Demonocracy

Having sleepless nights over Trump’s victory? Sleeping badly ever since the Brexit fiasco? Your faith in democracy shaken, you are beginning to see demonocracy everywhere? Relax, stop worrying, you’re just suffering from a mild form of (political) anxiety neurosis. In your imagination, the Greek demos – for ‘common people’ – has coupled itself with the Latin Hydra – that’s the hydra-headed monster – to lay an egg on which is written either ‘Donald’ or ‘Hillary’, depending on your confession. ‘Hillary’ failed to hatch, but ‘Donald’ has squirmed his way into the White House while America’s first black President is still in it. For shame.

America is divided, the United States are no longer united – they’re shooting anyone who dares to make that stupidest of all puns from California to New York and from Maine to Mexico, I hear. Otherwise I’d say that for the first time, America is as united as the United Nations, which it hosts. Which brings me to an idea! What Britain’s and America’s democracy needs is a kind of veto – naturally for the educated, liberal, progressive classes. In which case, anytime the folk is stupid enough to vote for Trump, say, we just trump it with our veto, looking as inscrutable or as bland as the Russian or the Chinese representative on the Security Council.

But there’s a problem. All the other groups such as the non-college whites, the blacks from Bernie Sanders enthusiasts to gangsta rappers, Latinos legal or illegal, won’t they be calling for their own veto powers as well? In which case, won’t they be shooting down all our president-elects? Will it not end the way they choose the Secretary-General of the United Nations or the heads of the IMF and the World Bank and so on? Everybody a compromise candidate and no winners or losers and no competition, in effect? But isn’t that exactly what we’re doing, what we’ve always done? Isn’t that the quintessence of democracy, choosing the lesser evil – at times even the least evil! – and hoping for the best?

Funny that everybody’s looking at the White House and sparing hardly a glance for the House of Representatives or the Senate – because that’s where they all sit, the power dealers and the power brokers, though Trump spat in their soup too, as the Germans would have put it. It stinks, as the Germans would say, the whole political structure, and not just in America. I remember asking my father as an adolescent – I was the adolescent, not my father! – why it was so difficult to find five hundred honest and upright men – feminism was still a far cry in India – I was asking my father, why can’t we find five hundred honest men to sit in the parliament and choose the government and pass the legislation and so on. Aren’t there five hundred honest men in India? I asked like a teenage Seneca. ‘Yes,’ father said, ‘but how are you going to get them into the parliament?’ Ah, democracy and elections and what-have-you would get in the way, would they? I saw my father’s logic. Not that it helped.

With almost medieval simplicity, German anchors have been asking their American talk show guests: ‘Trump or Clinton, isn’t that like choosing between the plague and the cholera?’ Perhaps that is what is wrong with democracy, that one has a choice at all. Look at the Germans: they have no other choice than Merkel at the next elections and everyone is happy. Now Merkel will be getting her sixteen years in office like her mentor Helmut Kohl – that’s long enough for two American presidents with extension. But the Americans like having their political Super Bowl every four years, I suspect, whereas the Germans do not. With typical European pragmatism and equanimity, they hold on to a good thing when they’ve found one, never change a winning team and all that. That’s why the Germans have already cast their vote – mentally – more-or-less, and gone about their business, the Kanzlerfrage, the chancellor question, having been solved, so far as they are concerned. The political parties – and they have more than two in Germany, friends in America please note – well, the political parties always have their own ball – to the exclusion of the general public, except by way of popularity polls – when it comes to choosing the Federal President, they’ve just chosen a new one btw, again by common consent, while America was having its presidential High Noon. Which brings me to my second idea! German media and polling institutes have been regularly asking the Germans whom they’d choose as the next US president: 94% of the Germans were for Clinton and 4% for Trump, I think. All of which goes to show that the Americans should leave the choosing of their President in German hands – whereas the Americans could choose the German President, say, in return. What I’m suggesting is a kind of outsourcing of elections and suchlike democratic processes to countries which are less involved and therefore less hysterical. In exchange, the outsourcing country gets to choose the incumbents for less crucial posts in the country of the second instance. This way, both countries – and both folks – can have just as much fun & games with none of the hangover if things go wrong.

