- Michael Henry Dunn
Better Angels - The Healing of America
It is a common thing nowadays to acknowledge that democracy is dying in America, and that we live in a time of chaos. Non-partisan studies conclude that Americans live in a plutocracy controlled by elite financial interests. Disinformation and propaganda are now so rampant that partisans question the veracity even of their own preferred media outlets. Polarized perceptions blur what we used to call "reality" so badly that opposing factions seem to live in separate worlds, unbridgeable by shared history or values. America's leadership in the world is in tatters, and its once-vaunted "moral example" a global joke. Even the fig leaf rationalization of "defending democracy" has been discarded, as U.S. armed forces wage five undeclared wars across the globe (of which most Americans are unaware), nakedly defending, not democracy, but access to the natural resources of oligarchic allies who trample on human rights, confident of impunity.
For the first time since the Civil War, even the Union itself appears credibly at risk given certain scenarios, as blue states such as California, Oregon, and New York defy the White House to make independent agreements with foreign nations, while red states such as Texas seek to establish their own gold reserves in defiance of the Fed, and the word "secession" - that quaint and disturbing artifact - is dusted off and bandied about with a startling degree of seriousness.
In the cultural landscape, one looks in vain for unifying factors of story or music - unless it be the grimly amoral universe of "Game of Thrones" wherein the values of honor and loyalty fight a bleak retreat in the face of betrayal, blood lust, and insanely self-serving cunning. Ironically, everyone seems to hate Cersei Lannister almost as passionately as they despise "Libtards" or "Trumpheads"- while, of course, everybody loves Jon Snow.
Meanwhile, "Winter is Coming" has become a ubiquitous meme heralding the inevitable approach of a time of dark chaos, as traditional values break down and foundational institutions crumble.
Peering down this grim timeline, and looking behind us into history, I find that I cannot ignore the merciless arithmetic which predicts massive upheaval. Still, whether due to an optimistic nature or to self-delusion, I prefer to seek solid reasons for hope.
And "hope" let us remember, is not a mere attitude of wishful ignorant optimism. True hope consists in a soberly well-informed determination to achieve an objective despite adverse (or even bleakly adverse) circumstances. True hope, acted upon with steady endurance, creates the momentum for its own realization.
Being soberly well-informed (or so I tell myself), I must realistically acknowledge the high likelihood (even the desirability) of a virtual death and rebirth of the American spirit, which will unfold along one of several different timelines, all of which entail some degree of upheaval.
In 1861, the American Union had to break up and die over slavery in order to be reborn in a new and viable form - at the cost of 600,000 lives. We cannot now discount the possibility that a similar organically inevitable national convulsion is in store for us in the coming decade, out of which may emerge (one hopes) a reborn American vision.
As Thomas Jefferson remarked during the first American Revolution, "One can hardly expect to be carried from tyranny to freedom in a feather bed!"
It helps to be able to recognize over-arching historical dynamics and the reality of repeated cycles. It helps to remember Jefferson's clear-eyed recognition that the age-old struggle between between oligarchy and democracy never really ends. It helps to remember the stubborn American resistance to tyranny that runs deep in the national character. And it most certainly helps to remember that Americans remain, at heart, a people deeply receptive to the reality of Spirit (called by many names) and ready to be inspired by timeless truths plainly spoken.
