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Same Dark Spirit at Work by Andrew Bard Schmookler

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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 10:04 AM
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Same Dark Spirit at Work by Andrew Bard Schmookler

This is the second installment of a series. The first installment of that "Craziness in America" series --"Obama Has to Address It"-- can be found at


It is now four and a half years since I first felt called, or pulled, into confronting the darkness that had taken control of America in the form of the Bushite regime.

In those years, there have arisen innumerable issues, and events, and players warranting comment and discussion. But beneath all the particulars, I have consistently felt, this American drama is best understood as being enacted at a more basic level-- one that might be called, for want of a better word, spiritual.

And that spiritual drama could be summed up in the ancient phrase, "the battle between good and evil" or --inasmuch as I see these in naturalistic terms, as involving the interplay of vast patterns that operate in cultural systems across the generations-- the struggle between the forces of Wholeness and those of Brokenness.

The place where I develop that idea in greatest depth is "The Concept of Evil: Why It is Intellectually Valid and Politically and Spiritually Important" (written in 2005, and posted at click here But in dozens of other essays I've continually made reference to this deeper perspective, using phrases such as "the same dark spirit" to call attention to this deep level of the human drama: the level where patterns of brokenness (or wholeness) act "as if" animated by intent, operating opportunistically so as to give the appearance that --more fundamentally than it is human beings governing events to achieve their own purposes-- it is the "spirit" that's using human beings to achieve its own destructive ends.

That notion of "the same dark spirit" seems especially relevant now. It is in this perspective that this new "rise of craziness" on the right in America can best be understood.


In recent weeks, I've come across perhaps ten commentators who have wondered out loud about the apparent folly of the course the Republicans have been taking. Why be so extreme, so obstructionist, so purely negative, so divisive, so focused on arousing their diminishing base, diminishing themselves into a regional party, making themselves so unattractive to the independent voters who will decide future elections, and so forth? Why do they seem so bent upon a path that will only compound the erosion of their political fortunes?

All good questions.

We are accustomed to looking at human action, and the conduct of professional political actors in particular, as motivated by rational calculations of how best to serve one's self-interest. Seen through that prism, the whipping up of this craziness may indeed make no sense.

But if we see these actors not so much as self-governing and rational agents but more as being (in some sense) possessed by a spirit of brokenness, this apparently self-destructive course becomes more explicable.

I wish to admit that when I speak of these "dark spirits," and of the notion of people becoming "possessed" by them, I am less than crystal clear just how these ideas are to be understood. These are dimension of our reality that, as I said in "The Concept of Evil," "are at once so difficult for us to grasp on the basis of our immediate and mundane experience so vital to understanding whats happening in our world..."

But let's set aside the difficulties of comprehension and see how well it works to see things in this way.


First, as I just suggested, postulating this deeper spiritual level offers a solution to the mystery of the apparently self-defeating nature of the current strategy of the Republicans. It may well be that pursuing the course of whipping up craziness will condemn the Republicans to the status of a minority party for years to come.

(It's even possible that the Republican Party could be thrown onto the ash-heap of history, as has not happened to a major American political party since, a century and a half ago, the Whig Party disappeared, and was replaced by the Republicans who gained the presidency, under Lincoln, in only their second time out. Which, if that happens, the Republicans would richly deserve-- they, who gave us the most destructive, the most dishonest, the most lawless presidency in the nation's history.)

But this self-destructive behavior nonetheless serves the cause of the spirit of brokenness-- just as did the self-destructiveness of the Bushite evil.

This is part of the pattern of evil (see "Evil Leaders Destroy What They Claim To Love" at click here The Bushite evil was true to form, destroying the very things that the actors claim to be serving: in trying to assert an imperial U.S. dominance on the planet, they eroded American power more rapidly than any presidency I can recall; in trying to facilitate the wealth-grabbing greed of corporate America, they set the stage for the greatest loss of corporate wealth since the Great Depression; in trying to create a "permanent" Republican majority (their equivalent of the 1000 Year Reich), they've put the Republicans on a path toward ever diminishing power; etc.

I had some hopes that with the departure of the Bushite leadership, the Republicans might come out from under the influence of the darkness that had worked through the likes of Bush and Cheney. (The image I've used is the liberation of the monkey-minions of the Wicked Witch of the West after Dorothy's bucket of water has melted her and all her "lovely wickedness.") But instead, it seems that America's right wing remains a channel (or vessel, or container) for the same dark spirit that worked through that presidency.

Self-destructiveness is but part of this shared pattern between the Bushite regime and the current craziness. It is useful to look at other such shared patteerns, because these patterns represent the "shadows," as it were, that this "spirit" cast upon our visible reality, and thus allow us to infer the underlying spiritual reality that we cannot see directly.

While there are many such patterns in common between the Bushite presidency and the present anti-Obama virulence --one could add "divisiveness" and "dishonesty" to the pattern of destructiveness-- there's one particular pattern I want to emphasize.


Look at the evils of the Bushite regime: trampling on the law and the Constitution with torture and warrantless wiretapping etc.; signing statements and claims of the Unitary Executive; using bogus claims of executive privilege to block Congress from functioning as a check and balance; expanding the "commander-in-chief" role to usurp power and place it beyond any check from legislative or judicial branches; dismantling regulation for the corporate powers embedded in its power system; etc.


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RandomThoughts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 10:52 AM
Response to Original message
1. Interesting thoughts on the topic.
For the most part I agree with his article. I wanted to add a quote from the last part of the article, I think it is accurate, and one more reason to continue the good fight.

The battle between good and evil in the American system continues. The Bushite regime has been struck down, but the spirit that animates it has adopted a new opportunistic strategy to inflict maximal destruction: as the now-subordinate power in the legal political system, this dark spirit now works to inflame passions to work outside the legal framework.

We are at a moment like at the end of so many monster movies: the monster seems for a moment to have been struck down, but we have only been lulled into thinking that it has been defeated. It rises up again still more full of rage from its wounds for one final lashing out.

In the films, the heroes stand their ground and succeed at last in adminstering the truly mortal blows. Although with dark spirits such as this, there is no final death, we too must stand our ground and continue the fight until this monstrous force that has risen up in America is truly defeated and moves back underground, unable to impede us further in rebuilding the Wholeness of our damaged nation.
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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 11:23 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Very good insight.
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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 04:25 AM
Response to Original message
3. Indeed, the CRAZY must be addressed!
:kick: I would encourage anyone stopping by to also read the first link! Thanks, Joanne! :loveya:
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tomreedtoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 06:02 AM
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4. I'm uncomfortable with this analysis.
I'm reminded of an article from decades ago, written by a feminist, explaining why various women refused to accept the women's liberation movement. The reasons all boiled down to "they're sick."

This writer is approaching the Right and the Republicans as "The Other." Some people who are easily described as "Not Us." And his explanation as to why they are Not Us - much as he is deliberately trying to avoid fundamentalist Christian terms - is "Satan is inside them."

The only way to get people to change - recognizing that not everyone ever will change - is to remember that they are human beings too. They are driven by the same needs, drives and passions as us. They are not "Not Us." They ARE Us.
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formercia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 10:13 AM
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5. The cornered beast always expresses its true nature.
When times were good, they could put on a pretty face and lie at will, knowing that they were in control and that anyone who dared say that "the king hath no clothes", could be ridiculed, discredited with more lies and banished to the fringes of society.
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