Just as Robbie Williams is more popular in Germany than in the UK, Barack Obama is naturally more popular in Germany than in the US, I suspect. And Obama is now passing into History real Hollywood style, strolling around the Parthenon and lecturing the Greeks about democracy at President Pavlopoulos’ dinner – the Greeks, of all people, who invented demokratia by putting together demos (common people) and kratos (rule, strength), as the Wikipedia would have told Obama. He should have remembered that an American president cannot ride into history as into the sunset here in good old Europe, which always devises a system and a way of cheating it, both at the same time. In Europe and its eastern extension, every revolution eats its own children, in the end. Obama should have looked around him from the Ritz-Carlton in Berlin and realised that the European masters of manipulation have been chipping away at democracy too: Hungary has Orban, Poland has Kaczynski, Spain has Rajoy all over again and Britain even has a Trump look-alike as the Foreign Secretary.

The original Greek word daimon did not have any negative connotations; it meant a spirit or a divine power similar to the Latin genius. In Christian demonology, the demon became a fallen angel and an unclean spirit. They used to exorcise the demon and burn the witch, in medieval times. Somewhat like the latest American elections or at least the reaction to them, don’t you think?

The Last Endorsement, by God!

He was a surprise guest on the fourth day of the Republican Convention (if we follow the King James version): “And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” Donald Trump was seen to introduce his trump card with the words, “The Almighty, ladies & gentlemen!” And he wasn’t talking about himself.

There was as much booing as there was polite applause. People did not seem overawed, possibly because the Almighty had chosen to appear in the garb of an Old Testament prophet – as adviced by His campaign managers, it seems. ‘This is a Christian Nation,’ they had told Him, ‘with a whole lot more Moslems & Latinos & Blacks & LGBT & women’s libbers than the country needs. But it still happens to be the GOP Convention. For God’s sake remember that You are here to endorse Donald and not behave like that rat Ted Cruz.’

The Almighty seemed confused: ‘I’m here to endorse Donald Duck, my secretary said.’

‘You should get rid of that secretary of Yours. She’s worse than Melania’s speech writer. How long has she been working for You?’

‘Oh, an eternity.’

‘Didn’t she show You Donald’s hand-written invitation to attend the Republican jamboree? And we mean Donald Trump.’

‘She did say something about the Last Trump.’

‘This is no time for jokes. The point is, are You going to endorse Donald or not? By the way, are You a Republican at all? They should have checked before letting You on to the jumbotrons.’

‘I am a democrat, I believe.’

Pandemonium, Almighty looking confused.

‘Didn’t anybody tell You not to use the D-word in Cleveland?’

‘Which D-word, Donald or Duck?’

‘Ha ha, very funny. You know something? Mitch McConnell would have made a better GOD than you. It means Grand Old Dad, I take it?’

‘Sort of. But doesn’t democrat mean someone who lets people have their way, have what they want? I have left mankind in peace since – oops, Ms de la Creación told me I am here to endorse candidates and not religions. What I want to say is that I have always left mankind in peace to make all the wars that they want. I think that is very democratic, even if it is unusual for me to sing my own praise, or to use capitals for Me and My.’

‘But You created mankind! You put them in this condition in which Hillary Clinton, a woman who couldn’t keep her husband in check while in the White house, is now threatening to go right back in there with the same husband!’

‘She’s got a husband?’

‘The one that used to play saxophone in dark glasses, they say the best among American Presidents.’

‘Was he, or is he – I never know my way around with these tenses – the best President America ever had?’

‘The best saxophone playing President America ever had, until Donald learns how to play the trumpet.’

‘Can you get elected for that? Something like America’s got talent?’

‘You watch TV in Heaven?’

‘We watch everything in Heaven – see, Della, I got the capital right!’

‘Who’s Della?’

‘My secretary, Maria de la Creación. She didn’t want to sound like a Latino at the GOP convention, sitting next to Melania and Ivanka. So she chose Della – from de la Creación. She feels so old, Della said, ouroboros years old. She just wanted to be herself, gorgeous Della Creación for once – I don’t know what that means.’

