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A Hard Place in History


Of all the quirks inherent in the human species the most peculiar is the recurring compulsion to collectively imagine a pure chimera and then passionately embrace it as reality.

These kinds of psycho-emotional conjurings require no basis in verifiable fact. Lack of verifiability is central to their propagation and is the attribute that, by some mysterious process, gives them mass credibility.

They appear in the earliest societies, from the monster of Gilgamesh, to the Gorgon and Cyclops of Classic Greece, to medieval Europeʼs Succubi and Unicorns, and finally our own cherished fables, Christianity and Democracy.

These latter are, of course, concepts, creeds, not creatures, but as mythic ideas they are produced in the same manner, and have the same fantastic currency in the public mind as the Phoenix and the Werewolf once did.

Christianity, with its vast catalogue of absurdities, is not the topic here. Suffice it to say that its ponderous edifice rests on the same vacuity as Nessie and Bigfoot. The claim is that faith is the evidence of things unseen. Faith, by definition, is not evidence of anything at all except deep, desperate, and undiscriminating need.

Democracy is said to be a political system in which every individual has a vote in every question decided by society. Such a system has never existed in any polity in all human history but the idea persists and in America devotion to this non-existent system amounts to a religion.

Our corrupt, vicious Power Elite–capos of the Predatory Capitalist System– are the priests of this political ignis fatuus. Like many priesthoods, they donʼt actually buy what they sell. Few, if any, in the high ranks of American governance believe in Democracy but they flog the idea shamelessly to bully and coerce other nations–and their own–in order to loot them.

To hear Obama expound in his crushingly dull mock-sincerity, on the wonders of our Democracy is to witness a High Mass of unmitigated bullshit for this exalted pipedream. His phony sanctimony is stupefying.

Americans, though, steeped in mythic exceptionalism in which democracy fantasy is dogma, genuflect reflexively to a catechism they revere as holy mystery. Small wonder: Its paradoxes rival virgin birth and resurrection.

This idiotic stalemate in which we refuse to confront the grim reality that they live in will destroy us. Courageous, intelligent people must admit that our system is a rotting fraud, dead to public will and citizen input, and call it what it is: a corporate imperialist police state run for the 1% who own it.

I know, it sounds rough and rude. Itʼs negative, harsh and provocative. It will be insulting to oligarch billionaires, CEOs, and Hedge Fund pirates, and to the political whores they install in our Congress, courts, and Presidency. It will offend friends and families, bosses and supervisors. It will get us disapproved of, disliked, shunned. Before long, it may get us arrested.

And if we admit it, what do we gain? Why should we take an action that will expose us to opprobrium? We know we canʼt change the system, right?

That kind of thinking got us where we are. Propagandized and intimidated we have ceded the rights that protected us from the State. Now, fearful and disciplined to accept any abuse our vicious system inflicts on us, we triangulate every ethical horror we face in hopes that abandoning our honor and integrity will keep Big Brotherʼs NSA, its FBI and swat teams, at bay.

Itʼs illusion. Cowering before power invites worse abuse. We are at that hard place in history where no behavior will prevent suffering. The only choice now is between our terms and those of the National Security State. We can continue to grovel morally, submit to flagrant tyranny, and peep about to find ourselves dishonorable graves, or we can stop lying, stop hiding, stop betraying our best selves, and take the consequences.

There will be consequences. Most will be too terrorized to risk them; some will act and suffer for all. Those who do–even buried in one of those top secret pens theyʼre building for us–will know that though betrayed, they were not deceived; and that by exposing the fraud at the monsterʼs heart, they gave it a wound that will eventually bring it down. No society built on lies and exploitation ever lasts. Truth, in the end, always trumps power.

Paul Edwards lives in Helena, Montana.


Paul Edwards is a writer and film-maker in Montana. He can be reached at:

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