The Dire Straits Diaries -
Part Three: A Fearful Master

By Diane Harvey

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a
troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be
left to irresponsible action." -- George Washington

Memorizing the quotation above is guaranteed to reinvigorate any
momentarily lonesome advocate of freedom of expression. A man who knew
exactly what he was talking about made this statement, so deftly exposing
to view the basically volatile nature of all government. Anyone fully
comprehending what Mr. Washington meant, and pointing out that his
observation holds as true as ever, and then some, is of course now labeled
a traitor to the currently presiding force. This tells us that the meaning
of his words must give those in power icy night sweats, lest a significant
number of citizens actually desire to understand the principles of our
Republic. Original truth, discussed on the level it was meant in the first
place, is now forbidden in public, on pain of crude retribution. All
speeches from public officials incorporating any potentially disturbing
materials from our Founding Fathers are handled with Hazmat protocols
these days. Carefully sterilized quotations are removed from a level-4
containment facility to serve as decorative touches for stuffed shirts on
suitably controlled occasions.

The majority of our fellow citizens are far too anxiously submissive these
days to look into the actual meaning of their own political foundations.
We are free to publicly worship at the tomb of the mummified remains, but
any talk of resurrection is taken for outright insurrection. Only the most
na´ve would fail to miss the fact that understanding the meaning of our
Constitution is now counted as directly subversive activity. At this rate
it won't be long before the intellectual history of our country becomes
classified information, available only on a need-to-know basis. A few
hardened political veterans, who can be presumed to be immune to being
infected by strange doubts, will be allowed to handle the original
contagious materials. Others will have to believe it all means whatever
they are told it means, or face severe legal penalties, social ostracism,
penury, and a new life under the nearest underpass.

Our national conscience, long ailing and withering away from the
exigencies of greed, has surrendered and given up the ghost at the first
touch of hot and cold running bombast. We have descended nearly en masse
to the realm where sound and fury, signifying emptily flapping lip service
to democratic principles, more than suffices. Therefore we must not be too
shocked at the spectacle of individual political conscience under attack
by an army of threatening and terrified fools. We may even venture so far
as to take heart in the very teeth of the spitting, snarling, and barking
of our mean-spirited and desperately ignorant fellow citizens. These are,
after all, people quite often trying to operate in seriously reduced
personal moral and mental circumstances. Some simply are unable to think
at all, and to be angry with those so afflicted is unjust. But many have
chosen to protect their passionately unthinking attachment to their
incomes, at the expense of their conscience- and then had to pretend to
themselves that they didn't. The eventual results of this kind of bargain
are not pleasant to contemplate.

No matter how many people slip and slide away into delusion and mass
hysteria, there remains such a thing as deeper truth. Sane men and women
have always understood this, and don't bother trying to befuddle
themselves with rationalizations and excuses for their own confusion or
poor behavior. If we seek truth, we find it, but in this as in all else,
self-honesty is everything. We live in a society so congenitally dishonest
that it has lost the desire to bother to distinguish deeper truth from the
prevailing gusts of gas. Profit is King, Cant is Queen, and the majority
stands guard ferociously over these, their very own shiny tin gods. Yet
even this sick sad state of affairs cannot prevent individuals from
pursuing the thread of reality at any time. And individual threads all
lead to a common ground of mutual perception: thus many of us understand
one another perfectly well, here in the midst of the droning blather of
Orwellian outpourings. There is a basic state of inner sanity in which we
still hold these truths to be self-evident, and no amount of caterwauling
by the craven can alter it one whit.

Viewed in the light of conscience, the present stamping, snorting and
angry red-eyed herd of national bullies constitutes a tragic disgrace to
our beloved Republic. Yet we may rest assured of at least one mitigating
fact. The eagle eye of the history has already accurately recorded each
name and shabby deed for posterity's leisurely perusal. For the sake of a
temporary cheap thrill in trying to intimidate men and women of
conscience, these ignoramuses will reside ever after in ineradicable
ignominy. People may make a mockery of themselves if they must, but
despite their best efforts, they will never succeed in debasing the nature
of freedom itself. The democratic process has been in extreme difficulties
for some time, as anyone who really cares knows all too well. And now,
suddenly, all effective democracy in action is being directly trampled on
by a mob of foaming flunkies, whipped on by the career criminal element at
the top of the government-military-corporate dung heap.

