Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Trying to Put This Year in Perspective - You Need to Step WAY Back

I just read an amazing article, that tried to put current events in some perspective.  There was the day in August of 1914 in Sarajevo that set off "The Great War" (as WWI was know until there was a second one).

In a similar vein,  Slate Author Yascha Mounk explains the significance of the week of July 11th.  Brexit, The Turkish Coup, Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the Terrorist attack in Nice.  He makes some excellent points.

But, like that one day in August in 1914, there is more than one day or one week.

In fact the quote at left forces me to think when, exactly, this whole shit show might have started.  I think it is a complex situation, but not impossible to figure out.

Unfortunately, the answer / solution is tougher to fix than we want.  I think it started, with great force, at the end of the 1980s.

My basic premise is this, Without the shared sense of opportunity for all people, the political institutions will fail.

Technology, television and radio, showed the people of Communist Eastern Europe what opportunities - in both power and consumption - were available in the West Capitalistic countries.

Unable to match the consumption of the West, and unwilling to killing thousands or millions to maintain power, these countries collapsed.*  The cold war ended, and peace came about.  It is important to realize, however, that in a few of these countries NOW, autocratic rulers (near dictators) have been elected to power on the promise to deliver prosperity or traditional society or both (Hungary, Poland and Turkey).

Arab Spring was another manifestation of this problem where the greater populations sees what is possible., albeit with different technology.  The rise of Facebook and Twitter lead to uprisings because the political systems in these countries, originally sold as a path to deliver prosperity to everyone, had been corrupted to deliver benefit to only a few.  AND social media was abel to expose this.

What happened in Brexit and what is happening with Trump / Sanders is this same manifestation that a system designed to bring prosperity to everyone has spectacularly failed some.  And those "some" are highly motivated to change the system. It was easy to sit back and be superior when that "system" was communism or Arab Oil-ograchy. But it is Capitalism and a Democracy that has been hijacked by the monied interests in many ways.

Decent into Authoritarianism (with or without a fig-leaf of Democracy) is a real possibility.  And it is valid, at least in that the system as implemented is delivering real value to many Americans and very little value to many other Americans. For people who don't get value from the current system, it seems (and is in many ways) designed to suck value at the expense of their economic situation.  Authoritarianism looks better than the status quo.

And under Authoritarianism, either the government delivers the goods (like Singapore or China) or that because they cannot deliver the goods, they become increasingly antagonistic towards minorities (like Hungary and Turkey).

So, in some ways, we should be thankful for Trump.  Had he come to this same stage via a 3rd Party, we would be close to armed conflict (think the Civil Rights Riots, but AK47's worth worse).  The fact that he co-opted the Republican Party and that Party still has plenty of "establishment" people that are invested in a healthy Democracy, there is time for the Democrats and the Republicans to fix our system.

By toot-suite kiddies.  We don't have a lot of time. And the disadvantages of the current system are really really clear to see.

This is where I see the Bernie Sanders folks getting super-frustrated.  I think Hillary Clinton is a fantastic candidate for the current system.  But, like Sanders and Trump backers, I don't see her changing that system significantly.  We need to swing the pendulum quickly back to serving the majority of Americans.

*China avoided this by lurching towards Authoritarianism during the Tieneman Square uprising. 

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