Missive the Forty-Third


Old Body Politic
Was about to Blow.


DATELINE: Wednesday, December 13, 2000, at 1415 hours CDT.
Conway, Arkansas, USA


By D. Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles
CornDancer & Company



Saturday last was one of the most agitated days in the history of the Republic's Body Politic. Like an over-stoked steam engine in the bowels of a leaky old boat, Florida was about to blow and splinter, burn and sink. Dame Reason was going down with the ship.

No wonder the supreme justices in D.C. stepped-in to quell the counting of ballots. Their motivation wasn't political, but merciful. That's what Pollyanna told us over tea last midnight. The judges were heading-off a social insurrection sure to ignite before nightfall.

You think I'm full of it, do you? "First boat, then ship: Next you'll be telling us the wheels were coming off, the joints of the national mosaic were breaking apart, some other lame mixed metaphor to support your lust for riot and mayhem," the dissenter-turned-mocker mutters from his toehold in the foyer of our discourse. "Florida wasn't going to blow. Even if the rowdies would have pushed and shoved one another on the marble steps of Tallahassee, burned a stack of ballots in Miami, so what? Who outside the diminishing host of political junkies actually cares about this electoral gulfweed?"

Fie your cynical smugness! I think my theory of impending riot and bedlam is true enough to float on the thin surface of instant judgment.

To borrow a phrase from Caleb Cushing, late of Massachusetts, a "desperado spirit" swooped down upon Florida and began to spread like a contagion.

Hundreds of Thousands Die
To Vanquish the Desperado.

"Will not anarchy in half be anarchy in the whole?" Mr. Cushing asked in 1840. He was inviting attention to one more burning issue among the many to undermine unity in the run-up to the Civil War between the States. The collective weight of discord a century and a half ago eventually became too heavy for the Republic to bear. They had to kill one another by the hundreds of thousands before the desperado spirit was vanquished.

The U.S.A. is immune to that kind of destruction now, much too vested in materialism to let the rabble destroy the accouterments of abundance. The State is too strong and trigger happy to allow a revolutionary movement to survive past infancy. Why revolt when there's a chicken in every pot, a TV in every bedroom, cars in the driveways, and cash in the account?

The analysts: "We are a country evenly divided, split down the middle."

Give Half to the One, Half to the Other.

"And the king said, Bring me a sword," the unknown author of I Kings, a book of the Old Testament, wrote long ago. "And they brought a sword before the king, and the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other."

If there is such an oddity as the even division, then why are the hundred million who give a damn about the Body Politic split so evenly, so evenly split? Right off, I'd blame someone else. I'd say it's a conspiracy by the rich to keep the poor folk down on the farm, trapped in the ghetto. The one percent who control ninety percent of the material wealth want to keep it that way. The more aggressively the masses snarl and slap at one another, the easier it remains for the elite to retain their privilege.

In that case, it's an uneven division, jagged and shifting and impossible to grasp. It's a trick to keep the peons off balance and falling into their daily abyss.

"What about boredom?" the mistress of the hacienda asks. "The elite are hungry for crass melodrama. They write the script, choose the actors. We watch and boo, watch and cheer, watch and wonder at their audacity, their stylish wardrobes, the splendors of the set."

Why did the Body Politic's failure to reach the expected conclusion at the appointed time happen?

Burgers and Rails, Fries and Bales. Character.

Maybe it's because too many people stumble through the day in a chronic sense of oxygen depletion caused by the general state of sedentary employment. Decisive action is too difficult when the psyche labours to breathe. An incessant stargazing into picture tubes and oscillating screens muddles the distinction between content and advertisement. I can't imagine that flipping cow burgers and tossing fried potatoes build character to the depth and stability engendered by the splitting of rails and toting of bales.

Maybe it's because the outbreak of computers are shooting us through with so many billions of excited photons that we can't think straight.

"That's my excuse," the passerby said, having overheard the admonition. "I'm full of excited photons."

What mad impulse stirred Mr. Gore to take back his concession speech on a rainy night in Nashville some weeks ago? Why did the Vice-President of these United States stop in his tracks on the wet Tennessee boulevard, ring-up Mr. Bush in Texas in the deepest dark of night, retract his concession, and race back to headquarters so he could launch a second campaign for the Big House?

