In a feverish state of mind, Gulliver enters a bizarre world of presidential politics by Joseph Natoli

Corporate Personhood

by Helen Cox, used with permission
© All rights reserved.

by Joseph Natoli
Guest Writer
Dandelion Salad
22 March 2012

My thoughts were feverishly gestating.

I here pen a précis of that to which I refer, attempting to bring to reasonable account what in fact was veiled by dark derangements brought on by my fever and a long fortnight in which irrationality and a nightmare circus ruled.

I found myself ambling around an unfamiliar town, an ambling that brought me into almost daily contact with an increasing number of berserks seeking political office. I saw their intent, dear Reader, as nothing more than mania’s drive to extend itself, rather in the fashion of vermin or virus seeking to expand their unhealthy assault on the normal, the sane, the innocent.

I cannot help noting that here politics has become very unusual. I assumed, as we all do, that the dark desires and ambitions of Mr. Freud’s Id had long ago been overlaid with a veneer of Ego restraint. Scrunch or be scrunched, rape and pillage, smashing boot heels, hang’em high, take no prisoners, ethnic cleansings, tar and feather and so on had been kept at bay, making only sporadic appearances immediately followed by some renewed attempt at civilized dialogue.

All that suddenly vanished, as things tend to do in a feverish delirium. A more observant audience may have perceived a slow incremental movement toward the present descent into an abyss in which instinctual appetites, fears and hatreds, absurdities and stupidities, abuse and intractability ruled.

Allow me, my dear Reader, to introduce a powerful figure at the center of this Inferno but at the center in the way the assailed Keep is at the center of attack or the way an assailed wildebeest is at the center of attack. I must at once acknowledge that others would portray the scene differently and cast this figure as an alien intruder, a black ant in a red ant colony, a War of the Worlds Martian invader, an unbeliever in a revival tent, a palestino in a synagogue, a union organizer at WhaleMart. But I somehow at once understood, within the the hi-speed at which time travels in a fever zone, that this figure is powerful in the way a magnet is powerful: not because of its own actions but because of the reaction it produces in others.

Mr. Nodrama did not have to act in order to elicit the reactions of many. His mere physical presence was sufficient to energize an antagonistic reaction. Others argued that in accord with the laws of physics no reaction would have been produced if Farouk had not acted and acted in a way that violated the foundational, Constitutional values of the homeland. Still others argued that Farouk had himself only reacted to certain calamities and crises that propelled any rational and compassionate person to seek remedy and relief.

I sat, as in a lecture hall, and listened to these various Power Point presentations.

I was most taken with the view that as a result of a willingness in this country to allow the Goddess Fortuna to spin the wheel and fix a course, a great deal of wealth had been pocketed by a very few while a great many were already bankrupt, in every way, or on the verge of being so. A suspicion slowly arose that the wealthy now owned the Goddess’s wheel and had fixed it in their favor.

My personal observation, which no one in the room seemed to heed, was that there was great beauty in compound interest when wealth was owned and not owed.

To those who felt that fortune favored the wealthy because they owned the wheel as well as the legislators who kept the Goddess Fortuna at the wheel, a Mad Hatter pointed out that Mr. Nodrama had won election by promising to change all that. It seemed clear to me then, as things can only be so clear to a disquieted mind, that if wealth meant power, wealth had not enough power to keep any threat to itself out of office.

I let this lucidity wash over me the way a slight breeze bathes the forehead of the feverish.

My dear Reader, perhaps I was naïve in this in the way any malaise makes a child of us. Mr. Nodrama had threatened the profits of the health care industry, minimally, but in all else he seemed to have fettered himself with an odd psychology. Mr Farouk seemed to believe that the pursuit of profit could be deterred by rational argument on behalf of people and causes without the power to affect profit or loss. His rationality made him vulnerable and pliable to the axiomatic ruthlessness of profit to shareholders and return on investment.

A Mad Hatter then shouted out that power still extended to a middle class not yet brought to its knees or brought to an acceptance of rule by the Goddess Fortuna.

I seemed to be viewing it all through a glass darkly.

I was suddenly infuriated. It was not the threads spun by the pundits or the details of arguments and attacks which infuriated me. All of this was a web of inveiglement, pointless differences and endless deferrals. What repelled me was the character of those who presumed to solicit my acceptance of their stupidities. It suddenly seemed to be that my acquiescence to all before me was what was required. I therefore struggled to be the only sane person in the room. I found a great need to be a calm center amid a churning ferment of pixilated possession.

