“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859.
In these few words, Charles Dickens aptly described the social and political conditions absorbing eastern Europe and looming over the civilized world in the mid-19th century. For nearly two decades now, the United States has been experiencing mostly worst times, foolishness, incredulity, darkness, and despair. As Dickens intimated, America today is not alone as similar, if not identical, issues are being played out in Hungary, Belarus, and England, among others. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has become a model of dystopia for the afflictions Dickens cited, for aggressive territorial domination.
The rubrics of the turmoil are captured in news headlines on a daily basis. Right-wing nationalism, ethnic and racial supremacy, anti-Semitic memes and symbols, conspiracy theory politics, media antagonism, suppression and dismissal of popular complaints. The examples abound and are recorded daily.
In Virginia, a Republican candidate for state legislature claimed her experience as a public school teacher was as dangerous as travelling through Germany in the 1930s announcing that you are Jewish. The head of the GOP House campaign staff announced that there was no bar to candidates who participated in the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
In Virginia, a Republican candidate for state legislature claimed her experience as a public school teacher was as dangerous as travelling through Germany in the 1930s announcing that you are Jewish. The head of the GOP House campaign staff announced that there was no bar to candidates who participated in the January 6 riot at the Capitol. The chair of the Oklahoma GOP posted to Facebook that the prospect of vaccine mandates was the equivalent of Jews forced to wear Star of David emblems.
Anti-vaxxers in multiple states have adopted the yellow Stars of David as badges infamously initiated by the Nazis as a badge of protest, in Oregon, New Mexico, Minnesota, and North Carolina. In Europe, protesters in France and the Netherlands have also latched onto the symbol.
Vladimir Putin has ruled in Russia since 1999, boldly annexing the Crimea from Ukraine and constructing a regime through election chicanery to remain in power until 2036. His example has encouraged Viktor Orban in Hungary and Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, who have seized the economic lifelines of their nations to share with supportive oligarchs in the same manner as Putin has strangled Russia. Popular protest or opposition in these countries is a risk that is not insurable and often leads to the puzzling deaths or disappearance of the government.
England, a kind of American alma mater, has succumbed to a nationalist fervor that propelled its separation from the European Union in favor of a promised independence fueled, in part, by anti-immigration emotion. This theme has been replicated in the United States and sustained by election conspiracy theories, pseudo-freedom notions concerning lifesaving vaccination, and, more currently, by opposition to critical race theory.
Dickens’ “best of times” infused by wisdom, belief, hope, and light are and have been taking a beating in the dynamics of the politisphere, both at home and abroad. . . . It seems that Dickens’ description of the forces affecting two cities has spiraled to engulf two worlds – the free and the unfree, the democratic and the authoritarian.
Dickens’ “best of times” infused by wisdom, belief, hope, and light are and have been taking a beating in the dynamics of the politisphere, both at home and abroad. For years, Steve Bannon and a number of other chaos and white supremacist merchants laid the groundwork to depress democratic instincts in favor of a more sinister political environment.
Tucker Carlson, the most prominent voice for election and vaccine conspiracies on Fox News, travelled to Hungary for a week in August to broadcast his daily show. Carlson is scheduled to address a right-wing conference sponsored by Mathias Corvinus Collegium, which had received $1.7 billion from Victor Orban, according to The New York Times. It has also been reported that Hungary paid $265,000 to a DC lobbying firm to arrange an interview on Carlson’s show.
In his book, After the Fall, Ben Rhodes, an Obama foreign policy adviser, aptly describes the vision that Dickens sought to capture:
This [social media] is our most prevalent experience of how politics meets culture today: the ceaseless immersion in social media and how they shape our perceptions of ourselves, our countries, and the world at large. Ironically, a space with no borders in which we are trying to assert what our nations mean.
The autocrats, Rhodes concludes, are using the media to foster instability, contradictory images in conflict. It seems that Dickens’ description of the forces affecting two cities–London and Paris–as microcosms of nations, has spiraled to engulf two worlds–the free and the unfree, the democratic and the authoritarian. The host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show has taken to characterizing this phenomenon as Earth I and Earth II.
Every individual has the choice upon which globe to live with respect to political choices.. In and on the civic globe where each of us lives, however, there is a responsibility to ensure that the choice is not a mere wager, since the outcome affects us all.