TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT
Op/Ed by James Strauss
Today’s political parties are divided in what is considered an extremely polarized way. The practice of government by democracy itself is questioned because of what is seen as the potential violence of the difference between republicans and democrats. These parties are sometimes called by other names, such as conservatives and progressives, or worse. Through the developmental history of the United States, however, this period of polarization and the contemplation that things are so extreme that they could cause the dissolution of the very country almost every citizen treasures and appreciates is not that uncommon.
This attitude and such fears are unfounded if history is going to be considered. There was a time when these two belief systems (back then the republicans were the progressives, and the democrats were the conservatives) clashed so violently that a civil war was undertaken. Hundreds of thousands died in that war (about 750,000). Following that war, both houses of congress fought with one another so hard that representatives in both houses were stabbed and shot. Duels to the death were not that uncommon.
Today, such duels are outlawed and violence inside either of the U.S. Houses of Representation is also outlawed, with punishments for violators that are draconian in size and miscreants pursued with never-ending determination (as the rioters who broke into the houses on January 6th of 2021 are discovering to their shock and dismay). The government of the United States has never been more stable and possessed of massive inertia than it is today. No riot, attack, or other outlandish events, whether accidental or planned, is likely to topple it.
This article isn’t about toppling the government, however, or even considering that. It’s about the anthropology that lays at the foundation of all government, not just that of the United States. Anthropology is a word that comes from the Greek language. It means, when broken apart, the study of human beings. Through all of history anthropologists have easily and often concluded that the republican and democratic parties are great representations of the real reason that the culture, and all cultures on planet earth, are divided, have been divided, and will remain divided.
That cause is all about the possession of wealth (goods, money, toys, homes, etc.) by some, and the lack of possession by others. The possessors of wealth are always in the minority when it comes to numbers. The other part of every society, the larger part, are not possessors of much in the way of wealth. The possessors have a nearly common characteristic, and that is that they do not want to share their wealth or much of it. Those who make up the majority want them to share what they have, usually much more than they want to share.
Sociobiology also plays a role in this eternal struggle. We are all competing at every level, right to the death, to propagate and then to support those who become progeny of that propagation (husband, wife, and family). Humans seek, at nearly all costs, to proliferate and multiply. With these two concepts in mind, one can quickly come to understand that there is no inherent evil attached to being either a republican or a democrat. One can also quickly conclude that there is going to be no end to this never-ending conflict between belief systems.
Work is another factor to consider, once the root causes of societal discontent are established, as I have laid out here. Work is generally considered the performance of some service or the making and selling of some product that creates a form of wealth sharing, however minimal it may be. That work is not exclusive to the people who have less and want more is not true. Many of the wealthy work so much that they give the appearance of being addicted to such endeavor. But, work and the resulting compensation paid for it in an economic structure as we observe in the USA is generally considered the key measuring device in order to motivate almost any sharing. Those who receive things and don’t work for them are considered to be the lowest of the low, although inheritance is excluded from such social stigmatization.
Giant stars of sports and entertainment, and even high office in government, are also excluded from being judged based upon any work ethic. There is no amount of work, for example, that can be assigned to a football quarterback that would justify many multi-millions of dollars in pay. Those humans are ‘stars,’ where even the assignment of racial intonations and prejudice are ignored or forgiven.
Given the anthropology considerations, anyone reading this article and thinking along the same lines (once revealed) should experience a lessening of emotion. The modern media is great at building emotion but the result of that is many times only depression, attacking in the wrong direction, or simply lassitude. Life in the USA has never been better, in almost every respect, and it remains a whole lot better than anywhere else on earth.