Sunday, August 14, 2011
Wrapup on the Summer
Of course, it isn't over yet, but I think we've got the picture: there hasn't been a summer this tumultuous since the 1970's, and there are signs that civil unrest (as well as a number of civil wars still raging) will easily continue into the fall and through the wintertime into next year.
People are refusing, in their multitudes, to sit down and shut up while their lives are being turned upside down (that is, when they don't lose their lives), and what little they've had is being sucked up into the maw of Matt Taibbi's Vampire Squid that actually rules us.
Dylan Ratigan's "Extractive" Rant the other day incoherently encapsulates the fright and the frustration so many middle level "left-behinds" feel.
"Extractive" has become the new "Uncertainty." Extracting wealth is the current economic principle at the Top, "takings" as it were. I suppose "looting" would be an understatement for what The Gods Who Walk Among Us® are doing to the rest of us -- and to one another.
So when we see young people looting stores for cell phones and sneakers in Britain, burning down their neighborhoods in the process, what we're seeing is a minor-league street-side version of what the Highest of the High and the Mighty have been up to for quite a while now, on a titanic scale, globally, "extracting" -- or shall we say "looting" -- all the wealth that they can pillage from entire nations, one by one and in batches, while we look on in horror, just as Decent Brits looked on in horror at the riots and the wilding young in the streets.
Some of them even made the connection between behavio[u]r at the Top of the Heap and what the Young were doing in the streets. Some of the young were even able to make that connection. "It's all the same, man, innit?" The "takings" might be on a different scale -- and what is looted is certainly different -- but the destruction and despair left in the wake of the pillage, the fear and dread injected into the hearts of individuals and communities (and entire nations), the sense of widespread powerlessness and the inability or unwillingness of Authority to intervene appropriately on behalf of the People, all are the same.
In the United States, despite protest demonstrations in numbers we haven't seen in quite a long time, nothing like The UK Riots have yet emerged. They might, and because they might, many people are on edge. But in the United States the Austerity Program is still being debated in the marble halls of our Government Palaces, only so much of it has yet been instituted, and in most cases, the immediate effects have been mitigated through various means in order to keep the People calm in the face of what is to be done to them. So far, it has mostly worked.
In the meantime, though, the Highest of the High and the Mighty have been busy sucking out every bit of wealth they can find in an "extractive" frenzy the like of which I don't think we have ever seen. We see it in the Wall Street gyrations, where every Up and every Down provides yet more profit opportunities, we see it in massive commodity price run ups due to speculation, we see it in endless wage cuts and price increases, constantly high unemployment, ridiculous and ravenous bank policies, endless foreclosures and plans to essentially give the homes away to investors "if they promise to rent them out," and on and on and on and on.
There is no attempt to hide any of it, nor really is there any effort to sugar-coat it. It is what it is. We are being robbed blind, right out in the open, with the full on and very active complicity of Our Public Servants, who only seem capable of serving their constituents at the feed trough and not the Public at all.
We've watched this go on for years, and I for one am fed up with it. And yet, so far, the only popular unrest over what's been happening has focused either on protesting political actions by captive governments (the Austerity fetish in Europe, for example, or the mass protests in Wisconsin and elsewhere), or in Riots -- which aren't so much popular as they are focused expressions of rage and opportunism.
And all of a sudden, Marxist theory -- and actual Marxists (!) -- are being trotted out to explain what's going on. Well of course! Marx was right. Yes! His trenchant analysis of Capitalism is as true today as it was 150 years ago, and we are living through yet another of the inevitable Crises of Capitalism that are basically built in to the economic system and cannot be entirely escaped from so long as the system is in place. (Not that any other System known to man doesn't have its own set of built-in crises.)
"We're all Marxists now!" Well, in an inverted sense, yes, even the Kochs are Marxists. They and their ilk know that Marx was right and they are all about taking advantage of both the strengths and the weaknesses of the Capitalist system. And they know how to squeeze its teats on behalf of themselves.
And it is hugely frustrating for so many of us in the Lesser 99% to know full well what is wrong and what to do about it and to see just the opposite being enacted by Our Rulers, repeating and compounding the same mistakes over and over, making things worse for the many, better and better for the few, and expressing such amazement that this is happening.
Being right too soon doesn't do you any good at all.
At least there have only been a few sharks and missing white women in the news this summer. So there is that.