“We had an identifiable enemy ideologically, that was Communism. Today, we have really no identifiable enemy except among ourselves.” — Author John le Carre’s BBC interview, promoting his new novel, Agent Running In The Field

The world so much simpler, when we sheltering in place under our desks in elementary school.

In Almost DailyBrett’s case the black-and-white clad nuns with their formidable steel rulers were protecting us from the Soviet menace with their evil nuclear-tipped missiles poised to strike us from launching pads in socialist paradise, Cuba.

The real immediate question for impressionable parochial school students: Who was going to protect us from the petty tyranny of the nuns and priests?

Today we can ask: Doesn’t Communism still exist (i.e., China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela … )? Shouldn’t we still be wary with scary ICBMs being paraded at a 70th birthday party in Beijing, while at the same time brutal repression is leveled in Hong Kong?

Keep in mind that totalitarian capitalism is easily more acceptable than the Soviet model with its collective farms, gulags, Iron Curtains, Berlin Walls and a leader pounding his shoe and delicately promising to “bury” us. That historical epoch is thankfully behind us.

Said Le Carre: “The Wall was perfect theatre as well as a perfect symbol of the monstrosity of ideology gone mad.”

His point to the BBC: We no longer have a Bolshie bogey man to collectively fear, so why not instead … fear ourselves?

What Happened To Civility?

“Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love.” — John le Carre (David John Moore Cornwell)

Almost DailyBrett remembers vividly my former boss California Governor George Deukmejian lamenting about the loss of civility in American politics … back in the what-seems-tame-compared-to-today, the 1980s.

He recounted serving as California Senate Minority Leader in spirited debates with former Senate Majority Leader George Moscone on the floor of the Golden State’s upper house. These provocative exchanges typically were followed by a friendly glass of wine with the same when the dust settled.

They were political adversaries, but more importantly they respected each other. They will civil. They were polite.

Undoubtedly Deukmejian was deeply saddened and shocked when he heard about the tragic assassination of Moscone and Harvey Milk in 1978 by an out-of-control county supervisor Dan White. George Deukmejian and George Moscone (photo below) were friends to the end, the bitter end.

Le Carre’s point is that society somehow, someway always needs a villain. For the United States, we unified against Al Qaeda in 2001 with a now seemingly impossible-to-replicate bi-partisan vote of 534-1 authorizing a military response to terrorism.

Those days of national comradery are long gone. Will they ever return?

Heaven forbid: Do we need a nuclear Pearl Harbor to discover the other philosophical point of view actually merits consideration? Hopefully, we would still be here to reconsider our appraisal of our political adversaries. When the chips are down, could they actually become our allies, maybe even friends?

Brit LeCarre is “ashamed” and “depressed” about the affaires d’etat with the long-running Brexit soap opera, which dominates all public life in the United Kingdom. Almost DailyBrett knows his deeply held sentiments apply to “The Cousins” as well.

Fifty-seven years ago this month (e.g., October 16-28, 1962), your author was huddling with classmates under our respective desks, barely understanding that bad people wanted to do evil things. We never asked each other (we were seven years young) which ones were Democrats and which were Republicans. We didn’t ask; we didn’t tell.

All we wanted to do was get out from under our desks and play with each other.

Sounded good then, sounds even better now.

Almost DailyBrett Note: With Amazon two day shipping, Almost DailyBrett will receive Thursday a copy of Le Carre’s Agent Running In The Field. Promise to not tackle the delivery dude or dudette. Happy belated 88th birthday to John le Carre. Another novel por favor?

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/entertainment-arts-50040187/author-john-le-carr-on-politics-and-his-new-spy-novel

https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2019/10/14/john-le-carres-25th-novel-is-blisteringly-contemporary?cid1=cust/dailypicks1/n/bl/n/20191014n/owned/n/n/dailypicks1/n/n/NA/325041/n

https://johnlecarre.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/penning-his-25th-novel-at-86-years-young/