Page 18


The State , Matthew Lyon Here, Under The Rainbow . . . Something out there is powerful and. strange and not completely in control.” I am constantly wondering how it will be, how we will live. These are hard times, trying times. All at once, almost without warning, we have become a different people. Demons run loose in the economy, dream thievers run loose in our lives. There’s a machine in the garden and a man on the corner calling, “Titmen and trumpeters, troupers all come! A carnival parade to nowhere commences.” We must change. We are in need of brave new ideas. There must be better ways to live. And if you’re coming with us, better get a helmet. When Rod Davis asked me to become associate editor of the new Observer we had been talking for awhile. By then it was apparent that he and I see eye to eye on the need to broaden what is in these pages. We share a natural enthusiasm for the task. I envision more attention to culture on a wide spectrum. But continue to look in on business, economics and the corporate state; retain the focus the Observer has always had on government the legislature, bureaucracy and judiciary the inhabitants of each and their doings, the rhetoric and escapades of politicians in and out of government; and try to remain in the fore of observations on the motion, drift and surge of political forces, shifts and movements of power and sentiment in society. In addition, we’re going to try to draw into the fold some culture-watching in the areas of medicine, science and technology, education, art and media. I had suggested there be three voices. Truth is the first, a fair representation of things as they are. Second, a feisty negative voice, one willing to say “Stop!” to whatever or whomever threatens to degrade or demean life, excellence, beauty, ethics, in short, our humanity. Third, we need a clarion voice for the good, positive in purpose. It, perhaps, is the hardest to attain. A voice that promotes change, a voice for anything promising to return meaning and self-determination to life. A voice for what we find is genuine and enriching, a voice that we hope might help make us a more humanitarian and ecotarian people. We need to push for a transformation of values in America. Our society is now run on a scale too large for human contact or control. The urban-industrial machines, most of our institutions, negate humanity. We are ruled by the inertia of faceless organizations recklessly out of balance and out of touch, that have lost their ability to serve human needs, that are too heavy and too mammoth to move. We have, as Hannah Arendt says, anonymous “government by nobody.” The most well-intended programs designed to protect human welfare have become so massive they defeat their original design, threatening to do more damage to individuals than help them. Hospitals, courts, mental institutions, rehabilitation centers, urban schools, halfway houses, prisons, the social security and welfare systems . . . a list that amounts to a single large defeat of our nation’s purpose. If we can only rebuild. We need a banking system that will restore the value of the average income, one that makes saving as attractive as spending, and makes lending to small businesses and cooperatives and homeowners feasible at low interest rates. We need a housing industry that can make available the best materials and craft at low prices, instead of a housing industry that betrays common needs and forces people to live in places that are beyond their means or below their comfort, tolerability and dignity. We need health care available to all on an equitable basis, perhaps regionally administered. We need to develop a method of transportation that is affordable, environmentally feasible and safe, and which allows individuals to move’ freely even in rural areas. We need a food production system that is fair to the farmer and the consumer, that provides us with food that is genuinely fresh instead of preserved with chemicals and shipped from thousands of miles away. And to eat, we need it cheap. And we need a safe instead of deadly method of producing energy. * * * It may not be too early to contemplate a major transformation of economic form in the U.S. The relationship of workers to ownership in industry may yet move along a line toward something closer to socialism than America now knows. Already consumerism has forged interesting changes at the edges of the mainstream. Cooperatively run groceries, pharmacies, automobile and bicycle repair shops, and a new federally funded bank specifically to provide financing for cooperative enterprises have all sprung up and appear healthy. However, even a new economic structure might no less be predicated on reckless growth and largeness than is monopoly capitalism. And damage to the environment, harm to the atmosphere, water and earth, our planet’s life-sustaining ecology, occurs, it so happens, as the result of industries in socialist and communist countries, as much as in capitalist nations. The growth of industrialism and concentration of wealth at the turn of the century are two setbacks from which the people of this country have never recovered. Business and government have grown together steadily ever since. We seem to have government on a corporate managerial model, in which citizens are effectively removed from the political process in the same way factory workers have always been removed from the board rooms of the bosses. The decisions that govern the working people and the poor in America are not their own. Citizens have largely been moved aside to become spectators instead of participants. We are called out periodically to elect our officials, and then return to our televisions to watch what happens and to worry. Democratic rights have been turned from gold into tin tokens, empty words paraded before the rest of the world to fulfill a national mythology. It is time our votes, our sentiments, our desires the voices of average people counted for more. Let them be heard! The Bill of Rights, at the moment, needs to be taken as seriously as it was intended by the Founders. And even so, we may soon want a new bill of rights for, life in the futur. If, in political and economic life, a call can be stirred for two guiding principles respect for persons and respect for our planet a renaissance for nature and citizenship might begin. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23