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Random Destiny

by on December 12, 2020

Random Destiny

by Marco M. Pardi

Destiny, n. A tyrant’s excuse for crime and a fool’s excuse for failure.” Ambrose Bierce. The Devil’s Dictionary.

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I can’t speak for the Devil, but when I encounter the word random my first thought is: code for “I dunno”. For me it falls into a class similar to “You know” and “They say”. It calls upon an illogical determinant, something which just is and just happens and relies on unquestioning acceptance. I’ve read accounts of avid sunbathers saying their melanoma cancer was just a random event. Even the more literate among them sometimes say, Oh well, a random subatomic particle emitted in a faraway star system or even our own star just happened to hit a chromosome in such a way as to alter it toward development of cancer. Pardon me, but NO. Granted that we are limited in our abilities to predict these emissions, but we can predict the probable outcome of your stupid habit.

But our young children routinely show us the pre-acceptance state. When parents or teachers who believe in a God try to teach a child that God created everything the child’s first question usually is, Who created God? The common answer is: Nobody created God. God always was. Of course, if one really wants to silence the child one might invoke Sui generis, self generating. In other words, the lesson in causality being taught, Cause = God; Effect = Everything, is suddenly negated by the existence of an entity which, in this case, is neither Cause nor Effect. It just is, and it just causes things. Soon enough the child learns that, at least around a parent or teacher, acceptance = survival. Even in the face of illogical gibberish. For now, at least.

There’s a deeply embedded caveat in that acceptance: The strongly implied admonition to not look too closely into causes, to not “obsess” over the past. But while living in the past is destructive, ignoring the past is catastrophic.

Within a matter of days the people of the United States will be faced with a question, one which has arisen before: Do we punish the newly defrocked President and his henchmen, or do we simply go on, albeit while struggling to undo what we can of the enormous damage these past four years have brought us and the rest of the world? Some have compared this dilemma to that which faced the nation with the forced resignation of Richard Nixon. But that is a false equivalence. No President, or elected official for that matter, has done more to undermine the fundamental principles of Democracy, the rule of law, the mores of common decency, and the safety and future well being of life on this planet than has Donald J. Trump. The litany of his misdeeds and the examples of his depravity would go far beyond my ability to recount and the readers’ interest in considering.

But dwelling solely on this intensely damaged individual would be missing the largest lesson apparently many have yet to learn. Donald Trump was not sui generis. He was not random. Nor is there any reason to think we were destined to have him. Just as Adolf Hitler did not walk out of a Munich beer hall and take over Germany all by himself, Donald Trump did not push out the aspirants to the White House all by himself. He was managed and massaged, especially his profoundly narcissistic ego, by the latest generation of a population which decades ago erupted into the “Red Scare” of the 1920’s through 1960’s (the growing mega-corporations which wanted to kill the Labor movement and any chance at decent working conditions were behind this); the American Fascist Party, soon to morph into the American Nazi Party (funded by major industry barons and luminaries including major newspaper editors across the country until WWII drove them underground); and, ironically enough, by the very victims of those industry barons – the under and ill educated White working class. And, there is good reason to suspect that the Republican Party intentionally threw the nomination debates in favor of Trump.

If a random event is something which is without ascertainable cause, and which we will not likely see again then the rise of Trump was certainly not a random event. The themes which Trump played throughout his campaign rallies and social media messaging were long and well developed tropes adjusted and adapted to current times: Fascism presented as Republicanism.

Did these themes work? In 2016 51,201,031 people voted for him. Have they continued to work? Hate crimes surged by 20% under Trump (FBI). White Nationalist hate groups increased by 55% under Trump (SPLC). “There is a clear correlation between Trump campaign events and prejudiced violence.” (FBI. Brookings Institution.) No, Trump was not sui generis; he was the surfacing of the American Fascist ideology which began taking over the Republican Party in the late 1970’s, giving us Ronald Reagan as its first elected figurehead Fuhrer.

Having lived through the chaos, lies, corruption, lawlessness, attacks on science, and naked attacks on the core values of American Democracy these past four years, have the American people awakened? In 2020 74,222,484 people voted for him. An increase of 23,021,453. Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda under Hitler, would be proud. The Big Lie really does work.

