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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Reading and Watching Thompson

I like Hunter S. Thompson.  It always give me hope to see a writer of the modern age who is revered, respected, and (oh, hell) known.  He was an uncompromising idealist, who didn't care about making you like him or being nice about the truth.  If you didn't like him, or couldn't take it, well--any ready of Thompson knows where they can go and what they can do.

But I don't get Thompson.  I don't understand idealism, even though I am an idealist.  At his best, he was a knife to the social fabric of American.  At his worst, Hunter looked like a child, stomping his feet for not getting his way.

All or nothing thinking can drive you mad.  If nothing else, it leaves us gridlocked.

Looking around, I can't see how anyone could look at the USA and maintain a state of belligerent idealism as Hunter did before he died.  The 2000's have been an patent rip off of the 60's and 70's.  Our military is essentially dictating foreign and domestic policy.  We are fighting wars, not out of necessity or moral compulsion, but because we're scared.  

There is an idea we don't understand, lurking in that mysterious place beyond our colorful borders, and we will bankrupt this country searching for the bomb that can finally annihilate thought--kill mind, not state.  Until then, all liberties--except the right to mow down unarmed civilians as fast as you can per second--is up for the chopping block.  It's like being at GM on bailout day.

It's all so eerie just how similar Iraq and Afghanistan are to Korea and Vietnam, apart of how most Americans cannot find them on a map.  They were wars against the idea of Communism.  We were scared that the thought might spread if we didn't shoot as many people as possible.  There was no real goal, then or now.  Stop Communism?  Defeat Terrorism?  You might as well wage war on Osmosis.

Vietnam, like Iraq, was a set up from the beginning.  We were lied to by our leaders, and dragged into a cowboy's wet dream.  It took years to wake up and realize that there were no WMD's--another Tet Offensive.  The end for both has been only negative.  Saigon fell without us to prop it up.  Iraq is always threatening to fall into Civil War...again.

Hunter may have wanted to be the catalyst or fuse in the powder drum, but 30 years and countless wars later the world is much the same.  Things might move a little faster.  Cars burn less fuel.  Facts are still facts, even if leaders are still all about keeping them under wraps.

All that changes are the faces.  Congress got a bit browner.  The White House is a lot blacker.  That doesn't change our policies of undeclared wars, spying on Americans, detention of innocent civilians, war crimes to never be accounted for.

My greatest fear is that out entire political system has gone Gonzo.  It's an easy things to imagine when he you see Tea Party Repulicans wishing to tear down our social safety nets, pour guns out on the streets.  Libertarians, like Ran Paul--a pale shadow compared to his better qualified father--as they try to choke out our economy with shutdowns and sensationalism.  It's as though it is all being filtered through a pill, vodka, and peyote fever dream.

I guess what I really would have liked is for Thompson to have grown more as a writer, so that he could have broke out of his persona--his Gonzo character.  We might have gotten the most insightful work of the 2000's out of him.  Who knows, maybe it could have been the format for the next 30 years of politico in the USA.  The thoughts of a wiser, aged man, whose mind has been form through tumultuous times and an IBM Selectric.