The title of this post is taken from a Yeats poem called The Second Coming. Here's the first part of that poem, it has always sort of haunted me:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
The last lines of that poem are also shivery and scary:
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
I've been grieving and thinking about the unprecedented fit of ugly self-destructiveness that is (to me anyway) manifested by the 2016 presidential election outcome.
The U.S. has put into power a white man who has never held elected office nor has ever held any appointed government position or served in any military position or rank.
He's outed himself as a racist misogynist who is likely also a pedophile or child raper. Anyone who has even a moderate amount of judgement can detect that he is afflicted with serious emotional and cognitive problems but...that doesn't seem to matter to those who voted for him.
This is who those voters selected to represent them as their leader...this is who they have turned over control of all the nuclear weapons to. This is what has happened...and I am frightened.
In case you didn't know...that's never happened in the history of this place called the U.S.A. I will repeat...it has never happened before that a man elected president has never had any position in the military or government. Never.
You can, if you want, read more about that here.
If I consider what's happened during my lifetime, it sort of appears to me that the nation seems to let the destroyers and harmers nibble away at the economy and the planet and the people until the harm gets so great and so profound...to enough white people...that there's a big flurry and push for helping the economy and (white) people.
This nation mostly doesn't much care about harming people who aren't white men. If you disagree, I invite you to examine the history of the U.S. and please let me know where you find something different. (Realize that I'm speaking in generalities, broad swaths or trends not unconnected instances. As far as I can see...every instance of help to the less powerful was in some way or another connected with helping white men either in substance or prompted by shaming and worries about how white people here might appear to the rest of the world.) You might learn something by looking at history from the viewpoint of such harming/helping and if you find something that means I need to revise my thinking...then I learn too. Ok?
Before I was born that's what seemed to lead to the election of FDR and the subsequent reforms and guarantees for average people (white) that came into place under him. I'm looking at the civil rights movement and subsequent legislation that came from it as being essentially a continuation and completing of that supporting of the less powerful citizens in the U.S.
Let's say FDR started changing things in 1935 and this period of assisting the less powerful ended in 1965 with the voting rights act. I'm skipping over lots of stuff, I know...but stay with me here. Since 1965 the power group (white wealthy men and their cohorts and hangers on) have been working to dismantle those helpings and to increase their harming/destroying of the planet and the people and the economy. They were doing it all along but I'm using 1965 as a marker date for the onslaught of harming and the essential end of the repairing.
What led to FDR and the national sentiment to help the less powerful and take away power from the wealthy white men was an economic devastation so profound that at one time the unemployment rate was about 25%. Now understand that the 25% who were unemployed were non-wealthy white men. Note that now whenever the unemployment rate for that group gets to 6 or 7% or more everyone gets excited (I'm glossing over, my apologies, how marginalized group folks always always have higher unemployment rates than white men).
So FDR comes in with a large majority pushing for fixing and helping that begins in 1935 and all that pretty much ends in 1965. We've essentially been in a period of harming ever since then...that's for over 50 years. Power has been generally been being taken from those with less power and being gathered by those with power (I'm painting in large strokes here).
And here we are...we've elected to the presidency the most egregiously unfit person I've ever seen...and we've had some really bad and awful men there before. He is openly aligned almost totally with the harmers and abusers and with wealthy white men.
And right now, I think one of the biggest factors that led to his election was that Barack Obama was black and was the president and that absolutely terrified and unhinged white men...and white women. Even though, in large and small ways, Barack Obama's policies were on the side of the harmers.
It was his blackness that terrified them and in their derangement they've put a white man in power who is the epitome of someone who has no regard for any marginalized group. He cares not one whit for people of color, for women, for poor people, for disabled people, for LBGTQIA people...no grouping of humans with little or no social power has any significance to him at all. They are prey.
I suspect we might be entering the end phase, the crescendo of the 51 years of harming that's been working to tear up the fixing that began with FDR.
And...if all this broad picture looking is true...it's likely to result in some disaster (like 25% unemployment rates for white men) to provide enough ooch for those who oppose harm to come together enough to start fixing again.
I don't know what form the coming disaster might take...but I strongly suspect one is coming. And many are going to be harmed...and it will mostly be those with little or no power but it will eventually harm white men too.
I fear that we all (except wealthy white men) are going to be damaged...maybe severely...maybe even unprecedentedly disastrously before this is all over. Maybe fatally...I don't know...I do know it's going to be awful. And it's going to be totally unnecessary. We (white people) could have done better than this long ago...but we didn't and it seems we won't until it gets so horrid that we have to do better. That happens...but we don't seem to learn...we get forced to do better but our thinking doesn't seem to change much.
As I wrote that last sentence it struck me that there is one group that (I'm speaking on average) that never gets hurt is...guess who...wealthy folks. Come what may, the wealthy (mostly white men) might get dinged, but they don't get hurt. They don't end up starving or out of work or lynched or enslaved or beaten up or imprisoned.
That's true...why don't we understand that then they should never ever have power because they don't have to deal with the consequences of awful?
Hmmm...I'd never thought of that in quite the way I'm thinking of it now. Consider...if you wanted a human society that did the most positive stuff for the greatest number...you would always put in power those who were most interested in helping the least powerful and who would be most impacted by harm to the least powerful. Hmmm. Think about that for a minute.
That would be the way to go if you wanted to do the greatest good for the largest number of folks because...helping the least would automatically result in either neutral or good for those more powerful than the least powerful. If you lift the floor...it raises everyone...right?
Well...if that's true, and I suspect it is, then we've done the exact opposite. We've put into power one of the most powerful who is an abuser and a harmer and is intent on helping those with all the power. He wants to raise up those already high and screw those who are lower or less powerful.
I don't think this is going to end well and I'm unwilling to rule out a devastation that makes WWII look like a birthday party. When harmers are supported by a large swath of the population (by that I mean those who put this man in power) then the likelihood of awfulness for every human without much power...for all living beings without much power, is almost a certainty. I suspect he may end up harming everyone...even those who think they are insulated from harm.
I hope that isn't true...but I fear that it is.
I'll continue to think about this and also to think about ways to maybe counter it however I can. You think about it too and let me know what occurs to you. Hey...people who are much better writers and thinkers than I am are writing about all this too. One of those writer's articles is here.
I'm pretty sure no wealthy white men read this blog...so you who do read it are among those who are at risk of being hurt by what's probably coming and your thoughts about stopping it or decreasing it or preventing it are welcome. I'm really saddened about this and I''m profoundly ashamed of us white people. This did not have to be.
I've been writing about and thinking much about race and racism here in the U.S. for quite some time...now you know why...it permeates this society...and it is destroying all of us.