I was introduced, as a calming measure, to Mr. Rhomboid, a man who cannot win the hearts and minds of his own political party for many reasons, the first being his own rhomboid personality which is as difficult to mesh with a winning proportion of the voting population as it is to insert a square peg into a round hole.

His “rhomboidness” fits neatly into a very small segment of the population and that segment has limited public recognition due to a penchant for living in private, well-secured compounds. Mr. Rhomboid’s country and yacht club associates and NASCAR owner compatriots can therefore give him little assistance on the stump, their appearance publicizing detachment rather than camaraderie.

I am hardly the man, my dear Reader, to fault a man for a character forged in privileged circumstances, or, to berate the man because he displays the characteristic values and opinions of his class. I can easily see such a man as a president of his country club or CEO of a business whose success depends upon investment by the wealthy. And, truth to say, the patrician has appeared successfully on the political stage of my homeland, but in every case, the character was not patrician. The character of each was formed in a manner that extended toward and not away from the average citizen, displayed a breadth of imagination that created understanding and empathy. In the case of Mr. Rhomboid there is no indication that his character extends beyond the circumstances of isolated and detached wealth. He would be viable as a monarch in an aristocratic order but not as a president in a democracy.

Mr. Rhomboid is an up and down again favorite of his party, which means they don’t want him but not for the reasons I have suggested. They don’t want him because he is not a “true” conservative.

What such a creature may be no one really knows but there is an organization that issues a seal of approval, although the criteria for approval remain so unintelligible as to be useless. This quasi-soccer mom, evangelical, vigilante group which calls itself the You Can Never Be Conservative Enough Party launches that title phase at all supplicants who claim to surpass all others in the possession of true conservatism.

This choir began to sing sotto voce as I desperately tried to line up my p’s and q’s, my ducks in a row, my talking points, all of which seemed to be suffering from dementia. And while Mr. Rhomboid admits to being “severely” conservative and does so without asking for any pharmaceutical relief, the choir sings that such severity is not conservative enough.

I find myself sympathetic to Mr. Rhomboid’s plight, especially since he undoubtedly finds it difficult to subject himself to the tutelage of the choir, which is similar to a CEO waiting on the approval of the cleaning lady or a country squire waiting on the approval of a gardener. I believe Mr. Rhomboid feels that what a “true” conservative is depends upon what he defines it to be on any particular day.

The particular day I ran into Mr. Rhomboid was last Tuesday, not being anyone’s Tuesday but a Tuesday that passes in a bughouse, which means it could very well have been a Monday or a Wednesday. Why I was now aware of time I cannot say but I seemed to know that all claimants to the presidency must spend some time on Tuesday in what is called a “hinge” community. Electoral success hinges on winning here.

Mr. Rhomboid was addressing villagers at the local post office when interrupted by a man with a hard look asked him what he made an hour.

“You’ve got me on that one, fella,” Mr. Rhomboid responded with a fixed in place smile. “We can make this country great again. I think we …”

“He made $6400 an hour last year,” someone else said.

“And his wife owns not one but two Cadillacs.”

“I buy American,” Mr. Rhomboid said proudly. “I was at NASCAR…”

“Do all of your wives have two cars?” a woman with scraggly grey hair asked.

“What are you doing in the U.S. Post Office, looking to privatize it?”

“Is…is this the …I thought this was FedEx…”

“You don’t give a damn about poor people, do you?” the hard look man said, coming as close to Mr. Rhomboid as the body guards would allow.

“I …. Aren’t you in the middle class?” Mr. Rhomboid said, as his handlers corralled him and moved him to the door.

That’s when I caught up with him. One of the perks of mania is that you have a miraculous power of catching up with and holding private conversations with presidential candidates.

I told him that Lemuel Gulliver was my ancestor and that like him I was beginning to think that any animal was more intelligent than we humans. He told me that we faced a moral hazard in the way we dealt with the lower orders, that feeding birds in the winter would drive down their survival instincts and that vegans were acting like the Federal government in its welfare and protectionist policies. If everyone on the planet refused to kill and eat the fauna, the planet would be over run very quickly with a fat and lazy animal population blocking the roadways while bird droppings would rain down steadily on our heads and chickens would rule. Feral pigs was just the beginning.

I was suddenly perturbed not only by the observation I had made regarding the lower orders but by the lunatic response.

I believe Mr. Rhomboid could see the puzzled look on my face because he immediately toasted warm in speaking of the lower orders.

“I’m not a big-game hunter. I’ve made that very clear. I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will.”

