Roger L. Simon

Election '08: Living in a Chinese Curse

Many of us recognize that most famous of Chinese curses – “May you live in interesting times!”  Well, I just checked its Wikipedia entry to see that it is, no surprise, of questionable provenance. “No known user of the English phrase has supplied the purported Chinese language original, and the Chinese language origin of the phrase, if it exists, has not been found, making its authenticity doubtful. One theory is that it may be related to the Chinese proverb, ‘It’s better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic period.””

Personally, having tasted dog (inadvertently and only once) during a visit to the People’s Republic of China in 1979 (full story here), I am more taken with the dramatic Chinese original.  But whatever the case we are indeed living in interesting times, the stock market – even the presidential polls – rocketing around like a roller coaster on steroids. What are we to think?  What are we to do?

Well, in all this chaos, the election has finally reached a moment of possible clarity after what feels like decades. The key issue has at last emerged and I must say I am completely taken aback because I never thought, in 2008, we would be voting on the sentimental social system of my own youthful idealism – socialism.

Now don’t go crazy on me here, because I know full well socialism is a very broad brush and the extent Barack Obama is a socialist is truly unknown (probably to him as well).  But what is clear is that he has that sentimental attraction to “fairness”, an attraction that historically has proven not to be fair at all.  Socialism most often screws the very people it purports to help. You don’t have to be Joe the Plumber to know that. Those who profit are a New Class – not proletarian or even “middle class” (in that new Obamanian parlance for the proletariat) – but a class closely allied to the one described years ago in Milovan Djilas’ classic analysis of communism that I just linked (The New Class). I am talking of course about the alliance (in our culture) between the mainstream media, the academy and Hollywood- an American nomenclatura all of whom profit tremendously from that system.  The plumbers of the world – fuhgeddaboudit.

Of course that system isn’t socialism really but a chimera that allows the new class to function and profit without censorship or guilt.

But Chinese curse or not, the next three weeks should be very interesting.  John McCain has his work cut out for him.  The New Class will be defending their interests with all their might.  Why shouldn’t they?  What remains to be seen is who will be eating dog in November?