By Michael Webster
The deep depression that started in America has already triggered violence in many places around the world and is being played out in Europe and elsewhere with increasing violence and other forms of social unrest are spreading around the globe. In Iceland for example the government has already fallen.
The question many are asking is this discontent going to spread around the world as things get even worse?
As things deteriorate around the globe economically Americans are starting to realize what a bad place they are finding themselves in and that Americans for the first time since the great depression are losing jobs at an alarming rate, losing their homes, savings and the way of life they have grown accustom to.
Americans, the very people who the big banks, Wall Street and corporations made their massive fortunes from are now being forced by the United States Government to bail out those same companies. The price tag, that many believe will be in the trillions of dollars and are being given to those same companies in the form of American tax dollars. Those very same companies are being rewarded for failing, yet the American citizen is expected to weather the storm and do all the suffering without any help.
Many predict that there will be rioting in the streets of America too and that may be the reason the U.S. government is building detention camps all over the states and more are expected.
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., has introduced to the House of Representatives a new bill, H.R. 645, calling for the secretary of homeland security to establish no fewer than six national emergency centers for corralling civilians on military installations.
The bill also appears to expand the President's emergency power, much as the executive order signed by President Bush on May 9, 2007, that gave the President the authority to declare an emergency and take over the direction of all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments without even consulting Congress.
One European says Americans are so spoiled and they have had it so good for so many years, they will be the hardest hit as they will struggle to cope. This is going to be a new world for them and they are going to have to learn how to adapt or parish.
Is this America's future? Does the American government sense chaos and public rebellion?
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Pessimism or optimism or...?
In his essay "Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty," the irrepressible Murray Rothbard wrote: “For the Libertarian, the main task of the present epoch is to cast off his needless and debilitating pessimism, to set his sights on long-run victory and to set out on the road to its attainment . . . . [L]et him proceed in the spirit of radical long-run optimism.”
Like most libertarians these days, I've been debating pessimism versus optimism. My context is quite a bit different than most, however. In a sense, I have removed myself from 'the movement' proper because I think much of it is destructive of the very liberty it claims to champion. For example, activists who pour their energy and money into the political ambitions of Ron Paul; those who believe the problem with government is that the wrong master is at the helm. Another example... those institutes that exist to convert young minds to go on and become a new generation of academics living off the government teat and working within 'the system' so seamlessly that I honestly can't tell most of them from the system itself. What an accomplishment: the creation of more tax consumers who play the academia game well.
The real radicalism, it seems to me, resides in people who are trying to empower individuals (including themselves) e.g. through protecting their rights (to own a gun, to homeschool children, etc.) or by teaching the skills that enable independence. The real radicals are constructing alternatives to working with or in a corrupt system that preys on human dignity and freedom.
What does this have to do with the 'pessimism versus optimism' question with which I began? Depending on where you focus, you can land on either side of the debate. God knows, I've fence hopped. I finally decided that it doesn't matter. Pessimism, optimism...it just doesn't make any difference to how I act and who I am. It would be nice to have an impact on the world but the matter is out of my control. All I control is myself and those things in my immediate sphere. Moreover, my writing and research has never been fundamentally motivated by trying to influence others. I write because ideas interest me; I spent years researching Benjamin Tucker because his approach and literary style ignited my imagination. If I die without influencing anyone, I won't regret following where my mind led any more than I regret following my heart in matters of romance. Having said this, it would be nice to make an impact on the world...and I suppose this is where the question of pessimism versus optimism arises.
So...the case for pessimism: I cannot see how the currect economic crisis can get anything but much worse. There are at least ponzi schemes poised to cause as much devastation as the mortgage disaster. They are: the American dollar, social security and private pension funds. Arguably, medicare as well. When the economy plunges into a real depression, politics will becomes a deck of wild cards played by the desperate, the fearful and those who wish to profit. Massive government intervention will only deepen and extend the depression, perhaps for years. As average people become enraged, there will tax and other revolts -- whether violent or just in the form of widespread non-compliance. The government will respond by cracking down, which is all it knows to do in the face of open defiance. On a non-governmental level, I expect quite a few of the 'niceties' of society will break down -- e.g. a rise in crime, especially against property.
So...the case for optimism: as bad as things are, they have been worse and liberty has survived. A quotation has haunted me for many years, inspring a feeling of sharp melancholy whenever I think of it. In 1914, Lord Edward Grey said of World War I, "the lights are going out across Europe. We shall not see them again for a long time." [In some versions, the quote ends "We shall not see them again in our lifetime."] And, yet, freedom recovered from the convulsing insanity of world war...as it will recover again. I believe this is inevitable because liberty is not an institution but an urge within man, and human nature will not change.
So...the case for opting out of the debate: my optimism rests on matters that are non-political and more within my control; my relationship with those for whom I care, my health, my independence, my farm... As the world goes to hell, these aspects of life are doing well, largely because of my decisions over the last several years; for example, the decision to live frugally and, so, be out of debt. But mostly, I opt out of internally debating "how should I feel?" because I am tired to death of caring deeply about matters over which I have no control. It is a waste of time, a waste of life and it quickly becomes boring. It may be the case that I cannot help caring but I can decide not to dwell upon miserable matters over which I have no influence.
