Things Fall Apart: ‘American Exceptionalism’ in The Age of Trump

The Political drama. [A series of caricatures.] - caption: ''John Bull; or, an Englishman's fireside!' In a room an emaciated John Bull is sitting on a chair, shivering; a policeman is outside the window. The subject is the the proposed, ‘Sabbath Bill’, which was set to drastically control activities on the Sabbath.'

20 Jan 2018 | James Porteous | Hawkins Bay Dispatch

It is not difficult to picture people all over the world who might begin each day by casting a mournful gaze to America and wondering whether this nation can survive yet-another One-News-Story-Day.

Whether it is impeachment at any cost, or medical practitioners offering advice on how to cope in this ‘new world’ or the ‘calls for action’ that usually amount to little more than clicking on a virtual checkbox, or the Twitter-storms and shit-storms and actual storm-storms that are obsessively followed like social-media-soap-operas. Who needs ‘real life.’

It is almost as though ”American Exceptionalism” is dead.

It might seem that way because in truth it died a long, long time ago.

But only now are some people finally looking up from their bluescreens or stockmarket tickers or TV screens or wine glasses to see not the new truth, but the old truth. The truth that would have been staring back at them if they had bothered to look up.

Nothing much has changed, really. Well, in truth, much has changed. It is just that most of those things that have changed have not changed in America.

Ever day you can find stories about Chinese investments in Africa and elsewhere. Good or bad, the fact is that they are actually investing  money in rare earth and minerals and such that they -and we- will need if we want to continue our obsessive technologically driven world. In short they are investing, not stealing.

Every day you see stories about nations far and wide who now produce enough solar or other energy to run entire cities – or countries for days or weeks. Or years.

Every day you see stories of people fighting for a democracy they may never have known. Like Americans of old, they are putting their lives on the line so that future generations can at least have a hope of living in a brand new world.

Every day you see stories about defenceless people who are trying to survive in a world of drone strikes, bombing missions and The Endless Senseless War. Innocent people. People like us. No one has to tell them that these are acts of terror, but we tell them they are not carried out by terrorists. Because if we admit that, then we would have to admit that we are the terrorists.

Every day we see the CEO of America sputtering useless crap that can only be designed to act as pabulum for the masses. That this group now includes major media is beyond comprehension.

If this were an abusive marriage people would be calling for an immediate dissolution. The partners would be told to end their co-dependency and stand up for themselves and take responsibility for their lives.

If these were the daily machinations of a foreign country we would be calling for a civil war that would free a chained people.

But we do not see these things. We see only the one reflection that comes to us from each passing mirror or window pane.

We take comfort in the self-assured agony, in the pointless debates on pointless topics, in the proud proclamations of the billionaires and the Davos-crown telling us to look away, look away! Yes, they proudly proclaim, that is a flock of billionaires behind the curtain, but they are good men, just men, fair men. They know, feel and understand your pain. So go back to your tweets. Nothing to see here. Move on.

And the rest of the world has moved on, even those dodging bombs and sanctions and threats of war.

But we cannot expect them to live this life forever. They will eventually get up, stand up, stand up for their rights.

Why wouldn’t they? That is human nature. That is why we are here on this earth.

Otherwise, they would be like us. The very essence of a national, co-dependent relationship.

But you can’t tell people what to do. They have to figure that out for themselves. Sometimes they never do. Sometimes they deserve what they get.

So we need to figure this out for ourselves.

We need to put an end to this horrible, destructive co-dependent relationship and take responsibility for our own lives.

We are running out of time. Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold.

And this centre will not hold for very much longer.

James Porteous


The Second Coming
W. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?



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