Early Winter 2004


Our Oval Office Squatter Wrangles Four Year Lease from Lazy Landlords


by Alexander Swartwout

America is the greatest damned mass of foolish, ignorant peasantry the world has ever produced. Not once before in the human race's mutable existence has there been a nation of such monumental idiocy; and what's more astounding is that history has given these dopes self-determination. In the exercise of this self-determination, America (if we are not so skeptical but as to actually believe the tally) has chosen to let George W. Bush lead it for another four critical years, and we are at once given a demonstration of our extraordinary mass moronism, and of the stunning depth of our ancestors' genius.

Now it might seem to go against my famous tempered humanity to say such a thing as this—to argue that I, in fact, know better than sixty million American citizens. How can I, you ask, call the whole race stupid and still claim to admire it as a humanist must? Well, this is exactly what I am arguing. I do know better than the lot of you: it is my occupation to do so, it is the singular reason that I have taken up the mantle of public philosopher. I know that the sensible choice this Tuesday past would have been to exterminate the presidency of Mr. Bush, and to every one of those who cast their vote for this outcome, I offer that you are a buffoon and an intellectual stumblebum, if you love your country and your species. But unlike the rest of my punditious colleagues, who will be reeling for months once they have finally summoned the muster to resume their work, I will not dwell on the outcome. You are idiots, all, but there is method to it—and it is my job, also, to understand this.

Under such circumstances as our nation today finds itself—where the immense mass of citizens are half-educated ingrates, where the people are completely cut off from their own experience of the wider world by the extraordinary power of technology and informative media, where religion and superstition have filled the mushy minds of an entire generation of frightened recluses—under such circumstances as these, how are we to celebrate the idea of democracy, how are we to wish for the rule of the majority, when indeed the majority is not fit to rule themselves? Msrs. Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and the rest have devised just such a conundrum into their marvelous political equation. The democracy they built was designed to destroy itself, and this week it has accomplished just that.

A free man, as the philosophers of the eighteenth century perceived him, could do and say what he pleases, so long as he does not adversely affect his neighbors; a free man may look and think as he likes, so long as he does not cause physical harm to his surroundings. But the American people have had enough of this freedom—and so they have granted it into the hands of Mr. Bush's cabal. Indeed, Mr. Bush is compelled to realize his agenda in the name of ‘freedom;' and yet Mr. bin Laden is compelled by the same thing. Each want their people to be free and unharassed, and each is prepared to scorch the earth and enslave their own native dissenters to accomplish it. Such freedom is dubious at best, where it comes at the cost of another's.

George W. Bush is the embodiment of the end of just rule by the people. This is not to say that he was not justly elected—regardless of the means of his ascendance, he represents the last figure to be freely chosen by the American electorate, because under his continued administration, we shall cease to be free as the framers defined it. This is because Mr. Bush's handlers and political philosophers believe they know better than the people—as surely as I do. And yet where I know better from the privacy of my den or the quietude of my tower, and harmlessly make my announcements in ink and pencil, the Republican demagogues are determined to exercise their superiority by legislating the behavior of the citizenry. They shall determine what is legal and illegal to say and do; they shall legislate how we are able to take care of ourselves physically and economically; they shall determine where we live and how we die, by pulling the strings of money and manipulating the very material of the natural world. They will do this because the population is stupid, and in their stupidity, the population desires it, and registered this desire, by a great effort of their overweight and overtired persons, in the boobytrapped funhouses that our polling-places have been allowed to become. The population, in a democratic fashion, has chosen to demolish the democratic republic. Jefferson would have had it just the same way—it is the genius of the democratic model after all—though perhaps he would have been more proud to see it last a bit longer. Still, he knew that when an electorate becomes too ill-informed and too weakly-equipped to uphold its duty to itself, it shall earn and it shall receive the government it wants, and the relevance of his constitution would quietly dissolve.

