Saturday, August 15, 2009

Raising a "ruckus"

I wish I knew exactly what the Fox News ticker read but I did see "town meetings" and " 'ruckus' " under, I think, Bill O'Reilly who was smiling like a jackass eating bumblebees. He seemed to think that the uncivil chaos he and others like him are fomenting is funny. A joke. It isn't; as a matter of fact one of the synonyms for 'ruckus' is 'rumble' and that word has a direct equivalent in the Russian language: 'pogrom'. It is the diminuitive form of 'grom' which means 'thunder', 'roar' or 'uproar'. The reason the Czar's cossacks, militias and hooligans used the diminuitive form of the noun was because they thought it was fun, funny, to mob the Jews' villages and 'raise a little ruckus'. Those little 'ruckuses', left unchecked, became a tradition that led to the infamous kristalnacht of 1938 in Nazi Germany.

One might think that example is taking the mobbing of town hall meetings too far, but I don't think it is. After all, that style forum has always been one of the most defining examples of American-style democracy—where neighbors gathered and let their elected leaders know what they really think in a 'civil' manner. Some synonyms for 'civil' are: 'accommodating, affable, cordial, courteous, diplomatic, gracious, and mannerly.'

There have always been issues that were hotly debated locally, but nothing like the generalized discord and hate being demonstrated nationally has ever been seen before. And it couldn't be possible if there weren't founts of misinformation and disinformation available instantly, and nationally. Those sources are, for the most part, talk radio and cable television. Mostly uneducated gurus of the masses who have never studied beyond high school can count on their relative ignorance and raise the spectral straw man of 'socialism' and depend on a shrieking choral response. Glenn Beck is the paradigm of those gurus. If those people knew the history of socialism, and why it came about, they would be pleasantly surprised at the millions of lives which were raised out of virtual slavery and saved from preternaturally early deaths.

Karl Marx's fellow philosopher partner Friedrick Engels was the son of a billionaire industrialist whose fortune depended on the labor of children as young as eight who worked 14 hours a day, six days a week, in the coal mines that fired the furnaces of his father and his plutocrat friends. It was Marx and Engels who wrote Das Kapital, the book that described that world, put it to shame, and changed the course of history. The capitalists, Wall Street, who caused the first World Wide Depression of 1929, and put the world in the present hurt locker, defamed Marx, Engels and their book so it is easy to scare the pants off people who know nothing about Socialism or its history. We only have to go back to the 1950s and Joseph McCarthy to see how easy it is to stir up hysteria by raising a spectre. That time it was Communism. This time it is Socialism. But the same sorts of minds are at work raising the straw men and working the people to a froth.

If you live long enough to get to see everything twice. There was once a cartoon strip called 'Pogo' and it starred a wise and endearing little possum who could see through the follies of all the mostly political blustering and ranting that went on around him. Probably the most famous strip ever penned was the one whose last panel read: 'We have met the enemy and he is us.'

That's my rant for the day. Thank your for your support.

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