Friday, July 18, 2008
I once knew a bright young man who worked very hard. He worked so hard, and was so bright and so on top of things that he became indispensible to the company he worked for. Then, after, he had worked for that company for ten years, he walked across the street and opened his own office, and took half that company's accounts with him.
You might say he was a revolutionary, in his own way.
The Roman aristocrat Octavian was that kind of very bright, very young man when, as Augustus Caesar, he dispatched and eulogized the Roman Republic. Actually, what Augustus did was more just a burial; the dysfunctional, gangster-ridden republic had already been dead for some time. In its place, Augustus erected the military dictatorship we know as the Roman Empire.
Al Gore made a public and well-publicized energy policy statement yesterday. Not young any more but still very bright, Gore pitched a dramatically rational proposal stressing the need to replace a petroleum-based economy with an electricity-based one with all due haste. He made clear why we can delay this necessary conversion no longer.
It is Al Gore, not Barack Obama, who will bring change to this country. Revolutionary change. And the Obama administration will find his authority -- moral and intellectual -- indispensible.
Gore will rule without having obtained his authority through this country's degraded, corrupted, and moribund joke of an elections system. However, this in itself is not particularly revolutionary, since co-rulers have been exercising power through several of the last few administrations without ever having been elected. Who ever voted for Karl Rove, for example?
What is revolutionary is Gore's commitment to the truth as he sincerely understands it. This makes him the exact opposite of the system whose very existence he haughtily refuses to even acknowledge, commonly known as the American political system. The fundamental characteristics of this system are stupidity and frivolity, expressed as televised sound bytes, buzz phrases, and corny quips producing giggles. It has nothing to do with democracy.
He's perfect for the role he's about to assume -- a rich, overweight aristocrat who absolutely refuses to defer to the immaturity and silliness of the network pundits, or the spin of editorial-page writers, or the hysterical barking of fascist personal-attack artists, or the evil mustard gas mutterings of vampires like Charles Krauthammer, or even the dity money of corporate lobbyists. His attitude seems to say "There's no time for that stuff."
Reactionaries fear the truth more than anything. Truth is a fire that lights revolutions, and illuminates the dark corners of privilege and corruption, and the even darker corners of the minds of the members of our ruling class, which largely consists of Neanderthals like Senator Phil Gramm.
Update: Bob Herbert's column this morning (7/19) is on the Gore inititiative. A sample paragraph:
When exactly was it that the U.S. became a can’t-do society? It wasn’t at the very beginning when 13 ragamuffin colonies went to war against the world’s mightiest empire. It wasn’t during World War II when Japan and Nazi Germany had to be fought simultaneously. It wasn’t in the postwar period that gave us the Marshall Plan and a robust G.I. Bill and the interstate highway system and the space program and the civil rights movement and the women’s movement and the greatest society the world had ever known.
When was it?
Now we can’t even lift New Orleans off its knees.