Reason #1--We Can't Afford Any More Witch Hunts
(Starting today, I'm going to try an approach to this blog that I haven't before--because of a personal sense of urgency and time constraints. I will give myself a half hour to write whatever it is I've got to write in the morning, post it, and then, once I've gotten the work of the day done, I will reread it and consider what I might add or subtract from what I've done. For this reason, if you pop in here midday and find something interesting to you, you may want to check back on this date's blog again later in the day, the next day, whatever, to see if anything's changed. I think that system will allow this guy who's used to writing for publication deadlines, one way or another, to feel more spontaneous because I can always go back and "fix" things in a way that I'll be more comfortable with them standing later.)
Morning rough mix--
Standing at O'Hare on my way home Sunday, The New York Times front page gave me a chill. Under a picture of red flags and images of Che Guevara was a caption that said something like "Anti-American Rallies Increase" before explaining that Middle Eastern political organizations like Hezbollah were demonstrating with communist groups, representatives of and those inspired by the defiant voices of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. The protest didn't scare me; the branding did. That picture and headline wouldn't have seemed more menacing to me if it had said, "Run Critics of Capitalism: Hide If and While You Can!"
The reasons for my reaction may or may not be obvious, but that's part of why I'm up writing this morning. I choose to view the future with hope rather than fear (I'm not sure I could get up if that wasn't the case), but the storm clouds on the horizon right now are scarier than anything I wrote about in those 13 days of horror essays I last wrote. And one of the reasons for that is one of the keys to humanity's hope when it's faced with its monsters--that character in every tribe of fearless vampire killers, every band of Scoobies, the keeper of arcane knowledge.
I talked before about one legacy of the Cold War being the erasure of anything but a caricature of Marxist thought from our society's discussion of the issues of the day. When we live in a system where the average individual's cash on the barrelhead value is being driven down to zero (as the WID-ER report shows in my last blog, often below that), and the economy's fuel--the gold standard that keeps things running--is the industry of war supplemented by service industry, the last thing the system (not some Star Chamber of elites but something more fundamentally real, the agreement of all of the forces that keep society running smoothly) wants is anyone taking stock of the situation and suggesting a more humane basis for society.
It is hard to imagine a society getting more dumbed down than the one we currently live in. (And I don't mean the kids people like to blame 'cause they often have far more insight than their parents. The reason I started writing Monsters, Marx and Music was because it's in this pop culture both conservatives and liberals like to attack that some real resistance to the status quo manages to stay alive.) But it will try to get dumber if it can because that's the best way for it to keep the fires burning. That's what Ray Bradbury got right when he wrote Fahrenheit 451, where the books only remained in peoples' minds. And that's what I think Stephen King really meant, whether he knew it or not, when he recently wrote that he'd imagined some pretty scary things in his life, but he'd never imagined Nancy Grace.