Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blow up

At the NYTimes, columnist Charles Blow explodes:
The greatest trick up the sleeves of the moneyed and powerful is their diabolical ability to render themselves invisible and undetectable, to recede and operate behind a front, one relatable and common. Our politics are overrun with characters acting at the behest of shadows.
These are the politicians to whom we have become accustomed — too much polish, and too much beam — which is precisely the reason they should warrant our suspicion and not our trust, the way one cannot trust a cook with pots too pretty and not burned black on the bottoms.
And yet too many people shrug or sleep when they should seethe.
We should be in a rage over the Roberts court’s seemingly implacable drive to vest corporations with the rights of people and unleash the full fury of billionaires to bend our politics to their will.
We should be in a rage over the widespread attempts to disenfranchise voters, from the gutting of the Voting Rights Act to the rise of the Voter ID movement — a near-naked attempt by conservatives to diminish the number of Democratic voters.
We should be in a rage over Republican efforts, particularly on the state level, to drag the range of women’s reproductive options back to the 1960s.
We should be in a rage over the extraordinary pressures facing ordinary families.
 But where rage should be, there is too often a whimper.
Blow is mystified and angry at the lack of visible and public outrage at the outrages in his litany (and he or you or I could list many more). But we Americans (as is true with exploited and disempowered people the world over) have been habituated to mistreatment, and have been schooled in the ineffectiveness of protests. Revolutions bring chaos and worse immiseration; overthrowing governments just bring new elites, or the same old elites in new packaging, into power. True, around the edges, change might brings some new folks into privilege, but the odds for this happening to any average person are slim.

Maybe psychologists no longer buy this, but it is often observed that depression is the result of rage turned inward, and we turn rage inward when we are too dis-empowered to direct it toward its legitimate target.  So in America, average people are sunk in a swamp of depression, and lash out at themselves and those around them to vent their fury.

Why aren't we outraged that decades of lowered tax rates for Blow's 'moneyed and powerful', deliberate defunding of public institutions, and the pirating of public policy toward for profit pockets, have seen the US collapse to  third world standards in a number of measures Blow lists? Because we feel powerless, and powerlessness feels uncomfortable, so we come to believe that we deserve this, that shortened and straitened lives are all that we poor sinners merit, and we castigate as morally depraved those who suggest otherwise. Meanwhile, we Americans drift in an ocean of anti-depressants and pain killers and blink out the world's possibilities.

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