Friday, September 30, 2005

New Revolutionaries: Pretenders To the Throne

Today's new revolutionaries are but pretenders to the throne. They protest in a world about a world that no longer exists. They can only dream of creating the social change that their forebearers were able to precipitate. "Social Justice" no longer inspires masses of people or catches the attention of the general populace in the free world, particularly the United States. If you ask the protesters they may say it's because the masses have become somnolent, disinterested (or self interested) and complacent. They may lament the demise of social activism and propagate amongst themselves the idea that the world is slipping backwards from "liberal" ideas under a general conspiracy meant to "keep the people" in an over indulged "zombie" state.

In every word of propaganda, there is always somebody's "truth". The fact of the matter is, poverty in "first world" countries does not equal the poverty of other nations. Particularly in a nation with 5.4% unemployment and 12.7% "below the poverty line" when that poverty line seems like the epitome of comfortable wealth to someone who lives in Somalia or Afghanistan. When the impoverished have access to social services that such countries and people can only dream of, satisfaction (ie, complacency to the left) can permeate the culture. Even more so when access to information and images from around the globe re-enforces this very concept. It may not look that way looking out from an improvished inner city at suburbia, but it is an undeniable fact. Things that were once luxuries and the domain of upper middle or uppper socio-econimic classes are now common items in most households. Cars, televisions, cell phones, video games, dish washers, electric washers and dryers have become affordable and available. Starvation is not a concept that the poor contend with on a regular basis. Medical treatment is available in clinics that are wide spread and, while underfunded in many cases, are still capable of rendering treatment unheard of fifty years ago. Infant mortality is significantly decreased while childhood diseases no longer render minority populations in half.

It may also be a product of a middle class that, while many say is shrinking these days, expanded wildly from the middle 80's until early 2000 and is more likely to be thought of as "stagnated" than shrinking. This expansion was across all racial lines, if not completely equal for all minorities.

Further, racism, while still existing, is no longer institutionalized. Social Justice activists will disagree, but the overt practices of literacy tests, poll taxes, gangs standing at the ballot box to intimidate or simply not opening polls in poor districts does not exist. Current disenfranchisement claims now circle around partisan redistricting, ballot counting techniques and the claims that, while poll taxes no longer exist to exclude the poor (particularly black or other minority), activists now claim that the lack of transportation to polls for the poor is an institutional attempt at disenfranchisement.

In the main, this argument does not gain traction like the once overt discriminatory activities. The concept of "complacency" over this issue may be more related to the general publics' idea that voting is a "right" for all, but the public does not feel obligated to insure transportation. That is not a right. Further complacency may also be associated with the idea that only 60% (in the last election) even felt motivated to vote. The lack of civic duty among the populace is no more or less apparent across races. I use the word "apparent" because the statistics may be physically different, but the perception is missing to your average citizen and does not spark an outrage.

Appearances would say that racism and sexism are no longer ingrained or concsiously acceptable when middle class schools have black, Hispanic and Asian students. Communities and school make up are largely less about race and more about socio-economic status. Again, activists may disagree and insist that the number of minority poor communities prove inherent racism. It just doesn't strike true to the average citizen. Another concept that has not continued to prick at the consciousness of the average citizen is discrimination at work. It still exists, but it is not the descrimination of the fifties, sixties and seventies. In any office, hospital or organization, people of every race, gender, political or religious creed and even sexual orientation can be found. This does not mean that individual bigotry does not exist, but this is now an issue of social evolution, social pressure continuing to change individuals, particularly when laws now support, unequivocably, equal employment opportunities and non-discrimination. Not to mention the ingrained concept of "affirmative action" that is in place in federal organizations and institutions of higher learning.

Another issue that keeps the average middle class citizen from seeing their country as "socially unjust" may indeed be a form of jadedness after years of expanding social programs under the "great society" that, while touted as a significant tool in the fight against poverty and ignorance, has not effectively "wiped out" poverty or illiteracy. The "old/new" idea of "individual responsibility" is again raising it's head across a wide spectrum of citizenship. This is most likely the effect of the expanded middle class over the last two and a half decades, but can also be related to the expansion of information and images that seem to show a wide percentage of those that currently live in poverty is the result of individuals making "bad choices" regarding drugs, pregnancy, education, prostitution, gangs and general life style choices. True or not, appearances are, as they say, everything.

Social Justice activists posit this issue as poverty forcing people to make these bad choices, particularly since businesses and the populace generally avoid these areas and provide less opportunities to avoid the "bad choices", but average citizens again see this as self perpetualization where it seems reasonable that businesses and people do not want to live where crime is rampant and morality and pride of self and community is not related to money and social status, however insistent sociologists and psychiatrists may attempt to convince otherwise. In otherwords, they just don't buy it anymore.

Then there is the commercialization or industrialization of "victimhood". Just looking at legal procedures regarding civil suits for discrimination, average citizens now see laws and judicial proceedings as giving the agrieved a real opportunity to address their concerns, yet, at the same time, certain suits, claims and remunerations seem extraordinary ridiculous and sometimes false, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those that feel they must still struggle for their own survival and, because they are not a member of a specific minority race, religious creed, gender or sexual orientation, do not have the same ability to sue for better treatment or conditions. The commercialization of these suits has also lent to the drowning out of significant cases that might very well be harbingers of social change if they were singular and focused. Instead, the sheer number of claims, true or false, have numbed society.

