Archive for the ‘Meanderings’ Category

By Paul Lauter

I read regularly a kind of groan about the current economic and political situation of the United States.  “Don’t the millionaires and billionaires,” it says, “understand that by resisting the need for them to pay their fair share of taxes, and the consequent defunding of education from pre-school to the University of California, they are undermining America’s future?  We need to call this error in their ways to the attention of the rich.”

Bullshit.  Most of the rich know quite well what they’re doing.  What they see that the Dimocrats seem not to see is that the United States is heading down the tubes.  Seeing that, it follows like cramps after spoiled hamburger, that you would get as big a piece of the action as you can . . . while the action lasts.  Why put good money into education—or other social services, for that matter—if the payoff for doing so, a) won’t occur until long after American society, as we know it, has hit the iceberg and, b) will provide life-jackets for others rather than for you and yours?

Are they right?  Well, it does not take a cynic to wonder whether the Disunited States, like the Soviet Union before it, will survive as an entity.  To be sure, the USSR faced the problem of disparate nationalities preferring not to continue to fetch and carry for Moscow.  They spoke different languages in different churches, mosques, and markets.  Whereas here, there are plenty of birthers even in the Peoples’ Republic of Vermont and plenty of agitating foreigners even in Corporative Arizona.  We’re much more mixed.  Or are we?  And will we stay that way?

More and more I hear of parents moving because they do not want to bring their children up in a state in which a main concern is flying the Confederate flag, or building a Berlin wall against infiltrators from the south.  There were, and are, many Russians in Estonia, for example, which has not prevented the government from pursuing a nationalist, and often Russophobic line.  What degree of lunatic fundamentalism—market or Christian—in a state will begin to alter its population significantly, drawing some, exiling others?  Are we so sure that “it can’t happen here”?

However that might be—and perhaps this is more of a fantasy for graphic novelists than politicians—the behavior of those with a superabundance of wealth and power cannot be changed with the hope that the truth will make them, and us, free.  Let’s start from the idea that the rich know what they are doing, that there is a method—traitorous to the future of the United States—to the apparent madness.  What then?  How does one deal with traitors to the polis?



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Glorious, heroic, fruitful for his own Time, and for all Time and all Eternity, is the constant Speaker and Doer of Truth! If no such again, in the present generation, is to be vouchsafed us, let us have at least the melancholy pleasure of beholding a decided Liar. Thomas Carlyle, “Count Cagliostro”

So here I am in my second year at ZU at a fall faculty meeting. And, after twenty minutes in, wondering, What the hell are you doing? Who is this person? Do I know you? The one suddenly shouting at the college’s President, Dr. D’main, and not only is this person—moi?—roaring—and three years later an amused colleague tells me, “You’ll forever be known as the guy who went ape-shit in front of Dr. D”[1] I’m also watching my left arm wind-milling like Pete Townshend in “Won’t Be Fooled Again” when I mean to be pounding the chair’s tablet, which I then do—it’s on the right-hand side–and the little librarian to my right tells me that my hammering is causing him to levitate in his chair.


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