For reasons I do not understand, I happen to be on the Democratic Party email list for donors. Several times per day, I receive notes demanding money. If I give $7, I could get a phone call from Joe Biden! Also, if I cough up for this or that candidate, the party will be well-positioned to spend many trillions more of tax dollars and then fund a police-state operation to seize more money from the American middle class. This way we can save the planet, or something.
It’s tedious or terrifying, depending on one’s mood at the moment. What’s most striking is the complete lack of self-awareness. They are throwing out all settled principles of fiscal responsibility, all embedded values over privacy and property, all concern for constitutional limitations on the state, all science and rationality, all in the pursuit of some wild ideological vision that they share but overwhelming numbers of the rest of the thinking public reject.
How does this happen? For one thing, they happen to have all the power now: Presidency, Senate, and House. They know that this happened for anomalous reasons mostly due to a divisive election and mail-in voting that was made permissible due to irrational disease panic whipped up by national media. Presto, they captured the big prize. They know they will hold this gold ring only for a few more months. They are making the best of it.
You can almost imagine the movie. The main villain blows up the museum and unleashes every manor of chaos in the streets. Then he looks into the camera and says: “I call this my Inflation Reduction Act.”
Also center stage in American life today is the first-ever federal police raid of a former president’s private residency, searching a private safe, personal closets, and more, taking passports and other documents. All we seem to know is that this is related to materials that the National Archives and Justice Department believe are classified and therefore should be in their possession. Still, the whole thing smells of brutal politics, not democracy but ancient-world stuff.
All of this happens as we close the chapter on the virus, a time when the government complied with the New York Times’ exhortation to “go medieval” on the virus by violating everyone’s rights and abolishing their liberties in the name of a futile effort to stop pathogenic spread. It has left massive destruction in its wake. We are in or close to recession plus inflation for this very reason.
In other words, this point in American history is the perfect storm of chaos that fundamentally threatens every core value of the country, and every core postulate of basic humane values. It’s the destructionist phase.
A good friend of mine, an extraordinary historian, is wedded to the worldview of David Hume. There is no meta-narrative to history, no big themes, no sweeping tendencies, much less mystical tendencies at work. Stuff just happens. We slog from thing to thing, age to age, learn some things along the way while forgetting more, and gradually cobble together a workable life.
The final stage is obviously the most dangerous. This is when the ideological elites, and any poor schlubs they happened to have recruited to their cause, seek revenge on the world they tried to reformulate and mold into their vision. Now they hate the place and seek revenge on all the things and people who made them look ridiculous. At this point, all decency and morality are thrown out the window. There is only one goal: to destroy. They develop a death wish for anything and anyone who opposes them.
We might be at this stage of American history. Think about all the ideologies loose on the land that have gone wrong for many decades now. All the claims to improve the world through top-down coercion have failed. Most recently, the war on the virus was a stunning flop and it left massive destruction and chaos in its wake. The schemers and plotters behind that may have gotten rich but the public is furious beyond description.
Instead, we are in a protracted battle for the soul of man. It’s sad to watch, truly pathetic and often terrifying. Such is the final stage of the evolution of ideology and its implementation. Once you see that now it is all about destruction, you cannot unsee it. The question now is how we go about stopping it.