National Commentary

Surprised by Waco? You Shouldn’t Be

nfbenton-mugWhoa, we didn’t see that one coming! The sudden outburst in Waco, Texas, of a murderous gang war that left nine white men dead and hundreds arrested is one more indicator. Beneath the veneer of the bread and circuses that fill a fantasy life for most of us from our news media to our sophomoric sitcoms to our endless supply of sporting events, is a desperate, fractured reality that we seldom get to see.

This is a nation that has sent hundreds of thousands into meaningless but hellish wars in godforsaken places, that has abandoned its own basic infrastructure in favor of its only growth industries – wars, prisons and stadiums – and that routinely gins up false numbers on the state of well being of the middle class to score political points.

The grotesquely distorted domestic economy, with the ballooning disparity between the accumulation of wealth by the super-rich against the overwhelming majority of our population, is showing signs of reaching a breaking point.

The recent period has been characterized by increasing and systematic violence and murder, whether it is between cops and inner city minority populations or, in the new case, between rival gangs of severely disenfranchised mostly white men.

One can feel overwhelmed, to be paralyzed by the massive extent of so many things that are spinning out of control for the worse.

Do not blame our current president for this. On the contrary, unlike his predecessor, President Obama has not sent our country pellmell into any wars but is doing his best to resolve the ones already underway without succumbing to the relentless pressures of our “military industrial complex” to plunge back in.

Obama has sought to relieve the misery that his predecessor heaped upon the American population. It was George W. Bush who oversaw the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression, one whose consequences are still far from resolved, who looked the other way when a major American city was hit by a hurricane and huge inner city minority neighborhoods were flooded out, and who was indifferent to myriad ways in which the American culture was decaying, all the while kowtowing to his Wall Street and oil producing friends.

Actually, by contrast, President Obama has sought in his own way to introduce a certain decency and revived sense of social morality back into our culture. He has stepped out of the dismal muck of “postmodern” cultural helter-skelter to recall the wider social themes of our nation’s past, all the way back to the key progressive Renaissance and Enlightenment currents that informed what developed into the American revolution.

There has been a failure by the chroniclers of our history to adequately appreciate the extent to which the losers of the American revolution, not just the British but all who saw their advantage in the perpetuation of iron fists against popular will, have dedicated themselves to both undermining the principled grounds from which our revolution was achieved and insuring that nothing like it ever happens again.

It’s a long and grisly history that is largely cloaked behind reductionist sets of false flags and a relentless campaign to smear every moral person and moral act with a disgusting overlay of selfish self-interest and corruption.

Significantly, a paradigm shift occurred over the decade of the 1970s in the wake of the high level assassinations of the 1960s – JFK, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, and Bobby Kennedy – and the incredible covert counterinsurgency effort undertaken against the burgeoning civil rights movement and the public uprising against the Vietnam War.

With the election of Reagan in 1980, the pores of our civil society’s leadership were filled with angry, reactionary activists opposed to the very notion of the government they’d inherited, even though this government was the product of the most impressive people’s revolution in world history.

It’s been downhill ever since, notwithstanding rear-guard efforts to stem a tide that was consolidated with the “Republican revolution” of 1994. That, and a stolen presidential election in 2000, culminated in the two longest wars in U.S. history, the greatest financial crisis perhaps ever, and ongoing criminal income inequality.

Surprised by Waco? You shouldn’t be.