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Sounds of Silence: Reactions to Political Despair

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he Sounds Of Silence: Reactions To Political Despair

By Bernard Weiner

08 December, 2010


Hello darkness, my old friend...

Simon & Garfunkel,

"The Sounds of Silence"

By nature, I'm usually an optimist. I've experienced and studied enough history to understand its cyclical nature and its ability to house enormous positive/negative contradictions. The worst of times can also lead to the best of times. What goes around can come around. Every cloud can have a silver lining. Etc.

But those more positive views are overshadowed these days by a quickly darkening horizon. Hemingway's "shitstorm" has arrived, with a vengeance. As with so many citizens dedicated to positive activism, I am politically discouraged, demoralized, depressed. We want to find solace and hope enough to pull us through the pit of despair yet again, but instead we run headlong into a brick wall of voters' voluntary ignorance, a growing authoritarian fascism, continuing imperialist military policies, an appalling lack of backbone in our leaders, politicians and pundits who brazenly lie and get away with it.

This has happened so often in the past several years that we find ourselves beset by futility, dejection, despondancy. Nothing seems to work to turn our self-destructive system from disaster.

In short, American society seems to be well and truly f'd, with few escape routes evident. Consider just seven examples:


To a significant degree, it doesn't seem to matter which political party is seemingly in control. The dysfunctional rot is so deep, the habitual patterns so ingrained, the lying and manipulation so widespread, the corporate master$ so powerful that meaningful change seems impossible. To them, a little reform-tinkering around the edges is tolerable, but don't even think about major structural reconstructions.

Of course, it's precisely the major structural changes that are absolutely necessary if the U.S. is somehow to avoid catastrophe and emerge back into the light. Similarly, the world must start moving immediately to try to ameliorate the worst aspects of human-caused global climate change before it's too late. Indeed, it may already be too late. CheneyBush, who effectively turned over the Department of Energy to lobbyists for polluting industries, wasted eight long years doing nothing to diminish the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A huge number of Americans know all this in their bones, but feel powerless to do anything about it. They're just happy to get through another week,another month, without falling off the economic or psychological cliffs. Anger and resentment roil beneath the surface,



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