Allow me to dispense quickly with political questions - and to dispense with the bogus left/right divide by which the oligarchy keeps us distracted from the debt-enslaved desperate scramble which is the life of most Americans. Yes, I used to have a political "identity." I grew up a "Chicago Democrat" back when that meant being a Kennedy Democrat - but have now outgrown such labels. Like most middle-of-the-road Americans, I am "liberal" on social issues (gay marriage, pro-choice, etc.) while being a fiscal conservative. I am pro-capitalism in the sense that I hold it to be a bedrock American value to allow free enterprise the greatest possible room to flourish - as this is historically the surest way for the poor to lift themselves to prosperity. In this richest of nations, I am convinced that we can easily afford a decent national health care system - provided we find a way to break the hold of the globalist war profiteers who own the nominally democratic governments of NATO, and provided we cease to spend trillions of dollars (and the lives of our brave soldiers) on the wars (and failed states) these artificial conflicts continually create. I believe in the sovereignty of the nation-state, and the rule of the international laws designed to protect that sovereignty. I support the goal of a creatively involved federal government when it comes to international trade and diplomacy, but support "smaller government" in the expectation that modest and fair taxation can provide a decent social safety net and strong national security - again provided that we free ourselves from the plutocratic domination which moves trillions of taxable dollars to tax havens abroad.
And, for what it's worth, I am passionately "anti-PC" - meaning that free speech entails the right to say things which may make certain groups uncomfortable. I cannot help thinking of a friend's 20 year-old daughter who innocently observed in a college history course that Cleopatra of Egypt was of Macedonian Greek descent - a fact universally known to be true according to overwhelming evidence. However, her observation upset certain African-Americans in the class, who fiercely insisted that Cleopatra was a black African. Rather than objectively bring out the evidence of Cleopatra's documented descent from Alexander the Great's Macedonian general Ptolemy, the teacher took the young woman aside and advised her "not to make trouble."
Legislating against "hate speech" is one thing. Supporting ignorance is another.
I am, in fact, a rather typical American of my generation. I remain proud that my father was with the Fifth Marine division at the battle of Iwo Jima, and that my Irish-born great-grandfather fought for the Union at Gettysburg. I am essentially a middle-of-the-road patriotic American who believes in free speech, free enterprise, freedom of religion, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, whose political heroes are Jefferson, Lincoln, and JFK - and who, oh yes, by the way, thinks it a good idea to return control of the U.S. Treasury to the American people (as constitutionally required) and dismantle the globalist private banking cabal known by the deceptive name of the Federal Reserve.
And I can disagree with fellow Americans about taxes or social issues or whether government is getting too big or too small without demonizing them as traitors.
The wake-up call of this column is to point out that these classic American convictions are now enough to get you put on a government watch-list.
The remedy to our crisis, and the best way forward, I believe, is to remind the American people of the inspiring reality of our history and heritage - and to be willing to fight for it. I took up the cause of the restoration of Chivalry as a meaningful force in the world because these highest and best ideals of humanity (known to many times and places, but inherited in the West as the ideals of knighthood), are also to me the highest and best ideals of America - ideals which I saw embodied in my mother and father as passed on from ancestors who came here in search of freedom.
(Ironically, it seems that "Game of Thrones" fans on both sides of the political divide love Jon Snow because he is almost the only Game of Thrones character who unswervingly embodies the knightly ideals of honor and loyalty.)
The most effective way to win back our freedom is to non-violently withdraw cooperation from the oppressive plutocratic system - a method made clear in Princeton professor Eugene Sharp's classic, "From Dictatorship to Democracy."
Violence simply plays into the hands of the elite, for whom it is a well-documented tactic to plant violent infiltrators in freedom movements to justify a crackdown. With the illegal "controlled opposition" tactics known to history by the name Co-Intel Pro still an ongoing reality, I will quote one well-known anti-globalist who observed, "You can't start a Dandelion Collecting Society in this country without having some infiltrator suggest that you blow up the local library!"
I expect that in the next ten years we are to go through the most difficult days we have seen since the time of Lincoln. I expect that great sacrifice will be necessary to restore freedom and peace. And I believe that we can overcome the grim odds against us if we remember the essence of our heritage. External threats exist, to be sure, but we must look first to our own house:
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
-- Abraham Lincoln
I will be on the road soon, sharing my understanding of the American story, and of the history and values which unite us. I look forward to connecting with Americans from across the political spectrum, of all faiths and all ethnic backgrounds.
"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
- Lincoln's First Inaugural
Michael Henry Dunn