Monday, April 18, 2016
With liberty and justice for all
As a Christian, I also confess adherence to the Orthodox faith, which is something I did not make up, so that others will know what to expect of me. As a citizen, I also admit to being a Republican, which is something I did not make up, so that my fellow citizens can know what I stand for.
As for my Orthodoxy, that is not too ambiguous. Anyone who wants to know in specific what I believe, they can ask me, or go to an encyclopedia and look it up. I do not deviate any more from what the books say than anyone else; Orthodoxy is a flexible faith, allowing for diversity—within limits.
As for my Republicanism, ah, well, that is not quite so easy. My precinct card says I am a Republican, and I can vote in the primaries of the ‘grand, old party,’ but no one, it seems, knows anymore what Republican means. Opponents have colored it one way, adherents in confusion color it another.
Just as I can tell you, simply and briefly, that being Orthodox means, following Jesus in the company and by the example of the saints who have gone before, period, so also I can tell you, that being Republican means, following the enlightenment tradition of ‘live and let live’ and keeping honest accounts, bingo!
I am also a Greek, not by physical descent—I am one hundred per cent Polish-American—but by ‘thinking like a Greek.’ No, that doesn’t mean I have gyros, ouzo, and partying on my mind—though I do cry easily—but that I believe in the basic goodness of humanity, in reason, and in the ‘polis.’
The polis—that is the ancient Greek democracy of the city-state—may be an ideal that can never be perfectly attained—that’s asking for paradise on earth, but nevertheless even without knowing it, anyone who has a political thought in their brain is trying to reach that ideal, each in their own way.
The French, always in our faces with their superior accomplishments, believe in ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité,’ and that is something, I believe, most people would agree with—less the French way of achieving it, by chopping off the heads of kings and queens and other suspicious folks, even milkmaids!
The great experiment launched by the American Revolution in whose shadow we are living now, which produced a sublime document set—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—released into the world, like Pandora’s Box, a plethora of polis-seeding and polis-slaying ideas.
But the polis, and democracy, that kingless city where everyone is truly wise and self-ruled, productive and generous, defenseless because there is no enemy, which is what all true revolutionaries—people whose motivation is first and foremost, love—have lived and died for, is still the goal, is still attainable.
Not by what we see today as politics, which is an abuse of the word. Politics should be all that pertains to the founding, maintenance, and defense of the polis. Instead, it now means, in actual practice, all that pertains to the personal glory and power of closet-monarchs, little emperors, some not so little.
We hear of countries that are under military dictatorships, and we pride ourselves that our country isn’t. We hear of coups-d’état and shudder, ‘Thank God, we have regular elections.’ Our dictatorships have been so subtly woven into the fabric of ‘constitutionality’ that we don’t see them. Our coups, the same.
What we have is actually worse than a military dictatorship. We have a dictatorship of politicians, of people who have almost no other agenda than to outdo each other in bold trampling of reason and human rights, who refashion language itself by their unanimous co-conspiracy to divy and conquer.
Carefully avoiding the externals of profoundly prophetic literary dystopias like 1984, Brave New World, and Animal Farm, the politicians have cleverly rerouted our democracy to a path of gradual devolution—feudalism trending toward slavery—by adjusting language, making it impossible to think, or speak, freely.
We all know the name for this co-conspiracy. It is called ‘political correctness.’ Everything about it was foreseen by the author of the novel 1984. In that society, language was gradually diminished, words jettisoned completely, or their meanings changed, ‘Newspeak’ replaced ‘oldspeak’ making thought impossible.
In America we are gearing up for our next ‘revolution,’ for that is what a general election is, especially one in which a new President will be chosen. Like what happens before a great battle, the opponents are drawing to their sides their supporters, whose battle this isn’t, though they’re the willing tools.
Republicans and Democrats, the two major parties, know in advance that the crown will go to one of them—which one of them, it almost doesn’t matter, not to them, not to the man in the street. They’ve neutralized any real opposition by making it impossible for an ordinary citizen to attain the office.
This is the end of the polis, of democracy, and it didn’t just happen this time round, nor two or three decades ago. When the ordinary citizen, whose philanthropy motivates him to come forward and volunteer to be a civil servant—one who serves the polis, the people—no more happens, it’s all over.
And it has been all over—I challenge anyone to deny it, though the proof one way or the other is not by argument—for a very long time. Political science, even taught as it was at university when I was there forty years ago, insisted that the polis was impossible when a state has grown as large as the United States.
I said to myself then, as I do now, ‘Really? The polis, real democracy, is finished? I don’t think so.’ Like the money-changers that Christ drove out of the Temple, the politicians who have changed our liberties into political correctness, taking the business of self-government out of our hands, must be driven out.
But you cannot fight fire with fire. A politician isn’t going to make one iota of difference, no matter how he cajoles the people, his promises will be nothing more than pious rhetoric. Only non-politicians—not lawyers, unless they forget they’re lawyers, but physicians, educators, machinists, farmers, pastors, fathers and, yes, mothers who, after fulfilling their calling in society and their responsibility to family, are qualified to serve the people, the polis, and revive the democracy, the Republic, ‘one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’
at 8:08 PM