A short story from The Collection of Gruesome Inevitabilities, a work in progress.

When Democracy dies—

When we all live in the stink of government highrise tenements — hallways and doorways tagged with smut and gangster graffiti. Meagerly rooms overlooking a squalid city stained in the stench of slaughterhouses and dark-alley bagnios; the view through a grimy kitchen window over a leaky faucet on a rust-stained sink. A squalling baby on a ragged mattress. A hungry, snot-nosed toddler pulling at your pants. The TV blaring some indoctrinating cartoon.

When you’re mired in selfish grief, harboring a strange, slippery sense of longing.

When no one has any more than anyone else and everyone receives the same government stipend called equality. When every cupboard begs for the same meager rations of questionable ingredients. And every evening sees the same laughable economic progress report.

When all you have to look forward to is a repeat of yesterday. Of yesteryear.

When wilderness shrinks to a crowded park in the city center with its symbolic weeping willows. Its koi bloated and floating belly up in a filthy fountain of the reigning leader. Its feculent grounds litter filled with hypodermics, condoms, feces, and doped-up panhandlers rambling incoherently.

When you commute on crammed mass transits, vulgar and laden with the funk of greasy perfumes, warm piss, and the sour sweat of cheap bootleg whiskey.

When “Healthcare,” medications, and vaccinations are mandatory and you’re not allowed to breathe without a mask.

When they analyze your every word, thought, and expression, scouring for any trace of dissent or discontent. And every broadcast, commercial, and billboard airs a subliminal warning: be happy, fulfilled, and loyal to the state.

When your idle time turns to thrumming through mind-numbing games on your spyphone, but you never take time for painful self-reflection or the troubling contemplation of something more than an overshadowed existence.

When finally you’re empty of ambition and devoid of curiosity. When your imagination draws a blank in every corner. When fear and cowardice fuse a bitter taste in your mouth.

When the world turns gray and death resembles a reprieve, you’ll know they’ve won:

Liberty is dead,
and so it is read,
on the Gates of Nevermore.

6 thoughts on “When Democracy Dies

  1. Dear Peter,

    Hello! I have not had a chance to respond to your comment regarding George Carlin, as I am still trying to wade through a number of errands. Grrrrr! So much to do and so little time . . . . .

    Nevertheless, I have taken the time to savour your latest post here, which you have expressed in great vividness of the abject predicament of many devoid of hope and decency. Indeed, democracy is on the wane for sometimes, having supplanted by kakistocracy, which has been looming large in recent years.

    Moreover, whilst Pluto has been demoted to a dwarf planet, the planet of America has already ascended to plutocracy.

    According to Wikipedia:

    Plutocracy (Greek: πλοῦτος, ploutos, ‘wealth’ + κράτος, kratos, ‘rule’) or plutarchy, is a form of oligarchy and defines a society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens. The first known use of the term was in 1631. Unlike systems such as democracy, capitalism, socialism or anarchism, plutocracy is not rooted in an established political philosophy. The concept of plutocracy may be advocated by the wealthy classes of a society in an indirect or surreptitious fashion, though the term itself is almost always used in a pejorative sense.

    Usage
    The term plutocracy is generally used as a pejorative to describe or warn against an undesirable condition. Throughout history, political thinkers such as Winston Churchill, 19th-century French sociologist and historian Alexis de Tocqueville, 19th-century Spanish monarchist Juan Donoso Cortés and today Noam Chomsky have condemned plutocrats for ignoring their social responsibilities, using their power to serve their own purposes and thereby increasing poverty and nurturing class conflict, corrupting societies with greed and hedonism.

    Examples
    Historic examples of plutocracies include the Roman Empire, some city-states in Ancient Greece, the civilization of Carthage, the Italian city-states/merchant republics of Venice, Florence and Genoa, and the pre-World War II Empire of Japan (the zaibatsu). According to Noam Chomsky and Jimmy Carter, the modern day United States resembles a plutocracy, though with democratic forms.

