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The Politics of Cruelty

Our Enlightenment Legacy On the Ropes

I’ve been reading a lot these days about the Age of Enlightenment, the period that flowered in the 18th century as a counter to the dark ages of medievalism when religious mysticism and authoritarianism ruled. Science began to flourish; democracy came into its own with people like Thomas Jefferson and the constitutional creation of the United States of America. Humanism took root; an openness to information and new ideas prevailed. The Rule of Law found roots and grew. As a force of reform to pull the world out of a long, dark nightmare, the metaphor of Light shoved the metaphor of Darkness into the deep shadows. The Enlightenment, of course, is the root of what we call Liberalism, something that has been under assault from both the Left and the Right for decades. Much of the criticism from the left is valid but not based on a critique of Liberalism itself; rather it's more a critique of the corrupt hypocrisy of many so-called liberals. Liberalism was a reaction to oppressive, constricting times, an opening to new ideas. The notorious 19th century Know Nothing Party was, of course, a reaction to this liberal opening of ideas. The Enlightenment and Liberalism did not happen in a vacuum. It was a reaction that grew from the ground up based on the idea that knowledge or Light as a tool of power was better for the future of humankind than ignorance or Darkness. The struggle turns out to be a perennial one; just consider the right-wing ideologue Grover Norquist's famous prescription for The New Deal: He wanted to drown it in the bathtub. That effort now is in full swing.

Sonia Nazario makes it clear in a long New York Times op-ed, how the Trump administration is blatantly breaking the law by splitting immigrant families. It's so overt and in-your-face it effectively amounts to beefing up the incredible level of corruption already in full flower in the Americas and the world. Central America has deep roots in US-friendly corruption. Mexico’s corruption is over the top and noted for the worst kinds of bribery and violence. Brazil’s government is so imbued with corrupt it’s hard to keep score. Trump’s actions debasing the Rule of Law only sink the US deeper into what is a worldwide morass. Employing Rudy Giuliani as cultural obfuscator vis-a-vis Robert Mueller further debases the idea of the Rule of Law by creating confusion that “trumps” the legal discussion and re-directs it into the realm of politics, where corruption has become normalized with rulings like Citizens United.



story | by Dr. Radut