Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Looking Into The Abyss: A Guest Post By Pamela MacNeil

Yesterday, my post consisted of three letters culled from a larger series by Star readers reflecting on the dire state of both the U.S. Republican Party and American society. Pamela MacNeil, always an insightful commentator, offered some very interesting observations about both. I am featuring them here as a guest post:

I listened to a JFK speech the other day Lorne. If you're interested, you can find it at #NoWar2016 and what Kennedy said, WorldBeyondWar.org. Some people consider it his greatest speech and some even think it's what contributed to his assassination.

The speech was about PEACE. Why do I bring this up? Strictly for contrasts. Compare this speech with Trump's nomination speech. Implicitly, both speeches are a reflection of American culture. Kennedy's speech reflects a culture that was serious about ideas, where an intelligent President could articulate how a viable option of peace over the cold war could be achieved. Trumps speech reflects a culture that is intellectually and morally bankrupt. It contains no serious ideas and in fact sounds more like something that would be said at a marketing or business meeting. More importantly it reveals a culture not only in decline, but a culture intellectually having reached rock bottom where all that dominates is faith and force. American culture has gone from the political sophistication and the pursuit of progressive ideals of a JFK to the anti-intellectual rhetoric and sleaze of a Donald Trump.

The GOP with its Evangelical and neoliberal beliefs reflects a culture of power and entitlement. They do not bring anything beneficial to the table for the average American. They are political zombies. Having no political ideas, they need a leader who reflects that lack. Anyone with political substance and intelligence, or even common sense, would completely avoid the GOP. They would feel embarrassed to be associated with this mindless group called the GOP. Donald Trump feels no such embarrassment.

Do Americans ever wonder why they once had an intellectually sophisticated president such as JFK and now have a presidential candidate whose character is that of a P.T. Barnum barker?

Who is responsible for the American cultural and political destruction? Why have Americans stood by and watched their governments, both Democrats and Republicans, turn their country into an ignorant war monger that wants to dominate the world?

Going from a political culture under JFK to a political culture under Trump is like going from super sonic jet travel back to the horse and buggy.

An empire in decline and with its nuclear weapons one that could take the rest of the world with it.

Americans don't seem to know it, but they are looking into a cultural abyss.


  1. An excellent post, Pam. Your characterization of the Republican Party as the Zombie Party is spot on.

  2. I was going to ask how western civilization fell into this pit so quickly, Lorne. Then I realized that, in historical terms, there's been nothing precipitous about it. The events that led to great wars and upheavals of the past have routinely transpired in the 10 to 15 years prior. By contrast, today's predicament has been more than 30 years in the making. It goes back to the advent of neoliberalism. A leisurely stroll in the park. If John Raulston Saul is correct, and I sense he is, globalism/free market fundamentalism has been dead at the switch for more than a decade. Instead of discarding it as failed and draining, we floundered, lacking any vision of what else to do. This enabled the forces of oligarchy to complete their business, transforming the concept of free trade from a tide that lifts all boats into a vehicle to convey wealth and associated political power to a very small minority, the elite.

    Instead of intervening to protect the interests of the many, governments continued to ink trade deals that were neither free nor fair, yielding elements of national sovereignty at every turn, rendering themselves increasingly incapable of changing course. Once they negotiated these deals out of naive optimism. Now, as with the TPP, they act out of fear. Our government tells us we must go along with TPP because, bad as it is, it will go worse for us if we refuse. The beast has acquired a life of its own and it intends to prevail.

    As Stiglitz has shown, modern inequality is neither merit-based nor market-driven. It is legislated, almost all of it. These are the same cowed, debased and sometimes bought and paid for legislators who have also nurtured the growth of the "precariat" within their societies. People who realize they've been had, who have been persistently failed by their political apparatus of all stripes, are easy meat for a rabid populist like Trump. They came to him pre-conditioned to fear of all sorts and there are many. He offers them little more than a vehicle for anger - and it works. It's the dark art of all demagogues. We're all nudged ever closer to the abyss.

  3. It is difficult to sum up the CF that is U.S. politics of the day in a few words, but I believe that Pamela has done so. Let us hope that they do not drag the rest of the world over the edge of the abyss with them.