The Center Cannot Hold

tea party


 Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The opening verse of William Butler Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” says it eloquently for me. It seems that more evidence emerges every day that the center cannot hold, that a polarized world is swirling into the abyss.

With House Speaker John Boehner resigning in America and the Labour Party electing Jeremy Corbyn as their new leader in Britain, with Vladimir Putin seeking to rebuild the Soviet Empire, with the European Union apparently falling apart…. With ISIS raging in the Mideast and Israel electing a hardliner as Prime Minister…

With the Mideast in flames and millions uprooted from their homes by endless violence, risking death, starvation and pestillence as they seek refuge in some foregn land…

With just about every new development, the phenomenon persists… Things fall apart. Reconciliation and harmony become increasngly inacessible. Extremism is the order of the day…

In the midst of this catastrophic collapse of global civilization, a radical strain of toxic politics has emerged in America. This movement defies traditionally accepted concepts of civilized behavior and demands the right to be primitive.

It is the culture of the cave dwellers, in which the strong take from the weak, and greed, selfishness and intolerance rule.

There is no room for cooperation, no respect for the common good, no tolerance for those who see the world differently. It’s my way or the highway, take it or leave it, like it or lump it. And – as I used to hear sometimes in Jamaica – “strong man never wrong.”

It’s the message we are hearing from the Republican candidates for President. It’s the doctrine of the Tea Party extremists who ran John Boehner out of the Speaker’s chair, and who are dominating the Republican presidential campaigns.

While that incorrigible centrist, President Obama, seeks common ground with Chinese President Xi Jinping, apparently agreeing at least on climate change and cyber theft, the world around them swirls with hatred and vitriol.

What troubles me most is the apparent popularity of extreme politicians. I suspect this perception is projected by the apathy of the moderates and the fanaticism of the extremists. As Yeats expressed it:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity

Click for more on Boehner’s resignation.

Click for Yeats’ poem.

Click for Obama and Xi Jinping.

Click for more on Jeremy Corbin.