FROM CHAPTER 6
The world according to Sa
[segment from start of chapter]
I nodded off, dozing lightly in the comfort of the food and wine, and awoke to find her standing again before the flame of the candle, her stillness fervent and calm. Watching her there, elbow propped on folded arm, fingers lightly on her chin, I wondered what kind of genie it was standing there before me, what spell she might release into the night.
“I have been pondering what words to say to you, Ken. There are words you will understand, words that are truer than your understanding, and words of my own anger and revulsion. I cannot educate you much less convert you in any meaningful way. Volumes of words would scarcely scratch the surface.
“I closely follow research in the ways of learning, ways to make true understanding gel, and no shortcuts have been found among fine theories. Our narrow learning bandwidth and slow development are great banes of the human condition. It is arduous enough to learn a profession in thirty years. How can we squeeze a universe of understanding through human nature’s pinhole?
“What words then? I ask you.”
I was preoccupied with watching her during this speech, a creature of fascination in her physical grace, and as a woman, arousing—somehow all the more for being miniature and unattainable. What had passed between us had been a gift to my helplessness. She could only come to me, I knew, and I had yet to earn her trust.
“While I’m busy with your business, what will you be doing?” I finally asked.
“The first task will be to transform the electoral system, that is the only peaceful way to return the Fed to the people and put a stop to creating money as debt, the great hoax of capitalism. For democracy to have meaning, it must be impossible for one reflexive ideology or ism to own parties and process outright as communism did and capitalism does. I would reclaim democracy from feudal ownership and unlock its wheel.”
She spoke slowly. “Without democracy unowned and unownable, our political discourse will remain framed as it is, the blundering of government or the plundering of markets, as if this either/or were ordained by God. We still have today a racist, patriarchal, elitist Electoral College designed by and for the slave holders of yesteryear. With both congress and president for sale, in two-party, winner-take-all voting, check and balance has become institutionalized gridlock, servant of a stasis most immoral and destructive. As for private banking in control of the Federal Reserve, with democracy in hand these powers and profits will revert to the people.”
I followed politics from a market perspective but had only clichés and slogans beyond the mainstream. Alt News, the alternative, did not move markets. As for political opinions, I made every effort to avoid them, and took pains not to get myself pinned down with labels, all of which seemed to me oversimple and confining.
Smiling and slow speaking, she seemed sure of her command over my attention, her voice at ease in conviction. It was all I could do to keep up with her.
“We have a democracy based on consumer focus groups,” she said, “sound bites tested as in the marketing of toiletries. Capitalism is beyond questioning and socialism is a dirty word that may not be spoken. The American democratic ideal is a vague memory, mistakenly assumed, falsely defined, and all but dead in our time,” she recited evenly.
“Question free markets and the beaten dog of state communism is dragged out to remind us how lucky we are to be free to pose so reckless a question. This is the child of Noah’s thinking: the external threat, be it wrath of God or foreign ism, should make us grateful for our privations, being so much worse elsewhere in the flood.”
The room seemed to float, sealed from the world. It had been a long time since I had sat in the dark with a candle alight. There was a lightness to her voice at odds with the sweep of her words. This kind of talk seemed play to her. It occurred to me she did not often have a chance to sound off. She studied my face, and when I found her eyes, began anew.