I've always been a sucker for Lawrence of Arabia. Maybe because I was at an impressionable age at that time, and maybe it's because I saw one of the greatest and most influential movies in history. But Thomas Edward Lawrence has always been a talisman for me. He played a critical role in freeing Arabs from the dominance of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, but his aspirations for true Arab freedom were betrayed by the machinations of the Versailles Conference where Lawrence's idealism (and insanity) ran into the buzzsaw of practical European politics.
Most interesting about Lawrence was the fact that he gave up worldwide fame to become an obscure aircraft repairman in the Royal Air Force under an assumed name in the 1920s. I never figured out why this happened, and my wife gave me a novel about Lawrence entitled The Waters of Babylon: A Novel About Lawrence After Arabia by David Stevens.
Frankly, I wasn't totally into it until he wrote his chapters about Afghanistan. Then I was pretty much gobsmacked, because guess what? The Afghanistan he described then is exactly the Afghanistan that NATO forces are in today! And why should the Americans think that they'll do any better at stabilizing that godforsaken country than Alexander the Great and whatever other "conquerers" that followed him for 2500 years?
But I'm not writing about Afghanistan in this blog. I'm writing about the United States of America. I'm going to give you an excerpt from this book that describes an attempted radical makeover of that country by the .00056% of the elite. I don't even know whether this is fact or fiction, but it seems totally appropriate for the times we're living in now, particularly if the Supreme Court overrules the Affordable Care Act.
Every day, it seemed, brought a new and ever more dangerous decree. Amanullah's photograph was to be hung in public buildings, which was as blasphemy to the funadmentalists. No one was required to kiss the amir's ring, which was shocking to the traditional families, an affront to their own authority. The veil was no longer required of women, and girls were ordered to attend school. Polygamy, sanctioned by the holy book, the Koran, was forbidden to government officials. The Sabbath was to be celebrated on Thursday, not Holy Friday. The mullahs, the fount of all religious teaching, the Keepers of the faith, were stripped of their positions of power and packed off to remote monasteries. Even the atheist Russian ambasssador, a hard-liner when it came to social reform, was shocked by the audacity and range of the social changes and cautioned his government against too much generosity to the amir.
"It must explode," Sir Francis told Constance, "All it needs is a match to light the fuse. "
The fuse was lit, but it was a slow one.
And in America, we've seen a Supreme Court ignore total sections of the Constitution to select George W. Bush as president. We've seen the 1% get richer and richer in this recession / depression, while the 99% have seen their income drop. Citizens United v. FEC was a license for the ultrarich to buy and sell democracy at will, and now we're waiting to see what parts of health care will be denied to 40,000,000 Americans after Congress and the executive branch put forward a flawed but viable compromise that would actually do something about an ever growing social and economic problem.
Boys and girls, it's not necessary for me to advocate the violent overthrow of the United States government and the destruction of the middle class. The Koch brothers, the lobbyists, the shills bought and paid for by the Federalist Society, and the con boys of the Supreme Court (among others) are doing a perfectly adequate job of this, and we're all just along for the show as passive observers and commentators.