Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Cartoon
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Will there be tanks in the streets?
I am truly worried about my country. As I wrote last week, I see it weakened by the increasing divisiveness. And that this is mostly ideological in nature. It's been around for a long time. Back in the 60's, the US went through a period of divisiveness that was triggered by a war in a land far away. I found myself in the middle of all that. We had a draft then. Selective Service was the "500 pound gorilla" in the room. It couldn't be ignored.
The specter of being drafted influenced most of us in the 18-26 year old male demographic. It hung over our heads as we made decisions about our futures. We enrolled in college more for the student deferment than for the educational opportunity. I enlisted in the Navy because I did not want to be drafted into the Army. I probably would not have enlisted at all if there had been no draft active at the time.
Outside the military, the division grew stronger. Fueled by the fear of involuntary servitude, college campuses became hotbeds of unrest. Protests and peace marches were regular events. Student radicalism grew. Distrust of the government grew. The idea of revolution grew. I thought, at the time, that it was very possible that I would see civil war break out. I thought it would be unsuccessful but I still considered it a real possibility and a real tragedy. It didn't happen, of course, that revolution. But the radicals didn't go away. Instead, they began working inside the system.
In the late 60's, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had a schism of their own. A small band of these radicals (and they were radicals) wanted more than peaceful protest, they wanted that revolution, and formed the Weather Underground. They cooperated with other splinter groups and committed quite a bit of violence. Bombings of some campus buildings, pushing peaceful protests into riots, and the active push for violent change. A few died in the process (mostly victims of their own activities) but most didn't. And they didn't go away once the Vietnam War ended. They slipped back into society and found positions of influence. Some became professors, some became teachers, some ran for office (and won) where they pushed a muted call for the change they wanted.
They believed they had a better way, a more equitable way, for society to be structured. They believed socialism was better than capitalism. The concept of a democratic society, to them, was communism.
Socialism does work, by the way, on a small scale. Communes, cooperatives, families all use a socialism of sorts. The problem with any socio-economic system is when the construct is large. The complexity tends to defeat it. In the Soviet Union, socialism worked poorly and well at the same time. It did a fair job of distributing the wealth of the country but a very poor job of growing it. The result was a rather poor society. The lack of growth was, in my opinion, due to the lack of incentive inherent in socialism.
Capitalism provides incentives and, therefore, enhances and encourages growth of wealth but does not (and cannot, in my opinion) do a good job at distributing that wealth.
Today, we seem to be fighting that old battle between socialism and capitalism again. I should say we are in an escalation of that battle because the battle is a constant one in human history. And a long running one in the US.
The battle makes us weaker at a time when we need to be strong. We are under assault by yet another ideology, this one having a religious foundation. And there are signs that the socialist radicals are aligning themselves with the religious radicals. The hope, I think, is that out of the chaos, an opportunity to seize power will emerge.
We are in for troubling times, much worse than we have seen for some time.