On the spectacle that is Washington, D.C.
Nearly 60 years ago Frank Chodorov wrote that the affairs of state would be vastly improved if the people stopped worshipping Washington, D.C. He eloquently summed up the hold our nation’s capitol has over us, and the detrimental effect it carries.
Here are the opening paragraphs of a piece he wrote for Reason magazine in 1954:
It’s June in Washington. It’s June all over the country, of course, but to the capital city the month has special significance. It inaugurates the annual trek of gaping sightseers from all over the country to this American mecca.
Soon the vacationing schoolteachers will be ah-ing and ohing before the wondrous temples of government, while prizewinning high school students will pay their worshipful respects to the pompous dignitaries and official hirelings who carry on the affairs of state. Honeymooning couples, already taking one another for granted, will transfer their admiration and adoration to the indicia of political power, while farmers, satiated with the wonders of nature in their native habitats, will be propitiating the gods of government in their air-conditioned apses. In summer, it is the proper thing for Americans to come to Washington and view with awe.
If you were to ask these visitors, they would tell you that they came here only to admire the beauty of the town. And, to be fair, this is a beautiful town. Why shouldn’t it be? It is like a harlot who never soils her hands with useful work, and whose only occupation, outside of harlotry, is to preen and primp—at the expense of her admirers. Washington is, and ought to be, the most beautiful city in the country; it is also the most useless.
Putting aside the aesthetic thrill which these gapers get out of the visit, they cannot but carry away with them an overpowering impression of the glory and grandeur of the government domiciled here. It must be a wondrous government that operates in this wondrous environment. And when they get back home they will tell of the invigorating, almost healing, experience of having seen the anointed and brushed the robes of greatness; even as did those who in ancient times visited Rome. They will have visited the holy of holies. And all their lives thereafter they will tell, and magnify the tale, of their almost sacred pilgrimage.
Today, more than ever, the bread and circuses that is Washington holds the majority of the American populace in its sway.
As Chodorov wrote, “This is the place where the great god government performs its miracles, this is where the “general welfare” is attended to. Here the demigods plan and direct the destinies of one hundred and sixty million mortals, here the souls of the well-taxed flock are prepared for a heaven on earth.”
Today, with more than 350 million mortals inhabiting the republic, it’s more true than ever before. And Washington, or rather the powers that be, wouldn’t have it any other way.
(HT: Coyote Blog)