The Self Aware Society
By Silas Rose Feb 21st, 2021
Reminiscent of the burning of the Reichstag in 1933, the attack on the Washington Capitol on January 6th was a potent reminder that unlike the buildings that house the institutions of government the Republic is not set in stone.
America is no stranger to painful periods of soul searching and inner turmoil. A haunting legacy of slavery is impossible to reconcile with the inspirational values of a nation that Ronald Reagan once proudly proclaimed as the shining city upon a hill.
155 years after the southern states lost the civil war the conflict over the cultural narrative of America has gone nuclear. What is at stake now is democracy itself.
The big lie
Truth is often the first casualty of war. This is how demagogues seize power. No amount of wealth, diplomacy or military power can effectively defend against what the Nazi propagandist Joesph Goebbels called the big lie.
‘If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.’
It doesn’t really matter what the lie is, so long as others are willing to repeat it. The goal is not deception, but compliance or in Trump’s language, loyalty.
Healing a divided nation after the blunt trauma of Trumpism will not be easy without first restoring the shared truths that made America such a beacon of hope.
At this point in history when free nations around the globe are falling under the spell of despotism and climate change threatens our very existence we could use some hope.
Like Rocky Balboa in the boxing ring, no matter how bloodied and beaten down, America has always managed to regain its composure, stand up and take another hit for the cause of freedom.
The Republic is not the realized nation imagined by its framers, but it must succeed, not as a metaphysical saviour, but as an example of a self aware society.
‘You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.’
Defending the great experiment against future domestic attacks depends on ordinary citizens turning inward, rather than turning to the past to find strength. Moral courage is needed to face what William S Burroughs called The Naked Lunch, the grotesque and profane reality on full display like a great feast.
White supremacy is undeniably ugly, but before we push it back into the shadows lets take another look. The fight of our generation is to reconcile with the unreconcilable – the darkest of human impulses that promote racist and hateful ideologies as self interest.