|Summer of Discontent||
23 June 2020
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
As the astronomical summer in the northern hemisphere officially begins, it is clear that two main issues are going to define the season. On the one hand, there is a continuing pandemic that is only just beginning to get its teeth into the human race. On the other, there are tensions within the species based on minute variations in the human genome that are genetically meaningless, that is the social construct of race. Both have uncovered the weaknesses in Ronald Reagan's vision of America. That vision is dead and awaiting burial, and what follows has yet to become clear.
When it comes to the pandemic, the rugged individual building his or her own little empire by the sweat of one's own brow just is not so, and it never was. The Covid-19 virus infects without care. If a host is available, it takes advantage of that. This is where homo sapiens social nature is most visible. As John Locke noted, the freedom of one person's fist ends where the nose of another begins. When one person is infected, that person acts as a reservoir potentially infecting others. The actions of that person can affect the health of others. Personal responsibility is a part of freedom that many Americans fail to understand let alone accept.
One can continue to build an empire of whatever sort, but one's actions do affect others. Engaging in activities that expose others to the virus is harmful. Avoiding those activities and doing things to reduce the risk of exposure is just the opposite. That is going to be the basis of the post-Reagan consensus. Freedom when limited by the rights of others is not a new concept, but it will be more important than in the past.
The other factor is race relations. Inequality based on skin tone has been part of American culture since the first European settlements were founded. At the time, equality was not a social value many people held in their hearts or heads. By the time Thomas Jefferson wrote that "all men are created equal," chattel slavery had been the basis of the American economy for more than 150 years. The long and short of it is that racial equality is a relatively new ambition, and there is not much of a road map on how to get there.
That said, there is some small gounds for optimism in that a great many people who have been protesting against racially-based police abuse of citizens are not members of ethnic minorities. In other words, there is an acceptance of the concept of racial equality far in excess of whatever has gone before. The difficulty is going to be illustrating that giving one group their full rights does not deny any other group anything. As the saying goes, it is not pie. More for one does not mean less for another.
That said, equality can be achieved in two ways, leveling up or leveling down. Totalitarian equality is hardly an ideal. The privileges of the wealthy white male merely need extending to others. The right to be stopped by the police and not fear for one's life springs to mind. Having access to decent food, healthcare and education come under this heading. Of course, some of this is going to cost money.
America's future, if it is to have one, is going to have to look more like Northern Europe's present. Freedom of speech and assembly mean little to a person who is starving or sick. Taking care of those needs for everyone are a pre-requisite for everyone enjoying freedom to the fullest.
Getting there is going to be messy. And the chaos has begun.
© Copyright 2020 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.