Politics is Not the Solution: Or The Problem of Power

Right now there is a crisis in America, and I don’t just mean the pandemic. There is a clash of cultures going on, one which prizes empowerment of the disenfranchised and another which prizes profits over people.

One side claims that government regulations are the only way to curb irresponsible overreach by corporations. Government regulations keep us safe from pollution and climate change and ensure equity and fairness for the less fortunate in the community and those who live on the margins of WASP society. The other side claims that the first side just wants a socialist nightmare where the government controls every aspect of life.

Socialism and capitalism have been at war for over a century, and the only casualties so far have been the working poor, the oppressed, and other social minority groups. Even when environmental or other types of regulations are passed, small businesses suffer to live up to these regulations while large corporations are able to buy their way out of the rules.

It is no secret that there exists one set of rules for the super-rich and another set of rules for you and me. The solution, it would seem, would be to imitate Europe, tax the super-rich into nonexistence, and institute a socialist state, one in which equity and fairness for all could be ensured at the cost of individual choice. In short, if you won’t play by our rules, you don’t get to play at all.

Unfortunately, I fear the redistribution of wealth would only bring about a super-powerful government with powers unlimited by the Constitution or the petty demands of the little people.

Once again, the rich and powerful would clamber to the top on the backs of the poor. It seems to be the way of things.

Another possible solution would be armed revolt, as exemplified in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. If America itself were to undergo an armed socialist insurrection, what power on Earth would be able to intervene? It wouldn’t be like the communist revolutions in the Third World, where the CIA was able to use its influence to sabotage socialist movements, assassinate leaders, or install puppet regimes. Who could stop such a revolution?

Possibly the rest of the world. Or possibly no one. What would be the outcome? I’ve no earthly idea.

But if armed revolt fall to the same bane of compromise and corruption as peaceful, diplomatic strategies for social change, what then is left for those of us who still want to effect the improvement of our shining blue marble?

A great philosopher once said that is not enough to bash in heads. You have to bash in minds. But how do you win hearts and minds? Christian missionaries have been asking this question for over 2000 years. Too often, the answer we’ve come up with has been beating people until they concede the point. That answer is no longer acceptable.

But art and literature can touch us in ways no weapon can. If we devote ourselves to inspiring others, to spreading knowledge and sharing our wisdom, we have no choice but to prevail. It’s not a glamorous route. We run the risk of being mocked, hated, or worst of all ignored. But it seems to me the only sure avenue of success.

Words, sounds, pictures, and constructions can succeed where bullets and berating fail.

So write your writing. Draw your drawing. Make the world better by being in it.

And vote. Because there’s no reason not to have a backup plan.

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