There can be no question that Donald J. Trump must be charged with a variety of civil and criminal offenses (why else would he talk about pardoning himself?). But even if successfully brought to the logical conclusion of a prison sentence, America would be catastrophically remiss if it did not address the broad based attitudes and beliefs which brought him into office in the first place. I’m not speaking here only of the obvious issues we have faced before, racism, misogyny, exploitation of workers, etc. Those must be addressed….again. No, I’m speaking of the frank nuts & bolts basics that should have been stressed in repeated and graduated civics classes: Democracy, Socialism, Democratic Socialism, Fascism, and Totalitarian governments of any stripe. Communism is a non-starter. Anyone who knows even the basics of communism knows it has never worked at higher than the Band level of society, 80 or so individuals tops. Governments can call themselves whatever they want; that doesn’t make it so. But if Democratic Socialism is so bad, why aren’t the citizens of the Scandinavian countries storming our seaports and airports? Could it be that they actually merit their yearly designations as the happiest, most interconnected and productive countries in the world? Oh, but we excoriated Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for exclaiming he was a Democratic Socialist. We did that without knowing what Democratic Socialism was.

As so many statesmen have said before, Democracy takes vigilance and work. It will not survive if we continue to teach it in primary school classes in ways that render an insomniac senseless. These last four years have seen the most relentless and dangerous attack on democracy this country has ever seen. We now have enough factual material to develop case studies to carry students from primary school through graduate school. Will we muster the courage to do it?

I suggest an immediate impaneling of Sociologists, Political Scientists, and Historians to meet and devise chapters to be universally included in primary, secondary, and higher education textbooks explaining the honest history of the Fascist movement in this country. This material should also address the growing militia and White Nationalist movements, making clear their heritage from the Italian Black Shirts and the German Brown Shirts. Teachers of Civics, American History, Social Studies, and Political Science should be required, as part of their CEU (Continuing Education Units) requirement, to achieve and maintain proficiency in the understanding and the conveyance of this material. Private and Charter schools, up to now a dodge from secular and/or integrated schools, will comply or face closure. Seem Draconian? You haven’t seen Draconian if you haven’t seen Fascism.

We must reject the already developing tendency to excuse this administration as a “random” event, an aberration. It most certainly was not. But at the same time we must resist the temptation to excuse ourselves with the claim that we were destined to it anyway. That’s exactly the head down subservience that is the life blood of Fascism.

If you’ve gotten this far, I hope you have developed the interest to comment. As those dreaded words have often said, “We need to talk.”

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12 Comments
  1. Dana permalink

    Marco, I wholly agree with your suggestions for revised curriculum that addresses American fascism. But as someone with two millennial children and a recent college graduate myself, I’m all too familiar with kindergarten through post-secondary curriculum. Even the Founding Fathers are barely a blip in American history textbooks.

    I know nothing of fascist economics or if such a concept even exists. But I do have some knowledge of the current textbook publishing giants and what a complete scam they’re running in conjunction with educators. Who’s behind what is included in the curriculum, and who is profiting from the alarming level of publishing greed?

    I always felt it was up to me to educate my children, and today I’m thankful and relieved for who they are as adults. They do not shy away from discussions like this. Too many older adults I know completely insulate themselves to a stunning degree. This includes those who continue to vote against their own best interests simply because that’s the way their parents always voted.

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    • Thank you, Dana. My paternal grandfather was Chairman of the Economics Department at the University of Rome. He criticized Mussolini to his face. He also died not long after.

      The textbook issue is a grim one. K-12 textbooks are reviewed for content by State boards, but since Texas is the largest single purchaser (except for California) all other States defer to the Texas board. That board has been taken over by Christian fundamentalists who wrote Jefferson out of the books over his separation of church and state. They also portray the U.S. as being founded as a Christian nation.

      The blissful ignorance of so many voters seems driven by token rewards, such as just enough income to have a roof over their heads and a flat screen tv. Our equivalent of bread and circuses. .

      Like

  2. Mike Stamm permalink

    I have no idea what can be said or done, but SOMETHING must be said or done. Despite the definitiveness of Biden’s victory, “what Drumpf hath wrought” will not magically fade into nothingness on January 20th, 2021. An enormous amount of damage–to society, to institutions, to individuals, and to the environment must be repaired, and much must be invested in the future to slow and eventually reverse the infrastructure decay in the US. But none of this can really be accomplished without somehow coming to grips with the failures of education, the media, the economic system, and the wretched mess of “politics as usual.” I hope we are up to the task; if we are, we’ll have to give up much of our “bread and circuses” lifestyle not just for a long time but forever. Functional societies require real work–from everyone.

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    • Thank you, Mike. I completely agree. I do feel K-12, and college etc., would be good starting points. This administration has worked hard to destroy the sense of Nation and replace it with a sense of personal greed at any cost.

      We can also start by indicting, charging, and prosecuting Trump and his administration and all the signatories to the lawsuit the SCOTUS just rejected. The charge: Sedition.

