A House Divided

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Posted by farid from customer-148-233-71-28.uninet.net.mx ( on Monday, August 18, 2003 at 1:12PM :

Republicans figured out the political benefits of dividing Americans into two camps some time ago...those who were with them and those who weren't...only they didn't call them the Loyal Opposition or even the "other side"...they called them "Un"...Unamerican. Decades later enough Americans believe their country has been infiltrated by a fifth column, subversive psuedo-Americans looking and sounding almost like them but with detectible differences in their taste for music, sex, culture etc...a not-so-secret society of deviants bent on ruining the country from within, selling it out to foreign interests...in other words "enemies", or the devil...living right here among the good folk, attending the same schools, sometimes even teaching in them...working at your side...living in your neighborhood, maybe even marrying your sons and daughters.

The pressure was great on Abraham Lincoln to seek reparations and punish the "other side" at the end of the Civil War. After all the Rebels had certainly acted the part of enemies. They'd killed Americans intent on preserving the Union, they'd burned crops and cities, caused inflation and then depression of the economy and if they'd have won no doubt they would have meted out some form of punishment to the Northerners who, from the South's point of view, brought the nation to civil war by trying to make anti-slavery the law of the land and then refusing to allow the Southern States their constitutional right to secede from the Union...forcing the South to go to war to protect its enviable lifestyle..."pass the mint-julep, nigger".

In his famous "A House Divided" speech Lincoln expressed the obvious...that a nation divided against itself was on a shakey foundation...that trying to govern a country split into two sullen factions each blaming the other for ills perceived and carrying their grudges to the grave and beyond, like fifty million Hatfields and McCoys, would be prey to all sorts of mischief down the road so that old wounds might not only never heal but get infected and cause real and permanent damage, even death. It was only twenty years, just enough time to breed another generation of young soldiers, between World Wars in Europe, the second one brought on largely because of the intolerable conditions placed upon Germany. That kind of mass, collective punishment of millions of already defeated people can drive them to desperation and make victims of those who so recently thought they'd won a war to end all wars.

Lincoln resisted the all too human tendency toward revenge, which many in his own party and cabinet, as well as the country, were clamoring for because he was President of a Nation, not a faction, not a handful of CEO's...but of the People, of ALL the people. That was what they'd just fought the single most bloody war in American history over...because they did'nt want to become separate nations living side by side.

It's a dangerous precedent, this Unamerican business. It might win you some elections, get rid of the competition for awhile, but in the long run it begins the process of dividing people into camps and factions, of getting them to fight each other and suspect their neighbors regardless of what they do to the ship of state. They come to believe the body-politic is infected and nearing its deathbed anyway (this is one good reason the Repubs have aligned themselves with the Idiot Religious Right...because nothing makes fanatics, especially political fanatics, out of people like a God), so why not an all out push, drastic measures, to bring it back to health and rid it of the pernicious bugs that are making it sick. This is made all the easier when Americans begin to look like all sorts of "other" people...people who at one time and again just recently, were perceived by the white majority as inferior, or exotic and therefore subversive anyway..."Darkies", "Foreigners", Muslims and such. Thus, with no real enemies in sight (people who despise your despicable policies because they suffer them aren't enemies, they are angry victims), Americans are looking at each other with increasing suspicion and like all empires before them, will crumble and fold from within...because Empire breeds its own sickness, always. Empire, as Mark Twain sadly noted, is Unamerican, or it should be... and yet the attraction seems irresistible because of the short-range benefits to a powerful few.

And, while we're at it, it's inaccurate to say that corporations rule the country, as if the rank and file were pulling the strings. Those who work in corporations, including the ones near the very top who may be the last ones to get screwed by the CEO, are merely servants, some of them well paid for a few years. Corporations don't influence politics, their Boards and the heads of the Boards do the influencing...the buying...the stealing...the selling out. There aren't even any family corporations left any more, ones with a sense of tradition and continuity...a sense of responsibility towards their communities, even if it is patronizing. John D, Mellon, Carnegie...these were all blood sucking bastards...but they had a sense that their wealth could only endure if the people at the bottom benefitted somehow, beyond their piddling wages.

Today's corporation isn't presided over by the two guys who started it in their basement...or it isn't for long. They are ruled by people who take them over...leverage them, buy them out and with the shortest most narrow agendas...to make as much money as fast as possible and in any way they can...even if it means cutting up and selling the assets and employees for scrap. They take their buy-outs and golden parachutes and options and move on to the next business and the next. These aren't "Corporate Heads...these are barbarians who sweep through, take whatever can be moved, burn the rest and go looking for more. They have no allegence to their employees, their stock holders, not even to the Boards that hire them or, in the end, to their nation...knowing they can be dumped at any time, they seek only to increase short term dividends, to protect their jobs, while they sniff around to see what can be legally stollen.

These individuals...and there aren't that many of them...buy and sell our democracy, but only because we let them and soon, if we aren't careful, they'll change our Constitution so there will be no legal way to put them back where they belong.

And when the air turns foul they'll just go live somewhere else. They can afford it by then.

-- farid
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