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  • Sunday, May 22, 2005


    Fleeing Amerika

    At a recent gathering of friends, discussion inevitably turned to the state of the United States' economy, politics, and current use of military force. Questions were asked, quite seriously: "When do we leave the country? What is the event or point at which conditions in the US become intolerable to us? Where is the best country in the world to relocate?"

    Although comparisons of current US conditions to pre-WWII Nazi Germany may seem overblown and inaccurate to many, these basic questions remain: When does further participation in public life of a country seem futile? When do political possibilities and options seem irreparably damaged for the foreseeable future? When does public dissent not only begin to feel like an imprisonable offense but actually is one? I'm not talking about being a Democrat out of power in Congress. I'm not talking about being frustrated and feeling like your voice isn't being heard by politicians. I'm talking about deep fear. I'm talking about peace groups such at the American Friends Service Committee now being labeled terrorist or supporters of terrorism. AFSC is a group founded by Quakers. You know, the pacifists who can actually get CO status because their religious opposition to war?

    One friend's signposts are the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the establishment of a true dynasty with the presidential election of Jeb Bush. Then it's time to get out of Dodge for her. Several others are feeling the point is already past and are making plans to exit the country permanently.

    There is a certain popular sentiment that wishes us good riddance, that if we don't care enough to stay and make the country better in a conventional way then they're glad to see our backsides. But most of us have done that for years, in many cases decades. We've lobbied, protested, written letters, engaged in dialog with people, oriented our lives in harmony and congruence with our politics and core beliefs. And, while often frustrated and sometimes despairing, we have continued to believe in the power of change and truth in American politics and society. At some point, like in an abusive relationship, you have to recognize when hope is becoming a lie you tell yourself. Sometimes you have to back off, look carefully and realistically at the situation, decide what fruit will ever be born of your efforts and act accordingly.

    There was a consensus in this meeting that the US is headed for severe economic and social collapse in the not-too-distant future. Oh, it's probably not going to happen this year (probably). But I would be surprised if it took longer than 10 years. My forecast is about 3-5 years based on general gut feeling, not anything concrete. Once such a collapse happens, I doubt exodus will be possible. I believe this collapse might be worse than the 1929 depression. Cheery, aren't I?

    There's no conclusion to this. I make no claim to Cassandra-like powers of vision. But we're beginning to make plans.

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