Friday, December 06, 2013

Communal Spirit

You might think that as Republicans are humans (I hope) that live collectively with other humans, as all humans are wont to do, they would have and participate in what we can call “communal spirit.” Humans live together in organized groups for mutual support and protection. They empathize with each other and help each other when it is necessary for them to do so. As far as I know this is characteristic of all human groups, except, I fear, of contemporary Republicans. Somehow they don’t seem to share this basic human characteristic.

This has become quite evident in recent years as they have consistently opposed virtually all attempts to better the lives of ordinary citizens. They are opposed to welfare in general, food stamps and unemployment insurance in particular, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, a minimum wage, job creation, fair taxation, and anything else that even hints at communal spirit and help to others. They seem to lack empathy entirely, which is surely one part of communal spirit. I do not believe Republicans in the past were so callous and uncaring about their fellow Americans. Why this change in attitudes has occurred I am not sure. I’m pretty sure that Saint Ronnie the Moron had at least something to do with it. Perhaps they confuse the word communal with communism, assuming they even know the word communal in any other context. It does seem that anything communal is considered by them to be communism, or at least communistic or maybe socialistic. I doubt that most of them have any idea of what communism or socialism were about but they seem to be pathologically frightened by the thought of either of them. When you hear one of them say Obama is a socialist you know, immediately, they have no idea what they are talking about.

In any case our society is now split almost in two, with one faction insisting on sharing and caring and the other focused on a kind of simple-minded social Darwinism, a state of nature where them as has stomp on them that hasn’t. As George Orwell observed in his marvelous book, 1984, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” How such a large segment of society came to be this way would be a subject for several dozen PhD dissertations. How they can be so vehemently opposed to even a minimal redistribution of wealth is a mystery to me. But they are as their behavior in recent years makes clear. They are, I believe, a danger to themselves and others.

What makes all of this worse is that they lie: incessantly, flagrantly, willfully, shamelessly, even idiotically. John Boehner has become their Liar-in-Chief. Apparently lying with a straight face has become heroic in their circles. Boehner, for example, consistently insists they (Republicans) are interested in creating jobs. In five years they have passed not one single piece of legislation that would have helped create jobs and have, in fact, resisted any attempt  by President Obama and Democrats to do so, and then hypocritically blamed Obama for the failure. They claim to be interested in health care but criticize Obamacare shamelessly with no alternative of their own. They claim to want to have immigration reform but refuse to even allow a vote on it.

It has become so bad I am beginning to believe that the stress of his office may be making Boehner, shall I say, a bit “dotty.” How else could you explain his recent claim that Republicans are trying to protect Americans from the Affordable Care Act? This is like saying they are trying to protect people from being healthy. No one in their right mind would say such a thing, especially at the very moment that people are signing up for that very thing. Boehner, who used to at least dabble in the communal spirit, has apparently completely surrendered to the Tea Party,  lock, start, and seven iron.

That Republicans lack communal spirit seem obvious. Why and how this developed over recent years is not entirely clear. It is obviously linked to our bizarre ideas about the benefits of “free market capitalism.” In an somewhat ironic way one might argue that capitalism has been a resounding success, it has done what it was meant to do, turned land, labor and money into commodities,  put profits ahead of people, reduced working people to wage slaves, damaged the environment for short term profit, and run rampant over morality and common sense. Old homilies are often the best: “Money is the root of all evil.”

 “And, for an instant, she stared directly into those soft blue eyes and knew, with an instinctive mammalian certainty, that the exceedingly rich were no longer even remotely human.” 

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