    More from Wikipedia:

    Effects on democracy and society
    Economists Jared Bernstein and Paul Krugman have attacked the concentration of income as variously “unsustainable” and “incompatible” with real democracy. American political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson quote a warning by Greek-Roman historian Plutarch: “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” Some academic researchers have written that the US political system risks drifting towards a form of oligarchy, through the influence of corporations, the wealthy, and other special interest groups.

    Also from Wikipedia:

    United States
    Further information: Income inequality in the United States § Effects on democracy and society
    See also: American upper class and Wealth inequality in the United States

    Some modern historians, politicians, and economists argue that the United States was effectively plutocratic for at least part of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era periods between the end of the Civil War until the beginning of the Great Depression. President Theodore Roosevelt became known as the “trust-buster” for his aggressive use of United States antitrust law, through which he managed to break up such major combinations as the largest railroad and Standard Oil, the largest oil company. According to historian David Burton, “When it came to domestic political concerns, TR’s Bete Noire was the plutocracy.” In his autobiographical account of taking on monopolistic corporations as president, TR recounted

    …we had come to the stage where for our people what was needed was a real democracy; and of all forms of tyranny the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of a plutocracy.

    The underlying opposition is not so much between the Democrats and the Republicans as between the rich plutocrats and the rest of the population. The Democrats need to (re)form their party to unite the 90% of the people living at an entrenched economic and political disadvantage in order to deal with the Plutocrats. In any case, it is going to be a very tall order for Biden to turn things around. It would have been much easier if some Republican senators had been far more honest and incorruptible, for they have been very greedy, uninspired, cowardly and lack criminal, moral and political accountabilities. It is all quite a big mess in danger of getting bigger still. Even a global pandemic still cannot unite folks in the USA and wake them up. Perhaps it will take an even bigger crisis to do so, such as a series of climate change disasters.

    I have been featuring an exemplar of a politician, statesman and chancellor so upright and unflinching in their integrity and honesty that if any of those senators had even just a fraction of his goodness and decency to perform their duties and to go against the former POTUS, the USA would not have sunk to such an intractable, dangerous and protracted quagmire. The upright character of this particular politician, statesman and chancellor has been immortalized in a poem, which is featured and explained in my post entitled Strong Wind Knows Tough Grass” published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2020/11/11/strong-wind-knows-tough-grass/

    This politician, statesman and chancellor had been fired six times and rehired six times, and still he persisted in his upright approach and upstanding ideal. He even surrendered and dedicated his own lands, real estates and military power! If only many more people in the financial, business and political spheres can learn from the upright character that I feature in my said post. In my own words, this historical figure is the personification of enduring loyalty, integrity, bravery and forthrightness achieved with benevolence and righteousness, but without favouritism and transgression. He was certainly not afraid of being fired half a dozen times. And such a person would certainly speak up and oppose corrupt politicians without any fear of losing their job and reputation.

    Happy September to you!

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ll differ on who really got the “quagmire” rolling. We’re past the stage of finger-pointing.

      However, I have zero faith in the current administration whose obstinance enflames and furthers the people’s divide and whose bumbling incompetence can only prove the existence of the Deep State, as Trump claimed. Somebody a little savvier and more diabolical has to be behind this shitshow madness.

      Yes, I entertain conspiracy theories, but some wacko theories turn into grim realities; as we’ve seen lately.

      But please, don’t misunderstand me, I have no faith in Republicans, either. More as a necessary evil. My faith extends no further than myself, and sometimes that falters.

      I view the entire ruling class, with too few exceptions (who happen to be lower-level Republicans), as psychopathic liars and megalomaniacs destructively bent on self-enrichment. Pretty much the same view I have about most people.

      However, I find the Left’s socialist tendencies, if not a downright Marxist agenda, disturbing, and creating an unbridgeable disagreement between fundamental principles that will resolve themselves, not from a climate change disaster, but by war.