Taking an emotional vacation is not that easy, of course, because the state of the world impacts those for whom I care; they may lose jobs, miss payments, become ill because of how costly it is to maintain health, etc. If so, well, then I'll deal with whatever comes up whenever it does. I guess I've concluded that the best way to make sure liberty recovers this time around is for me to stay healthy, keep writing, stay standing upright and to otherwise go about the business of living. That way, when liberty is ready to return, I'll be here to embrace and nudge it along.
Obama's use of fear card may backfire. So Obama is now a fear-monger despite not one fucking peep about the eight year reign of terror by the Bush regime during which Americans were conditioned to see swarthy Arab terrorists in every dark corner, under their beds and as a result turned into the world’s largest coward colony courtesy of apocalyptic conjecture about smoking mushroom clouds, manipulation of the infamous threat level matrix for political means and the canonization of Jack Bauer, a man who would rip the testicles off of a toddler with a pair of pliers in front of it's mother for god and country. Obama is going to have a rough time taking on the consolidated fascist media colossus and the highly paid celebrity whores who pass themselves off as journalists. Operation Mockingbird is alive and well and even more dangerous now that the entire national media is owned by a handful of corporations with interlocking directorates. Now there has been talk about reinstating the Fairness Doctrine which might not be a bad idea in leveling the playing field against the sort of fascists that former Roosevelt Vice President Henry A. Wallace once so accurately pegged:
The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism.But any reinstatement of such rules in the current era of systemic rot and deterioration would only be selectively enforced to keep out those who question the state and the system itself. You will never see the Fairness Doctrine used to offset Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly and any number of other demagogic clones. While this is a popular idea with many liberals it is only going to be eventually turned on them and other alternative media voices including bloggers who dare to question the legitimacy of the oligarchic status quo.
But the media is a huge problem and the onslaught of propaganda pumped out to prevent even a diluted bucket of horse piss of a stimulus package illustrates that any sort of return of the government from its current role of protector of corporate interests and the wealthy will be fought tooth, fang and claw in a destructive battle of attrition that will continue to transform families and friends into warring factions that can be exploited by the same ruthless scum who have rigged the tables so successfully, some could say too successfully.
How this is all going to end up is impossible to tell, the American eugenics project to create the perfect Idiocracy, a reverse master-race has any sort of reformer like Obama facing some seriously nasty odds, just think of the Detroit Lions hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after next year's Super Bowl and you get the general idea. Frank Rich of the damned liberal New York Times wrote a piece this weekend entitled They Sure Showed That Obama that would tend to create some optimism in those readers less cynical than I. It was this line that killed me though and only further underlines the ongoing demographic problems facing Obama and anyone else who tries to change the system.
Rich refers to: The beefy, beer-drinking, deer-hunting white guys — incessantly interviewed in bars and diners — would never buy the skinny black intellectual. Herein lies the problem, despite what may have happened during the election this is a nightmare block of the population and not one to be trifled with because old prejudices die hard and as always liberals have shown a proclivity in overestimating their ability to reach those who within their thick, Neanderthal skulls have banned logic and reason. I'll put in a plug for a big favorite of mine, the moral beacon in this sick land of denial and dumbness and that would be for the brilliant writer Joe Bageant and his book Deer Hunting With Jesus, trust me, it's a must read.
Now I may not be a hunter (personally I think it’s fucking slaughter) but I am one hell of a beefy, beer-drinking white dude, a military veteran and have 11 tattoos as well if that is any sort of an added qualification to the shithack D.C. conventional wisdom. Despite that I am smart enough to not be hoodwinked by a bunch of pampered, elitist, chickenhawk charlatans trying to bait folks like American Me into voting against my own economic self interests. Shit, my grandfather was a Romanian immigrant who joined a union to go work at a meat packing house (but only after at age 15 he filled his pockets full of ball bearings in order to qualify for the job's required weight), fought in World War II in the Pacific in some of the most vicious of cleanup operations and as an FDR democrat hated the sleazy, fascist snake oil salesmen that were Republicans. Thank God that he died before that fraudulent piece of shit Ronald Reagan was President but my grandmother who survived him by nearly thirty years cursed the Gipper and that punk assed borderline retard George W. Bush until her dying breath. The point is that most people from that particular era (never mind the 'greatest generation' hogwash) weren't so easily duped, and their ability to own a home, raise a family, take vacations on one income are a testament to they way that things used to be in this country before the rats and chiselers hijacked the system.
So as one of the manly men who are largely supposed to buy into the anti-elite propaganda peddled by the fifty-million dollar a year degenerate child fucking dope addict I have always taken great offense at just how fucking stupid that the average American beer swilling, swinging dick angry white male can be. Hell, I love drinking beer (and lots of it), shooting guns (although not at unarmed animals), watching football, driving fast, hating the insipid tyranny of political correctness and ogling nekkid women but I also don’t get suckered into that anti-intellectual horseshit that makes one of those clueless, testosterone and alcohol fueled dopes who are as mad as hell but too fucking dumb to realize that they should be really mad at the millionaire lardasses like Limbaugh who are very well paid to dupe these knuckle-draggers into consistently voting AGAINST their own economic well being.