“If you will,” I repeated, perspiring greatly and feeling that I was losing control of this world I was in.

He asked me then whether I thought it was right to treat corporations as if they weren’t people, a question which somewhat baffled me for I knew not whether he was addressing a Constitutional decision or the presence of people working within a corporation. My hesitancy provoked his ire and he exclaimed:

“I’ll tell you what. I’ll bet you $10,000 dollars that corporations are people. Come on. $10,000.”

I thought we were both losing it very rapidly and therefore thought it best to change topic and I asked him whether he felt that one of the enjoyments of wealth was power.

I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” he whispered to me.

He then asked me anxiously if that sounded like something a “true” conservative would say to which I responded that market conservatives definitely preferred making a profit out of livestock. Happy meals would never be happy if celery on a bun accompanied fries and a coke. But I did think that a “true” conservative would spend more time on connecting moral hazard with welfare programs rather than to the termination of animal slaughter that was not anything any government would pursue.

Mr. Rhomboid shook his head and sighed.

“You know, fella, I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of this “true” conservative thing.”

This worried me greatly. I knew that it was vital to get the hang of this. On the other hand, it was vital not to get the hang of things in a bughouse.

The lineaments of Mr. Rhomboid seemed to be fading and I had only a hesitant, intermittent view of him as if he was about to pitch something to me but whatever it was dissolved as did he.

Not so with Mr. Sanctimoniousity who pitches a new claim to the supreme title of “true” conservative on the heels of the very last one to be rejected by the choir.

Provoked by some deep desire to out-conservatize all his opponents , Mr. Sanctimoniousity eventually lost his hold on rationality, reality and sanity and began to exclaim what one had only previously heard out of mouths of screwballs. Of course, I did not vocalize this opinion, surrounded as I was by screwballs.

I don’t know whether Mr. S was in this manner getting closer to “true” conservatism or to a permanent bunk in an asylum but as there was no one to stop him, he rallied onward.

Mr. Nodrama was an abomination to him because he expressed a hope that all would be able to go to university if they wished. Mr. S had home schooled his own many children and so had, for a time, confined their minds within the precincts of his own. Were he a Leonardo or a Goethe, a Kant or a Spinoza, a Shakespeare or a Moliere this confinement would not seem as dangerous as it did indeed seem to me.

I was especially sensitive to the notion of confining any person within the mental boundaries of another. Fever is experience.

Mr. S. railed against liberal and radical university professors who secularized issues and excluded religion. When Mr. S. referred to religion, he referred to his own which he was partial to, and I assumed then that this religion was the one he wished present in all three branches of our government. My dear Reader, we have merely to look at the various theocracies or near-theocracies now present in our world in order to judge the sanity of joining state and religion.

Mr. S. also thought that providing unemployment compensation for extended periods would be a moral hazard by which he meant that the unemployed would grow fat on the dole. The indolent would stop looking for work, or, at very least, lose the desire to play a zero sum game on a playing field that looked oddly similar to a Monopoly game board in the last half hour.

I must admit that I found a certain fascination in the way Mr. S’s mind worked, in the way he maneuvered all matters into whole cloth but an unexpected one.

For example, he was proud of his working class roots but had, nevertheless, adopted a politics of the elite and the strategies of so confounding the working class that they lost sight of their own best interests. No children of the elite are destined for the non-university choice Mr. S offers working class children. No member of a working class whose wages are now at a 1968 purchasing power level can afford a Wall Street speculative retirement plan but Mr. S swears that a governmental social security plan must end immediately.

Mr. S looks to the invisible hand of the market to provide jobs for the jobless and when it fails to do so, the jobless must accept their suffering as good Christians. He looks anxiously to the re-establishment of a new crusade against the infidels, which sparked an interest in not only those Mr. S called infidels but all those his worldview excluded.

He was especially protective of the unborn fetus, decidedly more so than he was of his ancestral working class, the jobless, the un-Christians, gays, condom users, public educators, feminists, abortionists and their doctors, welfare recipients, those who worked for wages, those without health insurance, the homeless, and many others who had advanced beyond the fetus stage.

He mourned the non-existence of so many who would be alive today if not for contraception and abortion. I do believe that had the aborted and contracepted the power to vote, Mr. S would have easily won any national election.

Mr. S. didn’t believe that evolution had the edge on an intelligent design theory nor did he believe that climate change meant global warming and that global warming could be tracked to what we humans since the Industrial Revolution had been doing to the planet.

