Joseph Conrad’s novel, “Heart of Darkness,” explores the nature of man and the role of civilization in keeping in check our darker tendencies. As his character Kurtz travels further and further from civilized lands, exposed to more violent and depraved behavior, he eventually sinks into insanity. Today’s GOP leads us on a similar path.

Fear of the stranger, the “other,” is one of our strongest primal emotions. We have tamed this fear to the extent that families became tribes, became villages, empires, countries over tens of thousands of years. This fear is never tamed. It has been controlled to the extent that humankind has advanced through our shared work, trade and living with others. It is never tamed, and it is easily manipulated by people seeking power.

Today’s GOP, from election tactics, to what passes for governing, is not just undermining representative democracy, but is tearing at the foundational trust that fosters civilized behavior. Assaults on just about every race, class, gender, religion, belief, (the list is endless), are designed to create fear as “those others” try to get what’s yours. And while we retreat, ever more fearful, into our tribes, the plundering continues.

The GOP tax plan is breathtaking in its arrogance and willingness to lie. There is a need for real conversation and changes in the benefits government promises and can afford to deliver. More tax dollars from the lowest incomes to fund healthcare and tax breaks for the wealthy, while reducing healthcare for the rest of us is not a solution.

Corrupt: To destroy or subvert the honesty or integrity of…from Latin, corruptus, break to pieces, destroy…(American Heritage Dictionary). Is the GOP in its current form corrupt? “By their fruit you will know them…” Every step, from allowing more polluting of our air and water to stripping basic healthcare, all for ever more financial gain is a reminder that power corrupts.

Joseph Conrad accurately described the role of civilization in helping control our darkest, most predatory behavior. We have yet to see how the GOP’s journey away from civilization, domestically and internationally ends. In literature and real life, such journeys rarely end well.

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Michael Munck

Helena

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