Inquiry: The Obituary of the (First) American Republic! by LJ Frank

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

This is a revision. History allows it. Either way things are getting old. Fast. Not the coronavirus. It will get old and profoundly tragic in another incarnation.

A core provocation of human existence is revealed in ancient history. It’s greed. There’s money to made off the suffering of others. Thomas Paine was wary of capitalism and the agony it produced, the way women and children and even animals were treated and he told his friend as much, the other Thomas (Jefferson) about his concerns. They talked. They intellectually stimulated the other while sitting at a tavern table. It was the times in which they lived. Paine would write that his own mind was his own church. Benjamin Franklin warned him not to spit in the wind even though the First Amendment meant freedom (from) religion  They are part of the First (American) Republic as I see it.

We’re living in the Second American Republic and have been for some time. Think of a lobster being boiled alive and not knowing it until too late. President Eisenhower’s military industrial complex was one of the appetizers. The main course on the  menu of the First Republic’s obituary occurred when the 40th President (Reagan) said the government’s not the solution, it’s the problem. Instead of comprehensive reform came witty and jovial, grandfatherly unbridled capitalism. It was the 1980’s. Dinner was served.

Political party differences are a mere cloak covering the personalities underneath. It’s about money. Elitism of the wealthiest. Get the high priests of wealth together like a version of the 4th century First Council of Nicaea – feed and entertain their lusts and you can have your way. Just ask the Emperor Constantine. The theology of wealth is the god of profit. The public square was/is evolving into the private square.

Money comes in varied forms – coins, gold, diamonds, paper, investments, property and more and for the un-witty it’s woven with power, celebrityhood, self-entitlement and self-righteousness. Through greed, capitalism is proving that an oligarchic form of governing destroys the human ethic. Does it matter? Feel good consumer therapy and the Gospel of Wealth don’t quench the soul’s thirst. Consuming more does not nourish the human heart. And the very tool of technology that fosters connecting with each other as social creatures encourages the lack of privacy. Yet we need social connection. Networking is ancient. Technology gives it a fresh irony.

What do we have to fear? Personally, I’m grieving for the death of the First American Republic. But then I’m a philosopher among other careers. I get nostalgic for something that may not have existed except in my own mind.

Today the Second Republic is still unfolding and even if we have a new president in November, the First Republic is dead. The fascist philosophy of the 45th President (Trump) and his associates will not go quietly into the night. Will he claim presidency for life? That’s a given. And of course there’s foreign influence, in the current scenario – Russia. The USA has engaged in it for years. Russia has retaliated with the President as a visible asset. It’s a technological war game in a volatile world.

The 45th President sows chaos so he can work his schemes behind the scene.  Smoke and mirrors.  The President likes attention while he plays the audience of true believers and those in disbelief. The poisonous atmosphere surrounding the Republican Party and its leaders has not been filtered. It’s an unseemly, strategical tactical, inbred partisanship. Look at the Supreme Court appointments and their judgements  – see review of Federalist Society. Still both parties are political cloaks. The cynicism grows in the Second Republic.

A colleague of mine once said she always voted against the incumbent because politicians all have agendas and will do what they want regardless of what the voter wishes. And the voter’s basic wish is basically get government and corporate America out of my backyard. Though less and less people have a backyard. Agendas change. In the 1960s and 70s when I was a young man the word authentic wandered through a forest of rhetoric. Ethereal or not self-awareness is a life time endeavor.

President Kennedy said life is not fair. He wasn’t the first one that said that about life. I can well imagine primitive man crossing the harsh landscape thousands of years ago, saying the same. We’d have to go back to Ancient Egypt to find ‘life is not fair’ in writing. Unfairness is beginning to feel like the word beauty as being in the eye of the beholder. Comparisons can be utter nonsense. And due process is a phrase that’s devoid of meaning when your a child with a bullet in your stomach and lay bleeding on a subway platform.

When a leader repeatedly states his authoritarian intentions, where troops are told to “man” the borders, where knowledge is censored and truth is no longer based on the facts then history begins to be rewritten. A “revised past” is created to match the revisionist present. And the future becomes a lie. Books are written to justify the claims to legitimacy of rule with accompanying rituals to effectuate a sacred quality. God is called upon. The word God was an invention of man to name the invisible and make such a being approachable. It’s how great books are written in order to justify those in power. Or on a different level as the author Bertolt Brecht wrote -Who built the Seven gates of Thebes, the books are filled with the names of kings.

The world is on an axis. The metabolism of culture is accelerating. The Earth may not be as resilient as we think or promote or project. At some juncture one more stream of words becomes one more opportunity to tune out. The problem is I have no ‘backyard’ where I can retreat. I have pieces of my mind where a residual optimism, anger, sadness and a sense humor are held in reserve. Humility, love, vision and compassion are essential for leadership whether it’s a family or nation. Today’s love and compassion have caveats -that’s the affect of mistrust and human vanity.

I’m weary of human vanity. The author of Ecclesiastes had much to say about vanity. I meditate on it regularly and question the vision of the Second American Republic.