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Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas, Conservatism, and Other Myths

I’d have to say that I don’t even hate Christmas here in Spain. This is because the Christmas holidays are about 95% less obnoxious than they are in America. I rarely hear Christmas music and that is only when I am in a big, commercial chain-type store which is very rare for me. I would have to rate canned yuletide music—or I should say the bombardment of it—as the thing I most object to about the holidays in the United States. How can you NOT fucking hate the music when all of the commercial retailers begin playing it in earnest right after Thanksgiving?  I can imagine that someone has used this as a defense for a crime of passion committed during the holidays and the judge wouldn’t be wrong in letting them off with a slap on the wrist. “On the one hand the defendant opened fire inside a crowded shopping mall, but we must take into account that they had played Jingle Bell Rock three times in the preceding half hour.”

I'm not going to go so far as to say I like Christmas, because I don’t; I just don’t hate it here in Spain. Back in the States I used to say that my favorite day of the year was something like the 3rd or 4th of January when everything was over, like the end of a horrible and bloody war. Here I can barely tell the difference between the holidays and any other time of year. They have nice lights in the center of town and I do enjoying cycling through there at night, but other than that there aren’t a lot of outward manifestations of Christmas. Although there are at least a billion churches in Spain hardly anyone is truly religious. There is almost no one here who claims to be a Jesus freak like about half of the citizens of America these days. Religion just seems like a completely creepy and childish concept.  I can’t believe how many people place it as the center of their lives.

Religion and the political conservatism in America go hand-in-hand in many ways. Both require a suspension of belief in reality and both demand a stubbornness to stick to your beliefs even when faced with irrefutable proof to the contrary. Conservatives cling to the tenets of their faith no matter how ridiculous they may be. Tax cuts for the super-rich are supported by lower-middle class Republicans slobs because this issue is just another article of their faith which they accept without question. Ask conservatives to point to the kind of society they wish to build and they never have a clear answer. Ask them to consider the societies of Western Europe as an example for America and they break out into fits of apoplexy. They can look at societies that are obviously doing a better job of taking care of the populace yet they refuse to see the truth.

By the time conservatives are through dismantling everything Americans fought—literally fought—to achieve in the last century—and that day is near—it will be too late for America. Once we have relinquished all power over to a handful of oligarchs it will take nothing short of another revolution to put the power back into the hands of the people. We have already seen the death of democracy. Obama was elected by a healthy margin and yet was immediately treated as some sort of foreign usurper because he vaguely threatened the oligarchs who hold real power in America.

As tattered as the Spanish economy may be there are no signs of retreating from the gains made in the last 35 years. No one talks about doing away with their excellent health care system in which everyone, rich and poor, are born and die beside each other in the public hospitals. What could be more democratic than that? Even in this time a crisis the government is expanding their already amazing public transportation system. Even if Spain were to go down the drain—and I don’t believe it will—isn’t it better to go down fighting for the people than sacrificing everything so that a few elites can get even richer? I don’t think that any Western country is as ill-prepared to face the challenges of the future as the United States and no country is as unwilling to make the preparations necessary to meet those challenges.  Conservatives completely believe that capitalism alone will save America. It’s like believing in Santa Claus except a lot more dangerous.

1 comment:

  1. Everything takes longer to get to Spain, "está atrasado 20 años" or so. Although it's catching up in some senses, fast food chains and overweight teens...Jesus Freaks will come soon. I still think the holidays drag on forever here waiting for those 3 Kings to come!!!


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