adventures in dysthymia

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ancien Regime


If God wanted us to live under democratic governments, wouldn't He be called 'President,' not 'King' and 'Lord?'

Okay, I suppose that's a bit facetious. Or more than a bit. But the conservative part of me tends to be of the ancien regime, not the capitalist right.

Those true-believer capitalists are part of the long line of regicides, the desecrators of cathedrals, the tearers-down of tradition. The people who brought us the French Revolution. They descend from the smug Puritans who believed themselves predestined to prosper and the rest of us to be damned -- a world view that dovetailed nicely into Social Darwinism.

No, I'm not saying that monarchy and aristocracy is the way to go, though it would certainly solve the problem of campaign finance abuses!

In a democracy we end up electing salesmen. That's what a politician is. The only true qualification for office is electability. As proven by Ronald Reagan.

For actors are salesmen too. All creative people are, selling ideas, selling dreams. That doesn't make us fit to run a government, even if we do have a high opinion of ourselves.

Nor are business people particularly suited for running countries. Business people are great for running businesses but it's not the same thing. A country does not need to turn a profit.

But it does need to be tended, to be nurtured. I'd rather have things run by farmers. They understand the process. They also understand that much in this world is beyond our control.

I do not take politics too seriously because I recognize that the true driver of history is economics, in the form of environmental forces and technology. The politicians essentially do little more than respond to these factors.

Would the Great Depression have been as devastating and long-lasting without the Dust Bowl drought to undermine the economy? It might well have been but a short-lived recession like many before it.

We used to believe the Roman Empire fell to invading 'barbarians' due to the decay of its social institutions. Now it's been shown that there were devastating plagues in the later Empire, due more to its success and over-population than to any innate weakness. Political changes reflected environmental changes.

If history has shown anything, it is that all systems work and all systems ultimately fail. Look at what is quite possibly the longest lasting continuous social institution on Earth: the Roman Catholic Church. In essence, it is an elected monarchy. And the Church has certainly had its ups and downs, its failures and triumphs, but it has survived.

Will the United States keep going for a couple millennia?

Ha, I wouldn't necessarily bet on the human race continuing that long.

Be that as it may, individuals are still part of the 'works' of political change. Yes, as a group, we respond to economic forces but each of us still acts as an independent person with free will and the ability to shape change. Even if our individual actions seem futile, we have the duty to our own  selves to do what is right.

There are those who seem to have changed the world. Yet I recognize that if one of them had not lived, someone else would have done something similar and history would have continued much the same. If Hitler had not lived, there would still have most likely been a more-or-less Fascist regime in Germany. Would the Holocaust have occurred? Anyone's guess, but the hatred of Jews was certainly there.

None the less, these individuals were the ones who created the changes. It's very much a chicken-egg question, isn't it? History will follow its course regardless of individual decisions but it can't change unless there ARE individual decisions!

Well, I'd better stop while I'm still making sense of a sort...at least to myself.

Stephen Brooke ©2012

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