Friday, October 14, 2005

A Little Vitriol to Start the Weekend

Diane Arbus
"Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, New York City"

Finding my head above water at last, I find it hard to focus on writing. I'm lost in "visual thoughts" and impressions and I again cherish my time in the studio. My faith in painting is renewed.

As a result, coherent arguments and linear explanations are harder to formulate. I prefer to stare out a window, daydreaming, than to pick away at a keyboard. I'm in a pretty good mood, though, and I hope this movement up the crest continues.

Moreover, I love the fall and like the winter, but loathe the summer - reverse seasonal affective disorder, I guess - so I'm confident and optimistic.

At any rate, I recommend this post by Devo, over at Vitriolic Monkey. As one of those politically active individuals who regularly writes letters to my state senators and congressional representatives, I respond sympathetically to Devo's post. Ignorance and apathy reign on these shores.

As Devo points out, most U.S. citizens no longer know (or care to know) what a republic is, much less the difference between a republic and democracy. The republic is the more ideal government, at least from a pragmatic perspective. Most days, I think of myself as a political pragmatist (or realist). A democracy is inherently Utopian. It trends eventually toward dystopia (as any regular player of Sid Meier's Civilization series well knows).

But the United States government is neither a republic or democracy, at least not anymore. Having metamorphized through each stage - a republic initially, then a democracy - our country is now a hobbled hybrid, grotesque limbs and branches competing for control of the larger, ugly beast. Today, the Senate is an ol' boys club, comprised principally of monied aristocrats who are more beholden to their corporate backers than to their electoral constituency; the House is a riot of lobbying and district warfare, more closely resembling an Off-Track Betting store front than a fair-minded congress; and the executive branch resembles a castle, the concerns of the royalty across the moat becoming ever more distant from the interests of the middle-class, our most vital (and most rapidly shrinking) demographic.

The looming home heating crunch and the rising price of transportation might awaken some people from their slumber, but it will not be enough. Seasons like this one, plagued by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes, will result in some environmental and social advances - better aid/catastrophe plans, more funding for alternative energy, further consideration of the natural "protections" offered by wetlands, coral reefs and the like - but I worry that they will also lend momentum to two disturbing currents.

The Rapturists, of course, will have more ammo for their apocalyptic arsenal; they will bang the Judgment drums, proselytizing to the poor and lost to find more converts. More common and acceptable, and therefore more sinister, is the iCulture phenomenon, that trend which has us all "trying to get mine" when we should instead be trying to save ours.

Photo credit: Arbus photograph ripped from Artnet
(my favorite Arbus photograph)


Devo said...

First off, great pic. I get the feeling that little boy's face and awkward stance approximate a pretty good projection of what's perpetually going on inside of ol' George Dubya's head. Kind of like this is a good idea of what it looks like inside of Herr Cheney's head!

Devo said...

Oh snap, I meant to hit "preview"! Oops. Anyway, to complete my thought...

Speaking to your point about the subtle differences between Republic and Democracy... I find it odd and a bit frightening how the differences between "Republican" and "Democrat" have taken a linguistic somersault and pretty much scrambled any original meaning that these words may have had.... Oh Grover Norquist, how I hate thee!!!

As for Republic's inherent superiority to Democracy... I do agree, but find myself pining for a slightly more Socialist state. With hints of Republic here and there, but overall, the security that Socialism offers.

Crap, I just smudged my glasses.

Hungry Hyaena said...


I also trend towards socialism and see little reason why, if all citizens were involved and diligent, a socialist democracy could not flourish. Sadly, most citizens are not involved...which sucks.