Friday, December 28, 2012

Looking Backward -- 2012

Jebus, what a year.

It's been full of change for us, some of it really positive, but for millions of Americans 2012 was yet another year of misery and disaster as the now Perpetual Recession became institutionalized, the New Normal as it were, the Way Forward universally accepted by Our Rulers. We re-elected Mr. Obama for another term as Our Redeemer, but as before, he has no intention of redeeming anything but an option.

This has been the strangest thing about the constant immiseration of the American People by Their Betters. There is literally no one among the Better Class who is willing or able to stand up for the People and for doing the right thing.

No one.

I can't recall any previous period when that was so, when no one among the High and Mighty would stand up for the People or insist on fostering the Better Angels among the Upper Classes. But that's where we are now, and it's bewildering.

The signs that we'd get to this point were clear enough when institutional failure and collapse became obvious, starting with the failure of institutions to oppose the Supreme Court's lawless interference in the election of 2000 and the institutional acquiescence to the Bushevik usurpation, followed not surprisingly by the institutional acquiescence to the New Normal of Constant War.

Institutional opposition simply evaporated, and it was up to the People as individuals and in temporary groups to mount whatever opposition they could to the predation and horror they witnessed all around them.

Over the last decade and more, the People have taken upon themselves a gigantic burden as one after another of the institutions they created and/or relied on for sustenance and succor collapsed followed in turn by the collapse of whatever was passing for the economy putting many millions out of work and eventually out of their homes.

This was all happening due to strict policies adopted at the top -- policies which protected and enhanced the position of those in charge, advancing their wealth and power, and diminished the position of those not so lucky. It was all very obviously going on, but because of the nature of our argumentative and rationalizing and highly atomized society acknowledging and acting on the important and the obvious is often the last thing on anyone's mind.

Yet in 2011, a Movement got going that started to deal with some of what's been going on by pointing out the root of the problem in the grifter-financial sector. Occupy Wall Street stunned the Powers That Be with its strategies and tactics of "occupation" and its persistent calls to action against the depredations of the grifter-sector. Soon enough it was being subjected to some of the most violent suppression by Authority that we've seen in more than a generation; the contrast between the official suppression of Occupy and the official accommodation to the Tea Party could not have been more acute.

But it did help clarify the situation for many.

In 2012 the official suppression of resistance continued, even expanded, while at the same time a handful of bones were thrown to the masses in the hope that they would distract or tame the ravening hordes outside the gates. Efforts to further plunder what little remained of the assets of the working and middle classes were put on temporary hold, and every now and then there would be a bump in the employment figures -- so that there were fewer idle workers or indigents who might be inclined to raise a ruckus.

And of course there was the "election." To my mind the entire election process has become a cruel joke when it isn't a complete farce, and the re-election of Barack Obama and a compliant congress merely means that the plunder and immiseration will continue unabated.

Nothing will change.

For the People, this is a downward spiral from which there appears to be no escape. For the Masters and those on top, nothing could be better.

How much longer this situation will endure is anybody's guess; as we know, things can change in an instant, and the Counter Revolution put in place by the Busheviks and continuing under the Obamanauts could be overturned in an instant. I see no sign of it, though.

What I see is a continuing effort by the People to find and build alternatives to the status quo while maintaining as much as they can of a familiar way of life. Sometimes it all seems like teetering on the point of a pin. Massive change is being imposed rather quickly from the top; the People, on the other hand, are working on their own alternatives and in the process becoming the change they've sought for generations. We're in uncharted territory in many ways.

The Earth itself is going through a change as Climate Change accelerates. None of us can really know what the upshot will be, but we can be certain that nothing substantive will -- or now can -- be done to forestall or reverse the global climate catastrophe (if that's what it will be) that's been predicted for decades. Our Rulers simply have had no intention of fixing things for our benefit, though they may do some tweaks here and there on their own behalf. Modeling has been done to describe what the Future will be like, and Our Betters are well aware of where the Safe Places are expected to be and how they may live well and profit under whatever physical regime there may be.

