15 June, 2009

Time to run?

A post from Lila Rajiva's excellent blog, as well as an article on LewRockwell.com, articulates something that has been making more and more sense to me. Perhaps it's just that I'm tired--perhaps a little bit depressed--but she's asking a critical question. Whatever the answer, it's time to think about it, and what it implies.

“Is it time to run?

That’s what I’ve been asking myself for three years now.

Before that, I thought it was simply a matter of finding a better place to live. A place that was quieter and cheaper. Where flippers and developers hadn’t taken over the neighborhood. Somewhere safe I could park my car on the street and not worry about it.

But by the time I found it, I also found that the thieves were inside the house, not on the street. There’s really no hiding from them. And no hiding from what they can do.
Our mene, mene, tekel upharsin is on the wall.

It’s time to run, not hide.
I mean that. We’re in the throes of an economic collapse of a kind last seen in the 1930s. The government is intent on grabbing control of whatever it can. American firms are dropping like flies. Unemployment is soaring. Debt is soaring. The money supply is soaring. Our foreign policy is a wreck – we have more enemies than we can count. We have a drug war on the borders, we have gang war in the ghettos, we have culture wars in the academy and media.

We have criminals in government.
The future isn’t any brighter. Subprime is only the first leg down. We still have a second wave of housing trouble in store, centering around commercial real estate and option ARM loans.

Gerald Celente, the CEO of Trends Research, wrote a piece last year predicting that by 2012 there would be food riots, tax rebellion, and revolution across the country. Celente has a good track record in the forecasting business.

Experts predict a 100% rise in prices across the board. In the best-case scenario, it will happen over ten years. In the worst case, it might happen within months….”

It's an integrated global system. In a lot of ways there may not be any practical places to run to (and now I know my thinking is depressed--it's time to pull back and work through it). However, some places will be better off than others. And a point she makes in a later post drives home the difference between practical and formal liberties:

The rest of the world has its own problems, true. Some of them are grave. But it's here in the US that activism is most sidetracked by partisan politics, insularity, grandstanding, and politically correct insanity. Really and truly, there are few countries in the world outside totalitarian regimes that are as conformist, pervasively and fundamentally, as this country.

I'd rather live under a benign despot that left me to my own devices from day to day, than in a democracy where I'm spied on and manipulated constantly. I may have theoretical rights, but much good they'll do for me if they're strangled at birth by spies, PR flacks, and thought-police.

Meanwhile, half these so-called rights don't exist any more, even in theory. A government that monkeys around with habeas corpus, privacy, bankruptcy procedure, eminent domain, and contracts is signaling loud and clear that it has no respect for the rule of law. It's telling you as plainly as it can that it's arbitrary. It's telling you that it's a mass state and not a constitutional republic. It's telling you that it's on the auction block.

Which part of all that hasn't got through to you yet?

Maybe like she's a little depressed, too. Or angry. But she's right to remind us that "America" is not a particular location, irregardless of what happens there. America is about an ideal. It is possible to be an "American" and never touch the soil of the United States. It's also possible to wrap oneself in the flag of the United States and be "American" in name only.

The good news is that the distinction between "America" the place and "America" the ideal makes it more likely that the America that matters will remain resilient at home and attractive to the rest of the world. This is a place where there's a tradition of distinguishing between the country and the State, and where the nation isn't a matter of blood but of vision. Although we can't (and shouldn't) impose an empire on the world, the spread of the ideal--voluntarily, the only way it can be done that is consistent with the ideal--could create something like the "empire of liberty" envisioned by Jefferson. A world that squares the circle by being both "global" and (increasingly) "liberal". To some extent Obama is playing to this in his attempts to accept criticism for the past and pledge to do better, and it seem to be working to remind people of the ideal. On the other hand, the actual policies aren't changing as much as the rhetoric.

Time to Run | LILA RAJIVA: The Mind-Body Politic

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