The Clash of Crippled Ideologies is Leading to the Nation’s Demise
Richard Gale and Gary Null, PhD
Progressive Radio Network, October 7, 2020
One does not need to be an oracle to envision the future. All that is necessary is to examine our constraints and foibles. We are now facing a perfect storm of pain, suffering and destruction: financial inequality and poverty, global warming, environmental migration, and disease pandemics. Yet when any reasonable person questions what can be done, we are told we are fine and the best and brightest are on hand to solve our problems. However, in no small measure, it was the best and brightest during the past 60 years who were the architects for many of the crises we face today.
We need to step back to have a purview of the larger picture in order to observe what we as individuals can do to prevent or mediate the catastrophes we will all face. But this begins by reaching agreement that those in power are the structural problem and can never come of up with satisfying solutions.
An optimist will say that our socio-political and ecological conditions will improve, especially after the election and the real work demanded can begin again. The pessimist reflects back upon all of the previous administrations since Eisenhower and declares nothing fundamental will change. It will only worsen. The climate optimist says that they are lucky their home has not been swept away in a flood, burnt to the ground from a wildfire or leveled by a hurricane. For the moment their lives are safe so everything will be fine in the future. The pessimist focuses on the reality on what happens when we do not have a national or worldwide Marshall Plan to curb our impending crises. As one example, this year 9000 structures and 4 million acres in California were destroyed in fires as 1,700 towns require emergency assistance. In addition, there were the deadly derecho storms that destroyed approximately 10 million acres in the corn belt of Iowa and surrounding states.
Throughout the US, people are waking up to a once in a lifetime experience in our body-politic. Others are waking up unknowing whether they will be evicted from their homes and apartments tomorrow. It is estimated that upwards to 75 percent of restaurants and bars will never reopen again. Yet the sole message fed to us daily by the mainstream media is that the only important issue on hand is to remain fearful of coronavirus, get tested, social distance and quarantine yourself until Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates otherwise give a green light for a vaccine to be distributed across the entire population.
Governors, state legislators and mayors are contributing as well, advocating for mandatory mask wearing and testing while imposing strict penalties on those who resist. Google, Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia do their best as well to be sure that no medical experts, advocates or common citizens with data or facts on social platforms contradict the official health policies and narratives.
In the meantime, the nightly news, depending upon the political ideology of the network, airs images of either peaceful or violent protests or the latest Covid-19 spin of that day. If the average person asks what are the top ten or so issues that our nation should be focused upon, barely anything found in the mainstream media would be on that list.
It is not as complex or as unfathomable as it might appear on the surface. The basis of Ockham’s Razor is that to cut through the fat to get at the meat, the correct answers are usually the simplest. We might begin by acknowledging that we are a nation divided but we have always been divided to some degree; however it has never been as purulent and hostile as today. The uniqueness of our society has been our diversity, languages, cultures and accents, and its ethnic and racial differences. America’s dialectic has been one that inspires to become acquainted with these differences, such as southern hospitality, the Pacific Northwest’s relaxed and playful lifestyle, the quiet reserve and rural persona of the Midwest and the frenetic professional energy to succeed in the Northeast and California. Perhaps we appreciate each other in more ways than we consciously realize. Historically, when it was necessary to unite together, we did so as a nation – the world wars and the Great Depression are but two examples.
If we were to ask the average person in the 1930s what their priorities were, they would not be much different than today: a living wage, a home, food to feed the family and educational opportunities. Families wanted their children to be educated and succeed in ways the parents were unable.
There have always been conflicting attitudes towards social order or how the nation should be governed. But today what we are observing is not concerted efforts to advance improvements for how we govern ourselves, but rather we are retreating backwards into tribalism, identity politics and a new class warfare. No one can predict where this conflict and confusion will ultimately lead.
Identity politics, the effort for groups based upon race, social status, gender or religion to create exclusive political alliances founded on groupthink, has found its scripture on the Left in Robin DiAnglo’s best-seller White Fragility. The text argues that if one is born Caucasian then racism is built into your genetic inheritance. There can be no escape from this curse, DiAngelo suggests , no redemption or purification by fire regardless of how much public service one performs for the greater good. On the Right we have the identity politics of white supremacism, anti-Semitism, and a fascist Christian evangelicalism built upon medieval superstitions.
Contrary to DiAngelo, Melanie Phillips gives us a clearer understanding for why we should not rely upon those pundits who believe that either conservative or liberal truths will save us from ourselves. Despite disagreeing with Phillips on many of her other socio-political positions, we believe she correctly identifies the fundamental flaws in the contemporary liberalism now being voiced by Black Lives Matter, across our campuses and within the Democrat party. First, it is unable to establish a hierarchy of values and morals. For example, if one refuses to say that any lifestyle or culture is better than another, then it cannot be said that liberalism is better than conservatism or any other ideology. Consequently, faux liberalism cannot legitimately defend the very principles upon which it defines itself: freedom of speech and religion, tolerance, gender and class equality, etc. It contradicts its own principles and removes the dignity of the individual, which is at the heart of liberalism and serves as its moral backbone. What we are witnessing therefore in modern liberalism, according to Phillips, is “the strong dominating the weak,” and this is a “libertarian ideology that suppresses the facts” that contradict it. It is therefore an ill-liberal ideology.
