Perhaps fifty years ago, the philosopher Eric Voegelin wrote that living in a modern western society often feels as though one is living in an insane asylum. That was true then, and is considerably more true today. But it seems fitting to take the underlying thought and its engendering experience in a different but related direction: If western societies had some of the feel of insane asylums, they also had and have the feel of becoming concentration camps, set up and run by quasi-totalitarian governments and their instruments of control. Specifically, who can be alive and conscious in our American society today and not realize that increasingly we see elements of totalitarian political culture growing up and firmly lodged in our society?
At the present time, the United States of America is not essentially identical to Nazi Germany, to the Soviet Union, or to Communist China; but are we not heading in a similar direction? The degree to which political power is amplified by mass media and by mass education is startling and disturbing. The political culture of our country is no longer republican, as we were at the time of our Founding in the late 18th century; nor are we the kind of largely egalitarian-democratic society that emerged in the era of Jefferson and Jackson; nor are we simply a culture dominated by plutocrats—already visible during and just after the Civil War. Increasingly, the political power of the Federal Government—and to a lesser extent, the power of the State and local governments—has grown to such enormous scope and magnitude that none of our Founders would recognize in our regime the spirit and essence of the Constitution of 1787. They would recognize certain names, such as “the Congress,” “the Presidency,” and the “Supreme Court,” but the institutions that have developed have dwarfed and virtually drowned out the institutions set up by the Constitution as it was written and promulgated. We have broken the spirit of the Constitution by amassing largely unchecked power in the hands of the rulers and the power elite.
Even more disturbing is what has happened to the body politic, and to individual citizens under the law. For the most part, we Americans have become a nearly lawless people, who refuse to govern ourselves. We are manipulated by media and “education,” dominated by governments and self-important politicians, and nearly impervious to the call of virtue and right living in our own souls. Indeed, most Americans today either do not know, or do not want to know, that they have souls—that they are ensouled bodies. The Hobbesian belief in man as a “body in motion” has become part of the uncoded civil religion. We interpret ourselves as a people in history, with no destiny beyond what is achievable on earth. “The new order of the ages” has swallowed up the life of the spirit in the United States; we are “new men,” not perhaps in Marx’s sense of “Socialist Man” who “creates himself,” but virtually the same thing in reality. Our society does not so much inculcate individual liberty grounded on individual responsibility and acquired virtues, but on the “right” to follow one’s whims and wishes and willing wheresoever they may lead. Observe the way we Americans act, and especially among those under about age fifty or so, and one finds that as a whole, we are a virtually lawless people. Or rather, we are a “law unto ourselves”—noisy self-driven actors governed by passions which are dominated and ruled, not by reason dwelling in one’s soul, but by the powers that be, especially in the mass media, entertainment world, manipulative corporations and their “social media,” and of course, the power of the elites, whether elected or appointed.
Thinking ourselves free and a “free people,” we are in fact enslaved to mass manipulators, and to our own lower passions. We Americans are enslaved. We are slaves to ideologies, to fads, to Hollywood, to Silicon Valley, to Wall Street, to K Street (in Washington, DC), to the noise and bombast of a degenerate mass culture that exists at an astonishingly low level. But worse than this, whatever good qualities we as a people possessed one hundred or even fifty years ago seem all but bleached out now. We need to ask ourselves: Can we sink much lower as a people in history? As a people under God? (“Under God!” some would scream. “Hell, you can’t say that. We are not under God because either there is no God, or God is irrelevant in our lives, and in the destiny of our country. We are free and equal! We are our own creators and rulers.”) Are we indeed our own creators? We are so “free” that many resort to violence or violent speech against those who disagree with them. “Freedom” apparently is becoming a synonym for self-slavery. Rejecting God and reason, we Americans are creating a godless concentration-camp society in our own image.
It is more than disturbing to see and to feel what America is becoming. Many of us in the second half of our lives are painfully aware of destructive changes. Rather than “making America great again,” by our actions, inactions, and words, we are becoming neo-totalitarians, generally driven by a godless “progressive” ideology, in which “nothing is real,” except what one “chooses to believe.” We are so blind, that, even with our science, we cannot recognize the image of God in the womb of a mother, or on the face of one’s political opponent. We see nothing of any genuine worth except what serves our own purposes, what enhances our own power, or what is “convenient,” or “politically correct,” or “acceptable” to the least rational elements among us. As a recent American President rather fiendishly advised his supporters, “Get in the face” of your opponents, and “take a gun to a knife fight.” Having preached in this manner, and had his effects, it is not surprising that we have an actual Fascist group that labels itself “Antifa” (short for “Anti-Fascist”) to hide its intent, to dupe people, but in reality uses tactics similar to the Nazis and Communists in Weimar Germany: threatening others, using violence against opponents, destroys property, deceives by slogans, and seeks to overturn and destroy whatever does not suit their criteria for being “progressive.” In other words, “Antifa” is a fitting symbol of the the New Society, the “Progressive America” that is emerging in our midst. It seeks to dominate, to destroy, to inflict its will on others just as completely as the abortionist inflicts his will on the unborn human being. Indeed, in the new Progressive America, abortion is in reality the model for the new society: whatever these people deem “inhuman” or “unwanted,” can be destroyed in the name of their god, “Progress.” Abortion, euthanasia, killing the “unwanted” or “socially useless,” such as the elderly, and destroying one’s personal or political opponents by “any means necessary” to achieve their end—these are their achievements. Their goal is complete domination of our culture and society, and in true totalitarian fashion, build a “new society” and a “new humanity.” And their dream is now far advanced.
All things that enter being must perish; everything that is born, dies. Political societies are no exception. America was born several centuries ago, and in time, it will perish, despite popular illusions and beliefs. Our task, however, is not to hasten our country’s demise, but to preserve and protect the best in us and in our political society, and to uproot from our own hearts the evil that hastens the destruction of all things good and beautiful. Our country’s fate is in the balance, and so is our own.
—Wm. P. McKane
27 July 2019
Click on the above Poetry and Tanka tabs to read a variety of styles of poetry.