Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar*

*Human dignity is inviolable (The first sentence of Article I of the postwar Grundgesetz für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany)

If we actually wanted any further proof of Santayana’s contention that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” we’d need look no further than the current resurgence of fascist sentiment in Europe and the United States, and the rising support worldwide for authoritarian governments devoted primarily to exclusion, punishment, and degradation.

The Germans, of all people, should know better. They did know better in 1949, when their remarkable postwar constitution was written and enacted in the western half of their still divided country. If the strutting members of the AfD have already forgotten what motivated their great-grandparents to enshrine Article I as the only article which by law cannot ever be amended or repealed, there seems little hope that any of the rest of us will remember our considerably more ambiguous commitments to the same principle.

There are reasons why the Nazis are back in Germany, why a paranoid and vicious authoritarianism is once again the shiniest of political baubles everywhere in the world. As comforting as it might be for those who dread what’s coming to think so, none of them are solely attributable to the historical blindness of the generations born since the end of World War II. The truth of the matter is that neither democracy nor capitalism, as practiced by our supposedly enlightened postwar governments, has ever been overly concerned with the dignity of all human beings.

It should surprise no one who’s been paying attention that in the nearly eighty years since the end of World War II, the distribution of wealth and power in western democracies has gradually come to resemble that of some of the worst hierarchical societies of the past. The disenfranchised, dispossessed, and disenchanted armies of the underemployed and unrepresented are back with us, and they will absolutely not be mollified any more easily by our well-meant homilies about human dignity than they were in 1933. As right-wingers in the United States like to say, the die is cast. It’s hard to see how there’s any good news in that for anybody.

Just Sayin….

“Das wird immer einer der besten Witze der Demokratie bleiben, dass sie ihren Todfeinden die Mittel stellte, durch die sie vernichtet wurde.”

“This will always remain one of democracy’s best jokes, that it provided its mortal enemies with the means by which it was destroyed.”

Joseph Goebbels, Reichsminister für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, 1935

Yeah, probably ain’t gonna happen here. Almost everybody says so. No harm considering what it’s gonna take to stay out of the cattle cars if it does, though.

Responsibility

Another half-awake visitation:

The text is brief. “Leave now. Do not pack. Kids already in transit.” As I pass reception, an upturned face. “Madam Secretary…?”

“Out. Go Now. Everyone. Move.”

Three minutes forty-two seconds later a flash in the rearview mirror, followed by a sharp jolt transmitted through the suspension. A glance upward shows a column of dark smoke already rising where we all used to be.

Once I’m back under, I send a text of my own. “The warning was timely. Your attempt was not. My representatives will be with you shortly. If you’d rather not wait up for them, I’ll understand.”

After that, a drink. Then once more unto the breach, for now, as before, what we do is who we are. No more, no less.

On Sowing the Wind….

Dulce bellum inexpertis
War is sweet to those who haven’t experienced it.
—Pindar, Fragments, 110,109

The six right-wing ideologues of the U.S. Supreme Court have arbitrarily declared war on millions of people who’ve done them absolutely no harm. Although they may presently consider themselves personally immune to the consequences of their vile self-righteousness, an unbiased reading of history suggests that in the end they themselves will suffer something of the agony they’ve inflicted on others. May that day come sooner rather than later.

The Unimportance of Being Earnest

The Democrats’ characteristic form of cowardice is risk aversion. For the Republicans, it’s moral weakness.

The Rotten Core of Our Political System, by George Packer, The Atlantic May 18, 2022

George Packer’s two-sentence bon mot is as perceptive a summation of our present political ignominy as any out there, which makes it especially welcome in times like these, when two sentences are about as much punditry as anyone can stand. Does anyone still doubt that our pundits are as clueless as our politicians are about what’s coming, or believe that they have anything to tell us that we don’t already know? Yes, we’re aware that it’s coming. No, don’t bother, we’ll figure that out when it gets here. In the meantime, we just found these truly awesome earplugs on Amazon….

Just So We’re Clear

A word to the loudmouths of the Republican Party:

We get it—the future scares you, and you want to make that our fault. You should think again. The future can’t be bullied into submission. Neither can we.

No matter what you tell each other, the cruelty and ignorance that govern your behavior wll never govern ours. We won’t allow it, no matter how many guns you have, or how willing you are to use them. If you doubt this, keep going the way you’re going. See how far you get.

The Lineaments of Gratified Desire

The thing about people crazy the way Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are crazy is that their own exquisite craziness, as many-faceted as they imagine it to be, is never enough for them. They’re rapists by nature, not onanists.

I learned 56 years ago, sitting in my underwear on a bench in the Armed Forces Induction Center in Los Angeles, how to avoid being cast as a bit player in someone else’s psychodrama. I don’t believe that what I learned there is something that social media can teach you, but bullies certainly can.