It hit me a few days ago. We all know that politicians are a little corrupt. But the vision of Bush swaggering like a little mobster, the poison put out by the Republican machine, the utter inability of the Dems to defend against these attacks...
It's not just the most dirty campaign ever seen. What we're seeing is a full-blown attack on US civil society by a group of men who resemble nothing as much a well-organized criminal gang.
it's always about the money, isn't it? But in the past we've expected our governments to respect civil society. After all, it's more lucrative to take the long view. Let people build up their businesses, and tax them only as much as they will bear.
The governments of the US, Russia, and Italy resemble each other so much it's uncanny. They seem to be working from the same handbook.
Control the press. Destroy the opposition. Stuff the judiciary with your friends. Turn parliament into a tool for executive control. Turn politics into a tool for doing business. Use fear to prevent dissent, use the mass media as a political tool.
Some people have asked why the US elite would go so far. After all, they have done very well so far with a less harsh rule. Why bring in the guns now? Why demolish the democratic institutions? Is it just for the money? Admittedly, the sums are huge. More money has been diverted by the Iraq war than was ever stolen by a corrupt regime in Nigeria or Angola.
Perhaps it's just greed. That's explanation number 1.
Explanation number 2 is a bit extreme: it is that we are heading for the collapse of oil reserves and that the liberty and freedom that the abundance of oil allowed is no longer affordable. When oil prices rise to $250 a barrel, we really don't want riots disturbing the peace.
Explanation number 2 is bolsted by the curious way that every major war is being fought in regions where oil is or may be present. The Caucuses. Iraq. Sudan. Venezuela is in turmoil. Angola and Nigeria are calm but the oil industry there is firmly under control of the US. (And, people may remark, the political pressure for reform in those countries is remarkably absent. Angola has seen many, many more people die than Iraq. Where is the liberating force?)
But explanation number 2 has one flaw: it assumes that our leaders are good planners, capable of thinking ahead and plotting the future.
That does simply not make sense. Personally... it has to be the first. Our world is run by a cabal of old, venal, grasping, corrupt, vicious, and ruthless men who are so hell-bent on robbing the treasury in any way they can that they have forgotten how the money got there.
The sad truth is that they will probably get away with it. People do, finally, do what they're told. We are not a race of revolutionaries. Most stories of revolt and the fight for freedom are lies told to encourage people to follow the party line.
I expect that the Republican machine will keep control of the US government. They are very, very good at the political game, willing to do whatever it takes to win. The opposition - built on a middle class that believes in the stength of morality, and a lower class that has the stength only to try to survive from day to day - is unable and unwilling to fight. We saw this with Gore in 2000. We are seeing it in spades now.
It's an old story. In Germany in 1931, the communists and democrats were no match for the brown shirts.
The story has a classic plot. Under the guise of an external threat, we elect a strong man. The liberals and communists complain. We beat them up. They fight back. We break their heads. We vote for our leader. He will protect us from the scary monsters. Once secure in power he demolishes the civil society that elected him. He creates a machine that has one goal only: to find and eliminate opposition, independent thought, and resistance.
We've seen it in so many countries, many with long and proud histories of democracy.
I'll finish with this thought: for once, the USA is not leading the world. Russia is about 4 years ahead of the USA when it comes to installing a dictatorship. What happens in Moscow today will happen in Washington in 2008. Observe Putin and you see Bush. Observe Chechnya and you see... you see that the "War on Terror" is simply another name for "Genocide".