Web Search nikon coolpix digital cameras The Miserable Annals of the Earth: It's all about power

Thursday, May 01, 2014

It's all about power

It's all about power, you see.

To a certain sort of very unpleasant person, anyway.

Power comes from many things; perhaps the greatest triumph of civilization, of law and order, has been to remove power from the hands of the merely strong and numerous, and place it into the hands of the wealthy and influential.  In an uncivilized world, power belongs to those who can physically dominate others; under the rule of law, it belongs to those who can hire and control the means of establishing such dominance.

Once upon a time in America, and other Western lands, only certain sorts of people could become wealthy, and therefore, only certain sorts of people could weild power.

Women could not become wealthy, and therefore, could not become powerful.  Homosexual men could not become wealthy.  And non-whites could not, nor could those who did not publicly profess the established, acceptable religion, Christianity (usually a specific subsect of it).

If you were not a white Christian heterosexual male, well, you might, if fortunate, be in a position to pretend to be one, if you were hypocritical enough to hide your own true beliefs, cunning enough to disguise your own physical or emotional nature, lucky enough to be able to pass.

If not, well, then you could not amass wealth, and you could not become powerful.

Over the course of the 19th and 20th Centuries, people learned how to organize themselves, how to take concerted action, and this gave the previously powerless previously unheard of power (and some wealth).  This is why we got the New Deal, because anarchists (ironically) organized themselves and conducted a campaign of domestic terror until the New Deal was passed.  The poor working class unionized.  When the unfettered capitalist remnants of the Guilded Age were presented with the apparition of an America undergoing its very own October Revolution, they allowed their Congress to pass some sweeping reforms.  Their choice was to watch the countryside go up in flames, and possibly end up marched to whatever the American equivalent of the guillotine might have been.

Since then, progress has marched on.  Women and non-whites have gained the vote and through that vote, some wealth and some power.  Non-Christians have organized their own votes and have managed to gain some wealth, and with those actions, some power.  Even homosexuals have organized themselves, and gained enough wealth, to become a power that others can no longer offend with impunity.

And this is the basis of it.  This is the foundation of every single bit of right wing rage, of conservative anger, of reactionary umbrage, of this deep, heartfelt yearning that the far right feels for a simpler, happier time when a wealthy heterosexual Christian American white man could do whatever the hell he felt like doing without worrying about other people's responses.  He could slap his secretary on the ass, drop cigar ashes on his colored shoe shine boy, and curl his lip derisively at homos, and there wasn't a damn thing any of them could do about it... if they dared to even speak a syllable of protest, he could have them fired, arrested, jailed, committed... even beaten or lynched.

Because he had all the power, and they had none.

That's changed now.  The power is more evenly distributed, and if a conservative, who genuinely believes that his gender, his religion, his ethnicity, his sexual orientation, his nationality, are naturally exceptional and superior to all others, behaves in a way consistent with those beliefs, well, chances are, that behavior will offend someone who does not agree with his presumption of exceptionality and superiority.

That's nothing new.  The behavior of those who presume themselves exceptional and superior has always offended... well, pretty much anyone who wasn't an asshat, actually.

The difference is, in the good old days, the people who weren't entitled, stuck up asshats couldn't do anything about it.  Sure, they were offended by how the wealthy asshats treated them.. but they didn't dare do anything about it.  It was worth their jobs, their livelihoods, their good health, or even their lives, to protest.

Not any more.

Now, if someone offends someone else, you can bet that someone else is going to say something about it.  There may even be unpleasant repercussions for the person giving offense.

Conservatives cannot stand this.  They will not tolerate or abide it.  It is an abridgement of their basic civil rights, their freedom, as affluent and influential asshats, to say and do anything they want without any kind of blowback whatsoever.

Everyone has a right to say stupid and offensive bullshit.  But no one has a right to do it with impunity.

But oh, the right wing thinks it does, just because once upon a time, it could.

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