      Like

  3. I couldn’t agree more, Marco. And I agree as well with the previous commenters regarding textbook publishing. I fear that if very large and decisive things do not happen soon, this cancer will continue to grow. I’ve heard calls in the past few days for invocation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This, that the Speaker should not seat the plainly seditious 120+ members of Congress who have thrown gasoline on the fire of baseless claims of election fraud that were a story ginned up months ago by a guy who knew full well he was going to lose, thus inciting further division and potential violence by those who refuse to educate themselves over the simplest concepts that underlie our democracy. This would provide a Constitutionally allowable path to significant legal change, and would require the states where those members of Congress come from to sign on to the changes before they are allowed to seat replacement members of Congress. (I didn’t understand any of this myself until the past couple of days as I’ve read more about it). I do worry that a move like this would be so big that it in and of itself could trigger violent reaction, however, I’m equally worried that without something so dramatic, we risk slipping back into collective apathy and a further decline in the long term prospects of our “experiment in democracy.”

    Like

    • Thank you, Marcia. The fundamentalist right has successfully adopted the policy of conquer from the ground up; it has infiltrated and taken control over library boards, school boards, and county governments. Their visibility becomes apparent only when their decisions are set in place. Overturning these tactics does not seem to resonate with the average American.

      Moreover, your awareness and insight into the American social and political landscape far exceeds that of the average American. I am heartened by your use of “our” when speaking of the experiment in democracy, but I fear your concerns for violence are well founded.

      Like

  4. Gary permalink

    “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.

    Sadly, I don’t see Biden as Lincoln. More likely you will see 4 years of James Buchanan.

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    • Thank you, Gary. I think you are precisely correct. As you know, I’ve long favored a parliamentary system in place of the two party see-saw we now have. I think a parliamentary system would be a powerful move toward inclusiveness.

      And, as I’ve so often seen with you and many others in countries other than the U.S. your familiarity with and understanding of American history and politics far exceeds what we find here in the U.S. I think the average American, were they to read your comment, would say, “James Who?”

      Like

  5. Alex Matheson permalink

    “There can be no question that Donald J. Trump must be charged with a variety of civil and criminal offenses.”
    Logically and viscerally this could be seen as sensible. But more than half of the voters would disagree. All of the Trump supporters and significant number who voted for Biden, would think that over the top.
    Americans would have a hard time accepting the idea that one of their presidents went to jail for actions while in the Whitehouse.
    Many of recent U.S. presidents could be found guilty before the international criminal court, which is one reason why the U.S. is not a member. And several of these presidents are looked on fondly and were acting in the interests of at least some Americans. Many, if not most people, will side with feelings and not thoughts. alex

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    • Thank you, Alex. Your comments are well thought out. However, I would make two points: Once an indictment is filed the reasons for the charges can be made public. In doing so we would present the American people with a challenge to think and act accordingly. And, regarding previous presidents, if we catch five burglars and let four go, do we therefore have to release the fifth? I don’t think so.

      I agree that your assessment of feeling over thinking is most likely correct. But we must decide when it is time to stand up and recognize that feeling is secondary when it comes to the application of the law.

      Anyone else care to speak up?

      Like

  6. Last in line again: I don’t know how much this has to do with the contents of this offering, but I guess my opinion is as valid as anyone else’s. I’ve long lived my life dealing with whatever came at me; “It is what it is.”, but the past four years (and this year in particular) have been one giant shitstorm. We can’t afford to just deal with it any longer, there must be consequences for the actions of those we stupidly trusted to protect this country. Trump may actually believe that, as President, he can do whatever he pleases, but by the grace of hard work and good fortune, it looks as if this will end in a matter of days. I am not the first to say, “Let he who stirs the shit pot lick the spoon.”. In my not so humble opinion, it’s time he pay the price for everything he has done. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if all his handlers and co-conspirators were charged right along side of him.

    I know that getting rid of him will not solve all our problems, but it’s a good start.

    Like

    • Thank you, Rose. With all that is going on in your personal life I am humbled by your effort at taking the time to comment. Many readers can’t seem to bother themselves yet I seriously doubt many, or any, of them are dealing with the situations you face daily.

      I completely agree; the criminal organization which has taken over the presidency for these past four years must be brought into criminal court and fully prosecuted. Unfortunately, the 74 million or so dupes who voted to continue the chaos, hatred and violence to and from every demographic in our society, protection for the richest .01% while the rest of the country lines up for food banks, and utter destruction of the environment on a planetary scale will not leave the country just because their Lord and Savior got thrashed at the polls. They will go back beneath the surface and await their next opportunity. In the meantime, we are in for serious trouble.

      Like

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