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Monday, November 23, 2015

"Serf"-in' USA

At some point in the last decade, I went from feeling like a citizen of the United States with a sense of belonging to a person who feels completely disenfranchized, with no control and no influence over my political destiny and subject to the arbitrary whims of countless politicians and bureaucrats.

I've gone from citizen to serf. I've gone from consenting to be governed to being governed because of the state's monopoly on violence.

Oh sure, it's a very comfortable serfdom. I have (more than) enough to eat, a place to live, clothes, a car and enough money for gas, and there're books and movies and whatever. Because it's so comfortable, as long as I don't dwell on it too much, it's tolerable, and while I won't lift a finger to support this country (other than what I'm forced to do), I have no reason to damage it either.

Because it's so comfortable, I certainly understand why people roll their eyes, shake their heads, sigh, or otherwise think I'm a ridiculous fool. I seem ridiculous to me some of the time too. But being bribed by bread and circuses doesn't cause citizenship. Serfs can also be bribed to lay down their pitchforks.

I rather thought I was one of very few people who felt this lack of belonging. But apparently, it's quite widespread:
According to the Reuters survey, 58 percent Americans say they “don’t identify with what America has become.” While Republicans and Independents are the most likely to agree with this statement, even 45 percent of Democrats share this feeling. 
More than half of Americans, 53 percent, say they “feel like a stranger” in their own country. A minority of Americans feel “comfortable as myself” in the country.
That potentially seems like a very large problem. At his first inaugural address, John F. Kennedy admonished americans to "ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country," but for those who "feel like a stranger in their own country," it would be pointless for them to ask what they can do for their country because it's not really their country.

Without the support and consent of a solid majority of the governed, can a nation survive? Without the leadership of the United States can the world thrive?

We may find out the hard way.

Oh well.


erp said...

Bret, today is my husband's 81st birthday and we had some other geezers over for lunch and BD cake and curiously this very subject was the topic of a heated discussion.

One of the guests said his young niece was on a train in Europe recently when a couple of Moslem men accosted her and asked where she was from, she said, Canada and was immediately overcome with guilt and sadness.

She did the right thing for her safety, but I'm glad I'm not young and traveling the world, because no way would I have done anything but tell them to buzz off resulting in just another p.17 newspaper story about a tourist found dead at the hands of person(s) unknown.

Harry, can you see how this encounter couldn't possibly have happened if you substitute the word, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, atheist, pagan or ... for Moslem?

Clovis e Adri said...


Sorry but "on a train in Europe" is quite general.

Where, when, how?

No other passengers around?

And thas was it? The guys didn't want anything else? Just appeared out of the blue and were gone afterwards?

Clovis e Adri said...


So, from one serf to another: enjoy while all that comfort lasts, and mazel tov.

Harry Eagar said...

I don't believe it did happen.

But as to the original post, I am puzzled by Bret's position about monopolies of violence. Would he prefer Guatemala? Colombia? Afghanistan?

Not a lot of sophisticated, long-term mecanico-electronic development projects are succeeding there.

PS: Now that the death panels are operating 24/7, the expected results are here. Just yesterday I saw a coffle of elders shufflin' off to a FEMA camp, guarded by the jackbooted thugs of the US Army, weapons at the ready in case a posse of Oathkeepers rode in on their F150s to release them back to their taxpayer-financed nursing homes.

I am something less than impressed to hear of the anomie of the 58% when repeated polling shows that something on the order of 44% of Republicans believe the president is a sekrit Mooslim who was born in Africa. I'd say those people have next to no understanding of what happens in their own country.

This is indeed a problem for a democracy -- although many of them will be quick to tell me we are not a democracy (a belief they share with most of the progressives I know) -- but the solution is not likely to be a further diffusion of independent violent private groups.

Bret said...

Harry asks: "Would he prefer Guatemala? Colombia? Afghanistan?"

I would be a serf there as well and wouldn't support those regimes either.

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "44% of Republicans believe the president is a sekrit Mooslim who was born in Africa."

Link please.

Harry Eagar said...

One of the more recent in a series that have found a consistent response.

Bret said...

The word Africa doesn't appear in the article and there're only 20% who believe he was born outside the U.S.

So no, it's not true that "44% of Republicans believe the president is a sekrit Mooslim who was born in Africa."

Harry Eagar said...

My question was not artfully posed. It should have been, do you have an example of a society with distributed control of the means of violence that we could aspire to copy?

Bret said...

Harry Eagar asks: " you have an example of a society with distributed control of the means of violence that we could aspire to copy?"


The United States. For its 1st century or so of existence. Like, you know, when it followed the constitution. Before it pulled a great deal of the power and the associated monopoly on violence to the central government.

Sure, I know the counterarguments: slavery, civil war, slavery, lack of civil rights, slavery, local corruption, slavery, slavery, etc.

That doesn't mean that distributing the monopoly on violence wasn't a good idea.

Harry Eagar said...

Murdering Indians.

Well, we know what bothers you and what doesn't.