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Letters from Downunder

The Doves Have Flown

Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

The grim fact is that we prepare for war like precocious giants
and for peace like retarded pygmies.
Lester Pearson, March 14 1955

(4/2016) It’s not hard to understand why many of you are angry with your government. From here in Australia that institution seems to be broken, with hawks flapping their wings as they appeal to an emasculated electorate. Simplistic sound bites stand in for policy and publicity stunts act as the height of information. When we also learn that education standards are declining and real wages are actually growing less, we note that the staple of your economy, the middle class, are descending the ladder of penury. When 5% have 90% of the wealth it is easy to see why you all want to see a little fair play and decency, clarity and responsibility displayed by the candidates instead of more rehashed drivel.

The choices you face seem impossible, but deal with them you must. It is too easy to throw up your hands in despair and retreat into the quicksands of hope. The reality is that much of the world depends upon you to campaign for sanity and balance, because America is still the framework for democracy upon which countries must build. It will be hard, but much depends on the choices you make. The history of the decline and fall of American politics began in 1789 when your current election system was put in place, and that will not change – but if you could step outside the walls of your country you would see that it requires a far deeper understanding of what was intended than you currently have. The easy road has led to your current quagmire.

Democracy is the opposite of Autocracy, and the real challenges that now face every other democracy puts your current angst to shame. Democracy is also the antagonist of plutocracy; the super rich plan the future for their benefit, not yours. They use every trick in the book to keep you down, and blind you to the reality of their illusions. There was a time back in the 90’s when the rose coloured specs were firmly in place. Russia had been humbled, Vietnam divided, Iraq, Egypt, Syria were quiet about their intent, Myanmar didn’t count, North Korea was too stupid for words, Iran was on side and a golden age of peace and prosperity was about to enter. Democratic Capitalism had proved itself the superior system. Communism in China was morphing into quasi-capitalism, and the great American ego was on stage. We in Australia jumped on the bandwagon, flashed out teeth at the cameras, and became sycophants. We could strut with you. Oh, what a feeling that was.

But then the wheels came loose. The idea of converting autocracies to friendly democracies and making the world benign for civilized mankind was a dream from the hashish pipe. Insurgencies, terror cells, clandestine networks all spread like weeds through the carefully tended garden. It was time to act. Afghanistan, Iraq, then others had to be shown who was boss. The war machine ramped up, the medals gleamed, glory was on parade. Then the wheels started to fall off. The Taliban fought back, nine eleven happened, and Saddam had to be removed. The axis of evil started to fire back, and the glorious west was dumbfounded by their temerity. Russia decided that head bowing was not their way, Putin put in the boot, vassal states were reclaimed.

Autocracies formed alliances. Russia smooched Syria, aided China who protected North Korea. The middle east went mad with indiscriminate annihilation of ‘others’, the Taliban reemerged from Pakistan, and the sorry circus began to spin. America, unprepared, hid this in a fluster of deployments, caught between Afghanistan and Iraq-Syria. Europe reeled at the terror now on their streets. Strike forces struck, and the EU got caught up in caring for humanity as it streamed out of Syria– the only ones willing to do so – and this displacement of people is producing stresses that will reverberate for centuries. The UK is now split between socialist and far right, and may secede from the EU. Russia is undermining Poland’s democracy, and looking to other former occupied lands in which to do the same. Germany is in terrible financial trouble, and fault lines are widening.

Autocracies on one side, us on the other. Will we side with dictatorship, or rule by vote? No matter that poor old democracy is wounded, bandaged, in need of oxygen and oxytocin, (there’s still enough adrenalin) and looking for a clean hospital bed, would you want to be under the dictates of one person and his coterie? Russians find theirs more than acceptable, as their government seems to have their overall interests at heart and Mr. Putin is reestablishing former clout, even greatness. Of course, you dare not disagree openly or vehemently, or try to publish contrary positions.

China aims to reclaim her age old status as an empire without firing a shot, if that is possible. This is the most formidable challenge to democracy of this decade, perhaps this century. There are many in this camp because they live off the trade involved. We do, you do, and the schizophrenia that results is making us a basket case. The result so far is that the ‘free’ world has lurched to the right, because that lot control the media and the armed forces. A cataclysmic collision may be the result.

There is one thing the right have never got right, however: the peace. And you seem to have no choice if that is what you really want. All the front-runners yearn for war. Only Mr. Sanders seems rational, taking in the establishment and highlighting the legacy of plutocracy, which has surely caused the shocking financial imbalance that is lowering your living standards and turning you into wage scrabblers. As well, his message is that of normality, a step back from the madhouse. At the other end of the bell curve lies Mr. Trump, who would love to blow the world apart and you with it. But then, he’s a plutocrat and doesn’t really care about you.

I’m off looking for doves. If I find some I’ll send them over. You are going to need them.

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker