Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Welcome Back to the Middle Ages

Thoughts on the election result, number 1.

Many historical comparisons have been made to illuminate our nation's dismaying slide deeper and deeper into Bushdom. The case for the religio-conservatives' takeover constituting a type of protofascism is plausibly made by Orcinus, among others. The transformation of the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire, with its subsequent decline, is another common analogy.

My view is that America is in the process of changing from a modern, secular, information-age republic to a kind of anachronistic, high-tech medieval republic, and perhaps eventually to a high-tech medieval kingdom. Just consider all the elements from the glorious middle ages that, thanks to the G.O.P. and its fundamentalist base, we have reinstituted in the 21st century:
  • A society in which the throne, the church and the military are the most important institutions and are closely intertwined.
  • A ruler chosen by dynastic succession whose "legitimacy" rests not on his abilities or deeds, but on perceived divine anointing.
  • A small class of extraordinarily wealthy and powerful property owners -- the nobles -- who enjoy the favor of the ruler and who control the lives of the rest of the populace.
  • A huge group of subjects -- peasants, serfs, etc. -- who toil for the property owners, have little say over the way their lives are run, and face economic conscription to fight the ruler's wars, yet accept their lot willingly because they believe it is divine will.
  • A militaristic, crusade-oriented approach to foreign diplomacy.
  • Deep, unthinking religious devotion and a powerful disdain for rationalism and learning except when confined to cloistered corners of society.
So, welcome back to the middle ages! Time to start work on a cathedral, I guess. Need some stone?

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