The very idea of government as the servant of the people, however
troublesome, is so quaintly na´ve at this point as to raise a grim little
smile. The corrosive odor of pure irony arises from entertaining such a
thought. It has been a long time since this all-powerful item called our
government has been anything so tame, so controllable and so subject to
our reforming zeal as a cantankerous servant. The government George
Washington was describing was unimaginably far less bloated with sheer
weight, and nowhere near as heavily armed with institutionalized secret
powers as ours is. Government has metastasized far beyond those original
relatively manageable outlines. The most fearful master has come into
being here and now. These days the very concept of government crouches in
the mind like a vast mythological beast, whose exact nature and
composition is almost entirely hidden by mysteriously dense ground fogs.
What is this fearsome near-invisible creature, with its demonstrably
frightening powers and unquenchable appetite for ruinous decisions? We
know very little these days about what our government really is or what it
is doing. Behind the thick vaporous tissues of lies and the specious
obstructions of weasel-born legalisms, a great intelligence is directed
first and foremost toward obscuring its own operations from nosy citizens.
In regard to the business of public understanding of the democratic
process, it has long been understood by those wielding the power over our
heads that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Once upon a time a modest number of unusually brilliant and large-minded
visionaries conceived of a wildly seditious and highly improbable idea for
a form of government. Under this idealistic and admittedly highly
experimental model, ordinary citizens played the central role in the
overall decision-making processes, within the context of a legal climate
ensuring broad personal freedoms. After a period of excruciatingly intense
intellectual and moral struggle, accompanied by the inevitable extremes of
physical misery and bloodshed, this miraculously inventive conception of
self-government managed to become established. The United States of
America came into being, based on the previously nearly unthinkable ideal
of a national power structure owned and operated by the people themselves,
on behalf of the welfare of the many rather than the few. Without
question, this was the most advanced and potentially spiritually fruitful
idea of socio-political relationships put into practice so far.
Unfortunately, the citizens themselves have not proven to be unfailingly
equally advanced and spiritually fruit bearing. There have been, and
continue to be, periodic and near-fatal lapses of collective memory in the
national conscience. The anticipated flaw in the original optimistic plan
for self-rule was the possible failure of the many to actively and
unselfishly participate in their own government. This flaw has emerged
time and again, and each time it has, public understanding of democracy
has dumbed itself down a notch and tottered on from there as if nothing
had happened. As a people we are in a severely debilitated state from
continually refusing to care just who is wielding what kind of force and
calling it our government. We have too frequently succumbed to shivering
fits in the face of our responsibilities, and cowered before the specter
of our mad servant run amok, and bowed and scraped beneath the big black
boots of stolen power.

Henry David Thoreau had a few starchy words to say about the lamentable
tendency of the American people to assume this awkward and degraded

"Thus, under the name of Order and Civil Government, we are all made at
last to pay homage to and support our own meanness. After the first blush
of sin comes its indifference; and from immoral it becomes, as it were,
unmoral, and not quite unnecessary to that life which we have made. "

Yes, indeed- our collective indifference to truth is the direct result of
our infamous streak of rank materialism: that well-known, perennially
unexamined and fatal attachment to comfy lifestyle at any and all costs.
Our national way is to gorge and glut, craftily peddled to the willfully
ignorant as the righteous rewards of free enterprise. Scorning this truth
has brought us to the unfettered lunacy of a world where greed is not only
ignored but idolized, and infects the entire atmosphere. The idea behind
the Constitution is certainly not that in order to exercise self-rule one
must first be bought and paid for by Big Bother in his Big Business
outfit. But the two powers of commerce and politics, meant to be as
separate as humanly possible, have long ago fused into an unholy alloy. It
is the man-made element which now covers the very ground we walk on as
well. Our corporate-owned government has made any free individual
participation in effective levels of national government practically out
of the question. Theoretically, such an outrage to the principles of
democracy might be overturned by the common united will of the indignant
citizenry. But as it turns out, most citizens do not wish to be
sidetracked in their personal pursuit of congenial lifestyles by any such
tedious matters as participation in self-government. They leave these
boring chores entirely to the ruinously expensive and therefore hopelessly
corrupted elected officials, and to the senilely demented scheming of the
major political parties. The rigors of self-government have been
discovered to provide very little entertainment value, to be quite
unprofitable if the spirit of the original intent is followed, and in
short: to offer only hard work for no immediate tangible personal gain.
The idealistic originators of such a form of government obviously thought
touchingly highly of the ethical and intellectual potential of the average
human being. At the same time they knew that the necessary sacrifices
might not be forthcoming in the long run. They knew exactly what might go
wrong, and they said so, at great length and with perfect clarity. They
foresaw a distinct line of probability, and they left unmistakable
warnings. The result is that the very meaning of their thoughts is now
suffocating to death under the most effectively powerful taboo in our
entire history.

At this point in time, The United States of America is a once-noble
experiment that has at least temporarily sold itself into the slavery of
hollow pretence, shored up by infuriated mass denials that it has done any
such thing. Retaining the courtesy title of citizens , participating in
mock elections, we have in reality become meaningless ciphers in an Empire
of Armed Secrecy, entirely ruled from on high downwards. And lo and
behold, this fake, illegally secretive, and greed-ridden government
military corporation is now what is left standing between physical danger
and ourselves. These same ghostly groups, whose driving motive has been
the self-protection of all predatory powers-that-be, are suddenly charged
with ensuring the material safety of everyone else as well. It is like
finding oneself protected by a well-organized and extremely sophisticated
Mafia family, from being killed outright by a rampaging murderous street
gang. One is grateful but simultaneously wondering at the long-range
ramifications, and the distinct likelihood of an endless string of payoffs
to come. Further complicating matters in this inexact but heartfelt
metaphor, the Mafia family in question employs most of the people in the
town, and many of these ordinary citizens are essentially decent people
whose main failing is the refusal to observe the oddly bulging suits and
illegal activities of the bosses. Worse yet, the Mafia's military arm
consists for the most part of large numbers of brave and unquestioningly
patriotic youths who have never heard of any such thing as a criminal
operation behind the scenes and behind their backs.

The enjoyment of those subjective and objective personal liberties that
were the main object of this experiment in self-rule have long ago
degenerated into subtle and blatant forced obedience to corporate
government mercenaries. This basic fact of our debased political existence
couldn't be more obvious, yet relative few of us are aware of it. On the
contrary, the majority of citizens, whose similar lack of inner values
nicely reflect and support this very condition, have found such a state of
affairs wonderfully expedient. Thus have we have taken a number of steps
toward enslavement, little by little and leaps by bounds, by trading the
responsibilities of freedom for the glass beads of superficial comforts.
And as a result, for the foreseeable future even worse has come to pass.
The shameful consensus in our besieged Republic is that outside threat can
only be met by equal and opposite internal force. The challenge to our
physical security has been answered by dropping a bomb on the Constitution
of the United States of America.


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