 The rest of us? Oh well! Poor devils!

It is my sense that the institutional failures of the last decade and more, along with the critical failure of conscience among the most privileged people is due at least in part to the fact that they believe there is no longer a Future in the classic sense to look forward to. The dynamic changes under way in the natural world are too vast, and the Future as it used to be is simply not part of the picture that is emerging.

Without a sense of a Future, there is no longer anything binding people and generations to one another. The lifeboat has sunk. We're on our own.

That's the image I get based on the behavior of the Ruling Class toward everyone beneath them. Cruelty to the point of sadism is now assumed and accepted by Authority. Plunder is fundamental. Living standards for the masses are declining, wealth continues to evaporate, poverty is increasing, and all the markers that we once regarded as Progress are vanishing. Without a Future, why should there be progress?

I've been reading a book written by the Works Progress Administration in 1940 about California's Central Valley Project, a huge undertaking that was just then beginning, one that literally transformed California's Central Valley's water regime and provided a Future where one was previously seen to be absent. It's almost impossible to imagine that point of view, the "Yes, we can!" faith and belief in gigantic projects to ensure a Future, these days. There is obviously so much that needs to be done and can be done but won't be done on behalf of the Future well being of the People of the United States. Nothing like the vast projects of yore -- whether the Central Valley Project, or the Interstate Highway Project, or the Space Program, or some of the more ill advised programs like Urban Renewal -- can even be imagined these days.

Not because we can't do them. They can't be imagined because there's no Future any more. Why bother, then?

I'm an optimist by nature, so I see the little efforts underway to transform our vision and way of life as the answer to the absence of any kind of Big Picture Future. All this small scale activity -- characterized most clearly by the Permaculture Movement, but not solely by that -- has a spontaneity and cumulative effect that produces the Future all by itself.

It's not at all what was done before, it's something else again.


  1. In his first election, Obama projected the illusion that he was a big figure. After the election, we learned what a small person he really is. Could anyone possibly still be clinging to the idea that this man is some kind of savior?

    It's clear that his only core value is that he wants to be greeted warmly when attending cocktail parties with Wall Street Insiders and his fellow neoliberal politicians.

    The Republicans lost decisively because they brought nothing to the table. They ran their election on their usual culture war, race baiting garbage. Somehow, they thought taking the advice of a group of irrelevant, celibate old men on the issue of birth control was a good idea. They also delved deeply into the well of bigotry and racism. And that was it, that was the difference between them and Obama. "We'll take away your birth control and really hammer on those brown skinned people, but nothing is going to get better for you, your children or your grandchildren either way."

    Barack Obama was such a disappointment, that I'm wondering if this means the Republicans simply won't ever take the White House again. The other possibility is that a sitting president, no matter how terrible, will always win his second term. Well, I'll find out in 4 years, if I'm not mercifully dead by then.

  2. Savior, no. "Redeemer," yes. It goes back to one of America's Original Sins - black chattel slavery - and redemption from it through the assignment of a black man to the Big Chair by substantial margins.

    I don't think anyone sees Obama for what he might have been anymore -- the image he campaigned with in 2007 and 2008. He's seen for what he is: a willing tool of the rich and powerful, happily doing their bidding, which is primarily to keep the rest of us from too much tumult as we are pillaged and plundered with abandon by Our Betters.

    He's doing it pretty well, too.

    Much better than any one the Rs have put forth since Bush the Old, and he wasn't any great shakes. You've got to go back to Reagan for an R who could actually sell this crap, and don't forget, he came from the Show Business and he knew how to bamboozle the masses, even as addled in the head as he was.

    Benefits will be cut and taxes will be raised on the poor, the working and the (lower) middle classes no matter what. Barack's job is to sell it.

    The rich will continue to count their increasing piles of money -- and that will be that.