‘What’s ouroboros?’

‘It’s a snake swallowing its own tale. You know ∞, the sign of infinity? That’s an ouroboros.’

‘Is Somebody making fun of us, fun of the GOP, fun of America which will be great again? Does that Someone, Who shall remain unnamed, want us to get tough?’

‘See Della? That’s why I didn’t want to come!’

‘I knew you were no Perry Mason – that’s a double conjunctive btw. Just don’t disappear before the photo op. It’s taken me a trillion years to do up my hair.’

Talking Turkey: Breaking Shit is not Nice

Is there a character called the Mad Punner in Alice in Wonderland? That’s what I seem to be turning into, under the pressure of events, trying to make sense of the senseless that apparently governs the behaviour of the few & the destiny of millions. I began with Brexit; I googled ‘break shit’, which lead to the Urban Dictionary telling me that it is a (synthetic?) phrase for getting ‘super drunk’, or ‘to be belligerent in your mannerisms and never take no for an answer’, or ‘to go get what you want and destroy all in your path’ – all without a single reference to Brexit, mind, talk of unconscious irony.

Whereas the question that occurred to me at once was: can you break shit? Dried birdshit, yes, it is called guano, which is a fertiliser, as we all know. But any other kind of shit, like Brexit? Look at London, Edinburgh and Brussels trying to break shit and failing miserably because the shit is still too fresh. They’ll have to wait till it has dried and turned hard so that they can break it. Not their fault, really, it’s not an easy task, by any means. Alexander the Great went into legend by cutting the Gordian knot – suppose he’d been given the task of breaking shit instead? Or worse still, of unbreaking it, as in Facebook? That could well be the fourth personal pronoun in third person, singular: he, she, it, shit. Shit happens, oh yes, (sh)it does and Brexit happens too.

Whereas Nice is not something one can pun about. Not even a Mad Punner. Even he tells Alice to run or to take cover when certain forms of 21st c. madness invade Wonderland. What happened in Nice is in some ways like the ultimate 20th cum 21st c. video game fantasy: Godzilla descending upon Wonderland to find that Lewis Carroll has forgotten to log out. Godzilla was originally created as a metaphor for nuclear weapons, I’m told. Is terrorism Godzilla Junior? There’s such a character, I believe.

And somehow it all goes back to the discovery of gunpowder & the flintlock, and from there to the capacity to make a lot of holes in a lot of people in the shortest possible time – we’re talking semi-automatics now, though we do NOT want to land in the middle of the most useless debate in human history, the one about the US gun laws which has stymied entire presidencies & presidents. They’ve got a new version of it now, inspired by Bob Marley & Eric Clapton’s I Shot the Sheriff & the Deputy As Well (before he could shoot me) aka Bury All Hope at Baton Rouge.

In the midst of all this, the Republican Convention has started but I, for one, am still mourning Nice. The site of Nice has been inhabited for 400,000 years, we are told; the name can be traced back to the Greek Nikaia, whereas the Romans arrived in Nice just 14 years before the birth of Christ. So the question arises: if a Roman charioteer were suddenly to go mad on the streets of Cemenelum and drive his chariot into the crowd on Cimiez hill, how many people would he have managed to maim or to slaughter?

It was not a chariot but a truck in Nice. I refuse to go into the history of the automobile as a weapon of mass destruction. Knowing the human race, they have the capacity to turn a baby’s rattle into a weapon of mass destruction, if they set their mind to it. Basically all I’m saying is that terrorism began when it became possible for a homo sapiens to kill a number of homines sapientes at one go, by making holes in them or running them over with a wheelbarrow or whatever. The amount of R&D and technological ingenuity which has gone into discovering the easiest way to kill the largest number of human beings is staggering. And that’s only because the Creator created the human being like a self-destroying message: ‘This message will destroy itself automatically after you’ve read it… Oh, you’re illiterate, are you?’ And so on.

