Anastasia Basil; Anastasia, from this outsider’s perspective, America reads like a horror story. I see little that is great about it’s socio-political-economic model. What I do see is so much heart in ordinary everyday human resilience, from the stories I read, it crushes my own.
Reading this, I was reminded of something Allan Bloom wrote some thirty odd years ago, in his book “The Closing of the American Mind” ;
“At worst, I fear that spiritual entropy or an evaporation of the soul’s boiling blood is taking place, a fear that Nietzsche thought justified and made the center of all his thought. He argued that the spirit’s bow was being unbent and risked being permanently unstrung. Its activity, he believed, comes from culture, and the decay of culture meant not only the decay of man in this culture but the decay of man simply. This is the crisis he tried to face resolutely: the very existence of man as man, as a noble being, depended on him and on men like him — so he thought. He may not have been right, but his case looks stronger all the time. At all events, the impression of natural savagery that Americans used to make was deceptive. It was only relative to the impression made by the Europeans. Today’s select students know so much less, are so much more cut off from the tradition, are so much slacker intellectually, that they make their predecessors look like prodigies of culture.”
I quote this, not in its larger context of elite university education, as much as it’s reference to the ‘evaporation of the soul…’ which is sourced first in the body politic, in its very basic abandonment of dignity, in favour of productivity or a bottom line, when the individual is reduced to an abstraction of labour or citizenry. American conservatism very clearly co-opts this kind of socialised abstraction to validate its own idea of ethical citizenry, whereby it can sidestep any kind of conscionable governance in the name of the people, preferring infrastructures that are the mainstay of their preferred notion of entitled ‘class-preservation’. This landscape of impoverishment, alluded to by Bloom in the above quote, prevails worse than ever. It’s gone beyond the inference of a ‘moral deficit’.
It is not just the literal economic impoverishment of nourishment by food stamps, it’s the corrosive mindset underpinning the ideals of so-called ‘freedom’, in which America embeds its national identity, that makes the relisience of the individual fight for basic dignity, day to day, to me, so bloody extraordinary.
The real tragedy is political-social-economic leadership blindness to the fact that there is no shame in poverty, only shame in allowing the world to be poorer for the talent denied by it.