Three stages: first, we belong before we are, & few of us find any clarification of our social context. Second, an antithesis develops in which the individual with his wants, collides with what society will let him do. Third, a state in which the individual is not diminished in dignity with his social contract. This is the state of ideal democracy, where primary concerns are primary, and therefore social concerns are subordinated in individual experience. (Notebook 44, CW 5, 177)
We really are back this time. My apologies once again for what unexpectedly turned out to be a long hiatus. The school I teach at is moving very quickly toward 50% online delivery, which is scheduled to be fully in place next year. There is therefore much to do to prepare and to adjust to such a radical change. Once the new semester got under way last month, the reality of what this would involve became apparent, and the demands of it have kept me preoccupied. This, for me at least, is a good time to begin a new thread on Frye and education, which we’ll run along with our ongoing Frye on democracy thread.
Speaking of that thread, the trends in current events we’ve been following closely for months continue to be relevant. The increasing nastiness and nihilism on the political right in the U.S. has produced the most buffoonish and dangerously reckless field of Republican presidential candidates imaginable — at least until the next round of elections. The case against them no longer needs to be made. The fact that Newt Gingrich remains a significant figure in the race, or that Mitt Romney has just accepted an endorsement from Donald Trump, or that Rick Santorum has any significant constituency at all and may even win the Minnesota primary, says all that needs to be said. It used to be that the Republican primaries only had one Lyndon LaRouche in the field. Now they are all Lyndon LaRouche; political extremists trafficking in lies, delusion, and paranoid resentment, whose rhetoric daily becomes more and more ominous with regard to those who do not share their worldview.
Occupy Wall Street continues to represent the most consistent insurgent response to the deepening insanity on the right. People used to mock the Occupy movement for having no message. We don’t hear that anymore because it is demonstrably not true. The Occupy movement has completely changed the political narrative in at least one crucial respect: the single issue that has moved to the forefront and seems poised to dominate all others in the upcoming presidential election campaign is economic injustice, which is now so rampant that it is impossible to ignore. The clapped out conservative narrative that has been running at the mouth since Ronald Reagan’s presidency seems to have been reduced to incoherent babble that no one outside of the asylum really listens to anymore. Meanwhile, Occupiers themselves continue to be subjected to escalating police violence, most recently in Oakland and Washington. I suspect it will not be enough to prevent a massive resurgence of the movement in the spring when the weather improves and as the election season gets fully underway.
Finally, the Keystone XL pipeline remains the only issue with any urgent priority on the Conservative government’s agenda, which is no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to who Stephen Harper is and what he represents. Harper — an evangelical Christian convert belonging to a church with deep roots in End Times and Rapture theology — seems to manifest a more profound nihilism than even the Republicans, and that’s saying something. Bringing the toxic tar sands up to full production, as Harper is absolutely determined to do, represents what can now only be called a runaway death wish. This seems to be a pronounced trend on the Christian far right: because they will be delivered into the arms of their Caucasian and high-thread-count-be-robed Jesus sometime soon, it doesn’t matter what they do to the environment or to the rest of us. We’re doomed anyway, and this world is going to be drenched in blood and consumed by fire, so what does catastrophic global warming really matter? The Harper government, which received only 39% of the popular vote in the last election, has decided to commit the nation as a whole to a form of state-sponsored eco-terrorism more deadly and more immediately dangerous than any other form of terrorism currently at work anywhere in the world. That makes this a good time to begin yet another thread: Frye on Canada. The current Conservative government is a grotesque anomaly in our political history, being so openly disdainful of the wishes of the electorate as well as indifferent to our longstanding social contract. We need some perspective on that.
So let’s pick up where we left off. As always, we will bring the formidable work of Frye to bear on all issues that arise as we go.
(Photo: E.J. Pratt Library)