Mr. S, in fact, had an odd view of abuse. The planet could never be abused because capitalist use was development of profit that would trickle down and make everyone happy and therefore could never be deemed abuse. It was rather like, to my mind, thinking that the more you shat in your own nest, the warmer and more comfortable it would be and that would trickle down to the benefit of your neighbor.

There were, however, a vast number of miscreants who would abuse any charity given to them and so Christ’s Beatitudes were, in Mr. S’s view, turned upside down. The poor needed to be dashed with the cold water of tough love as anything else would be abused.

Mr. S felt that if the government filled a cavity in a man’s teeth, that man would abuse the privilege by returning again and again in a continuous, depraved lust for cavities and teeth fillings. Take one kidney out on the government tab and a demand for the removal of the other would soon follow.

Charity given was not a good but a moral hazard. Love should be closer to distrust and suspicion that distances one from another rather than to trust and faith that unites. However, transnational corporations working on the behalf of our national security should never be abused.

I soon came to the conclusion that Mr. S was a preposterous composite of deranged beliefs which he seemed not in the least hesitant in loudly proclaiming as if there was some sanity attached to them. He displayed all the unwavering convictions of the zealot in the church of his own mind.

I was also beginning to think that both Mr. Rhomboid and Mr. Sanctimoniousity were not anomalies swimming in a normal sea but were indeed swimming in welcoming waters. They had tacked the course of their politics out of their own heads but were following a sea chart handed to them by voters. The drive to be the “true” conservatist was no more than a drive to accommodate an electorate that had already defined conservatism as that which nothing greater than can be thought to exist. Thus, Anselm’s idea of a Celestial Entity achieved a political identity.

Mr. Gazbagg, PhD proved to be more astral-technological in belief than either Mr. S. or Mr. Rhomboid by which I mean that his interest in the celestial was confined to astral aviation, specifically to Mars. I suppose by projecting such a cosmic future Mr. G. at once escaped the planet Earth’s own acceleration toward a dystopic future but also established himself as a man of far-reaching thought.

By no means did Mr. G. spurn the past which for him was something he carried around in shoeboxes filled with memorial quotations. I came to realize that Mr. G.’s rhetorical strategy was to emulate the aphorisms in his shoeboxes so that his talk was prepackaged for future historians.

Mr. G. at all times speaks the language of prosperity and not the language of the ghetto. This is a fortunate choice because Mr. G.’s legislative colleagues predominantly speak the language of prosperity which is also a campaigning language.

Mr. G. was not stylistically what his critics called an over inflated gas bag but rather more like the pinprick that collapses the bag. It was only when one considered that Mr. G.’s range of topics and interests extended so widely and so vaporously in the fashion of a released gas that one could discern the appropriateness of name and character.

There is also a striking correspondence between the size of Mr. G.’s head and the size of his own estimation of himself. Head and ego you might say are a matched pair. Here is Mr. G. on Mr. G.: Primary mission, Advocate of civilization, Definer of civilization, Teacher of the rules of civilization, Leader of the civilizing forces.”

This seems to be an extreme instance of gas bag egoism, which is some reduced form is a common problem. I, as I am sure you also my dear Reader, have learned to accommodate such egoism as we have learned to accommodate the expansion of greenhouse gases, public spaces turned into the private parlors of the uncivil, and genetically modified food. For my own part, I found that Mr. G.’s razor sharp quips enounced in a cocksure fashion to be a refreshing relief to the patrician bumbling of Mr. Rhomboid. Mr. G. was fully at home in his own skin because everyone around him was an extension of his own skin. He therefore had no reason to be fearful of either his opponents or his audience. The world was, in short, what his mind made of it.

Mr. Rhomboid, on the other hand, was quite uncomfortable in any world except his own social and business world and was therefore quite anxious as to how to connect with those outside those gates. Unfortunately, those outside the gates were the majority of the population and necessary to his winning any democratic election.

I must now amend the “razor sharp” nature of Mr. G’s rhetoric and say that this is a first impression response. In an arena in which sound bites battle with sound bites, attention spans as well as extended critical interpretation are limited, first impressions may indeed last and win the day.

