This post has been on my mind for at least a month and rather held up by the sorry habit of reading “long form” in bits and pieces. Advancing age, declining energies, the web’s own “Electronic Attention Deficit Disordering”, and the plain fact that I’ve reached about the final less-than-third of life’s journey surrounded by a personal library (of about 2,250 volumes) offering me more choices for reading than may be read or re-read toward the looming end account here for my relaying more of what might be helpful to fellow travelers than I have taken in myself.
However, I have read each of these suggestions in part or whole — and if in part have bookmarked — and have been trying to transition from “Life Online” (how it has turned out thus far) to more of the aesthetic and literary manse beloved ever by romantics and old souls.
Dictatorships have powerful tools in capricious censorship, denunciations, frames (how the despotic present issues as well as rivals for power and targets for crushing), and, ultimately, force by threat and by violence. By comparison, democracies would seem soft with conscience, empathy, and sentiment — and not much else before the armed might of absolute state power. Nonetheless, how much abuse must democratic constituencies take before facing the choice of withering before despotic forces or standing up to them?
Were it not for the desperation, greed, ignorance, and laziness of our own — and perhaps ourselves — we may not have reached this point where the apparent most patriotic and pious of Americans may have put into power the most questionable and selfish representative of America’s reactionary wealthy. Well, we’re sure in it together now and might wish to clarify what it means to be Americans and what it may mean to govern ourselves with more adult comprehension, selfless wisdom, and a much, much greater magnanimous and shared American spirit.
Paine, Thomas. Collected Writings: Common Sense, The Crisis, and Other Pamphlets, Articles, and Letters. Rights of Man; The Age of Reason. Eric Foner, Editor. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1995.