I feel like a Greek minstrel from the ancient city of Nikaia who’s singing a dirge or a requiem for the human race using his tattered blog for a lyre – though Greek tragedy is like a Brazilian sitcom compared to what we are witnessing today. The killing of innocents is nothing new, but to raise it to the strategic level where there is only collateral damage in an undeclared war being fought mainly on promenades and in hostelries and on fairgrounds and soon children’s playgrounds (only a question of time) – wow, is about all I can say. It’s what the Creator said when they told Him. Wow, He said.

Regarding Turkey – are you still around? – it is difficult to understand just what is going on in the Most Muddled Country in the Meddle East. Maybe I’ll talk to Donald Trump about it but no, I shall never talk to Theresa May, even if she were to bring along BoJo as a kind of botched Trump imitation.

BoJo won the primaries for the British presidency & then scooted, remember?

When Donald Duck goes to TrumpDonald’s

I love America, that king as well as clown of a country all rolled into one. Never set foot in the land of milk and honey but came as close as the Niagara Falls – once. Had to keep to the Canadian side because I had an Indian passport – and no visa for America – at that point. Might have painted myself red and tried to pass myself off as a Red Indian, until somebody told me that red could also mean a ‘commie’ in the land of J. Edgar Hoover. Better dead than red, see? That’s when they told me to cut out the comedy stuff. It was mouldy and it stank, they said.

So be it, but the point is that either America is funny, or the rest of the world behaves in a funny manner when it comes to America. I love America when it comes to movies e.g. I don’t find it funny at all that an American actress (Meryl Streep) and an American actor (Robert Redford) should play a Danish coffee-farmer and her British big game hunting lover in Kenya in the year that my father was born – we’re talking about Out of Africa and this sentence is already too long.

(Subtle shift to new para) and still, when I hear stray Americans from the Bat Conservation office of the UN in Bonn – they go jogging on the Rhine, the UN employees, not the bats – and they talk to each other in American – still can’t think of it as a separate language but it is, just listen to Prince Charles and then to Donald Trump. Both make you feel that you’ve never learnt English. Both make you wish that you’d never learnt English. And yet Donald might be president before Charles is king.

Because Donald is right out of Tinsel Town, right out of the movie world – I’m sure other worthies have noticed and commented on this before, but to me, Trump is a kind of political Rocky, a street fighter, who may or may not turn into a political Rambo. And then again, he might put on specs and settle down to more serious character roles with state-of-the-art (art-of-the-state?) stunts causing minimal collateral damage. Which would make him as American a President as mom’s apple pie.

I never watch Super Bowl but I love watching Americans watch the Super Bowl – and the ads, of course, which cost more the minute than Zambia’s foreign debt. And the same is true of this quadrennial political Super Bowl that the Americans have, which they call the presidential elections. The whole world watches America choose a President – can be the old President, if he’s running for a second term – can be an ex-President’s wife who wants to know just what it is about the Oval Office… And now America is waking up to the possibility that they might even get a Trump for President. Just the possibility awakens Begehrlichkeiten, as the Germans say, which means covetousness and concupiscence, everywhere in the world: Indians are doing puja praying for Trump’s victory and dreaming of a Muslim-free country; people close to the Kremlin are opening bottles of Sovetskoye Shampanskoye, nobody knows for what reason.

In a world in which children are raised half by their parents and half by Walt Disney, I find Trump would have won hands down if children from the age of three upwards (to the age of ninety-three, say) were allowed to vote: they’ve all heard of Donald Duck and had their birthday bash at MacDonald’s; just change the names to Donald Trump and TrumpDonald’s and give ’em little plastic figures of Lyin’ Hillary and Crooked Hillary and you’ve got the presidency in your pocket.

But as someone who’s always wished that mighty nation well – from afar – I have a piece of advice for Americans regarding who they might have chosen for a president (maybe they will, someday, though it’s a bit late for this one, isn’t it?). Does that make me a presidential advisor? Wow! In any case, the Americans first chose a president who is half black; and now they might be about to choose a president who is a woman and an ex-First Lady. Why don’t they do it as a kind of wellness package or flat rate and ask Michelle? She’s African American and the current First Lady and if there was a vote for Brown Indians, she’d be getting mine for sure.