The Republican Party has gone mad, and the feckless Democrats are all that stands between American democracy and the abyss. But Joe Biden is a throwback. And like all throwbacks in a position of power at a time of crisis, he’s dangerous.
Yes, Donald Trump was a bigger and much more malevolent throwback. Whether his perverse presidency was a constitutional collapse averted, or a prelude to ‘legal’ tyranny depends on whether enough Americans adequately address the rot in the body politic as a whole, now.
That means indicting Trump and a raft of his co-conspirators for the coup he tried to mount before and after the January 6 Capitol riot. (The ‘insurrection’ wouldn’t have succeeded even if the mob had succeeded in its intention to “hang Mike Pence,” but Trump would be in jail, where he belongs, rather than continuing to incite violence at his wretched rallies.)
Besides holding Trump and his co-conspirators accountable however, we have to deal with the joker we have.
America now has the worst of both worlds at the border – thousands of Haitian and other desperate people packed together under a freeway because they believe they’ll be allowed into the USA under the Biden Administration, while Biden continues with Trump’s inhumane treatment and worse…men on horseback herding people like cattle.
Biden’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan, which he still touts as a success, proved that when it comes down to it, America abandons its allies, and slaughters families with its drones on its way out.
France, America’s oldest and truest ally (Britain became our lapdog under Blair), recalled its ambassador for the first time in the history of American-French relations. The French speak of the Biden Administration’s “lies,” “duplicity,” “brutality” and “contempt,” and say they see no substantive difference between Biden and Trump.
Meanwhile, China and Russia sit back and laugh, believing they are winning the ideological war between the compound authoritarianism of the East and the declining and decrepit democracies of the West. They are blind to one reality and fearful of another.
Whatever games nations play in the 21st century, it’s one interconnected, interdependent world now. And authoritarian regimes are stable…until they’re suddenly not.
The fact that America’s vaunted legal system hasn’t indicted Trump for inciting violence and sedition attests to the fact that the putrefaction is not just in the Republican Party, but in American society and polity as a whole.
And if the United States, being irredeemably polarized at home, cannot lead itself out of its own morass, how is Joe Biden going to “lead the world with unity in facing global threats at this inflection point of history,” as he said at the UN?
Biden believes America is still a force for good in the world, when in fact America has been a force for ill in the world for the last 30 years.
Biden believes America can lead the world with respect to the climate crisis, Covid, cybersecurity and a dozen other global challenges, but his policies echo Trump’s America first mentality.
Biden believes that America’s national interest is synonymous with humanity’s interest, but that’s a willful delusion and flagrant falsehood.
Biden’s speech to the UN General Assembly rang pathetically hollow as a last gasp of American exceptionalism. Though largely unspoken, the same language and approach to the Cold War with USSR still informs the Biden Administration’s attitude toward China, a much more formidable foe than the Soviet Union (except with respect to nuclear arms, which the PRC is rapidly equalizing).
Nations serve their own interests, and no nation’s interests aligns with humanity’s interests as a whole. There was a time when the United States honestly led the world with respect to the rule of law, international norms and standards and human rights. But George Bush shredded whatever veracity remained of the old order with his invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and “you’re either with us or against us” mindset.
Barack Obama might have been able to steer the United States back on its previous, imperfect course, but he was too morally weak to do so. Joe Biden, Obama’s Vice-President, is worse, because, as the set of his jaw and tone of his voice often indicates, he’s the last true believer in American righteousness.
The USA cannot lead the world, anymore than the PRC can. The world is caught in the ultimate Thucydides trap as the climate crisis intensifies, and America and China seem hell-bent on war.
We return to first principles, which for the West means the misnomer of the Enlightenment. Contrary to Hobbes on one hand, and Locke on the other, there is no ‘state of nature’ of man, either as tooth and claw, or individual freedom.
Ever since the emergence of ‘fully modern humans’ about 100 thousand years ago (the foundational philosophers of pre-industrial Western civilization knew nothing about human evolution), people have been alienated from nature. The traditions and rituals of indigenous peoples offset the alienation wrought by thought to some degree, but all restraints are now off, and man’s self-regard and rapaciousness are in full flower.
The Enlightenment’s reliance on reason as a social, economic and political cornerstone and counterweight has run its course. The choice we face in the present is not between ‘passion and reason,’ against a Hobbesian or Lockean background of the state of nature, but between the awakening of insight and the continued decline not just of the West, but of the spiritual and intellectual capacity of the human being.
Can the false hope of rationalism and secularism give way to new philosophy for humanity?
‘The Enlightenment’ began in France. Can France subsume its ‘sovereignty’ to a United States of Europe, and can the EU subsume its sovereignty to the true sovereignty, that of humanity? If so, humankind will make the turn in time.