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Abandon hope all ye who enter here…?

Dante's Inferno - Thieves

Dante’s Inferno –  “The Thieves” – Gustavo Doré

“Many decades from now, a historian looking at where America lost its way could use This Town as a primary source.” — Fareed Zakaria

And so we have arrived at the bizarre juncture where it makes more sense for Mr Obama to talk to the leader of Iran than to talk to Congress. Edward Luce – Financial Times

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been reading Mark Leibovich’s book, This Town, which is a tragicomic, insider’s trek around the astounding frivolity of Washington’s wall to wall corruption. An extraordinary book: not a don’t know whether to laugh or to cry kind of book, but more like a don’t know whether to laugh or to vomit kind of book.

Since reading it, I have found myself facing some sort of “writer’s block”, when trying to comment on the day to day march of world affairs… this lack of enthusiasm is heightened daily while surveying the Tea Party led march to a budget Armageddon. This political Dumb and Dumber would be sad enough if it were occurring in today’s Rome, for example (it is actually) but in a place like Washington, which today wields more power than ancient Rome did, I’m reminded of Caligula making his horse a senator … actually I much more reminded of the corruption and dysfunction of the Gorbachev to Yeltsin period of  the dying USSR, where they proved out the ancient adage, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

In many countries, the level of political dysfunction of the American system would produce a coup d’ état, something which would appear unthinkable in such a huge, complex structure as America’s — I don’t say it is impossible because of the USA’s democratic traditions or institutions, witness the activities of the NSA, Guantanamo and drone warfare — No, it just seems too big a place to pull something like that off.

Really, the only hopeful sign I have seen lately that the USA might be able to regenerate itself has been the sudden, unexpected, spontaneous, one for all and all for one, mobilization of American public opinion, a people’s revolt both on the left and on the right, over the heads of the lobbies, the heads of the gatekeepers and the heads of other managers of consensus, against any military involvement in Syria. Perhaps such a wave of revulsion is building up around America’s systemic political meltdown and the people will rise up as one to change it.

Someone who believes in democracy has a right to hope that Americans can reboot their country from the ground up. It certainly is never going to happen from the top down.

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David Seaton

David Seaton