This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

The politics of whatever

You went to vote bursting with enthusiasm, proud of your right to have a say. We can only laugh at your naïveté. None of us still believes today that he can change something with his vote. We only vote if there’s nothing good on TV.

~ Markus Willinger

You don’t vote with passion. In fact, you probably don’t vote at all. For this you are said to be socially apathetic—a political deadbeat who prefers to leave his thinking and acting to others. The truth is precisely the opposite though, isn’t it? It is not that you don’t care enough to vote. It’s that you care enough not to vote. You’ve discerned the futility of the affair and you simply choose not to be patronized.

You’ve watched the presidency change hands every few years, and every time you have to endure the media and the party members propagandizing you, promising utopia if “their guy” wins, and assuring us that our civilization will collapse if “the enemy” is victorious. Well, you’ve seen both guys win a number of times, and it seems to you that civilization is still collapsing.

When it comes down to it, neither party is much interested in what you and I would call civilization—they are only interested in their victories and their control over the machinery. They want to be at the helm so they can steer, but we don’t care for where they are steering. They aren’t concerned with good government. American political life is not about governing and hasn’t been for a long time. That’s why we don’t care much for the whole circus.

This isn’t a “neutral” stance. We aren’t “undecided.” We are very much decided. We’ve just decided against both of the options before us.

We don’t hate democracy. We just happen to believe that there is more to democracy than filling out ballots. We know that just getting to pick between two smiling millionaires on TV, neither of whom we know anything about, is not democracy, it is an insult. We don’t feel privileged; we feel patronized.

Unless we have some say as to who appears on the ballot, then we really don’t have any say at all. We’ll consider voting when we’ve chosen what we’re going to vote about and who we’re going to vote for. We’ve never felt like that. The fact that most Americans believe that their vote is their voice is something incomprehensible to us—to those of our type.

But the machine presses forward each year with greater fanfare, with campaigns so expensive that it is downright embarrassing, and men continue to passionately following the drama. We don’t believe politics is about self-government. Things have gone too haywire for anyone to believe that our democracy provides this function. It is all too far-removed from us and abstract.

We have come to know what it’s really all about. It’s about coping with the modern man’s impotent and somewhat meaningless existence. Men are thwarted at every turn, kept spiritually inert and mentally anesthetized, glutted by all the basest of human pleasures; and because men feel the reality of their situation weighing upon them, they experience inner turmoil. They want so badly to act and to actually do something in the world besides watch TV and make more money. Democracy, the abstract notion of participating in the grand decisions of government, offers them that salvation, and they seize upon it. Democracy provides a promise—a promise of potency, self-assertion, and control in an undermined existence.

That’s the political climate into which we were born. We cannot watch a political debate without feeling pain and we can’t watch a state of the union address without falling asleep.

We see nothing but a bunch of thwarted and angry men who crave an escape. For this escape they need only two things: They need an enemy and a savior—and that only requires two parties. That’s why politics has degenerated into party politics, with the same two tribes warring year after year. If men were looking for a variety of options that they could sift through in order to select the truest and most prudent solution to a problem, they’d need several parties. If men wanted truly talented and timely leaders, they’d demand a variety of candidates and they’d find a way to extend the selection process beyond the rich and politically groomed. But they don’t want options, timeliness, prudence, or communication; they only want an opponent.

They don’t want variety; they want a villain on whom they can project all the evil and oppression that they feel weighing upon their souls. That’s why they only need two tribes. One is “us,” the heroes; the other is “them,” the villains. The villain matters more than the hero though. He’s what is important—he’s the scapegoat that the modern man requires to in order to cope. That’s why even “our guy” usually isn’t that appealing. He doesn’t need to be. He only needs to be politically groomed in such a way that he can be used to defeat the great demonic enemy.

The problem is that you and I were born too late to buy into the drama. We look on at the animosity and we can’t get excited about it—it disturbs us, but it doesn’t move us. We can’t tell hero from villain. In fact, we don’t even see a hero. We just see two villains. Occasionally though we will see each side do something slightly heroic or respectable. In short, we see their contradictions and so we recognize them for what they are: human, flawed, and angry. Neither candidate is the demon that we are led to believe. They might be stupid, bigoted, or hypocritical, but they are only men, and they usually have some redeeming qualities.

So, as was the case with the churches, we do not abstain from the voting booths because we don’t care. We simply refuse to put our stamp of approval on a party suit who we know can do nothing for us and who is certainly serving his own moneyed interests. We don’t trust him. He has nothing to do with our lives. He’s after power, and we don’t have any power. All we have is a vote, and even though we don’t believe our vote counts, we see no reason to give it away. So we remain silent.

Our political stance is the most practical expression of our doubt. It isn’t an inner agnosticism, because at least in this area we know exactly what we think and why we do what we do. Because we know and have passed judgment, we do not participate. We stand apart. We’ll participate when there is actually something to participate in.

We see the structure in decay, collapsing. We see the people standing inside beckoning us to enter and join the party (their party, of course). But we can’t do it. We don’t want the roof to fall in on our heads. If we can someday get enough of them out here with us, we’ll give the falling structure the final push ourselves, and send it to the ground. That’s the only responsible thing to do with a dilapidated building. You don’t want anyone getting killed when it falls on its own. So that’s what we’d do. We’d push the whole thing over and build again. But for now there are far too many people still inside, screaming and yelling and angry, but refusing to leave. So we stand apart and wait, not indifferent, just patient.

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