In Mr. G’s case, what first appeared to be a fine surgical foray into an issue melted into the ambiguous, then the amorphous and then into a dark strangeness. For example, Mr. G. will attach as an appending clause such as “essentially a socialist argument” or “that’s class warfare” or “that’s French” to many quotables. Mr. G. may attach a prefix clause such as “What we need is not less of but more of…” and its obverse “What we need is not more of but less of…”

So if one were to argue for extension of unemployment benefits, Mr. G. would say that was “essentially French…” Or, if one were to point out that 2012 wages were fixed at 1968 levels, Mr. G. would say “that’s class warfare…. Or, if one were to call for a higher rate of tax on the wealthy, Mr. G. would say “that’s French.” Or if one were to ask Mr. G. about getting money out of politics or taking guns away or protective walls along the Mexican border, he would advocate more not less. And if one were to ask Mr. G. whether we needed more environmental regulations, or more welfare programs, or more taxes on the wealthy, or an increase in the budgets of governmental agencies, or an increase in regulation of Wall Street, he would advocate less not more.

Mr. G. truly feels that children in poor neighborhoods are not entrapped by poverty but are entrapped by child labor laws preventing them from doing janitorial work in their schools. I imagine that if such onerous child labor laws were discarded poor children could do the janitorial work in the schools their wealthy peers attend. I submit that the mind that released this thought is a dark and strange mind, the sort of mind that I’m sure has too often gained the political power it sought.

I felt at that moment on firm ground, that knowing Mr. G. had enabled me to recognize the aberrant and discern that my own mind was a great distance from it. This was something like a sudden abatement of fever as dawn approached. I was, however, not out of the darkness but going deeper into it.

I have now, my dear Reader, parsed the more mentally sound of those seeking leadership of my homeland, although I am here saying no more than does the gentleman who visits an asylum and after many hours conversing with those claiming to be Batman, Napoleon and George Washington, is compelled to view an alien abductee as mentally sound.

Mr. Rhomboid, Mr. Sanctimiousity, and Mr. Gazbagg, Ph.D occupy a lunatic fringe but the heart of that lunacy is occupied by Ms. Moonbat, Mr. Ninny, Mr. Texas Fryem, and Dr. Austrian

I was among a small group who joined with Ms. Moonbat in celebrating Elvis’s birthday although we were at once informed that it was actually an anniversary of the poor man’s humiliating departure from this world.

Ms. Moonbat was not in any way discomposed by this correction but seemed to relish the occasion in a manner that sent a chill through my body. Her eyes, which were transfixing, never blinked, reminding me of Mr. Bela Lugosi’s mesmerizing gaze into the eyes of those whose blood he was about to suck.

And so began Ms. Moonbat’s assault on her opponents, which she unfortunately had to engage by using words attached to meaning. Such was not her forte. I must say she enjoyed history, especially the rewriting of, which is what we all inevitably do to suit our own needs. But Ms. Moonbat’s revisions of history were the sort that blew up in her face, as an improperly cleaned rifle may do. She interpreted Paul Revere’s ride to warn the colonists that the British were coming as a ride to warn the British that the British were coming. Ms. Moonbat also told us that John Quincy Adams and “the others” – who, if one were to follow Ms. Moonbat’s historical chronology could have included anyone from any century — had wrestled with and resolved the slavery question when they wrote the Constitution.

I must report that in my feverish state of mind, it was not at all a blessing to run into Ms. Moonbat whose brainless jouissance fed my delirium and made all attempts to hold on to a rational sanity extremely difficult. I realize that profit-making is an occupation of the present and that history is only yesterday’s “Dow,” but it seemed to me that anyone who confounds the past into absolute senselessness as does Ms. Moonbat will approach the present in the same fashion.

Her revisions of history and sense, from any perspective, were quite Mad Hatter but somehow led me to question whether her interpretations possessed an originality my own assaulted mind was too feeble to grasp. For the sake of my own sanity, I had to conclude that she was just an idiot.

Of course, she may be very aware of her idiocy and is therefore using it as a rod to beat us all into confusion, rather like the way a squawking parrot drives us out of the room. If such is the case, she would be a “knowing idiot,” the sort of sly idiot who has no way of overcoming her idiocy but mysteriously retains an instinct to employ it to the best advantage. In this, I may have pithily described the nature of all politicians.

The more I observed Ms. Moonbat, the more I was convinced by her unflappable responses to all instances in which her comments were overturned by sanity and reason that she was something of a pragmatist. I mean that she knew that idiocy worked in a world saturated with idiocy. She knew that accolades would greet her while those who pointed out her idiocies would appear as elitist know-it-alls, that her unblinking fixed gaze and irrepressible jubilance would squash all mean spirited interrogation. Of course, she protected herself from such interrogation by announcing her program to lead the homeland through 140 character transmissions allowed on Twitter. More lengthy transmissions could be found on various social networks where photographs and clip art replaced words as in the cave painting tradition.