To the portion of us who didn't think it was quite time to destroy our democracy, and who attended the polls hoping to demonstrate at the least our desire to prolong our society's descent into medievalism, this might seem like a horrible tragedy; but we must acknowledge that we are outnumbered by rubes, and that the only way the human race might ever enjoy the fruits of freedom and the pleasure of human enlightenment again is to tear down what is ruined and rebuild it. The mistake we have made to this point is to think that this election is so important; to believe that these four years might make all the difference. In truth, the demise of our society is much more deep-rooted. George W. Bush is the newest embodiment, the most fully realized embodiment, of this degradation, but he is not a novel monster just come out of the void. The majority of the citizens of this country are not capable of liberty. We reside today in their country.

And so four-year terms are not the units of history. History is slow and grand and great, and we are victimized by our own impatience in believing it can be steered around a bend as sharp as one single November. We must recognize the cycles of human history for the large sweeping arcs that they are, and know that ever since the Founding Fathers established our society by the light of European intellectual development, the cycle of history has been swinging away in the opposite direction. Perhaps we have come to the apogee of human enlightenment in the superstitious reign of Junior Bush; or perhaps we are doomed to go still further. Regardless, we ought to look and realize that the change we seek is one that will only come over the course of generations, of centuries, through the birth and death of nations and the rise and fall of great ideas. In the near term we shall lose our liberty, we shall be robbed of our human rights, and we shall see our nation turned into a kingdom of misguided divinity. We have little choice, as individuals, but to stop ‘fighting for it,' and begin fighting against it. For it is no longer a democracy, it is no longer the seat of freedom. America is the world's most dangerous nest of superstition and religious intolerance; the most sharp-fanged enemy to true intellectual and personal liberty; and the most seductive chimera of opportunity and promise. This country is not any longer Jefferson's noble resurrection of Athens; it is the modern Saudi Arabia of Christendom, the refuge of crusaders and bigots and fearmongers.

Until now, we have been content or deluded in believing that our democracy was intact, and that in spite of its flaws, it was a self-healing mechanism. Imagine what you might be feeling today in a land governed by the Senator from Massachusetts. Is everything better? Is the urgency gone? Is the crisis passed, and the world, astonishingly, recovered? You might likely feel these sensations, but of course you would be perfectly deluded to the reality. Our society and our system are maimed by our sloth, our intellectual impotence, and our lack of concern or sympathy. And the only mechanism built into our system of governance to repair it under such conditions is not a healing one, but a self-destructive one. All that remains in our country of Jeffersonian democracy and Enlightenment secularism is the memory of the ideal, and it is this that we are charged with carrying forth and planting anew; it is this that those of us who know better, or know other, are obliged to give our lives to. The pendulum of history does not brush us briefly in our youth—it collides with us and demolishes our tranquility, and forces us to dedicate our whole existence to it. If you perhaps thought a few months of activism would straighten out the world, you have this week met the truth of the profundity of the human dilemma. We are a century from the nearest conceivable renaissance of reason and humanism, and in proportion to our own anemia, its date of arrival outstrips us.

Our pride or our optimism or our slumbering reason has until now prevented us from realizing that we reside in an utterly dark age and in the land from which that darkness emanates. Science and reason and sense are nearly vanished from our society, and the great majority desire to be ruled by fear of the supernatural, ignorance, intolerance, and blindness. The majority of our countrymen are content to wage war for its own sake, they are content to annihilate populations unlike their own, they are content to be relieved of the responsibility for being human. They are content to lean back and let a mysterious, wrathful God govern their fate, and to dictate what is right and wrong. They are content, in short, to give away their liberty and become slaves of idiotic ideology, and in so doing to abandon the legacy of their country's founders. The United States is only the same nation it was in name; but it is not that country of hope and opportunity and possibility and absolute human freedom anymore. And it has not been this for some time—the great gift Mr. Bush might have given to us in his victory is a clear, long overdue picture of our country as the unlikely enemy of true human freedom. The last thing our democracy was ever meant to do was bring the hammer down upon itself. There the shards of our enlightened society will lay until enough members of an enlightened generation can be summoned to rebuild it. Until then, those of us who know better have nothing to do but to fight that shadowy thing that now stands in our old nation's place.

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