It's not partisanship, rancor, the charge and countercharge: They've been a part of the process since the git-go.

Mr. Gore, You're No Andrew Jackson.

Was it the sting of rejection by voters in his political backyard that fired Mr. Gore's dogged resolve? Mr. Dole, the loser in the Presidential Election of 1996, is fond of pointing out "that the Vice-President couldn't even win the vote in his home state." Nor did Tennessean Andy Jackson in 1832. The old General won the Presidency in a landslide, however, and after a season forgave his home state for its temerity.

Perhaps Mr. Gore slipped on the edge of a dimensional shift and fell into an alternate universe for a moment. Reports are circulating coast-to-coast that one moved through Nashville that night of November 7, 2000. When Mr. Gore lurched back into the fray, dazed perhaps, he carried with him a secret insight from the other side. He thought it wondrous enough to carry him to triumph.

Steam engines do blow. A riverboat attached to one will split asunder, burn, and sink 'neath the torrent. In Florida on Saturday, in the public places where the county government bureaucrats and party operatives gathered to sort through ballots, to divine intent and adjust the count, a ball of hotting steam was knotting in the stomach of the Body Politic; the inappropriate mixing of the ulcerous bile and the boiler room heaviness was driving them to distraction, to fits of disconnected judgment; by darkfall it was gonna implode, ooze, catalyze, expand, and blow.

If politics fails the majority of thinkers and doers, what system of secular faith shall grant them social salvation?

Dark Matter, Black Holes,
Warp Drives, Worm Holes.

Science, at one time mysterious and grand, previously elevated to primacy by its sense of industrial invention and ingenious domestic gadgetry, rose to hubris in the awesome destructive power of its physics, then fell into secular conformity. Today science is the safe harbour for the status quo, an exercise of the grant grabber and weapons maker. It is absorbed into the pop culture of dark matter and black hole cosmology, of warp drives and worm holes. It is bowdlerized by screen fictions and co-opted by the hangers-on in the laboratories of the Academy.

Religion is debased, impotent. The Church, which religion engulfs in the guise of denomination and cult, is merely a shell and a shadow.

The High Church of the Lutheran and Episcopalian is vapid and timid, socially correct and worldly. The plebian body of the Baptist and Methodist is a domain of post-modern Sadducees devoted to secular power and self-righteous protection of the dumbed-down sheep. The nondenominational, charismatic right is contentious and dogmatic, unstable and prone to the chasing of doctrinal trends. In all respects and all venues, the Protestant Elders are consumed by the affairs of the world.

Judaism and Islam are opposite sides of a tarnished coin, desperate and nationalistic, constrictive and galvanized. Buddhism and Zen are detached and dreamy. Roman Catholicism, a corrupt transnational corporate state devoted solely unto itself, is an unwieldy body, fractured by mystery schools and cults of the saints, by orders warring against orders, relic by relic and edict by edict.

A New Secular Redeemer Arises.

In the death throes of the Church, at the dead-end alleys of Science, beside the ruins of the Body Politic arises a new secular redeemer. It is potent and seductive, alternately druggy and swift. It comes fully vested with patrons and avatars to fill the void in the hearts of the secular penitents.

Ascendant over all is the Entertainment-Pharmaceutical Axis, underpinned by Big Business and sustained by a hundred and fifty million acolytes of the God Mars.

Apolitical worshippers of athletic heroes and brand names, of pop stars and techno-wizards, these are the merry materialists of the Age of Dissolution. They are the tyrannical majority, the citizen become consumer. In a blaze of plastic glory, they fulfill desire upon hot desire at the trough of the franchise and the credit card. They give all due praise to the idols of sports teams and recording studios. On their altars stand the graven images of mascots and logos.

The stock market and the stadium supplant the legislature and the precinct; the most valuable player rules over the saint; and the drugs are diligent to defeat every malady.

A 200-year struggle against the labor and productivity of the tradesman and farmer, the mechanic and artisan, is won by the forces of capital wealth. The New Nobility of the Corporate Debt Holder live as kings and queens on the labor of the many.

Founded on deception and protected by the apparatus of the state, Incorporated Capital has attained primacy in the power structure of the Republic. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and Long Life the Wonder Drug are the nouveau trinity of secular salvation. All praise to the Federal Reserve!




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