On this occasion – the sort of sudden and crystal clear scene that only a 104 temperature can produce — Ms. Moonbat went on from Elvis to John Wayne, informing us that she had been born in the same town as had that screen idol. Someone at once informed her that it was the serial killer John Wayne Gacy and not the screen actor who was born in her hometown. She received this correction also with the great enthusiasm as if a notorious serial killer was a draw to her hometown. And who am I to say that free enterprise cannot make a profit on the memory of a notorious serial killer?

Ms. Moonbat went on to tell us that someone’s daughter had received what she referred to as, “you know an injection, a vaccine injection and had immediately suffered from mental retardation.” Ms. Moonbat also felt that swine flu had a habit of breaking out when a Democrat was in office. She was also certain that God was speaking to her husband and therefore she felt bound to be submissive to him, citing her husband’s wish that she become a tax attorney which she accordingly obliged.

She urged us to judge people as whether they were pro-homeland or anti-homeland. I at that point asked whether she would recommend my travels to other lands so that I could judge for myself the quality and vigor of their customs, laws and talk. She advised me to stay close to the homeland and avoid foreigners. Why would I leave a country that so many were risking their lives to illegally enter?

Someone then asked if she had a plan to increase jobs to which she responded that the minimum wage should be abolished so that employers could hire at whatever level they wished. There would be a great number of jobs available at a wage of one dollar an hour or less.

It was at this point that I either gave up on Ms. Moonbat or my fever broke somewhat. I wished her well in her contortions and distortions of history, politics and reality itself, I went in search of Mr. Nine, who as good fortune would have it, I found at Don Corleone Pizza shop sitting at a table with Mr. Texas Fryem.

The gentlemen were arguing over the causes of the American Revolution, which Mr. Texas Fryem located in the 16th century. When I stated that there was nothing more than European exploration of the New World in the 16th century, Mr. Nine frowned and said we were not here to talk about parts of the world he didn’t think about.

“9-9-9,” he exclaimed, holding up nine fingers three times. By this he indicated a 9% business and individual flat tax and a 9% national sales tax.

Mr. Fryem preferred the number 3 and told me that as soon as he was president he would eliminate Federal departments of commerce, education and….. He promised to get back to us on the third.

Mr. Nine then said that it was like the Libya thing, something readers read about but leaders didn’t bother with. He pointed an accusatory finger at me. “We need leaders, not readers.”

Not to be outdone, Mr. Fryem said that putting up money to make the oil business obsolete was a stupid thing to do. He cited some $500 million dollars that was given to the country of Solyndra. I was about to indicate that Solyndra was a corporation and not a country when Mr. Nine asked us if we know how to say the word “stupid thing” in Solyndrin?

Mr. Nine wanted to know whether even one job would materialize from him knowing where “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan” was?

At this point, I fell back from making any amendments and just listened. Even in the delirium of high fever where one is desperate to find some small hold on sanity and reality there are moments when a nonsensical chaos overwhelms and one despairs.

Mr. Nine saw this as a defeated posture and quoted an inspirational poet: ‘Life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, but it’s never easy when there’s so much on the line.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Mr. Fryem exclaimed as our waitress told us she loved that old song by the disco queen Donna Summer.

She put two large pizzas on the table. Mr. Nine pointed to one and said that it wasn’t a sissy pizza or, as he explained it, a pizza with vegetables on it.

“As long as a kid who reaches 21 and can legally vote, votes for me,” Mr. Fryem said, “I’m okay. And I’m not looking to the eight high court judges to count the votes.”

On my way out – which was the sort of exit some part of your mind makes when it can no longer defend itself against voices from the Abyss — I heard Mr. Fryem tell Mr. Nine that he, Fryem, was the best man to defend us from freedom.

Dr. Austrian was a thin, craggy faced man with the sort of constipated look to him that older people display for what I am sure are a variety of somatic and psychological reasons. I noted that his voice squeaked most when he got excited.

I didn’t have a problem meeting up with him because all was arranged as usual by feverish delirium which allows you to enter and exit any scene your sickened mind can concoct.

I met Dr. Austrian at a local bowling alley where he was bowling alone.

I introduced myself as a traveller whose ancestor had gone in search of change and had discovered many odd and new things.

This assertion obviously didn’t interest Dr. Austrian because in response he pointed to the bowling lane in front of us and told me that if that lane was widened ten football fields and extended from Mexico, across the U.S. and into Canada something like the European Union would be created and national sovereignty would end.

