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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Beat Goes On

While I'm enjoying a sort of sabbatical here, a time of retreat and retrenchment, I've stopped paying much attention to the news.  A glance at the headlines every few days suffices to reassure me that the world is continuing on its accustomed course - as if it ever would or could do otherwise.

Fools enrich the fraudulent.

The fraudulent feed the fools.

Bored kids enjoy circle jerks.

Nasty creeps prefer to pull the wings off flies.

And beat the shit out of the queers.

Politics is one of the theatrical arts.

Nevertheless, the best lack all conviction.

And the best lack all conviction.

While the worst are, as always, obsessed with sex.

And gore.

But nobody cares.

And so, the world continues just as it did, just as it always has since the days of the Pharaohs and long before that, even.  The wolf is not at the door, he is in the house and sitting down to dinner:  homo mendax, rapax, pugnax.

The more things change, the more they stay utterly the same in this mortal life. 

Turning, then, from what is not news but merely olds, rewarmed, I dip't into the future, far as human eye could see - saw the wonder of the world, all the horror that could be.  For one brief, shining moment a couple of years ago, I thought I saw the golden dawn of a new and happier era; but how absurd.  The only comfort to my chagrin is that far wiser heads than mine have been similarly mistaken, times without number, all down through the long centuries of human life:  hope trickles eternal in the human breast, I suppose.

Well now, let me see:  a worldwide depression, though we are too sophisticated now to use such gross terms; insoluble military threats all around, made more terrible than ever before by the lights of a perverted science; hatred, fanned to frenzy, of all that is Not Our Kind; a puny, divided left, an aggressive, reborn right, a proud and craven populace imagining itself the divinely ordained summit of all creation, the natural rulers of the earth.  Only the weak reed of constitutional government - mere scraps of paper - and well-intentioned but spineless leaders obstructing the will to triumph.  How might things go from here, I wondered?

Map of the Federation of North American Republics, A. D. 2050
(click to enlarge)

Flag of the Federation

But what do I know?  Maybe I'm wrong.  Let's hope.



Tuesday's Cowboy said...

Enjoy your time off. Look forward to seeing you back on the range.

Stan said...

At the rate this mess is going you may not be that far off Russ.

dave said...

I hope you're wrong, too, Russ. But I get where your coming from.

Russ Manley said...

Predictions are a fool's game, of course. Forty years before any war, revolution, or dictatorship you care to name, could anyone have seen it coming? Although with the hindsight of history we know the seeds were already planted.

But occasionally, too, there was a voice in the wilderness who did get it right, years before the event. I hope that's not me, but . . . time will tell. I won't be around to know or care either way by that point.

There's always some rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem.

Russ Manley said...

P.S. - Not that anyone else knows or cares about such things, but since it's my blog I get to say this about a book I read long ago and enjoyed very much:

Edith Saunders' "A Distant Summer" (1947) chronicles one joyful week in 1855 - the state visit of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort to Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie, amid extensive fetes and celebrations. Heretofore, the British monarchs had held the Bonapartes at arm's length, being of course naturally more in favor of the former legitimist families of French monarchs.

But in the midst of the Crimean War, Victoria was persuaded by her government to make the visit to her wartime ally for reasons of diplomacy; and Nap III poured on the charm so well that Victoria lost all reservations about the "legitimacy" of his title, and indeed remained a lifelong friend of the widowed Empress in later years.

Well, what of it, you ask. The descriptions of long-ago balls, operas, fireworks, carriage rides and banquets are of interest only to doddering old antiquarians like your Head Trucker, perhaps. But in the conclusion, Saunders deftly traces the far-flung, unintended and utterly unforseen consequences of this amicable visit: emboldened by British support, Nap III pursued his martial and imperial ambitions to the limit.

Which, in turn, led to the head-on collision of the Franco-Prussian war; which resulted in the disappearance of the French Empire and the creation of the German Empire, the rise of Bismarck, and German militarism.

Which very directly led to the slaughterhouse of World War I; German defeat and resentment; the rise of Hitler; World War II; and the rest, of course, is history.

Throw a pebble into the water, and who knows what farther shore its ripples will wash upon.

iain said...

The theocratic Republic of Gilead, posited in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale; created from the broken remains of the USA after terrorist attacks have driven the population crazy with fear.

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