenly become a race of heroes.
What’s that? You say that it must not be? You demand that we defy so many decades of precedent? You are certain that somewhere in our souls there must remain a spark of nobility sufficient to ignite the fires that a century and more of statist subjugation have banked?