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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

The warm frogs or the end of democracy

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If this were a therapy session, I would start by saying that I still have serious insomnia; that I’m easily startled when I hear cannons or fireworks, mistaking them for the sound of gunshots; or that the friendliness, the smiles of the people I meet on the street, mostly sane, stand in hideous contrast to the degradation of the hundreds of opiate addicts who, until recently, made up my routine Philadelphia landscape, so much as to seem unreal, a mirage on the verge of disappearing, returning me to the conflicted map I was fleeing. Three weeks in Spain after almost 13 years in the United States have not been able to cure what my psychologist believes are clear symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder experienced by someone who wasn’t in the lowest of states the social Hierarchy: A university job, decent housing and the ability to cope with economic hardship have saved me from the unimaginable suffering endured by the country’s most disadvantaged sectors. However, I did not get away with it entirely unscathed, and that is probably due to two reasons: that the dismantling of North American democracy is structural, i.e. it cannot be avoided by either side, and my own migration experience, which has always made it possible, the political and human catastrophe of the “land of freedom” with the relative successes of the Spanish welfare state. In that sense, you could say that I’m like the frog that managed to jump out of the boiling pot, according to the theory narrated by Donella Meadows in think in systems. According to the researcher, a frog thrown into a pot of boiling water flinches so much from being burned that it can be saved from execution; If we put the same frog in the pot of cold water and gradually increase the temperature until it starts to boil, it would no longer have the strength to escape because its body would gradually get used to the heat and, as soon as it it is energy, it would die irretrievably.

The United States is full of amphibians splashing about in abrasive liquid, toads and frogs struggling to stay afloat among the steaming bubbles rising from the bottom of the pot. Despite the seriousness of the situation and the imminent collapse of their organs, some firmly believe that they will reap the benefits of a jacuzzi, or that whoever keeps the fire active beneath his feet may not be perfect, but it protects him from the cold outside. Others try in vain to yell to mobilize the other Batrachians to plot a common escape, perhaps blow a little, and a third group burns impassively, accepting their fate based on drugs. Now that the meetings of the commission of inquiry into the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 are being televised, much of the population is attending live a detailed description of how evaporation occurs, a physics lesson and perhaps trying to understand how this happens an extreme has been reached as grades continue to rise. However, learning the behaviors of water does not guarantee knowing the circumstances under which the pot was formed.

The historian Timothy Snyder tells in his masterful essay The way to no freedom how Russia’s interference made Trump’s rise possible. From the financial flows of the Kremlin – whose ties to the European far right are well known – to the communication strategies and use of fake news, Russian aid was essential in the presidential election, but far from throwing balls, Snyder concedes that this fatal victory would not have occurred had the country not been in such a state of disrepair. “Trump came to the Oval Office at a time when inequality in the United States was converging on that of Russia,” he says, with a distribution of wealth unequal to any since 1929. The cuts in welfare programs, particularly since the neoliberal policies implemented by Reagan—and expanded by Democratic governments—the lack of social rights, and an electoral system that undermines representativeness by allowing minority votes to be restricted, combined to form the perfect Breeding ground for what he calls “sado-populism” with successive reforms that have reduced the tax liability of the wealthy. During World War II, they paid 94% of their income in taxes, then about 70%, and the number went into free fall until it reached a meager 37% now, thanks to the hand of Trump, the last President, who reduced it. The lack of decent health helps to aggravate the already precarious conditions in which a large proportion of the human population live, and here, analyzing the roots of despair and the most painful agony, the historian asserts that the most despicable politics triumphs , set up to protect the privileges of a few and destroy the democratic fabric: the majority of opiate addicts, victims of an epidemic that claimed 100,000 lives just last year, voted for the one now on trial for provoking an insurrectionist coup In other words, the frogs put down the ballot for whoever lit the candle, but someone put the firewood there, lit the match, and pulled the bellows first.

For all my efforts, including therapeutic ones, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to count exactly what it was like living in the United States during such a turbulent time: the extent of the degradation of beings who look so monstrous it’s difficult to locate their humanity; the level of violence that has increased with the pandemic and in the lobby of arms to its greatest keeper; the feeling of living in an authentically authoritarian state long before the attack on the Capitol: the militarized streets, the barricades, the arbitrary arrests and the deliberate disruption of a postal service essential for exercising the right to vote confirm this. However, my escape must be nuanced, as I have come from the boiling waters of these borders to heal myself in a Spain where it is beginning to warm up rapidly. How much purchasing power have we lost since the last financial crisis, why does the number of citizens using private health care continue to swell if not the deliberate weakening of public health care, how did we get to the point where millionaires are publicly praised for their false names philanthropic handouts while contributing so little to anyone’s coffers what an unspeakable disaster we await to begin putting out the flames before the pot turns straight into an explosive device. There is no time for further neoliberal concessions or patches in the form of momentary fans. There with open wounds or here with the accelerating warm malaise, one must fight for a democracy that lives up to its name.

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Source elpais.com

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