Someone sent me an email with some patriotic stuff. At first I considered replying only with a JPEG of a Viking shaman standing between a pair of huge, phallic gilded fasces. (How did someone not get a better picture of that?) But the response came out in a short “ELI5” style that I thought might be useful.
My political testament
America is a country. USG is the sovereign corporation, or regime, that owns the country. More people need to learn to see this distinction clearly and frankly.
I love the country although frankly I think it needs a lot of work. But it’s a classic property. It’s the ‘68 Mustang of countries. Most people can’t even begin to imagine the things you could do with the place. A Mustang chassis with a Tesla powertrain…
I think the regime needs to go wherever Sun Microsystems went—or maybe Czechoslovakia. Or the Protectorate of England. Or even Theranos. I’m done with it and I don’t see how anyone else could be otherwise. I will continue to meticulously comply with all its rules, orders and commands, of course, as should everyone else.
No regime is forever and every regime is best retired according to its own principles. Thomas Jefferson had a cool line:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
(Of course, Jefferson was a racist. We’ve learned a lot about the “paradox of tolerance” since then. As for Happiness, here’s what’s most likely to effect it: Fentanyl.)
I have no problem with USG’s employees, who are generally wonderful and need to be treated well, or its fans, who are sick in the head but will recover as soon as the toxin is withdrawn. There are a lot of both and they are mostly great people—as individuals.
My friends keep begging me to flee to Israel. I’m like: I don't think I’m in much danger right now. Also, Israel is a foreign country. Israel is a country for Jews and I’m not even a real Jew, my wife is 100% shiksa and my son looks like a Hitler Youth poster, and not only can I not speak the language, I can’t even read the goddamn language. (But let’s see how I feel once I’ve read the new regime’s 20,000-word security bill.)
Neighbors: America is my country. I will flee when they chase me out. The Internet is also my country. I will flee when they kick me off it. (I won’t even use the distributed social network I invented!)
But it is only America that I love. I feel absolutely no emotional connection to USG. Not only do I not love it, I don’t even hate it—though I do feel, purely as a scientific proposition, that America would blossom like a rose if the Chesapeake watershed was ecologically restored as seen in that great classic of the silver screen, Logan’s Run.
It is easy for me to feel the difference between America and USG, because I grew up inside USG. My dad was in the Senior Foreign Service, my mom worked for Joe Romm on climate policy at DOE, my stepdad was on Biden’s staff in the 80s.
As a Foreign Service brat, you see USG without America. Almost no one gets to see that. It’s a great parallax. But I think more Americans are starting to get the distinction.
Isn’t it amazing, by the way, that the great temple of our democracy which that foul mob of lawless and irresponsible hooligans defiled—dumping someone else’s tea into the harbor is not who we are—is… about as democratic as the Supreme Soviet?
Specifically: it has the incumbency rate of the late Bourbons, a seniority system that would get Chernenko hard, and the popularity of Idi Amin Dada. And standing behind it is the whole legislative branch, miscalled the “executive branch,” with its permanent civil service—as permanent as anything in the USSR.
I grew up in the Cold War. I took it seriously, especially the nuclear holocaust thing. But in the end, did East and West turn out to be all that different?