GenX and Boomer politicians — which is just about everyone in Congress — remember the old Soviets well.
The peddlers of fake history (looking at you, David Barton and Dinesh D’Souza), like, you know, just about any dictatorial head of state thug.
The ones who disenfranchised, imprisoned, and quickly began to murder political opponents for being political opponents (looking at you, GOP. You’re halfway through the first and simultaneously the second so far).
The ones quick to rattle the nuclear saber (Hello, Donald).
The ones quick to crack down on their minority groups and all who demand their human rights. With deadly force (have you been watching the news these last few years?).
The ones who boldly speak as Orwell had his villains speak in 1984. Who tell us, literally, that war is peace and poverty is wealth (Donald, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Limbaugh, Hannity, Alex Jones, Drudge, and too many more, again literally, to count).
You can point to politicians in general from those generations and see flashes of our leadership becoming what they hated and feared up until the Soviet collapse.
Hate and fear come in part from feeling threatened.
Feeling threatened comes in part from believing that threat could be fulfilled.
From fearing death.
Ever hear the old saying “fight fire with fire”?
It means “build a firebreak by burning a bare patch the bigger fire cannot cross”.
But, see, a lot of folks especially in GenX heard “wow the Soviet fire is strong. Get some of that strong fire and let’s use it ourselves”.
So you end up with a lot of GOP leaders running around acting like dictators.
Because the Soviets certainly espoused communism, but it was only for the little people.
Soviet leaders were oligarchic dictators first.
And the US right certainly cannot adopt communism, nor do they want it. (A few on the US left do adopt this crap along with the communism, but they are a bare straggle compared with the mighty river of neonazoid extremism Trump has nurtured on the right).
Since the GOP cannot become communist any more than the Democratic Party could, what is left?
Be oligarchic despots! Follow the example chose (the ideology they’ve chosen, uncontrolled capitalism, can be for the little people. The oligarchs, the dictators, feed off the people and ignore the state ideology — such crude things do not suit born aristocrats. They assume they deserve the support of the state to the tune of TRILLIONS of dollars in free stuff for billionaires. Socialism by another name, but only for the extremely rich. A safety net they begrudge the peasantry who they consider basically subhuman — as Mitt Romney put it, they won’t take responsibility for their own lives, apparently to be achieved by sending Mittboy a bunch of free money. He and all the rest think they’re entitled to feed on our blood and sweat as if we were beef steers ready for slaughter.
It’s no mistake that Donald has said again and again over the years that poorer (non-billionaire non-heirs of heirs like him) people are genetically inferior to the very rich. Hmm.
Who is the best example to look to, if you have become what you hate by adopting the most deadly and vicious tactics of your former greatest foe?
Why, the despot who rules the successor state of your old foe! Who better to teach you how to become what you once hated?
So here we are at the marriage. Please welcome Mr. Vladimir Putin and Mr. Donald Putin.
They will show us pigs to our trough, which is the same worn wood and thin slop whether it has “communist” or “capitalist” scrawled on the side by some talentless, unseen hack in the guts of the One True Party. The Aristocrats (link to VERY NSFW Gilbert Gottfried edition, which may or may not describe the Trump family’s private life but it’s probably pretty close in my opinion.
So, thank you for attending my political thingie, however you’d describe this. And feel free to chime in.
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This story speaks to one of my most and least favorite things, tradition. Tradition perpetuates all sorts of things in societies, some as innocent as making snowmen, some nonsensical, some neutral, others negative or positive or even more likely all of the above wrapped up in a big Gordian knot built over centuries. Tradition can lift up or destroy, build community or disrupt it. Like it or not, it’s a product of human beings being social creatures — attempts to break the old patterns wholesale and build new ones anew have been disasters: think French Revolution, Soviet Union, Cultural Revolution, Khmer Rouge. Like bending wood or bamboo to fashion the crook of a walking cane, human society in the large traditions that govern and define us must be reshaped slowly and with care lest they crack and shatter.
Small traditions, like the snowman, can become security blankets when the pace of change becomes rapid, as it has been these last two or three centuries. I have a feeling that within my lifetime (if I should make it into my 80s or 90s, fingers crossed) elementary education will become something accessed online rather than by gathering together in a municipal building, and printing breakfast cereal in your kitchen is likely to become common. For oldsters as I would be when that time comes, watching children play in the snow will be a comforting traditional blanket to wrap around my shoulders as I watch from a padded chair in the comfort of a heated porch. And maybe, who knows, I’ll go out and help roll some snowman body segments, something I remember fondly from my early childhood. Maybe despite the availability of conveniently printed food I’ll break out some primitive chicken eggs and vanilla and condensed milk and make a bowl of snow cream. Or make hot chocolate on a pan on the stove. All minor, comforting traditions — no doubt with the advent of the convenient powdered hot chocolate packet making it from bars of real bar chocolate on the stove is a small way for those born before their debut to relive a piece of the old world, the world they were born in before all these changes like internets came to be.
More than tradition, “Continuity” also speaks to the basic human condition that technology cannot touch — at least, not yet and not without radically redefining the human condition.
Even if humanity were to become, say, a population of consciousnesses loaded into android brains, there would still be snow (assuming we don’t really overdo it with this climate change thing). And still the potential to play by creating snow…er…droids. And if there are no children in such a strange new world, perhaps still some oldsters who remember what it was like to be raised in a world of meat humans will still go out and build snowmen, if only to take comfort for a little while by indulging in a little of what the world was before it changed.