Yes, I’m back, and on a modestly auspicious day, my __1st birthday. I charge my blog-silence to immersion in the moving of my residence from Cambria to 150 miles southward. I left a lovely place to settle in another lovely place. Lucky me. I hope we, my beloved and me, enjoy it as much as we did Cambria. So, even though we’re still unpacking, here goes…
From Ralph Waldo Emerson’s journals, 1844–1845: “As we read the newspapers, and we see the effrontery with which money & power carry their ends, and ride over honesty & good-meaning, morals & religion seem to become mere shrieking & impotence.” This, sad to say, could have been written today.
And so could this, from Emerson’s1847 journal: “It seems to be settled that no act of honor or benevolence or justice is to be expected from the American Government, but only this. That they will be as wicked as they dare.”
These observations are from Emerson’s journals by way of Charles Simic’s essay, “Summertime,” by way of The New York Review of Books, by way of The Millions, a truly fine and prolific blog.
To the above I’ll add this truth from Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story, “Pigeons”: “It is the wicked who make history.”
Does this mean to give up hope for good government, or even for good corporations? I hope not. Anyway, I’m not recommending giving up hope. Sure, we should foster as much activism toward the good as we can muster. So that if general or specific good does occasionally come from the powerful or the monied, we can be pleasantly surprised.
But don’t count on it, as It runs contrary to all but a few moments in human history.
The thing to do, of course, is try to change this wickedness. By limiting the reach and grasp of government and the free reign of corporate might. The monkey wrench in their works, the sand in their gears, is democracy. How much easier their lives would be without it. So, it would be wise to stay alert to the erosion of democracy, bit by bit, beneath our notice.
Bashevis Singer goes on (in “Pigeons”) to say: “Each generation has its (villains)” and “Villains cannot rest.”
Thomas Jefferson feared the potential power of corporations. He wanted every corporation to be severely limited: they should exist only to sell one product or service, be limited to doing business in one state only, and they should be required to justify their re-licensing every five years.
And Jefferson feared the potential growth and power of government, suggesting that each generation of Americans have another revolution to set matters right that had gone wrong at the hands of those who had come to power.
Such is the danger of even the formerly well-meaning succumbing to the wickedness engendered by power and money.