Monday, September 13, 2010

Tea Parties and Mad Hatters

Sleeping in a teapot sounds patently uncomfortable.

For the last couple of years, I've been thinking about "Socialism" and the fear and loathing the term brings out in people around my age or older.

I belong to the tail-end of the "Baby Boom" - those of us born in the decade following the termination of hostilities in WWII. We grew up with the spectre of BIG RED hovering over us, sending spies to kill our Kennedys, driving submarines loaded with dreaded nuclear weapons right up the Delaware Bay. FLASH! BANG! DUCK AND COVER!

Yes, I actually was shown that movie in grade school. As ludicrous as it seems now, we were taught to look for fallout shelter signs, taught to duck under our desks and cover our heads with our hands. (As opposed to the more useful sticking your head between your legs and kissing your ass goodbye...)

We were taught to FEAR the great Red Menace - the evil Bear of the Soviet Union - the Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics. The USSR.

We were shown photos of sad-eyed, cold looking children, standing in long lines to get food. We were innundated by the Reader's Digest stories of Russian women who would "wait in any line, not knowing what it was for, just to get something to eat, or maybe to trade". Forced to work in slave-like sweatshop conditions, not given the opportunity to learn or choose their own career paths. Large families living in 2 room apartments, starving in the cold and turning to vodka as the only way to dim the pain of their miserable lives. Living daily in mortal fear of being swept up as a "Dissident" for even looking sideways at a government official or building and carried away mysteriously in the night to frozen hell in Siberia for eternity.

Reading Russian novels didn't make it any less frightening. Believe me. I've read a few. I cannot believe the grim, angst-ridden, hopelessness portrayed.

I've been thinking about this - especially when I see older folks on the news following after the Baggers with signs saying "Keep your Government Hands Off My Social Security/Medicare"

Socialism - Communism - Red Threat - Godless Commies

It all kind of makes sense, if your world-view is stagnated in the Cold War Era and all. Thank you, Tom Clancy.

And I'll be honest here. I don't think there is any way that we can fix that. And Karl Rove knows it. He knows the word "Socialism" hearkens back to those fear-filled news reports with the hidden missle silos and the mushroom clouds and Tom Brokaw and Walter Kronkite intoning gloom and doom and fear.

And now that we don't have the godless Russkies to pick on anymore, the Corporate Powers have decided to pick a new Boogie-man - Muslims. Unfortunately, the folks in the middle east don't play the game the way the Russkies did. It isn't all about fear and assured mutual destruction. The government in Iran is not Moscow - Ahmedinajfuckicantspellit is no Gorbachev. These guys don't just pound the podium with their shoes - they throw them!

And the hell of it all is - I have no answers. I don't know that there ARE any answers. I suppose I should read the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Maybe I can start writing the Rise and Fall of the American Dream....