As we approach the holiday season many people turn to thoughts on tradition, heritage, principles, duty, honor and family. They consider the accomplishments and even the failures of the past and where we are headed in the future. For most of the year, the average American will keep their heads in the sands of monotony and decadence and distraction. But during this time, even in the midst of the consumption frenzy it has been molded into, people tend to reflect, and they find joy, and they find worry.
What perhaps does not come to mind very often though are the institutions and structures that provide the “stability” by which our society is able to continue in a predictable manner. While many of these institutions are not built with the good of the public in mind, they often indirectly secure a foundation that can be relied upon, for two or three generations, while securing power for the establishment. The problem is, the establishment is never satisfied with a static or semi-peaceful system for very long. They are not satisfied by being mostly in control, they seek total control. Thus, they are often willing to create chaos and crisis and even tear down old structures that previously benefited them in order to gain something even greater (and more oppressive for the rest of us).
The official Thanksgiving holiday, for example, did not really begin as a homage to the colonial settlers and pilgrims of America’s birth and their struggles to build a new life. It began far later, in 1863 as the Civil War was raging. It was the Civil War that upset the traditional balance of power between the states and the federal government, nearly annihilating the nation and asserting federal power as unquestionable for decades to come. A moment of great chaos which destroyed old institutions (like the 10th Amendment) but gave establishment elitists even more control in the end.
In Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation for the Thanksgiving holiday, he stated: “In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity … peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict.”
This may sound like a rather delusional claim on Lincoln’s part as we look back now at that time period, especially for those who understand how much freedom was actually lost in the process. But this is what the establishment does — it provides some security and some stability for a time, then suddenly rips it away to frighten the masses into conforming to increased centralization, then it returns that security and stability afterwards as a reward for our compliance.
In 1864, Lincoln gave a second proclamation for a Thanksgiving holiday, stating that: “I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust.” Now, I sometimes wonder if Lincoln was referring to reverence for God, or reverence to the power structure which was about to give back some of the predictability and tranquility it had taken away?
Well, America has enjoyed another period of relative calm in terms of institutional peace and most citizens have grown rather used to the idea that this calm is somehow the norm. However, it is becoming ever more clear that another shock to the system is coming, this time through domestic and international events, and some of the old world structures we are used to seeing may not exist afterwards. Here are just a few…