My oh my, America!
Not so much a place but a state of mind – manifest destiny perhaps, something that everyone on both sides of that deeply divided psychic condition subscribes to, whether explicitly or implicitly – and because of the looking glass world in which we live, much of the world too has become America. So when it sinks into civil strife because of reasons peculiar to it, the rest of the world adopts that strife as its own. And how much both parties to the strife concur on the basic premises. No one has ever heard the sound of one hand clapping.
They and we have perfected the habit of travelling – i.e. tourism – without learning the first rule of travel: leave home! Thus the tourist sees the whole world but never learns the first lesson of travel: our local conditions are parochial. Modern man never learns from travel and from history how entirely parochial he, his people and his age are. Others are re-interpreted as ‘not yet us’, ‘not quite there’. And everyone else has learnt the lesson well, to re-interpret themselves as not quite and not yet, and to lust after that fulfilment and completion denied them but implicitly and tantalisingly promised.
The Nazis had a love affair with Roosevelt’s New Deal, a love that was mutual, at least in the case of Ford and Wall Street; Stalin also thrilled to its scientific and technological revolution (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3a0V2JFh6vY);
And dutifully all the other poor relations earnestly yearn to be admitted to the club, including the obscene Emirati paean of praise and glorification to skyscraperdom, echoing earlier acts of adulation from Hong Kong, Singapore and too many other places to mention.
And today, we welcome China to the club, arriving with some token Confucionism and Taoism to add local colour, a state and a great usury-capitalism empire intent on outdoing its apparent dialectical opposite.
This US titanic-ness exemplifies the modern condition: owning land to which you do not belong. Thus, all the successive waves of immigration, both voluntary and involuntary, compete in ownership of land to which others – the Navaho, Iroquois, Cree, Blackfoot, Huron and the Hopi – ‘belong’. And you can count Australia and Israel in there too. Man has lost belonging but owns everything.
A unique opportunity, however, presents itself to those with the courage to take it. Since usury capitalism is in terminal decline and may well bring the planet down with it in its collapse, the future, if there is one for humanness, belongs to those who can claim for themselves some authenticity, which has an inner measure in the heart of every human being, and an outer measure: the Prophetic and the Madinan. Without the former one ends up with an inauthentic religiosity, and without the latter one wanders in the wilderness of the ‘new age’. Together things can happen.