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An American Tragedy

03.11.2016

Theodore Dreiser called his novel about America in Twenties "An American Tragedy". We can argue how life has changed since then, but its tragicalness did not go away, because the cause lies in the inevitability of the future. And current presidential candidates have a difficult relationship with the future: they are afraid of it, deny it, but each in their own way.

It is still not clear, what will be the results of the presidential elections in the United States. Perhaps we will be able to avoid an even bigger tragedy, but we cannot escape from the tragicalness.

Watching the running election campaign, I involuntarily experience feelings that arise when reading the history of Ancient Rome, especially the Imperial period. I was always wondering how such a skilled, talented, powerful and brave people of Rome fell under the authority of successive Tiberiuses, Caligulas and Neros etc., and at the same time managed to survive and even to be a winner for a long time. Of course, if you believe in what the historians say.

However, what is happening today in the US is clear without historians. Thank God, there is the mass media, which, in general, is more objective than historians. Although the media is just as hysterical and excited by "decline of morals," as Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus in his time.

The duel between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump from the beginning was somewhat farcical. Two rather elderly and tired persons (with all the promises to increase the duration of active life) with very complex biographies and even more complex characters came together in a fight for a post of US president which they consider attractive. I would like to note that the question of why they entered into such a fierce struggle is far from to be simple and a true answer would clear up the situation.

You don't say why an elderly lady, wife of former US President, the former secretary of state, in her old age and not in the best physical condition is so desperate to fight for the presidency? Why to push aside competitors (also, by the way, rather strange persons), spend time, efforts, huge amounts of money?

No less questions are to Trump. What for? He's not a young man, he is a mature billionaire, real celebrity.

It seems that they desperately try to explain to us something important, each in their own way. And, in my opinion, the essence of their message is quite simple: unfortunately an unwanted future is coming; it will not be as the world elite would like it to be, including the US elite. And we need to confront this future in any way with hope that the impact will not be very terrible.

The current candidates are much older than president Obama. He came to power in a halo of hopes and unfortunately did not meet the expectations. Anyway, the world develops like something is going wrong, and terrible and undesirable future looms. A kind of Restoration appeared, not only because Bernie Sanders reminds us of the naive socialist from the middle of the last century. Both Clinton and Trump also signify an attempt of Restoration.

However, there is a difference between the candidates. In general they represent two types of response to the historically inevitable changes. Hillary Clinton clearly wants to preserve something from the past, to protect it, to conserve, but Donald Trump clearly wants to revenge against something what is under way, trying to break down what the future brings. Of course, there is a lot of personal and random in their behavior, but the course of history is carried out just through individuals and often random people.

As I see, the current lack of the world scale political persons is largely due to the fact that the time has come to change the global elites, to break the succession in some way. Usually this happens when elites do not have time to change, are slow behind the rapid changes.

These changes are everywhere, and they are especially noticeable in such an advanced country as the USA.

Surely the changes are based on the rapid development of technologies, which lead to changes in the lifestyle of the rapidly expanding world population, billions of people. Around the globe, these people are being drawn into politics, into communications, into migration. The mankind has never been so mobile and so expressive. Those who previously had the chance to visit only the neighboring village, now easily, though sometimes at the risk of life, overcome hundreds and thousands of kilometers. Instead of talking with neighbors one can now easily talk to strangers on the other side of the world. And those who could only whisper about the arbitrariness of the authorities now have an opportunity to express their opinion, although it may be associated with a risk.

Number of countries is increasing, and thus is multiplying the number of actors in the world politics, and these actors are largely driven by sentiments of the masses.

But the changes are still more global and more dangerous: technologies are changing the very tissue of the human society, apparently demanding new management systems. The matter is not just that a new structure of employment appears, changing our attitude to education, to science, to labor and even to justice.

We are moving to a strange world in which borders are erased and multiplied at the same time. Physically the world is crumbling, number of states, as I said, is increasing together with aspirations to separatism and isolation. Peoples seem to look for the reasons for unity and self-identity. But technologies operate over the borders, uniting us in a new and diverse groups and networks, capable to self-organization. Strictly speaking, not only Facebook has spawned a network, it was a response to the growing networking self-organization. Simply because of the fact that before there were no convenient technological solutions. And virtually limitless self-established international communities develop business, science, technology, and education. And these communities do not need the states in the current form, their cumbersome apparatus with desire to control all and everything.

Of course, there is a problem of security and related regulatory issues: the need to do something with terrorists, global warming, inequality, and taxes. Certainly, the public functions are required.

But the current elites are merely unadapted to it. They cannot afford the new management, which should be mixed, that is, to be a local-global. So the world is in the era of revolutionary changes.

It just happened so that the United States because of its advanced nature and great size experiences it in a more acute way than others. The US is involved in all these changes straightforwardly. And the present elite, which is not young, naturally seems to be on the defensive. Trump and Clinton just designated the two flanks.

Hillary Clinton is a symbol of the old "good" aristocracy, confidently knowing the world and how to handle it. No wonder that Clinton is also close to the conservative and protective Saudis.

Trump reportedly is on the side of the so-called traditional labor and capitalist America.

There is no impassable gap between them, and both are doing everything to keep the situation, to maintain the status quo. But there is no "status quo" as it is treated. The future already came in. It's here. And resistance by representatives of the elites only helps to crush in the strongest terms the remnants of leaving reality.

By itself, their campaign is a strikingly vivid illustration of how they destroy the familiar environment, more precisely, how they sweep away the remnants. Scandals, disgusting details of personal life, clear denunciations during the current election campaign in the United States are in the interests of those who are commonly named "rabble" causing frustration and disgust by those who have not lost the ability to be responsible for the world around them.

Moreover, it becomes apparent that new politicians will succeed to generalized Trump and Clintons, there will be no "succession" to the departing figures, as the same idea of continuity is being scrapped. There won't be a smooth change of elites.

And the scandalous campaign, its pettiness and absurdity, so obvious from outside, is the result of the tragic non-compliance to the events. Sadly enough, with the end of the election the problems will not disappear, and we will witness the turmoil. However, its scale is not yet clear.

That's about the tragedy. And not just about the American tragedy.

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