Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dying To Get Back Home

- You've been putting me off for a week.
- What do I have to say about our new president? Those who voted for him amount to less than twenty percent of the population, and a little more than a quarter of eligible voters. What should be done? Immediately upon his being sworn into office impeachment proceedings should be started against him for the many crimes he is known to have committed. The other eighty percent who didn't vote for him, children included, should start posting on social media and demonstrate in the streets for the entire congress, who otherwise can be expected to be bribed into complicity with the new president, to resign, with special elections called for replacements.
- 'Children included'. Why should members of Congress start impeachment proceedings if they have to quit anyway?
- Because they want to buy-off their constituency from prosecuting them for breach of contract to represent voters not corporations. One organization, Brand New Congress,* is already at work selecting candidates for the 2018 elections in all congressional districts who've pledged to actually represent the people once in office.
- Are these real possibilities?
- Our new president is a surprise; why not the surprise of getting rid of him?
- You're letting yourself get carried away with your rhetoric.
- You wanted to know what I think of our new president, what I think is the significance of his winning the election?
- Yes.
- The election means that about about a fifth of the American people are entirely ignorant of the fact of human character.
- They believe they can and therefore should make what they want of themselves, that nothing restrains what is possible to them in achieving their goals.
- They believe that there is no such thing as good human conduct, nothing in their own nature, for the sake of their own sanity and happiness, to restrain them from making certain choices rather than others towards achieving their dreams.
- Characteristics such as honesty, compassion, love of justice, etc. Characteristics our new president has made it obvious he lacks.
- Yes.
- You think that the fifth of Americans who voted for this man without honesty, compassion, justice, themselves must be lacking in these qualities?
- Yes. What about you? Do you agree?
- It's said that people voted for him not because they liked him but because they were desperate for change.
- Could anyone with any honesty, compassion, and love of justice imagine that the change made by this man would be the kind of change they looked for?
- No. I don't think so.
- So the rest of us have been taken by surprise that such a large number of us could be, to speak plainly, completely worthless human beings. You, me, the people who live in this liberal part of liberal Los Angeles, in liberal California, we expected the poorer and badly educated, together with the greedy better educated rich, to be seduced by promises of improved life and profits; we thought however they'd wake up, be disabused of the illusion of safety in their selfishness when confronted by the constantly accumulating evidence that the man making the promises was a pathological liar, tax evader, sexual predator, defrauder of creditors, advocate of war crimes, the greatest bankrupt in the country's history...
- It must be as you say: sixty million of us don't see or care about bad character. Do you think they even know what bad character is?
- No. Thus the character of their bad character is invisible to them as well.
- And what is the character of their bad character? How can we describe it?
- By what it has and what it lacks. It lacks compassion, honesty, love of justice. It has...
- Fascism.
- Yes. Fascism in a previously unseen form, fascism of the cheater that doesn't care about anything, not even politics, other than material possessions and money as symbol of power to acquire more possessions. Getting closer, seeing enlarged can help us at times, but our new president is such an outrageous, outsized figure, maybe seeing him in small would better help us place him in his true pettiness. Imagine then him stripped of his inherited hundreds of millions of dollars, stripped of everything he has and everyone he knows, of every penny in his pocket. Imagine him living in our part of town, attending the lectures at the university and museums where free food is offered, making a game out of it, going where he is technically permitted but unwanted because going only for the food, coming to pride himself on his skill to please himself with no concern for others' disapproval. This miniaturization of Trump's way of life is in fact the way of life of a little middle aged woman who used to sleep in the basement vents of Palazzo Corporate Housing in Westwood Villiage and has moved on to sneaking into the grounds of a religious institution for the night. Like our new president she is wildly inconsistent in her fascism. You remember how we've defined fascism: love of violence, an enemy within, a sense of dangerous weakness, need of a total response encompassing all of society. Like Trump, she has immigrants in her family. Her father was an immigrant from South America, but that doesn't stop her from expressing virulent hatred even or especially against those of Latin American origin. Her father was legal, she explains, unlike the twelve million undocumented trespassers on our country's land. Anyway, she adds, her father was half European, so she has only a quarter of the offending blood.
- Our new president put fascism to use to get elected. What does she use it for?
- To feel good about herself. There's a reason Fascism always involves race: an inferior race that comes and makes unanticipated demands on our own superior race.
- And that reason is?
- Fear of losing our character from having to deal with the disruption of people different from us coming within our midst.
- How can people without character fear losing their character?
- Because they feel a sense of loss and fascism promises them recovery. This little old woman, profiting by cheating and proud of it like our new president, is proud to be a verbally violent defender of her race. Having a race is at least having some kind of character, something to be relied upon in a dangerous world. Should I make use of another comparison to show you what I mean?
- Go ahead.
- In some of the warehouses of the giant internet company Amazon goods are stored haphazardly: they are shelved as they arrive in the nearest found vacant space. The warehouses look like immense secondhand stores. With many more possible "stowage" places, work-time is saved compared to transporting to a predetermined location. Time is also saved in retrieval, what Amazon calls "picking" for shipping out, because the same things are scattered around in many places, not only one perhaps distance location. The efficiency gained depends on a computer knowing exactly where every single individual item has been placed.
- That's amazing.
- Isn't it? Now imagine if we humans did the same with all the things in our lives and our relations to people. Ever have the experience of someone you love accusing you of being inattentive, incapable of returning their love, even being bored by them, unwilling to share a spontaneously offered confidence?
- Obviously you have.
- I have. I defended myself, or tried to, saying, 'No, give me time, my mind was elsewhere!' There's a verse in 'On The Level', one of Leonard Cohen's last songs:
I knew that it was wrong
I didn't have a doubt
I was dying to get back home
And you were starting out
- Your character, whatever that is, was restraining you, keeping you from paying attention to your lover?
- That's how I see it. Think of all these foreigners coming into our lives as demand upon demand that attention be turned to them as required, independent of whatever inertia our habit of character loads us with to stay home with it. Imagine that like an Amazon warehouse we had to pile up our experience as it came and somehow remember the location and timing, instead of our "characteristic" way of dealing with life of keeping each thing in its own place.
- Race is our piled up things each in its own place, our own blood and no one else's in our veins. And then foreigners with their own blood seek to impose their own immediate demands for attention and response, demand we take them on making our lives worse with an Amazon style character-less, however efficient solution. Our new president and his supporters have no character, and they embrace racism and fascism out of a nostalgia for the character they lack. But if that is the case, then there's really nothing new about this election.
- Fascism may be new to our country but by no means is unknown to our times.

Further Reading:
The Way To Stop Trump
Ken Knabb: Out In The Open
Close Elections & The Fashion Business

Elections won by party, not candidate
* Brand New Congress