I have seen the light. Estadounidenses need more vacations. I am currently on vacation in sunny southern California, and I feel like a bear has climbed down from off my back. (Back in the days when I used to run track, we would say that someone had “the bear on their back” when you could see them struggling around the last corner of the homestretch and slowing down.) I needed a break from the daily grind, a break from the habits and normality of my sort-of settled cabin mountain life. No wonder most Americans are so close-minded and one-dimensional. We are so occupied with work and then subsequent TV and habitual existence that it is nearly impossible for us to envisage situations outside of our immediate and limited scopes. We need vacations to see the other side of things now and then, to break from the same-old and remember who we are outside of the people and circumstances that surround us everyday. It is so easy to get stuck in the mire of other people’s perceptions and gossip.
That said, I wanted to talk a little bit about some political stuff. What started the train of thought was reading an excellent article on the atrocities in Darfur, describing the rogue janjaweeds employed by the Sudanese government to perform “ethnic cleansing” (do we really have to use the word ‘cleansing’? Couldn’t we just call it what it is–mass murder?). The United States has actually been fairly active in providing aid and attempting to garner international action, which unfortunately has proved ineffective due to the loss of respect by the rest of the world for our dishonorable actions in Iraq and our hostile behavior to the UN, and Europe in general. Although of course our actions have still not been enough to save lives, but at the very least we have been more active than in the case of Rwanda, in which we did absolutely zilch.
Anyway, to get to the crux of my discussion: I used to consider myself an anarchist, more for lack of attachment to any political ideology or group than actual adherence to anarchic values. (By the way, if you think anarchy is about molotov cocktails and chaos, then you need to read some Emma Goldman or other real anarchic literature. It’s some of the most intelligent and humanist political writing in the world.) I distrusted the US government for the secret and public crimes it committed and continues to commit against its own constituents and against the world. I distrusted the idea of government en total, for large systems of beauracracy and money seem to lead only to corruption and atrocity.
The book that began leading me to a more balanced and integrated view of centralized governing systems actually was on public health (Betrayal of Trust by Laurie Garrett), in which the reporter meticulously disects the causes and effects of the current despicable state of public health in the US and the World Health Organization. I suddenly realized, through this book, that centralized governing systems are essential for the preservance of human life–we need a centralized public health system, we need clean water, clean air, safe homes. The problem is not the idea of government itself–the problem is that most governments, as they are, fail to perform their basic function and purpose–which is serving and protecting their people.
I never fail to be amazed that the Republican party can make “national security” one of its cornerstone issues, when their xenophobic cowboy war games have jeapordized our nation for years to come, and their slashing of social supportive programs and funding have devastated the heart of their own people.
But let me not go off on a rant lambasting Republicans or conservatives, because that isn’t my target right now. They are too easy to bag on, actually. I could go off just as easily on Democrats, for that matter. Politicans, in general, are easy to pigeonhole, because they almost universally only have one thing on their mind–election time. Which leads me to my main topic. Our political and cultural and economic system is seriously screwed up and needs some jerryriggin’.
I’m not against capitalism, per se. But our current form of capitalism (capitalism in the sense of profit as the goal of the economy) ain’t working. It CAN work. See, the problem is that currently our politics and economy is ruled by short term profit and very large corporations. And these corporations are cut-throat, greedy, and extremely short sighted. They can barely look past one season, let alone one year, in terms of their profit margin. But if they took their head out of their asses, and looked a little closer at the bigger picture, at the wide horizon of the future–then they would notice that in the long run, their current actions in pursuance of solely short term profits are unsustainable. Let me rephrase that in terms of money: they will not continue to make money if they continue to function the way most of them currently do. They’ve got to restructure and re-envision themselves and their functions in society and the economy. If they want long term, steady profit, than they will have to become sustainable operations–sustainable in the sense of taking responsibility for their effects on their society and environment, and making subsequent amendments and changes.
Another way to put that last paragraph is that based on our current economic, political, and cultural trajectory, we are destroying the future of our children and grandchildren. Our current way of life is unsustainable. Plain and simple. So if we want to make changes, REAL changes, then we must look ahead, even as far as 30-50 years down the road, to a time when we will no longer be able to be reliant on hydrocarbons as a source of energy.
As to how all of this got started by an article on Darfur: we live in a time in which the globe is quite obviously deeply interconnected, sometimes forcibly so, by commerce, politics, and lifestyle choices. One earth, all that kind of thing. And it is becoming more and more apparent that we need a world governing body that is effective and able to stabilize volatile situations. The UN was a good attempt, but it’s quite obviously not very effective, especially when it’s so easily dominated by the politics and weaponry of a rogue superpower like the US. We need an effective world public health system, again, something able to distance itself from politics and commerce, which the WHO has unfortunately been unable to do. The time of the United States pretending to play policeman and peacemaker to the rest of the world is long gone. There has to be an international force and body, composed of people unattached to partisan interests, which has the capability both of being an effective peacekeeping force, as well as a strong policing force. Because in situations like Darfur, that is what is needed.
More on this topic will probably be forthcoming: any input would be useful.