Saturday, December 13, 2014

Good Saturday to all.  Supposed to warm up today and tomorrow but not much sun expected.

David Kaiser always puts out thought provoking pieces on his History Unfolding blog.  There is indeed a "war" going on in American politics and I agree that there is no end in sight.  I read an article in the last couple of days which said that the last WWII veterans in Congress are retiring.  That is the generation Kaiser referred to as the cohort who were young adults when the Progressive "edifice of government and workers' rights" was established to be built on over the next 70 years.  That edifice has been chipped at for the last 30 years and now is under persistent assault from the Republican demolition teams.  Kaiser also links the process to a phenomenon I have seen for some time: the rise of unbridled individualism.  Individualism has always been valued in our culture but always restrained by communal values.  But those restraining values have weakened and almost disappeared.  We may well have a 40-year war to define what the next century or so will look like in America.  I am afraid it will look more like the worst of the 19th century than the 20th:  rampant individualism (especially for corporate "persons" and the financial elite) with few legal constraints and a broad mass of people with few legally protected rights and fewer opportunities for advancement.

For a good while now I have read, repeatedly, the phrase "rule of law"--most often contrasting the U.S. to China with exhortation that the Chinese government needs to establish such a legal regime.  This piece from Joe Firestone cross-posted at Naked Capitalism pretty well shows how that is merely the pot calling the kettle black.  We have a rule of law only so long as the authorities enforce the law and enforce it equally for all.  Certain sections of our society, economy, and politics take the law as "suggestions"--at least for them.  They can be certain that any laws they break will be punished lightly or not at all.  The rest of us can look forward to being beaten up, pepper sprayed, shot and maybe killed for minor or even imaginary infractions.  I will leave you to tie this into the last paragraph.

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