Sadly we find highly educated people supporting these irrational beliefs as well as elected officials in both parties. On the Left are the college educated young adults who are highly sensitive and were raised in protected bubbles with the beliefs they are exceptional and entitled. These are the ones demanding fealty to Black Lives Matter. On the Right are the less educated, the disgruntled working class and disenfranchised dropouts of society who value a perverted Libertarian ideal built upon gun ownership. And both have their allies in the mainstream media -- MSNBC on the Left and Fox on the Right – to provide a bullhorn to the larger public.
Both true liberalism and true conservatism, which at one time could share a constructive dialogue together, have morphed into their polar opposites: an irrational faux enlightenment of liberalism versus a neo-fascist traditionalism that is petrified of the future and wants to turn back the clock. The current speed being measured of the melting of the Arctic and Greenland, and the recent breaking up of the Antarctica ice sheets will sooner rather than later be experienced up and down the Atlantic coastal cities and the Gulf. Nobody in government is addressing this far greater threat than a virus that seems no more dangerous than a bad seasonal flu.
Amidst all of the noise of protest, identity classes and coronavirus panic a laundry list of more serious issues are either being ignored or completely drowned out by the cacophony of overtly emotional hyena cries. How much attention is being given to the 66 million Americans now food insecure or the 2 million who don’t have clean drinking water. Four in ten Americans, 132 million, are conservatively financially broke. While everyone awaits a Covid vaccine, which real statistics seems to indicate is medically unwarranted, the co-morbid conditions associated with 96 percent of the advertised coronavirus deaths are criminally being neglected. Obesity is the coexisting health risk most associated with Covid deaths; 40 percent of American adults, 20 years and over, are clinically obese and another 72% are overweight. What is being done to free our federal health agencies from the grip of the junk food industry’s lobbying? Nothing. To make matters worse, 44 million Americans are uninsured and an additional 38 million have inadequate health insurance. Approximately a quarter of the population has health coverage well below the standards of any other developed nation. How much of this gross neglect has contributed to the US having the highest percent of world Covid deaths?
And should it not surprise us that the ideological clashes have become so vile and contemptible? But the underlying problem does not reside with the camps facing each other on opposite sides of the street. Rather our educational system is a disgrace. Forty-three million American adults (21%) are illiterate or functionally illiterate according the National Center for Educational Statistics. So how much of our neglected educational system, and legislations’ disdain for teachers, is contributing to the civil war many analysts fear is brewing?
We have a president who is in a trance of pathological denial about climate change and then a Democratic contender who thinks he knows something about global warming based upon the corporate capitalists who whisper in his ear and fund his campaign. Daily, new studies are being reported that indicate the climate crisis is far worse than earlier forecasts presumed. Instead of worrying about Central American climate migrants trying to enter the country, rather we should be preparing for the massive migrations that will be happening within our borders. Half a million Oregon residents, about a tenth of the state’s population, were given evacuation warnings due to the increasing pace of wildfires. This is just the beginning
And if anyone believes that the US is economically capable of tackling these problems without a catastrophic blowback, they are delusional. The US’ total debt now stands at $82 trillion, $9 trillion more from a year ago under Trump’s administration. Mortgage debt: $15.8 trillion. Student loan debt: $1.7 trillion. Unfunded government liabilities at an astronomical $155 trillion. This is a financial tsunami that can only be curbed by keeping the dollar printing machines rolling 24-7 until doomsday. In the meantime, other nations will usurp America’s former role as a world leader as we sit back and watch the country mutate into a third world nation.
The big question is whether we have the capability, let alone the willingness, to relinquish our personal dogmas and then individually and collectively step outside of the malignant atmosphere of negativity, hatred and virtue-shaming and begin to address real future threats? Urgently the future needs to be re-envisioned. It might be based upon the Great Reset being orchestrated by Davos and the global elite. However, the very principles upon which a Reset will be created are the very failures of neoliberal capitalism that has brought the US and the international community to the impasse of self-destruction. Nor can we look back at the past. It is history. Neither our modern conservatism or liberalism as they are currently being politically identified would have a constructive role. Both are terribly outdated, decrepit and utterly corrupt.
Bertrand Russell remarked that “science is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know.” Yet science doesn’t, nor can it ever, provide the truth of an entire picture. It can only tell us about distinct parts. In that context, we must begin to investigate what we don’t know in order to arrive at a consensus of truth for saving the planet and ourselves.