Thursday, April 29, 2021

US Politics: The Regime Question


US Politics: The Regime Question

Peter Schultz


            According to Aristotle, the most important political phenomenon was something he called “the regime.” There were, basically, six regimes, three healthy ones and three diseased ones. The healthy ones were monarchy, aristocracy, and polity, while the diseased ones were tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy. Now, if that sounds simplistic, it appears that Aristotle agrees because in several books on his Politics, he delineates many more regimes as they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.


            Nonetheless, Aristotle never retracted his original scheme and, so, it would seem worthwhile to wonder how the US could be characterized. And in a moment of clarity, I realized that the best description of the US regime is that it is a murderous oligarchy. I leave to the side whether this description best fits the US political order only recently or whether it is a description that fits the US political order since at least the ratification and implementation of the Constitution of 1787. The Anti-Federalists, those who opposed the ratification of that constitution, proved some ammunition for saying that the Constitution created if not a murderous oligarchy than it certainly established a violent oligarchy. How could a political order founded on slavery and extermination be otherwise described?


            What this means is that our regime, our murderous oligarchy colors our way of life, and most importantly is embraced by our political and social elites. So, for example, religion in the US takes on the hues provided by our regime. “Kill a Commie for Christ,” a mantra common in the 50s and 60s, was one illustration of such a phenomenon. And, of course, that President Bush spoke of “a crusade” after 9/11 is another illustration, along with his creation of what he called “an axis of evil.” The evil of terrorism, meaning everyone knew Islamic terrorism, was to be wiped from the face of the earth.


            The glamorization of the military and the militarization of our domestic police forces are other illustrations of how our regime, our murderous oligarchy, pervades and influences our lives on a daily basis.  Fighter planes, that is, killing machines fly over our social celebrations like the World Series and the Super Bowl, as a matter of course. People “ooh and aah” as they do and almost no one would say, “Bet they don’t ooh and aah in Baghdad when those planes fly over.”


            Since the end of World War II, US elites have been involved directly or indirectly in the deaths of between 20 million and 30 million people in the world. No other nation comes close to that death toll. And, yet, Americans, even those who vote for elites who have taken pride in their capacity to kill people, continue to “pray for peace,” while thinking we are a peaceful people. It would seem, however, that in this regard the American people are delusional. Of course, it would not be the first time a people have been delusional; it would not even be the first time the American people have been delusional.

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