Monday, March 21, 2016

DEDICATION VS ASPIRATION


The difference between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is clear. Donald Trump represents individualist America. This is the America of Horatio Alger (1832-1899), which peaked during the previous Golden Age of the American elite. Bernie Sanders represents a return to the New Deal America of Franklin Roosevelt. That America was responding to the deep economic divide created by the Great Depression which followed the Golden Age and the subsequent devastation of World War I. Hillary Clinton represents the status quo, a comfortable place for the bourgeoisie who support her. 

Digging a little deeper than political propaganda reveals the process of the daily world on the ground in the U.S.. Alienation and selfishness are evident in any public urban space. Despite political correctness fostered by corporate media, real human beings are not connecting in any meaningful way in the public spaces of America. Strangers on public transport do not interact. Pedestrians on sidewalks meander into the path of the oncoming without regard, People push past in crowds without any effort to excuse their aggression. 

Dissatisfaction with the social environment in the U.S. is countered in media with a clear message that aspiring to great wealth is the answer. Insulating oneself with property and money is sold as the defense against the inevitable decline of civility. Comfy SUV's sell because they are mobile bubbles through the ruins of infrastructure and the hassle of overcrowding. 

Selling aspiration to material excess is big business because unenlightened people are insatiably greedy. Oprah Winfrey's touted scores of luxury real estate purchases represent the American Dream for those who don't know better. Donald Trump knows this. His rallies are filled with the ignorant and frustrated, not the educated and healthy.

I was raised by poor children of Roosevelt's New Deal. They had known deep deprivation and fear. They had lived in substandard housing. They had experienced hunger. They had worked as children. Yet, they had deep social consciences. They had experienced the power of societal cohesion as a method to social improvement. Their hard work for their neighborhood and community yielded them decent lives.

Fascism and the forces which mobilized Americans in the New Deal were somewhat similar, just as Stalinist collectivism and German fascism were similar. The defining difference between Roosevelt's indoctrination and the indoctrination of Hitler or Stalin was the purpose of that indoctrination. Roosevelt was true to the better nature of the American ideal: Equal prosperity for all individuals through cooperative work by mobilizing the individual's dedication to that ideal. Stalin and Hitler were selling aspiration through fear to build an idealized nation state with power to dominate and eventually produce trickle-down prosperity to the masses. 

Today's emerging generations have been fed a diet of individualist aspiration, not dedication to social causes. Even the realm of non-profits has been merged with celebrity entrepreneurship. The concept of simply doing a good job at whatever you do for the sake of self and social improvement has been lost in our educational systems. Hard physical labor is demeaned or greedily controlled by unions whose missions have become distorted by corrupt leadership. The resulting deterioration of our public infrastructure and public spaces is obvious. 

Individual aspirations and social dedication are not mutually exclusive, despite attempts by greedy capitalists to make them so. But narrowing individual aspirations to greed for individual material wealth throughout a society excludes any hope for a peaceful and cooperative culture within that society. Americans would do well to teach their children dedication to social well being over aspiration to the newest and latest material distraction.


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