The following essay would be the lead of Vol. 11, No. 4 of A-Clue.Com if it were still an e-mail newsletter. Instead I'm now publishing it on this blog and offering it via RSS and e-mail links found on this blog's main page. Enjoy.
Many people call this karma. I prefer to think my karma runs over your dogma, but it's true. The seeds of your destruction are contained in how you rose to prominence.
In my own case the fall of my income is a direct reflection of its rise in the 1990s. I would much rather write than do anything else, even market myself. I hit a mother lode with Internet Commerce, which I fell into through my work as a business reporter, but when it played out I just drifted into writing about other things, heedless of what the market wanted or my connection to it. My bad.
Everyone knows those cautionary tales of celebrities whose rise was fueled by a drug-induced worldview, and then were felled by a drug overdose. Or the artists who became mere copyists of themselves, creating the same thing over-and-over until it killed them. Or the businessman who cut corners until he cut himself into jail, the ruthless who were ruthlessly put down, the socially conscious who drove their creations into a ground of good intentions.
Well, the same trend holds in American history. The way eras end reflect how they began. The same assumptions that began an era become over-used and destructive when a new era emerges.
- Jacksonian Democracy, north and south balanced by the west, ended when we ran out of west that could be balanced.
- Lincoln's Union, the money power driving all before it, could not deal with the rise of unions, and became inherently corrupt.
- Teddy Roosevelt's Progressivism, a system of incremental change, could not deal with Hoover's Great Depression.
- FDR's Thesis of Unity and liberal experimentation became disunity and chemical experimentation.
So it is today with the Nixon Thesis of Conflict. It was born in a search for enemies, both foreign and domestic. It triumphed with the Cold War, but is ill-equipped to deal with the rise of Political Islam, the challenge of China, or the need to save the planet from global warming and pollution.
In all the previous cases where a Political Thesis reached its sell-by date and a new Crisis came upon us as a result, there were fears that the whole system would fall. These were real fears, with a sound basis in fact. And it is amazing, in retrospect, how close we came, each time, to a system collapse.
In fact, each of these systems did collapse.
- The Civil War did destroy the united States which had previously existed, replacing it with a United states that had one policy, one ideology, and one system of laws.
- The Progressive era did destroy the corporate state which preceded it, creating a new system of checks and balances against corporate power.
- The New Deal did destroy this state in turn, moving the power center of the nation from New York to Washington, D.C.
- And the Nixon era has placed specific behavioral boundaries on all the American people, it has made government the perceived enemy, and it has made unquestioned Nationalism a central value.
(Sometimes we're so unconscious about these things. The old Washington baseball teams were the Senators -- the new one is the Nationals.)