That Americans are among the most politically apathetic people in the world should be no surprise: this phenomenon was the topic of our post from early 2012 in which we showed that voter turnout in the US had dipped below 50% and was the second lowest in the world, only higher than Korea. Perhaps more confusing is why as the rest of the developed world has been giving up on democracy, and voting rate have plunged in the vast majority of “democracies”, the only places where voting rates have increased since 1980 are Spain and Mexico: such enthusiasm for change is admirable, or maybe just naive.
The reason why bring this is up is that in light of recent very unpopular decisions by the US administration – the NSA spying revelations, the crackdown on free speech, the DOJ’s unwillingness to prosecute the “too big to fail”, the US involvement in yet another massively unpopular war – and the absolute lack of social response unlike in decades gone by, perhaps the reason behind America’s moral, economic and social decay is, more than anything, the unprecedented apathy among the general population.
Whether it is due to a lack of positive feedback from involvement in the “democratic” apparatus, due to disagreement with the principles of even one’s “own party” and by implication ideological agreement with the opponent, due to the realization that both parties are really one and the same (and only serve the interest of the highest bidder, and of capital) or due to plain old laziness, one thing is obvious – with apathy the dominant force in society, any attempt to change or reverse the status quo from within is doomed to failure.
While scary, such a conclusion does have a suitable corolary. And that is that in the absence of true democratic “checks and balances”, as the state slowly but surely transforms to a ruthless authoritarian state (in which Big Brother and his proxy private sector tentacles record every single phone call and electronic communication: once the plot of fiction stories and now reality), the only hope to incite change is to encourage and support the current path of terminal ruin.
Whether that means cheering on as the Nobel peace prize winner lays more “collateral damage” into an early grave, or Larry Summers proceeds with QEternity^eternity, or the US debt/GDP rises to 150%, 200%, 500% and more, or as so much wealth is plundered from the middle class that it has no choice but to revolt, the final “hope” is the terminal self-cannibalization of the political regime, which is a “democracy” only in laughable name.
In the meantime, watching as the dramatic opera enters its final stages with amusement and apathetic, if cynical, detachment, seems to be the only option. After all, if the people are so angry they don’t even know what they are angry at and can’t formulate a “mission statement” (as in the Occupy movement), or are so detached that they will stick their heads when in the name of democracy millions are killed (until they “finally come for me”), or just don’t care that the NSA knows every thought, action, desire and impulse as it is conceived, maybe apathy is not a curse, but a blessing?
May as well make the most of it.