While I was wrapping my mind around that, Dr. Austrian told me that a terrorist attack upon our homeland had been greeted with glee because it generated a war cry that could be directed to a target of choice. I knew the matter he was referring to and that there were many “truthers” as they were called who believed that the homeland government had structured a vast conspiracy to provoke a war-shy country into an acceptance of a preemptive attack. Such warmongering had been done in the service of continued protection of homeland corporate interests in a part of the world soon to be within the sphere of influence of a new and rising superpower.

Dr. Austrian told me that aggressive government expansion and not corporate interests were at fault.

I knew that Dr. Austrian was a great champion of personal liberty, which he defined as one of our basic rights along with life and property. As it seemed there was more rational meat here than I had encountered elsewhere among the candidates, I took the liberty of asking him how he reconciled the growing inequities produced by unbridled markets and the resulting constrained freedoms of the so-called “Losers.”

Dr. Austrian found the question to be a sad example of a widespread ignorance of the finely tuned receptors and transmitters of a totally free, self-correcting market. What would happen to the “Losers” would be an increase in a testosterone drive to be a “Winner,” or, such “Losers” would serve as models to others as to what actions and attitudes to avoid. And, at the extreme, “Losers” would represent a sacrifice, a creative destruction out of which markets could attain new heights. Capitalism wasn’t the first religion that had called for victim sacrifice in order to advance its rule.

I could not refrain from arguing that as he defined liberty as the right of people to make choices would not a collapse in the field of choice because of a collapsed livelihood resulting from a casino-like economic system undermine liberty? Would not a destruction of the lives of countless individuals, “creative” or not, preempt the possession of anything, including liberty? And as he had placed “property” as an inalienable right, would not those with all the property have all the power and thus threaten the rights of others?

He gave me a pitying look, one that a must confess, my dear Reader, incentivized my own anger.

“Would not the eventual result of your totally liberated market be blood in the streets? A rising up in the Spring of such revolutionary force that all inequities would be toppled?”

He told me I’d have to go to a banana republic or a one man despotic state for that revolution to work. In our own homeland, there was too much plurality, too much division, and too many distractions to launch anything more than a skirmish in Zuccotti Park. And in his view, self-interest didn’t push anyone into a collective action against those who paid their wages.

I found it necessary to ask Dr. Austrian what sorts of programs he would enact if he became the leader of the homeland.

“I would move more destructively,” he told me, “than moving to add more legislation because we’re already drowning in governmental legislations.”

Solutions were already present and didn’t need to be found. They needed to be applied. Dissolution of what existed was a first step. Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Interior as well as the Federal Reserve needed to be eliminated. The IRS would go as well as membership in the UN. Soft drugs and prostitution would be legalized. The military-industrial complex would fall apart.

Dr. Austrian continued to oppose a civil rights act that granted to the black race rights they had been denied. Dr. Austrian stated that the government had mandated a forced integration that had increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.

I asked him in what ways the blacks in our homeland had suffered a loss of individual liberty as a result of the civil rights movement? He believed that all governmental assistance, in whatever form, led to dependence and not the necessary ambition and drive that free market competitiveness required.

My own thought was that any government intervention for any reason was viewed by Dr. Austrian as an interruption in the workings of a market that had a greater capacity to extend individual liberties than government intervention. Dr. Austrian believed that everyone should do what he wants to do and assume personal responsibility for those choices. He defined freedom as making your choice and taking your own risk.

I knew that this view had many adherents as I had heard cries of “Yes!” when Dr. Austrian has been asked whether society should let a sick man who had chosen not to buy health insurance die. His critical attitude toward the whole idea that people need to be taken care of and protected from their own choices was deeply attached to all notions of rugged individualism and personal freedom from any restraint. The young, anxious to detach themselves from the old and from laws and restraints passed down from traditions they felt they were no part of, took to Dr. Austrian’s defiant rebelliousness as a kindred spirit.

On the issue of abortion, however, Dr. Austrian rescinded a woman’s right to choose because his support of individual freedom necessitated his support of life.

Freedom was an issue only the living could enjoy and he was therefore also opposed to euthanasia, or the freedom to choose to die.

I was reminded of Ayn Rand’s view that no one could claim any rights until they were born and until that time they were a parasitic part of a woman’s body and therefore could be expunged by choice. I had a sense that this attitude complied with Ms. Rand’s overall view of creators and parasites and that the most rational and productive were heroes surrounded by the weak, who fed on the genius of their betters.

