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Friday, October 08, 2004

“Lights, Camera, Democracy!” one of the essays in Waiting for the Barbarians has my hackles up. Lapham muses that our country grants parallel sovereignty to both a permanent and a provisional government. The permanent government is comprised of Fortune 500 companies, their lobbyists, big media and entertainment syndicates, civil and military services, research universities, and law firms. They hire the politicians and set the terms under which we, the people, can exercise our rights. The provisional government is a spiritual democracy; a fraudulent-voting, flag-waving pageant.

I’ve considered this before but have only the most minimal understanding of how big and pervasive it is. How many others have felt the same uneasiness, catching a peek of dark things darting just beyond our peripheral vision? (I’m not counting the ones wearing tinfoil hats or victims of alien abduction.) Seeing in black and white, explained so clearly and eloquently, that democracy is a big fat lie perpetuated by a corporate oligarchy is hugely depressing. Not only is the glass half empty, but what is that scum floating on top? Who drank it up? I’m sure they left their nasty germs on the rim.

What frightens me is how many people don’t recognize this, and more so, how many don’t care. They have a home, they have a job, or at least a government subsidy, they have food, they have clothes, they have entertainment. What more could one want? What more does one need?

Has there ever been a society not governed by an elite? Why should it be any different here and now? People survive and live under all brands of government. Does the name given to a particular form of rule matter? Why should it bother me that the ruling class promotes an illusion of freedom and democracy? Does it make any difference in our day to day lives?

As far as a classical education is concerned, are we offering our children a superior education in hopes of breaking them into that upper echelon, to join the nobles and escape serfdom? Or maybe breaking them in to effect a change? If we are teaching them to think, what shall they think about? What a hopeless situation we are locked in? Are our aspirations to educate our children a fantasy, as distracting and time consuming as sitting in front of a television? Even remembering the past, are we not still doomed to repeat it? Are we simply vessels of information, keeping knowledge alive through the dark ages, like monks, for the next renaissance?

In spite of Lapham’s perspicuity, he has not offered any solutions. Ideas, anyone?

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