Organizations abound that seem to proclaim every Jack or Jill the victim of one social or economic ill or another. Couple that with real scams that have ridden into town on the coattails of real social issues and you get a society that now looks askance at every claim. Social differences no longer seem extraordinarily apparent and citizens must sort through a morass of ideas, information and claims to try to determine what is a significant issue and where they should stand for the cause of "right" and "liberty". Further, these organizations no longer appear "grass root" but have significant funding and assetts that indicate a commercial entity, not a social movement.

Those who lived through the civil rights movements and social revolutions of the fifties and sixties, those that grew up reading about those movements and now live in the "new" world, cannot help but notice the difference of those movements of long ago and the ones that exist today. Modern movements appear as pretenders or cast off children of the "real revolution".

Even these movements eventually led to the maxim of "unintended consequences". In every revolution, there is inevitably a moment or group that leads to excesses. Like the French Revolution that began as "liberte, egalite, fraternite" and eventually turned to an excess of terror and bloodshed, the social revolution of the sixties eventually turned into an excess of drugs, alcohol, sex and violence. By the seventies, once peaceful movements had spawned armed and violent organizations that created riots, destruction and even deadly terror. Most societies will eventually tier of the excesses and move towards a more centered and calm community. Modern American society can look back and see both the excellence of Martin Luther King, Jr's march, the quiet and oddly dignified defiance of attack dogs, water hoses and baton wielding police and the final excessive orgy and know that the excess is not something they wish to experience again.

Modern movements that get the most exposure have more in common with these last excessive activities than they do with the civil rights movements of the fifties largely because their causes do not resonate and their protests have the earmarks of excess for the sake of excess instead of for real social change. While there may be the occasional nostalgic yearning for the early days of civil rights activism and the few years of JFK, there is really very little desire to see race riots in Detroit or Los Angeles, even among those that may have a legitimate complaint. This then is the "unintended consequence". While the youth of the sixties may have wanted to push the boundaries even further and perpetuate the eternal revolution, society seems to have been innoculated against it for many more years to come by the very excesses and extremity of these movements.

Other contributions to the leary and the weary included world politics and consequences of "disengagement". Except for the extremely devoted, there can be no denying the outcome of leaving South East Asia to the Communists. Not simply due to the spread of Communism, but in the bloody aftermath. Whomever one will blame for that outcome, it is a fact that millions died there while millions more here patted themselves on the back, self congratulatory and self satisfied that they had "ended a war". It's still a matter of debate of whether interference was right or wrong, but the death of entire tribes, communities and peoples are a matter of record. Whether watched live on TV or seen in a history program, the image of indegenous people scrambling to leave Vietnam, begging Americans to take them away, the thousands of "boat people" that came after and the killing fields of Cambodia have left an indelible mark on our social conscious.

Finally, the illusion that Communism and Socialism are acceptable political vehicles for real freedom and social change was crushed beneath the Berlin Wall, when the Soviet Empire collapsed, the free flow of information and the real images of "social justice" came out. Gulags, secret police, extra judicial execution and torture chambers, all in the name of maintaining the illusion of "social justice". One look inside the misery was enough to convince most Americans that they would not want to live that way. In the sixties, claims about the Communist regime could be shrugged off as "capitalist propaganda". Today, anyone that does so can be easily shrugged off as delusionary. Thus, any organization or cause that hitches their wagon to organizations like International Answer, the Socialist Workers Party or anything similar is dismissed by the average citizen more concerned about going to work, making their "capitalist pig" wages, paying their mortgages and sending their children to college.

Even once rabid "revolutionaries" have sold out their revolutionary causes and became a "cog in the wheel of the machine".

For several weeks now, Mother Sheehan and other organizers of the "anti-war" activities and march in Washington, DC have lamented the lack of attention to their cause due to the twin devestating hurricanes of Katrina and Rita. The truth must be much harder to swallow for these pretenders to the throne. That truth is, this is not 1970. Their causes do not resonate with middle America. They are not real revolutionaries. They do not face concerted efforts to suppress them. They are not harassed, assaulted and arrested. They do not face barking dogs, water cannons or brutal police assaults with batons.

Even more so, they do not resemble the revolutionary fore fathers. Men like Jefferson, Adams, Franklin or even Hancock who pledged their fortunes and lives to revolution against a real tyranny where their very lives and property would be forfeit should they lose. There are no gulags, secret police, torture chambers or extra judicial executions with a silent, unmarked grave at the end. They don't risk hanging much less a stiff prison sentence. They are unlikely to get much more than a few hours in jail and a flimsy fine for destroying property or refusing to obey lawful orders. They are pretenders who risk nothing and pledge nothing but destruction, false causes and false morality while pretending to be "oppressed" by pretend tyrrants.

After four years, the pretend revolutionaries in their pretentious prancing, choose to ignore one of the most important issues in their failing to achieve real wide spread support: the average American remembers the excesses of their fore bearer protestors against the military and what it did to our fathers and even our mothers who served.

Lastly, the pretenders fail to recall the fate of most pretenders to the throne, that is their eventual ignoble demise and fading to a footnote of history.

2 comments:

Redhead Infidel said...

What an excellent essay. I'm going to link to it immediately. Well done, Kat!

Redhead Infidel said...

Whoops - I can't find your trackback URL.