AMERICA, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL: HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE NRA
In the early 1980s, the Canadian pop-rock group Rough Trade wrote a song called ‘America: The Bad and the Beautiful’. In the song, the band commented on the nature of American society, being one based on virtually unlimited individual liberty. This situation created, in their opinion, a society of ‘bad and beautiful’ things. For example, fabulous wealth, prosperity, opportunity, beauty, and power. On the other hand, it also produces incredible poverty, violence, deprivation, perversion, injustice, and egregious ugliness.
Which brought to my mind the fact that this ideology is imbedded into two of America’s most iconic and archetypal industries: Harley Davidson motorcycles and the arms industry, represented by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In the first case, let’s look at Harley Davidson’s main client base. Who buys their product? The answer is easy. Principally law enforcement agencies and criminal biker gangs! The first use them to uphold and enforce the laws of the land, and the second use them to subvert, pervert, and otherwise flout them. Either way, Harley Davidson has a guaranteed client base for its products!!!
In the second case, who are the main purchasers of armaments? The answer is also easy. Governments and criminals! The governments buy arms to use them for their law enforcement and armed forces, who are supposed to use them to uphold the law, and protect property and civil rights in their respective territories. They are also supposed to have, according to the law, the monopoly on the legitimate use of violence to uphold the law. Criminals, on the other hand, use arms to arrogate property, wealth, power and prestige to themselves by any means possible, including taking other people’s lives, flouting the laws of the land, and making sure that no law but their own actually prevails. This occurs until such time as the state organizes itself with weapons of its own, and an ideology which is hopefully of sufficient moral legitimacy to warrant being followed, and subjugates the criminals with ‘superior violence’. Again, either way, the arms industry has a guaranteed client base!
One therefore has to wonder if a civilization such as America can ever hope to survive, much less lead any of us to reason, being based on such a perversely paradoxical premise. Methinks that Four Horsemen houndeth the heels of Lady Liberty. Perhaps the next Pax Americana is not meant to be? But then again, I’m sure Harley Davidson and the NRA will have something to say about that.
God Bless America: The Bad and the Beautiful.