      Civil war, with origins leading back to the CCP. It’s how I read the writing on the wall and it’s a damn shame. I hold the people responsible, more than any politician. Our country’s forefathers mistakenly wrote, “…mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable…” And I say the hell they are. It’s more like John Kay sang, “‘Cause the people grew fat and got lazy [cowardly and selfish]” that we find ourselves at this impasse. It was easier just to go with the flow, gathering our insatiable trinkets and baubles, gadgets and doodads. And soon we’ll all pay the price of feckless indulgence.

      Having mentioned the CCP, it’s worth saying, I recognize the difference between the commendable Chinese culture, its admirable people, and their notorious communist party leadership. (I suppose the same can be said of us in the US, yet I’m severely critical of our own.)

      Your essay, Stong Winds Knows Tough Grass, is a delight. I commend you on your vast scholarly knowledge and technical expertise demonstrated on your website. Mostly though, I admire your peerless amiability.

      I’ll get to your “Denouement: Democracy, Education, Legislation & Sustainability” sometime soon.

      Best regards,
      Peter

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Peter,

        It is a delight to read your detailed reply and constructive feedback here. I would indeed be grateful if you could be so kind as to copy and paste your reply to the comment section of my said post entitled “Strong Wind Knows Tough Grass“, to which your esteemed reply clearly pertains and also belongs. Please feel free to expand on your comment if you have additional matters to convey about the post and any salient aspects of its contents. Thank you in anticipation.

        I am still somewhat mentally bathed in your atmospheric writing, which imparts a permeating sensation of an American film noir, defined in Wikipedia as

        a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and motivations. The 1940s and 1950s are generally regarded as the “classic period” of American film noir. Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key, black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Great Depression.

        Your post also reminds me of some neo-noir comics like Frank Miller’s Sin City. It is quite clear that both of us have been rather absorbed in the dystopian rather than the utopian. One of my posts is significantly dystopian. It is one in which I explore the intersections of art and science, of public and private spaces, of the cultural and the technological. Whilst I concede that technology offers enormous unexplored potential allowing emerging artists to express themselves in unprecedented ways, I do have certain concerns and caveats regarding science “reproducing” reality and artists representing it. In this post, I have endeavoured to give a very good inkling of the kind of society that humans might be heading towards. Looking into the future, here is an entry in my sociology, philosophical anthropology and cultural history journal entitled “🎧 Facing the Noise & Music: Playgrounds for Biophobic Citizens 🏗🌁🗼“, published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/facing-the-noise-music-playgrounds-for-biophobic-citizens/

        Pushing forward another 50 years or (much) less, we could indeed end up in the scenario as described in my said post. As you can discover in the said post, there will be plenty of far-reaching ramifications in multiple domains of human life, some of which are irreversible.

        Yours sincerely,
        SoundEagle

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Peter,

    In any case, the best and most dedicated amongst the likes of us are also inveterate teachers of everlasting, transcendental wisdom to save humans from themselves, their self-interests and their destructive ways. I often even have to coin new words to do so. The latest examples are my three neologisms “Misquotation Pandemic“, “Disinformation Polemic” and “Viral Falsity“, as discussed in my extensive and analytical post entitled “💬 Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: 🧠 Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity 🦠“, which you can easily locate at the Home page of my blog.

    In this said post, I have attempted to unpack as much as I can the core issues and fundamental causes that have plagued many folks, whether or not they are victims or perpetrators.

    Speaking of democracy, the last section named “Denouement: Democracy, Education, Legislation & Sustainability” even gives a very dire warning of what humanity is heading towards if there is still no concerted, meaningful and large-scale change for the better. It also provides a multipronged solution to “get humans to cooperate at scale in ways that put in sufficient limits to ensure survival and empowers creativity and freedom to support individuals to do whatever they responsibly choose.”

    I am certainly very curious about what you will make of my said post.

    I have enjoyed reading your excellent post, which definitely deserves some good and long comments from me right here.

    Wishing you another productive weekend doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most, intellectually, spiritually or otherwise!

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    Liked by 1 person

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