The Undoing of America

Gore Vidal on war for oil, politics-free elections, and the late, great U.S. Constitution.

There is also something in the water--let us hope it was put there by the enemy--that has made Americans contemptuous of intelligence whenever they recognize it, which is not very often. And a hatred of learning, which you don't find in any other country. There is not one hamlet in Italy in which you can fail to find kids desperate to learn. Yes, there are areas where they might be desperate to become members of the Mafia, but that's because they don't have any money. And a country like Italy is not rich, not as rich as we are. But there isn't a kid in Italy who can't quote Dante. There's no one in America now who knows who Shakespeare is, because they stopped teaching him in high schools.

So we are out of it. And no attempt is being made to put us back into it.

 

CP: When does this current bout of foreign adventurism end? You've said in other interviews that it ends with us going broke. Can you explain?

Vidal: I haven't changed my line. We don't have the money for these adventures. We don't even have the money to operate those prisons which are the delight of Iraq. All we were doing at Abu Ghraib was export what we do to our own people in our own prisons, you know. We are sharing with the rest of the world penology-- in every sense. No, there isn't the money to do it. And the few who are making most of the money are probably investing it elsewhere, preparing islands for themselves to escape to. And then their followers, who are not very many, will be experiencing rapture. They won't be here.

 

CP: Is there any winning back some semblance of the older republic at this point?

Vidal: You have to have people who want it, and I can't find many people who do.

 

CP: What can average people do about this state of affairs at present, if anything?

Vidal: Well, some of the internet has been very useful. Radio has been very useful. There are means of getting things across. It's why I write those little books of mine, the pamphlets as I call them. Our first form of politics was pamphleteering in the 18th century. They serve a purpose--more pamphlets, more readers, more this, more that. There's a battle to do an interesting kind of guide to the American centuries, and how we got where we are and how we can get out of it. I'm engaged with some people working on that. Further, deponent sayeth not.

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