This House Is on Fire and an Inferno Is Building
The floor joists are parched and smoldering, small flames lick at them; the house above is a tinderbox of untended, dry-rotting boards and a loose, improperly anchored roof, ready to blow in the next hurricane, or explode and sail away as the flames build.
Some of us feel it intuitively; others have thought it through, calculated the historical parallels and cycles that have led to crises over several millennia, and see the inevitability of the coming inferno. Both feel the sobering weight of that understanding, and either thrill at the possibilities conflagration might bring, or fear the next stage, knowing that good things don’t always rise from the ashes; or feel both in some measure. Strauss and Howe of The Fourth Turning fame have a take on it, though I don’t subscribe to their timeline, nor their belief in the inefficacy of the power of Occupy.
Some of us live in the house and see only the nicely painted walls, the furniture still arranged as it always was, or reckoning that the bits of smoke damage near the floor can be overlooked, or even painted over with a bit of effort. And if that doesn’t work, we can go shopping, there’s always some new thing to own, and to distract us from the sense that something’s really wrong with the place. Americans are well-practiced at the art of self-deception, without which the daily propaganda we’re fed would be ineffective, and might allow us to search for own values, ethics, grasp of the true moral history of our nation*, and comprehend the false choices we’re presented with in the political debate, which of course is effectively: none.
As Arthur Silber knows, those who own the narrative…own us. Too many in our nation are somnambulistic believers in our exceptionalism, in easy credit and the Right to Consume and Toss, that voting still matters much at all, that the wealthy deserve what they have, and that capitalism and democracy are the same thing. Or something. That carefully crafted mythology and propaganda have kept us slaves to notions that are seriously hard to break free of; only those who walk the road less traveled have…until recently, as more and more are beginning to sense that things in this country just aren’t right; aren’t fair; that a dollar is almost worthless, and their economic futures have become…nightmares.
The 2008 financial meltdown has forced more of us to look at the truth: some 40 million of us are out of work; the social safety net is being stripped further while big banks and multinationals entwined with the federal government continue to profit at our expense.
The Masters of Propaganda (corporate news) soothe us with confidence stories of improved financial statistics that aren’t just meaningless: they are outright lies. We are in the middle of a Depression; the Banks are in a recovery, thanks to a corrupt Federal Reserve lending them money at 0%, and buying back the bonds they purchase with our money, and park at the Fed, earning them 3 or 4% interest. Nice.
All over the country, houses and stores are boarded up; whole shopping malls stand empty; food banks and free clinics are critically stressed. Workers are producing more for less pay, and willing to work longer hours just to keep their jobs. People are beginning to notice that something’s wrong in America; the old bets are off, and the American Dream is a chimera that will never return.
But what of the things Americans don’t know yet, but will reap the effects soon regardless? Ah…the tinder, the dry-rotted boards and planks of the infrastructure that’s been left to fend for itself, and the decay of the institutions we used to depend on existing for our benefit are dilapidated with disuse, as is our Constitution and the almost-now-arcane ‘Rule of Law’. Beyond that:
This nation no longer invests in infrastructure; airports, bridges, public schools, sewage and water systems are aging and unsafe.
Personal debt is now almost equal to the national debt; student debt has exploded to over a trillion dollars as servicers sold many accounts to unscrupulous lenders who jacked up interest rates.
The value of a dollar presently has 5% of its net 1917 worth thanks to the ever-so-helpful Federal Reserve.
The Big Banks are not in recovery, but more toxic than ever, and even the lamest provisions of Dodd-Frank regulations are now toast; Bill Black says the only good news in the JOBS Act will keep criminologists busy forever.
The entire financial system is built on a tissue of lies, and will not hold. It’s being propped up by fraudulent balance sheets and regulatory corruption and capture.
Estimates are that over $700 trillion of predominantly toxic debt from unregulated derivatives are out in the world; many those chickens will come home to roost on taxpayers one day, or else the banks must arguably…fail.
There are now 1,271 government agencies and 1,931 private companies that work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States, the Washington Post reported in a 2010 series by Dana Priest and William M. Arken.
There are 854,000 people with top-secret security clearances. Why? Who do the Oligarchs fear? Everyone, including us? Apparently.
The NSA is building an enormous new spy agency in Bluffdale, Utah; when it’s complete, it will be five times larger than the nation’s capital.
The US state of Everlasting War will not end unless we make it end. Secretary Clinton just put us into the ‘civil war’ in Syria; this won’t end well.
Our Empire might not even qualify as one any longer; the resource wars aren’t even gleaning extractive wealth now, and war and security for the 1% who reap the profits…may be enough to keep them going regardless.
Even the new military bases that are part of recent trade deals aren’t so much as extractive, but are there to make sure those nations are held hostage to American-based multinationals’ products and services. A win-win scenario for them, not so much for taxpayers.
The nation will bear witness to the massive militarization of our police departments soon, especially during the protests at the NATO conference in Chicago May 15-22; now in most states, even those arrested for minor offenses can be legally strip-searched if they’re being sent into general population areas as of yesterday’s SCOTUS decision.
As the inferno builds, the American Security State is fully armed and prepared to deal with the ensuing social unrest they expect.
The pace at which much of these hideous happenings have been galloping since the catalysts of both 9/11 and the financial meltdown is staggering. That our nation has gone crazy is not even debatable; the Elites rob and plunder with impunity; free speech has been criminalized; whistleblowers are prosecuted, not praised and given awards; there is always funding for incessant war and police state security, weapons and weapons systems, but not enough to fulfill the Social Contract or provide universal health care for all.
Corporations are people now, and money equals speech, and Congress is bought and sold by lobbyists for big business profiteers who care not a whit how far they poison our food, water, air, or land.
It’s time to take off the blinders, and convince others to; the fate of our world depends on it, and jettisoning any remaining attachment to the notion that our government can be ‘tweaked’ by electing A Few Good Dems, imo, as well as to understand why some of us are perhaps a bit on the edgy side when we converse in the blogosphere. Conversely, those who feel, but fear, the great changes that are on the way may hold on more tightly to their beliefs that the system can be fixed.
The Occupy Democracy Movement seems to me to be our last good chance at reclaiming the Common Good, restoring and improving the Social Contract, and the Rule of Law for our nation’s people. We need to encourage resistance and civil disobedience with loving community outreach, educating and listening to one another on the issues and alternatives to our present approach, and resisting the machine that is killing us and the planet. We need to have each other’s backs in every meaningful way.
This video example of the cooperative spirit possible in music and other areas of sustainable production and human-centric necessities of life is brought to you by “Walk Off the Earth,” a group of Canadian Millennials. (h/t Neil Howe) Enjoy, and spread love and caring wherever you’re able. During the coming firestorms we’ll need to depend on one another increasingly.
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
~ Jimi Hendrix
* “America, conceived in the sin of imperialism, born into the iniquity of slaveholding, rapacious of a continent, covetous of world power…it’s very easy fall into that liberal guilt, flogging oneself like penitentes into inactivity. It’s too much to ever be able to change. My own moral sense is trapped inside a profoundly immoral society that perversely taught me my moral values as a kid, drummed them into me, and betrayed me as an adult. Yep, that’s the American experience.”
(to be cross-posted at kgblogz.com)