Monday, April 6, 2009
Is there a Lenin in our future? A demagogue and a firebrand who will harness the rage and outrage of the American People and ride it like a tiger into a New Dawn? A revolution as it were?
Hard to say, though there have been and still are plenty of candidates on the right who would dearly love to capture the revolutionary ferment for themselves and precipitate their longed-for crypto-Fascist dictatorship of wealth and privilege and be done, finally, with the impediments of law and the constitution and the Public Interest.
But Limbaugh, Gingrich and the like are getting old, and though they may enjoy their demagogery for its own sake, and Gingrich for his part loves to parse and prate and come up with slogans that are supposed to pass for policy prescriptions. Few are listening.
Hannity? Younger. Fiery-er. Or Beck's untamed emotional fury?
Well, there are plenty of candidates on the right, almost none on the left, what left there is in this country. The absence of a Left or any (real) Leftist firebrands in this country leaves a vacuum, and it is filled by corporatist/imperialists like... well... Our President, His Excellency Barack Obama. He fills that vacuum very well, it seems to me, but there is no doubt in my mind that he's got no interest in building a movement and leading a revolution. The idea is absurd. His whole purpose in office seems clear: to further a neo-liberal program of loot and pillage to further enhance the power and wealth of the already obscenely wealthy and powerful, with occasional scraps and bones thrown to the masses to keep them tame or at least quiet.
For now his program is working. Whether it can continue to, as the real economy continues to spiral into the toilet and more and more real people suffer, can't be foretold. Things are not nearly as bad as they most certainly can get.
But every one of us is aware as never before of the suffering all around us if we are not already in that state ourselves. There is little or no succor available to most of those who have fallen through the gaping voids in the American "safety net", and as more and more Americans fall into the Abyss, their outcries are heard more and more clearly.
Many of those who have lost their jobs are not going to be re-employed, ever. The industries or businesses they once worked in are gone and are not coming back. There are no jobs programs to put people back to work in part because there is no intention of re-employing many of those who are now "surplus labor". One of the caveats of Clinton's Welfare Reform efforts was a requirement that business and industry provide jobs for the millions who would no longer be receiving welfare. And the plutocracy stepped up (of course they had "incentives," but that's another issue.) Jobs were found for many people who had not been employable for much of their lives. It was the most amazing thing. Many of them stayed employed, even though they had never been considered stable workers before.
But now, many of these workers -- we might even expect most of them -- have been sloughed off, forced back out of the labor system, and more than likely most of them will never go back to work. But there are no welfare or other programs for them. Right now, many of them are winding up in the tent encampments that are springing up around nearly every major city in the country. "Hoovervilles" in modern dress. They are living on whatever charity communities can muster, but there is less and less of that as the need increases and the number of those who can contribute declines.
What happens in a few years when these encampments have grown with more and more "surplus" and dispossessed Americans, and nothing has been done to relieve their situation? Hardly anyone is even considering that.
But as the vaunted middle class continues to be devastated by the economic decline, more and more seemingly secure individuals and households will wind up in the camps, and what then? What happens when there is no work, no money, no more charity?
Do Americans just lie down and die?
In fact, Death is stalking the land even now, as the economic collapse forces governments and foundations and other institutions to cut back on or eliminate programs of medical aid to various populations, cutting them off from treatment, drugs and so on that have kept them alive, and they are dying. That's what happens.
Suicide and mass killing statistics aren't looking good. How much worse these factors can become before Americans are induced to do something about it is hard to gauge. Americans have been almost sublimely passive for many years now, no matter what happens, and though we wonder what might trigger them to action, nothing that has so far happened has spurred very many of them from their torpor. As a friend said, as long as they have their Big Screen TeeVees and their Take and Bake Pizza, they'll sit in their easy chairs and eat and be entertained and do nothing.
And that is just the way The Powers That Be like it.
But as more and more of them head to the tent-camps with their few pitiful possessions....?
Is there a Lenin on the horizon?
As the Russian Empire collapsed, there wasn't a Lenin -- not until he appeared, out of exile, seemingly out of nowhere, at the Finland Station in Petrograd and started haranguing the People. To act. To do something. To take control of their own future.
The rest, as they say, is History.