Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Those rural roots

Dipping into the mailbag today ...

I have to say that the quality of the mail I received on the "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism" series was outstanding. If I'm proud of anything about the blog so far, it's been the first-rate, thoughtful responses I've managed to get. Most of them speak for themselves, so I'll just run them with minimal commentary.

Here's the first of several, from Edward Cowardin:
Just one comment comes to mind regarding your list of "disturbing trends" that are "beginning to coalesce" in regards to fascism. It does seem like all the ingredients for an authoritarian government have now been set out on the counter in full view, even if the actual cooking hasn't started yet -- although Mr. Ashcroft certainly seems to be sporting his apron.

Of all the trends you list, I think the economy could prove to be most dangerous. Op-ed columnists often note how unemployment is a breeding ground for terrorists in the Middle East. They neglect to note that the same holds true for America. Our economy, with its millions of uncounted unemployed, its unprecedented corporate, consumer and government hyper-debt, and its soaring trade deficits, would still be in serious trouble even without 9/11 or Bush's reckless Iraq adventure. Job destruction continues unabated in the USA. Globalization and NAFTA may have been a temporary boon to financiers, CEO's and some of our trading partners, but the new "service" economy bred by transnational corporatism has been a catastrophe for millions of American workers. We have fewer workers making less and fewer farmers farming less. What happens to those economically displaced persons?

Many in rural areas, small towns and cities across America, have lost all hope of ever knowing again the dignity and self-respect that comes from doing skilled work and earning a living wage. These growing numbers of the hopeless and the jobless are especially vulnerable to extremist religious groups and political demagogues. Just as they have been in every period of economic shock and decline.

Besides being a service economy, ours is also an increasingly militaristic economy, teetering toward empire and away from being a republic. And the armed forces offer one of the few avenues left for young people who can't go to college but still hope for upward mobility. Unfortunately, all enlistments don't have happy endings. One enlistee in the first Gulf War was Timothy McVeigh. Like many homegrown terrorists, McVeigh hailed from a depressed rural area where family farms were being replaced by corporate factory farms. His tale, I fear, is a cautionary one.

P.S. I promised earlier that I'd be compiling the "Rush" series in a PDF format, which is still in the works. However, I've decided not to post that until I've really completed the series and can edit the material into a cohesive whole. It's a bit scattered, and badly needs editing right now. Not to mention: After I wrapped it up, I realized that there were at least two more components of my analysis that need exploring further, so I'll probably have a couple of supplemental posts in the next week or two, along with my concluding remarks, which I hope to post in the next day or so. After all of which I will edit the thing down and make a nice PDF file out of it.

Some readers have suggested I try to sell it as a 'mini-book' -- it actually stands now at about 25,000 words, which is the usual length for such a thing -- but I'd be skeptical of its chances of finding a publisher. Most likely I will test the waters of selling it as a PDF 'mini-book' through an Amazon box. In any case, regular readers here, if nothing else, get to watch a work in progress of sorts.

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