By way of background for why I am writing this Update, my father fought against the Nazis in World War II. He served in Patton's campaign up from Southern Italy which finally defeated Hitler and Mussolini. I didn't understand this while growing up, but my father's experience and the horrors he saw had a profound and detrimental affect on him for the rest of his life. It also imprinted on me later in life.
FYI, I spent the first 13 years of my life in Hawaii, where white people were the minority race. I had friends from all Asian cultures and, other than my parent's latent bigotry, I didn't know what racism was until I moved to Los Angeles in the early Sixties.
Moreover, during my college years in California, I also developed many gay friends, witnessing first hand the obviously sane reality that gay Americans are no different that heterosexuals, except that they are often kinder - and the absolute best folks you can live near if you want your neighbors to help improve the value of your property!
To add to my diverse and healthy life attitudes, as an adult I spent much of my life reading about World War 2, what led up to it, and what happened afterwards. I read voraciously about the Versaille Treaty, citizen culture in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, Europe in the aftermath of the defeat of the Nazis, and the role American bankers played in facilitating Hitler's rise to power.
As a mature and sane adult, I have worked hard to be responsible, productive, a good husband and father, and a citizen that my son can be proud of and model himself after. I also love the work I do for all of my clients, most of whom I consider friends as well as clients.
That all said, I cannot pretend that our country isn't in deep trouble. For the time being, it is not our weakening middle class economic system that is quickly failing. But almost everything else - at least from the America I want to live in in the future. And I'm not talking about being "liberal" or being a Democrat; I gave the latter up years ago. In fact, if you must know, I would consider myself a fiscal libertarian (except where the private sector has no business in (water, for example). I also consider myself to be a totally sane social liberal, who believes people who are not social liberals are unhappy in their lives and must blame others.
What I am certain about from my vast and long life experience that racism, white supremacy, homophobia, and disregard for others less forturnate than ourselves is the new 21st century American collective mental illness and national dysfunction. And add in our Nation's callous greed, the hate and mass gullibility of the Trump cult, and the Federal and State legislators who abuse Christian values to repress homosexuals, the poor, voters they don't want voting, and (sometimes) women.
All of this National dysfunction is a visible national insanity to anyone that wants to live in a civilized modern society. Which leads up to the topic of this Update.
Now, I know that the topic is is not directly economic or investment focused, but it will certainly end up being an economic disaster if our Nation keeps going down our current uncivilized path.
Here, in my opinion, is what we should be most worried about as Americans:
Donald Trump’s ascendancy in American politics has made visible a plague of deep-seated civic illiteracy, facilitated by a corrupt political system and a contempt for reason that has been decades in the making.
It also points to the failure of civic balance, the undoing of civic culture, the decline of public life, and the erosion of any sense of shared citizenship.
As "market" obsessions and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and our public spheres are being even further downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish - from public schools, non-corporate media, community health care centers for the poor or uninsured, and empathy for the uninsured - there is also a serious erosion of the community, justice, equality, public values and the common good.
At the same time, reason and truth are not simply contested or the subject of informed arguments (as they should be), but wrongly vilified - banished to Trump’s poisonous and mostly bogus world of “fake news.”
Under the Trump administration, sane language has been pillaged, truth and reason almost totally ignored, and words and phrases emptied of any substance (or turned into their opposite), all via the endless production of Trump’s Twitter addiction and the ongoing clown spectacle of paranoid and conspiracy theory right wing media (e.g. Fox News).
This grim reality points to a current failure of civic imagination, political will and open democracy. It is also part of a politics that strips society of any democratic ideals and undermines any understanding of tax-funded education as a public good.
What we are witnessing is not simply a political anarchy used to consolidate power in the hands of the corporate and financial elite, but also a reworking of the very meaning of literacy and education, crucial to what it means to create an informed citizenry and democratic society.
In an age when literacy and thinking become dangerous to the anti-democratic forces now governing most of the commanding economic and cultural institutions of the United States, truth is viewed as a liability, ignorance becomes a virtue, and informed judgments and critical thinking are demeaned and turned into more "fake news."
Under the reign of this now normalized perspective, literacy is regarded with disdain, words are reduced to trash and science is replaced with pseudo-science. Maybe like this Update, traces of critical thought appear more and more at the margins of the culture as ignorance becomes the primary organizing principle of American society.
Now, after a 40-year reign of primarily American neoliberal global dominance, civic culture is being demolished, shared citizenship eroded, self-interest and a survival-of-the-fittest ethos elevated to a national ideal. In addition, language has been militarized, handed over to advertisers, and a political and culturally embarrassing anti-intellectualism is now sanctioned by a white nationalist White House.
And not unlike the cult following of Donald Trump as a political force, we have a celebrity culture that produces an ecosystem of babble, shock and tawdry entertainment. Add in the cruel and clownish anti-public intellectuals who defend inequality and infantile forms of masculinity, and define ignorance and a warrior mentality as part of the natural order, we see the dethroning of any viable sense of national committment.
The current American culture of manufactured illiteracy is also being eproduced through a media apparatus that trades in illusions and the spectacle of violence. Under these circumstances, illiteracy becomes the norm and education becomes central to a version of a zombie politics that functions largely to remove democratic values, social relations and compassion from the ideology, policies and commanding institutions that now control American society.
In this age of manufactured illiteracy, there is more at work than simply an absence of learning, ideas or knowledge. In fact, our Nation's manufactured illiteracy has become a political and educational project central to a growing corporatist American neofascist ideology and set of policies that work to depoliticize people and make them complicitous with the neoliberal and racist political and economic forces that impose misery and suffering upon their lives of those outside the system.
Finally, there is also the workings of a deeply malicious form of 21st century scapegoating and lack of personal responsibility. In our current American moment, the illiteracy, ignorance and blaming others by 50% of American voters can only offer the paving of a path toward a new form of fascism that has descended upon the United States.
I have no doubt that unless we open our eyes quickly, we will continue to morph into our own 21st century American version of 1933 Germany.