George Rebane: Farewell unity
The calls for unity over the last years have fallen on deaf ears, most likely because they sound neither sincere nor feasible.
There is no need to recount the history of our country’s polarization, now widened to a chasm. Those who care and have kept track know it, and the rest of our neighbors don’t appear to concern themselves much about the shared animosity that is firmly entrenched in our public square.
Yet we continue to hear virtuous sounding appeals, almost all from the Left, to adopt the plaintive “Why can’t we all just get along?” uttered by the once-famous philosopher Rodney King.
Most of us know there is more to getting along than having the desire. People who have a long history of distrust and distaste for the other need first to share some objective or purpose for breaching the chasm before anyone will start looking for workable paths through that common ground.
Today, our country is divided into two distinct ideological camps that each total at least half of Americans. The remainder are those indifferent, ignorant or claiming to be “above politics.”
As the late Charles Krauthammer reminded us, no one in a liberal free society should be above politics, for it is only in that arena that we discover and practice the means to stay together. In short, all communal life is bonded with the glue of politics, often understood as “the art of the possible.”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late senator from New York, made famous the shibboleth that you can have your own opinions, but not your own facts. After two generations of leftward-bound public education, the reality of that wisdom has long passed by the board.
In our divided land people now hold not only their own opinions, but also their own facts, history, logic, causality, sense of justice, fairness, equity, equality, racism … all which define their worlds and worldviews. Moreover, their windows on the world are distinct in the sense that they are chosen to confirm and vindicate their worldviews.
All serious, as opposed to specious, calls for unity should begin with a clear definition of the kind of world we want to achieve in common. As a conservetarian, the world order I want for my children is made up of liberal sovereign nation-states living and trading in peace, working together on big projects such as reaching for the stars, while learning best practices of governance from each other.
I also want America to remain the shining city on the hill with an inviting culture that honors our best traditions, rewards meritocracy, promotes the individual, prudently regulated capitalism, and opportunity for all its citizens under a constitutionally minimalist government. Today the general contours of such a future are shared by at least half of Americans, those who gather on our country’s Right.
However, our neighbors of the Left work feverishly for a diametrically opposite world order, one in which humanity is joined under a strong and over-arching global government run by elites, and which has collected the former nation-states into well-ordered and compliant “socialist republics.”
In these, individualism is curbed in favor of cooperative class membership. Peace among the classes is maintained through tightly regulated principles of equity used to enforce equal outcomes for all classes regardless of their contributions to the common weal. In such a world, Marxist collectivism is the guiding principle for correct thought and public policy — “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
Our Left sees a sovereign capitalist America as the main obstacle to such a world order. Therefore, the political business at hand for them is to fundamentally transform America into a compliant peerage on the world’s geo-strategic stage. And that must be achieved in a post-constitutional America through domestic policies designed to demonstrate collectivist leadership by visibly abolishing what the Left has identified as our country’s systemic racism and a culture of white supremacy.
The monitored metrics for this achievement will be class equity and correct thought in all aspects of public life.
Given these radically opposite futures that today divide us, any serious call for reunification as a nation, in my humble opinion, must first and foremost recognize and address the need to define a single America acceptable to the great majority of us. All else is smoke and subterfuge to distract us on our current road to autocracy. Without that we bid farewell to unity, and then what?
George Rebane is a retired systems scientist in Nevada County and hosts Rebane’s Ruminations.
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