Friday, May 14, 2010

The Pendulum, Yeats, and ObamaCare

The Pendulum Effect   

Oklahoma City has a interactive, educational museum, one much like Fernbank here in Atlanta.  In the Omniplex, there were machines with buttons to press, making holograms and activating wind tunnels and train whistles and boxes that emulated earthquakes.  There were endlessly running marbles on a track that seemed to change with each descent.  And high upon the ceiling was attached a pendulum, one that swung slowly around a circle, knocking over pins from time to time as the Earth moved around its orbit.  A grand clock in which a year was its circumference.  I never got to see it knock down a pin.  But the idea of the pendulum has forever stuck with me, and it has been reiterated over and over throughout my studies. 

The one most brought to mind is that of "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats.  To quote:

Turning and turning the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

These are more spirals than pendulums, but the idea is still the same.  As the motion of the swinging bar goes further and further away from center, the more erratic it becomes. Yeats proposed a 2000 year pendulum swing from Classicism to Christianity, and back. I would hope that it would resolve more like Hegel's Synthesis between two opposite extremes, but there are many realistic examples where it falls apart all together.  Sometimes after the extremities are reached, the center can no longer be reached, and the pendulum falls apart. But I get ahead of myself. 

Whatever do I mean with all this?  What brings us from the slowly moving pendulum that moves with the Earth to utter catastrophe?  Certainly I could exhume environmental theories until I was blue in the face (Avatar pun intended). And perhaps the philosophical backing of anarchism supports the ideas of global warming nutcases.  It is unclear what effect mankind has on the pendulum of the Earth.  More than likely, it cannot be anything good, for any force that pushes on the pendulum will make it move more toward the extreme, and knock down more pins.  Nothing good can come from this. 

It's in the political arena that we are currently seeing this effect most dramatically.  I didn't know at the time I was writing the first part of this, but the idea of the pendulum would be represented in the Republican Primary in Utah, where incumbent senator Bennett was booted out in favor of a more conservative member.  Surely, his votes on the financial bailouts..etc... had something to do with this, as well as the support of the Tea party for the more conservative candidates.  What we are seeing is the result of the pendulum swinging very far to the left with the election of Obama, Pelosi...etc... and then moving almost equally far to the right.  While this is a common occurrence from each era of politics, from Democrat to Republican and back, it seems that each push either further right or left swings equally back the other direction.  Carter begot Reagan/Bush, who begot Clinton, who begot Bush II, who begot Obama.  All this is normal in the world of politics. 

The problem with such a movement is that those things which are so protested against while one party is in power become matter of fact when the protesters become in charge.  Jon Stewart easily showed this over and over again on The Daily Show, when dealing with the procedures of the Senate trying to pass the Health Care bill. Or, more importantly, on the little talked about extention of the Patriot Act to allow current Democratic party elected officials the same powers that the Republicans had during Bush II 's administration.  The only difference is that, depending on the bias of the media, one supposed injustice is ranted on about, while the other is kept quiet. 

Thus it is that the pendulum swings in both directions, and equally for both sides of the ideological spectrum.  This is the most important aspect of examining the power of the government over the lives of its citizens.  And once that power is given, it is very rarely taken away.  Thus the power that the Republicans gave Bush during the 2000's is still being used (and expanded upon, see the Patriot Act measures) in the Obama administration.  Any authority the Dems give themselves (such as being able to access anyone's health records by way of those citizens being a part of Nationalized Health Care (various sources on the web, none from primary sources, however)) will be used to the same extent when the Republicans take back the governmental reigns.  It will happen. Eventually.  And when it does, the governments control over health care will reflect Republican social values, which will mean anyone who believes other than conservative Christian beliefs will find themselves on the cold side of the law.  (At this point, it's the rich and the successful that are being penalized). 

The moral of the pendulum is to not give yourself power that you don't want your ideological opposites to have later.  It simply polarizes everything, and pushes the pendulum farther out, making any action or decision more dangerous.  At some point, the whole thing will break down. 

The solution?  Well, I'm in favor of the Hegelian principle of a Synthesis between two opposites.  In other words, create something new out of the old arguments.  To me, this is where Libertarian beliefs come into play.  Don't ask me how that would actually work, because, honestly, I don't know.  We need to do something to slow the pendulum down. Deflate the power, pressure, and contain the chaos that will certainly come if we don't, much like the beast in Yeats' poem.  

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