On Old Wounds that Refuse to Heal: Some Possible Reasons Why and Suggested Cures
Apparently, very apparently, our Civil War never ended, it’s just been transitioning, semi-somnolent for a century and half. Multiculturalism is not proving the success we’d hoped for. Chickens are coming home to roost and they’re mad, both emotionally and psychologically. The melting pot is apparently starting to spoil.
There are few cultures as heterogeneous as that of the United States and its fusion into a nation has always been suspect. While diversity has frequently been spoken of as a strength, in reality, in our case it has always been characterized by class conflict, xenophobia and racism. It’s an example of how difficult it is to impose morality from above rather than to recognize, respect and accommodate to societal evolution. Not that the latter is preferable, it perpetuates injustice and inequity, but the “in your face”, “down your throat”, “ridicule and shame” tactics of the self-proclaimed moral elites have not worked and honest psychological studies might well prove they are unworkable and counterproductive. That is especially true when such tactics are laced with hypocrisy and incoherence, the situation in which the United States currently finds itself.
Why is that?
We need some working hypotheses if it’s really a problem we want to solve. The ones we have now have failed, they never really passed the transition into theories.
Hypothesis, the first:
My first suggested hypothesis is based on the premise that in too many cases, very probably most, there is little interest in real social evolution. Rather, instead of efforts to unite disparate cultural, ethnic, religious and racial groups into a complementary and synergistic culture, what we have in the United States are cynical attempts to polarize diverse groups as a means of attaining electoral victories. The results are all too historically predictable but rather than learn from history, we treat it as a work of fiction subject to revision as it suits us.
There are winners, it’s just that we’re not among them. My first hypothesis then is that the omnipresent divide and conquer strategies that characterize our political system perpetuate power, superficially political but ultimately economic, as politics has been perverted from a tool to attain the common welfare to a tool to extract the greatest possible economic benefit for the very few among us, regardless of the consequences. And what are the consequences? Perpetual war abroad and perpetual social conflict internally.
Society is in many ways like a human body. Money correlates to blood, our different sociopolitical institutions to the various organs. Unfortunately, instead of social doctors we are cursed with institutions interested in cultivating organs for sale. The mainstream media is an abomination. Rather than independent it is a wholly owned tool of those who see us as “produce to be harvested” for their exclusive benefit, or even more accurately, as “cattle”. Political parties are tools to deflate rather than to implement popular participatory governance, used to filter our choices to options we ourselves, given the opportunity, would never select. Think of the presidential election of 2016, especially with reference to the Democratic Party’s candidate selection scheme (it cannot really be referred to as a method). And look at the reaction to the election of a candidate the real powers that be had not preordained. Not that he’s a great choice, or even a good one, but that hardly matters. The result would likely have been the same had he been the messiah or the second coming.
The United States today seems an invincible super power, “seems” being the operative word. Nature has a funny (both figuratively and literally) way of operating on micro and macro scales we don’t seem to understand, not always physical. Memes and memeplexes are also its tools, myths and legends and rumors, religions, philosophies, archetypes, seeming magic, mystics and frauds, etc. I recall one strange person who became a cult figure because of his purported extra sensory abilities while in trances, first with reference to an ability to locate emergent medical solutions and then to discover the past and predict the future, a sort of modern multi-purpose Nostradamus. His name was Edgar Cayce and he somewhat survived his passing through an association (which does rather well financially) perpetuating his legend (see the Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment and a related Wikipedia article, Edgar Cayce). There are many purported mystics some of whose predictions are accurate, Mr. Cayce seemed one among them and among his prophesies was one that claimed that the United States would never be defeated externally but rather, its demise would come from within. Today, that certainly seems prescient.
Hypothesis, the second:
The premise to my second hypothesis is that the United States is infected with several social cancers. One is its neoliberal economic pillar, another its neoconservative international posture. But two pillars are not enough to support a society. The third appears to be a deliberately maintained internal social instability predicated on permanent polarization. The hypothesis is that in the end, those three pillars (absent some sort of miraculous cure such as Edgar Cayce was famous for locating at just the right time and just the right place) will lead to the result to which cancers all too frequently lead: death by perversion of our cellular structure, we being the cells.
Hypothesis, the third:
My third hypothesis, based on the foregoing premises, is that, as in the case of cures for cancer, we require its eradication through some sort of social mechanism akin to radical surgery or chemotherapy or radiation. Of course, the cures are all too frequently as bad as the disease (although they cannot be worse).
Translated into societal terms, in order to attain a cure we must:
· Eliminate the current institutions that are killing us: our mainstream media (not journalism but entertainment laced propaganda), a behaviorist innovation designed to control and manipulate us, maneuvering us into making decisions adverse to our wellbeing;
· Eliminate our current duopoly, either by eliminating the concept of political parties or reforming it so that they become truly representative of the interests of those persuaded to vote for them;
· Update our anachronist political system and constitution;
· Curb our tendencies toward societal polarization finding ways to evolve socially by melding our diversity in complementary and synergistic rather than antogonic fashion; accepting our differences rather than seeking to crush them, forcing every square peg into round holes; and
· Renouncing violence and counter violence, whether physical, emotional or psychological, as a means of conflict resolution, whether in the home, domestically or internationally.
Either that or let nature take its course and, considering us a scourge, do what it needs to to wipe us from the face of this otherwise beautiful planet, recognizing us as another failed experiment in the multiversal evolutionary process.
In the end, despite all the nefarious forces arrayed against us, the choice as to whether to accept our role as “cattle” or to reject it is ours, individually and collectively. We will either succumb to the social cancers that afflict us or elect to eliminate them. In order to do the latter, we have to perform a balancing act of sorts between social forces analogous to the centrifugal and centripetal but most of all, we need to reject the never ending efforts to divide us, to set us against each other, for the benefit of cynical overseers and their even more nefarious masters.
That is the only way to end the slavery in which all but the very few of us find ourselves and to finally put to rest our all too real, apparently never ending Civil War.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at www.guillermocalvo.com.