The United States of Cruelty

This from Charles Pierce is brilliant.  Was about to put it into quick hits, but didn’t want to bog those down with a quote this long:

We cheer for cruelty and say that we are asking for personal responsibility among those people who are not us, because the people who are not us do not deserve the same benefits of the political commonwealth that we have. In our politics, we have become masters of camouflage. We practice fiscal cruelty and call it an economy. We practice legal cruelty and call it justice. We practice environmental cruelty and call it opportunity. We practice vicarious cruelty and call it entertainment. We practice rhetorical cruelty and call it debate. We set the best instincts of ourselves in conflict with each other until they tear each other to ribbons, and until they are no longer our best instincts but something dark and bitter and corroborate with itself. And then it fights all the institutions that our best instincts once supported, all the elements of the political commonwealth that we once thought permanent, all the arguments that we once thought settled — until there is a terrible kind of moral self-destruction that touches those institutions and leaves them soft and fragile and, eventually, evanescent. We do all these things, cruelty running through them like hot blood, and we call it our politics.

Because of that, the daily gunplay no longer surprises us. The rising rates of poverty no longer surprise us. The chaos of our lunatic public discourse no longer surprises us. We make war based on lies and deceit because cruelty is seen to be enough, seen to be the immutable law of the modern world. We make policy based on being as tough as we can on the weakest among us, because cruelty is seen to be enough, seen to be the fundamental morality behind what ultimately is merely the law of the jungle. We do all these things, cruelty running through them like a cold river, and we call it our politics.

It does not have to be this way.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to The United States of Cruelty

  1. Deborah Ferry says:

    Brilliant and, unfortunately, very true.

  2. rgb says:

    Children often think their parents are being “cruel”, because they are too immature to understand and “cruelty” makes for a simple conclusion for simple minds. But sadly, this writer is an actual adult….and still hasn’t gotten beyond his childhood arguments.

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