Monday, September 05, 2005

The Lessons of New Orleans

One cannot be a proper blogger without making some comment on the on-going boondoggle in the southern states.

Of course, it's facile to point the blame at "the government" for not being prepared, or at the people who did not evacuate in the face of the oncoming hurricane. All are "to blame" for the ensuing human, and animal, tragedy when city levees gave way and flooded the homes and businesses of thousands of people. Now the social infrastructure is destroyed and it will take several months before the people can return even to rebuild, if that's what they decide to do.

The problem that New Orleans highlights with terrible clarity, is the initial failure of the centralized United States government to manage energy in its far-flung and growing empire. This is just what happened to Rome when energy and resources were committed to expanding the Roman Empire into the British Isles, leaving insufficient resources, and subsequent political support, at home. As the demands of subjecting a distant and highly foreign people increased, fewer resources were available on the home front, the Homeland, if you well, and when additional challenges presented themselves, the government came up lacking.

And the Roman Empire fell.

It was a long fall, marked by increasing defeats on the imperial front, as well as crises and challenges at home. Eventually, the troops were recalled from Wales and England, but by then it was too late. The Visigoths and Vandals were at the gates. The End was written, the "Dark" descended.

Except in Great Britain. There, the people thrived, the yoke of imperialism lifted from their shoulders, they returned to their own ways. The Celts held off the English for some time, finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and economic oppression. Still, in Wales, Gaelic is still spoken, still written, the sign-posts are in Welsh, the Celts live on. Something to ponder on during the commercials.

In New Orleans, despite the overweening, racist pabulum served to the masses, many people live on, taking care of themselves, their families, their animals, their friends, their neighbors. Some of them actually prepared ahead, stockpiling food and water high up in their attics, knowing that they could survive and do well in the coming trying times. You won't find this in US media; you have go to the BBC.

Meanwhile, in the US, everyone's agenda gets exercised: the Repubs, the Dems, the Greens, the Left, the Right. There's something in all this human and animal misery for everyone. Much political hay will be grown from the waters of the Mississippi now draining from the streets of New Orleans.

We can hope at least that those who took care of themselves and their loved ones will be rewarded with long and satisfying lives. We can hope that faith in central government has been weakened, and faith in this particular central government has been destroyed forever. We can hope that enough people will learn the lessons from this tragedy, the results of greed, industrial mayhem, ignorance and apathy, that the mistakes of New Orleans past will not be revisited in the future.

Michael

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