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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Doomed to Repeat

America's "forgotten" masses voted for Trump in addition to the party-liners. The party-liners have a blind sort of faith in the Republican party despite years of gutting the social programs that put America back to work after the 1929 Crash and the Dust Bowl devastation*. It is the "forgotten" American white majority that is angry about being left out of "the process". These are the people who voted him in because they are sick of feeling marginalized. When industrial disasters happen no one comes to their aid and they are in economically depressed areas so they can not help themselves. When natural disasters happen no one pays attention in the American media unless it impacts the wealthy Vacation regions. One could say the battle between the North and the South has never really and truly ended since the Civil War. It is a cultural clash that continues. The Geographical distinction is an illusion. The forgotten masses who are being discussed now, those who feel vindicated and believe the Candidate Elect will lead them into a new era of prosperity that will lift them up as no other administration has have something in common with the Southerners of old that is irrespective of geography. They refuse to learn history.

In truth, they refuse to learn anything. I live in a city that is regarded as highly progressive in the northern growing region of Michigan when it comes to importing and establishing "culture". We have been known as the artistic hub of Northern Michigan for a decades, currently we are a foodie town, host an international film festival, can boast a city plan for walkability that is nearing completion, and have begun the installation of "all the coolest toys" that modern technology can bring us. We are the number one vacation spot in various print media and our Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce have done a great deal to replace the fabrication industry with tourism. The problem with this is that it leaves behind the indigenous farm people. The vestiges of our agricultural industry who have always values self sufficiency and hard work, the land and its bounty above books and "learnin" do not have a clear or stable place in our community. It is the same here in 2016 as it was in Appalachia in the late1800s when minerals in the ground that could be used for steel and other manufacturing processes became more important that the minerals in the ground that grow food.

The Agriculturalist portion of our population has always placed education second to providing food. School has been sacrificed for planting and harvesting or the various hunting seasons for boys. Even into this era, the children of those children, in a vast majority, bemoan the need for school when they have strong backs and work ethics. As I grew up I was surrounded by people who always wondered "why I gotta learn this?" Despite plentiful food in the grocery stores there is a prevalent feeling that education is pointless. The emphasis on working hard also means playing hard and education just gets in the way. The least schooling a person can get by on the better. Because there are "more important things than books."

I experienced it in my own family, in my school and very recently and almost militantly, in the workplace. When one refuses to learn or make time for math one is easily victimized by skimming when others settle your books. When one refuses to learn or make time for reading above one's grade levels then one is easily victimized by purposely confusing language and the small print. When one refuses to learn history, including the aggrandized version of the victor, then one is doomed to repeat it. If that meant repeating the prosperity of England under Elizabeth I, Christians and Muslims under Suleman I in the Ottoman Empire, or of Charles I in Central Europe, then that would be one thing. Very often though the failure to learn from history and to see its patterns results in the abject slavery of a populace by those who hold the economic reigns be it a monarch, his ministers or the Pope himself.

Education is meant to elevate us from our most basic impulses as much as spirituality. Education intends for us to think before we speak, react and to see further down the road than the next meal. Education is a tool of prosperity. So when you see where the depressed school systems are you should be asking yourself, "who is not meant to prosper here?" Underfunded schools are underfunded for a reason, not all of which is clear to me. But in general, if you keep your masses under educated you can control them with fear and intimidation. And you can pit them against others who could lead them out of their backwards thinking and challenge you. When you see someone who refuses to learn I think we need to ask ourselves if they deserve the prosperity that they bray about not having.

The forgotten in this election would turn the clock back on American Life to an era in which they feel comfort and power and voted that way. It won't work out any better for them by taking away from people who have worked hard to learn, to adapt to the world that has been established than it did by sticking their head in the sand these last 80 years. The established government and economic climate isn't going to work for them. It is only going to use them as it has always used them, to get votes and pay taxes. You see, they have voted for an industrial barron. Without the education that they have stoutly  refused to avail themselves of they have not noticed the fine print in the Make America Great Again slogan.

America was built by robber barons. Industrialists stole ideas, products and patents from other industrialists to rise to supremacy in business. This is after they stole land, mineral and water rights from the established landowners of generations of farmers and small businessmen just like the Forgotten. They stole these things with the fine print writing of lawyers and with the education that they took advantage of. The loose laws written in the industrial revolution had holes you could drive a bus through. So they took advantage of the holes, got all they could then closed the hole behind them so that no one else could prosper in quite the same way. The Robber Barons who built the glimmering cities of America stole the health and prosperity of various regions in this country then dribbled back their gains as slave wages, poisoned water and air, Donora is a classic example. In one famous incident and entire city was drowned for the sake of  John Henry Frick's car. The compensation for damages? Andrew Carnegie, his business partner, on whose behalf but without explicit permission Frick was working, built 10,000 libraries across America.

The people that America is accused of forgetting know the struggles through tales of rage and fury passed down from one generation to the next about the evils of industry and the distorted views of angry people. It comes in the form of rage and hatred for people who are different than them, for people whose politics are different from them and a hate of government because they have been encouraged to believe that government is the problem. Our government has never been the problem for these people... the educated industrialist with greed in his heart has always been the problem. Even for Kings and Khans, the men who run the operations are the ones who are the real power. They are smart men, shrewd in thought and motive. But they are unknown as a classification because we have forgotten their nature. They are praised in history as the founders of our current reality. But we are taught nothing anymore of the reality in which they prospered. We are not taught about the decline of American culture resting at the base of their corporate headquarters. We aren't taught that kind of history and that history is not being pursued because we are too busy surviving. We are too busy reviling education and exulting mindless hardwork The only way to combat them is with the same education that the forgotten disdain. Education is the best weapon.

It doesn't have to be a college education. The man who improves himself through reading on a subject from a variety of sources is sometimes better equipped than the man who reads only what is in his college syllabus. The man who goes to vocational school to learn a trade can be paid well enough to teach himself if only he is willing. Formal education teaches you what those who have established our society want us to know, which is very little about very much. General education is really only good for providing you with a menu of things to learn that when school is through you will have to become the expert on by yourself. That is precisely why college is getting harder and harder to come by. The more Americans, any populace, focuses on the daily aspect of life, their immediate reality they less willing they are to look at the big picture; the less able they are to see the truth... education, schooled or self taught, humanities or practical vocations, is the only thing that is going to elevate a suffering people under the hand of the new generation of robber barons.

To know them is to defeat them. It is the most basic rule of warfare. The most basic rule of life is that if you don't learn from history (i.e your mistakes) then you will be doomed to repeat it.

*The Dust Bowl years were a direct result of the blatant disregard for the order of natural cause and effect and the doubling down of industrial agricultural practices without regulation from the Federal Government or thought to the consequences of the practices of the time. The focus was on profit and economics. "Making the country go." so that people have taxable income and can participate in "the system" without thought to the consequences lead to stripping the land of the plants that hold top soil, stripping the nutrients from the top soil which requires artificial nutrients to keep "farming" the same patch of land, which then eliminates the natural predators of the natural predators to the crops which necessitates pesticide use which leaches into water supplies which undermines shoreline stability which the leads to massive flooding when the rains do come. The Dust Bowl haboobs were not the last of the South's worries. Massive flooding along the rivers and tributaries of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers were the next disaster to hit Central and Southern United States. And no one paid attention to it until the comfortable Northern States were discomforted. The idea the south and the "under class" citizens have been forgotten has been festering for a long time.

The Dust Bowl is a good example of a distinction that I think is being blurred in the current post campaign climate. The "Forgotten" haven't been forgotten. They have been ignored or marginalized.

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