This sort of morality in which the weak and helpless are at the mercy of the strong and powerful had little hold on me although a very strong tropical virus now had a hold on me and had reduced me to a helpless interlocutor in sheer madness.

Dr. Austrian had no such view of a parasitic fetus and indeed held that the fetus’s right to life preceded a woman’s right to choose.

I could not help thinking that as a fetus had not chosen to live and therefore was not required to assume personal responsibility that the bedrock of Dr. Austrian’s ethics was not applicable here. I mean, dear Reader, that he had no moral position here because his moral compass extended only to freedom to choose and assuming personal responsibility, neither of which could be accomplished by a fetus.

I also could not extend his moral views to the argument that a woman was free to choose because although choice was possible she could not be involved in the fatal consequences that were to be the fetus’s and not her own.

I find it to be an easy moral decision where one is free to make a choice whose fatal consequences are not one’s own but someone else’s.

I failed, my dear Reader, to see the morality in any of that. Once again, Dr. Austrian’s ethics did not seem applicable here.

I noted that Dr. Austrian’s views on both abortion and euthanasia separated him from the straight line of libertarian logic. He allowed government to constrain personal choice in both matters and he did so because his grounding morality was the morality of allowing market choice and not personal choice to rule. Market rule then owned the field which meant that only the wealthy would be able to fly off to Amsterdam for an abortion and vacation while the less fortunate would fall back on the “back alley market.” And so what the personal freedom Dr. Austrian advocates is a freedom to be enjoyed by the wealthy and denied all others.

I also found it odd that Dr. Austrian advocated a home life in which Western standards in regard to religion, values, education, dress and manners should be imposed. Where was the freedom in that? Wouldn’t freedom demand an expansion beyond one’s cultural precincts? Is freedom present if one lives like a blind mole and has never visited the outside world?

I admit that I was here making a case to myself for my own decision to pick up and leave my homeland, to travel beyond even the barriers already erected in my own mind.

In Dr. Austrian, I found a man who devoutly believed in personal free choice but who yet remained untroubled by the narrowing of those choices for Many. His roulette wheel capitalism had led to a disastrous wealth divide which expanded the choices only of the Very Few.

I concluded that his views were eccentric to both Republican conservatism as well as Ayn Rand inspired Libertarianism.

I rose up in my delirium the way Gladstone and Disraeli had risen up and delivered spellbinding speeches, I rose up in the manner of Demosthenes and Cicero, in the manner of William Jennings Bryan and Abraham Lincoln. I rose up in the way it is only possible to do at the pinnacle of high crackup, at that moment before our convulsions cease.

My dear Reader, I believe that the hand of Reason should be placed on the wheel of the Goddess Fortuna so that our destinies are not driven by chance which places some in a power position and others in that of a pawn.

When decisions regarding the well being of society are left to the rise and fall of stock prices, the base appetites and not reason and compassion are in play. The vicissitudes of our own human nature are sufficient to create a world in which clashing wills and passions incite a turbulence not to be tamed by clashing visions of order.

I have no belief that a market rule establishes a realm detached from our own nature and yet provides an order to it. While I grant that a free play of markets removes or hopes to remove any interfering governmental control, it does not remove itself from the influence of those it has already made fortunate. The hand of wealth and power does not guide the hand of the Goddess Fortuna but has fixed the wheel she spins. And it is not, my dear Reader, fixed to turn in the direction of reason and compassion but self-interest and greed.

I therefore see the signs pasted everywhere urging us to “Let Markets Rule!” as senseless and despotic as long buried signs declaring “Mussolini is Always Right!”

I am not willing to accept “heroic self-interest” as the highest peak we struggle to reach, but rather a “base” camp,” a starting point in a long climb to a selflessness that brings us closer to others and the world outside our own appetites. The self-serving in the end serve themselves only the dust of their own repeated journeys into themselves.

We are, as Goethe recognized, apprenticed in a self-exploration, a curiosity as to our own being, but is an apprenticeship and not the end of our life’s journey. We are to travel beyond and away from that place where our own self-absorption ruled.

I heard someone faintly applaud and then I fell for the first time in days into a restful sleep in which my mind was spared any further participation in lunacy.


Joseph Natoli is a retired college professor and author of numerous books on culture and politics. Learn more about him at www.josephnatoli.com.

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All published chapters archived:

Ron Paul Moves To Repeal Indefinite Detention Of American Citizens Without Trial!

Ralph Nader: Ron Paul and I agree on ending the empire

Travels of a New Gulliver: Chapter 1 by Joseph Natoli