FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Abolition

Canadians are always so surprised when someone doesn’t like them. “Kandahar blast kills decorated soldier,” says the Star headline truculently. Like, because his handbag matches his Uggs, he should have been okay.

Well, we live in interesting times, as the old Walmart adage has it. I live in interesting times and Canada, which sounds like an oxymoron. But I am American. People here in Toronto are driving down to Washington to hear some politician, who can’t be trusted to simply say what he means, swear. Driving’s of course an appropriate instinct to celebrate the utterances of any politician in the western parliamentary democracies. But if it’s swearing you need, skip the drive and stop by our house for a beer. My eight-year-old’s potty-mouthed enough, and we can hang out and listen to him. And if some guy in Washington wants to bind himself to me with an oath, someone should let him know that I free him right now. Unbind the guy. I mean, call me an abolitionist, but really. I usually finish my projects by swearing. I wouldn’t want to trust a guy who starts that way. Sounds like he might be protesting too much.

Well, it’s not just swearing we could do without. When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad. Sure, we all have our own list, but I thought I’d offer a few of my favorite things to abolish, with a brief explanation for each.

An informed populace

Americans should learn less about the world, not more. The notion of monolingual Americans getting “current” and “informed” about the affairs of others causes the hairs of a wise man’s neck to rise, his skin to crawl, his jaw to slacken in horror. Have we not enough deserts of our own that we need to roam the world in search of more sand in which to bury our heads? Shall we send abroad more nineteenth-century British-style orientalists in pith helmets to render judgment on the world, to dispatch it with dispatches back to a sagely nodding populace, members of whom sit before their screens like so many apes who have learned to mimic the face of wisdom? What the world requires from us now is the swift abandonment of our seven hundred foreign military bases so that the children we have killed and starved may be honored at least with mausoleums.

Business essentials

If our businesswomen (and, not to be sexist, our busybodies) wish to have busyness abroad, no one’s stopping them. Laissez faire has been lazy fare for fatties, subsidized by the rest of us. Basta, yeah? If they wish to be safe abroad and to make money from the locals, let them protect themselves by learning the language and using it to speak truth. Perhaps having come for the money they will stay for the love. More foreign affairs, if you know what I mean, and less capital. The world needs a mobile priestly class of busyness people like we need trickle-down economics or rusty barrels of nuclear waste. What is required, instead, is that we get back to business inessentials. Those of us in nowtopia are already changing the world. Plus there’s always Michael Dickinson’s plan to get rid of money permanently all over the globe at the lighting of the flame for the 2012 international “three weeks of calisthenics,” as Iain Boal calls the UK Olympics. If I do say so, I’m something of a dab hand at getting rid of the stuff myself.

Equality

As foolish as democracy, its brutal parent, equality is a sop for unkind souls who cannot be brought to gentleness towards another creature unless they can first be persuaded of the other’s interchangeability with themselves. Equality fits democracy and capitalism, which are based on equivalences between distant entities, like a double-glazed with extra cream in the free hand that a policeman’s not using to taser an unruly cyclist. You should be ashamed of yourself if you need equality to be coaxed into kindness. Animal rights activists are often scorned as sentimental, but in fact it is the mirage of equality that is sentimental, insisting on valuing only a few cherished bits of the forms of sentience that look most like oneself. Self-adoration rather than self-reflection. A notable champion of equality was a certain Dr. Guillotine, who was dismayed to discover that in a country with more capital offenses than Carter has pills, some people weren’t getting executed the same as others. I mean, sacre blue. Some people were getting ripped apart and some burned and so on, and then here’s this slacker, for example, who’s getting hung. Clearly not carrying his share of the weight! So Dr. Guillotine developed a machine for making one death equal to the next, according to the same principle by which you can walk into any MacDonald’s anywhere in the world and get the same sac of French fries. Vive le revolution!

Democracy

Ditto equality. Ditto everything, for that matter. Each person reduced to an integer called a vote, which is much easier to manipulate than such a complicated thing as a person. Democracy is a form of oligarchy, run with the oligarchs’ careful attention to corporate interests. Decisions made by lobbyists and assorted unelected officials, information disseminated by pro-democracy state apparatus. In practice, oligarchies and democracies bleed into each other like Walmart magic markers, but in theory at least oligarchies can be distinguished by the presence of a population that understands how bad the government is.

Leadership

A weird belief, difficult for those from consensualist cosmologies to understand, but appears to be some sort of hope that you can be free even though someone else is telling you what to do. Sort of kinky. It’s like a puppet play in which everyone is trying to get their hands under the skirts of everyone else’s puppet and manipulate things. The people with the most to lose venerate the ones who are helping them to lose it. Slight anomalies, like skin pigment variations, are fetishized. Apparently a version of slavery.

David Kεr (pronounced “Care”) Thomson is a historian. His latest publication on early American history is in this month’s South Atlantic Quarterly. He can be reached at dave.thomson@utoronto.ca

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail