There was an election. The winner was a man pledged to murder and plunder. His followers rejoiced that the murder and plunder would be flavored to their taste, done by one of their own. The losers lamented the fate of the nation because their man would not be in charge of the murder and plunder. Bitterness was everywhere. Poison, illusion.
The sun rose. The broken system, heaving and buckling under the weight of its foul excrescences, staggered on.
No answers. No resolution. No mercy, not from the structures; only from ourselves, each to each, one to one, moment to moment, hands touching, clutching, tearing free, in the turbulence of the waves.
You got to ride it best you can….
UPDATE: Arthur Silber marshals the insights of Hannah Arendt in support of his own powerful arguments against legitimizing a brutal and murderous system that has forfeited all claim to legitimacy. Together, they dismantle the “lesser evil” argument, and make the moral case for refusal — or as Silber terms it, “the power to say, No.” For example, here is Arendt:
In their moral justification, the argument of the lesser evil has played a prominent role. If you are confronted with two evils, thus the argument runs, it is your duty to opt for the lesser one, whereas it is irresponsible to refuse to choose altogether. Those who denounce the moral fallacy of this argument are usually accused of a germ-proof moralism which is alien to political circumstances, of being unwilling to dirty their hands ….
Politically, the weakness of the argument has always been that those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil … Moreover, if we look at the techniques of totalitarian government, it is obvious that the argument of “the lesser evil”— far from being raised only from the outside by those who do not belong to the ruling elite—is one of the mechanisms built into the machinery of terror and criminality. Acceptance of lesser evils is consciously used in conditioning the government officials as well as the population at large to the acceptance of evil as such. …
We see here how unwilling the human mind is to face realities which in one way or another contradict totally its framework of reference. Unfortunately, it seems to be much easier to condition human behavior and to make people conduct themselves in the most unexpected and outrageous manner, than it is to persuade anybody to learn from experience, as the saying goes; that is, to start thinking and judging instead of applying categories and formulas which are deeply ingrained in our mind, but whose basis of experience has long been forgotten and whose plausibility resides in their intellectual consistency rather than in their adequacy to actual events.
… The nonparticipants, called irresponsible by the majority … asked themselves to what extent they would still be able to live in peace with themselves after having committed certain deeds; and they decided that it would be better to do nothing, not because the world would then be changed for the better, but simply because only on this condition could they go on living with themselves at all. Hence, they also chose to die when they were forced to participate. To put it crudely, they refused to murder, not so much because they still held fast to the command “Thou shalt not kill,” but because they were unwilling to live together with a murderer—themselves. The precondition for this kind of judging is not a highly developed intelligence or sophistication in moral matters, but rather the disposition to live together explicitly with oneself, to have intercourse with oneself, that is, to be engaged in that silent dialogue between me and myself which, since Socrates and Plato, we usually call thinking. This kind of thinking, though at the root of all philosophical thought, is not technical and does not concern theoretical problems. The dividing line between those who want to think and therefore have to judge by themselves, and those who do not, strikes across all social and cultural or educational differences. In this respect, the total moral collapse of respectable society during the Hitler regime may teach us that under such circumstances those who cherish values and hold fast to moral norms and standards are not reliable: we now know that moral norms and standards can be changed overnight, and that all that then will be left is the mere habit of holding fast to something. Much more reliable will be the doubters and skeptics, not because skepticism is good or doubting wholesome, but because they are used to examine things and to make up their own minds. Best of all will be those who know only one thing for certain: that whatever else happens, as long as we live we shall have to live together with ourselves.
There is much more to the piece; read the whole thing. In many ways, it underscores what has been, essentially, the oft-repeated core message of this blog for many years now, based on the tragically abiding truth stated by the American refusenik Henry David Thoreau, which I’ll repeat here yet again, as a last thought before the election:
“How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.”