Listen dudes, there is nothing macho in being stupid and unless y’all get a clue your sex lives will continue to be comprised of drinking a twelve pack of cheap malt liquor and whacking off over the latest issue of Penthouse or whatever other fuckrag that you pick up at your local convenience store's jack rack. Stop fantasizing about coming on Sarah Palin’s tits, stop reveling in the falsehood that everyman Joe the Plumber is a working class hero and pick up a book once in awhile, willful ignorance is not a virtue and more importantly the mind that you save may be your own.
ONE POSSIBLE LIFE
Let’s say you live your life in splendid isolation, above events. Things seem clear to you. Unreasonably clear. You are comfortable in the embrace of the seducers. But one day real life is suddenly unleashed and hurtles toward you. To the extent you descend from your tower to the actual field of action your former image of what has happened around you is erased or seems shrouded in unreality. Emulation and fashion are the rules of the game. (As someone wrote, writers shouldn’t use words that appear often in the press!) You realize you don’t know what is happening. You feel remote. Life is remote. Your whole social class is dissipating. Your life style has vanished. Your security hangs by a thread. You are uncertain of what you are about. You come to feel that the words you speak are senseless. You come to know you have lost contact with real life. Your youth of irresistible passion and your self-assurance in your way of life have come to seem no more than the senseless flapping of the wings of a tiny bird against the maelstrom. You no longer understand time, why or how, or for how long. Uncertainty replaces your former self-assurance and cocky nonchalance. Life once seemed boundless and unlimited. Now you feel the need for a protective ring, for a new chalk circle. You begin to recognize fate, chance and causality. As time passes you no longer underestimate the significance of events and the relationship between historic events and the role of individuals. You recognize the reliance on destiny, which is not the same as hope! Though some people—for example American neocons—believe they can control history, you recognize that the attempt to change the world is also linked to destiny and time. Yet, yet, you still believe that the individual—such as Marx or Lenin or Che Guevara or Daniel Ortega—can make the difference in the chaos and turbulence of events and destiny. Though you can’t count on it, you tell yourself you are fortunate to have descended from your isolation of unconsciousness.
To awaken, to descend from isolation, is to begin a cycle of resistance and revolt that perforce must end in revolution. This is not an impossible hypothesis. For how can one realistically rely on hope and non-violent sit-ins to oppose violence in a country as violent as the United States of America—from the genocide of the original peoples to the importation of black slaves to the “seduction” of an entire people?
In such conditions, voting is not enough. Sit-ins and marches and the poll booth are not enough.
By now that newborn thinking person, descended from his former isolation, understands that globalization is US imperialism at work. Now we know that globalization is nothing less than the American aspiration to global hegemony. That globalization is the exploitation of the workingman everywhere for the benefit of a few. It is the great seduction. The great deception. The ultimate seduction.
Globalization is still an ideology. It is the old market ideology. Now we know that globalization is a story of failure. Today in a time of crisis globalization appears as the evil it has always been. The man descended from isolation knows that the world needs jobs, food and health. Globalization instead means suppression of normal local activities. Globalization defined as global democracy is elite malarkey. Exportation of American style democracy is anyway by definition anti-democratic. How can one rationally even speak of a US democracy? Moreover, globalization, especially during crisis, means loss of jobs. Europe, I experience daily, is in reality more and more terrified of globalization. Nostalgic nationalism and desperate protectionism are raising their ugly heads. The 120 Italian oil industry workers in the UK irritate British workers. The 3000 British workers in Italy cause conflict among unemployed Italians. Globalization means that strong countries become savagely stronger, weaker countries, helplessly weaker. Most certainly globalization is not progress. It is the seduction exercised by an evil elite that while it destroys planet earth promotes inequality and widens the gap between rich and poor, confirmed by the fall of per capita income in 70 countries during the last 20 years.
Now the foe of your former self, you come to see that anything smacking of the status quo is evil. You see that earth is and has always been the planetary killing fields of all forms of life. You become aware of the super secrecy of Power, especially American Power. Secrecy is at the helm, secrecy for each component of Power. You learn that no one really knows what the fuck American troops and those of its reluctant, vanishing allies are doing in Iraq. In that respect, you realize, Power is virtual and therefore secret. Power operates in a secret world of virtual reality. Though that rings technological, it is also real. And it is the source of evil. Churchill could have been speaking of Power in general when he said, “Russia is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
Power accuses its enemies of its own faults. Marx too charged that the secrecy attached to his theories was only the reflection of human stupidities.
Despite the continuous reassurances of the seducers out to get us, things just don’t seem to work anymore. Though it is a truism that many people don’t work and yet get richer, that is not what I have in mind. Instead I wonder about the USA. Did the USA-Home-of-the-Free thing ever work? Was it flawed from the start? Was there always the stain? Were they always rich and the rest, poor. Was there always their goodness, their god-fearingness, their evil hidden deep, deep in the profundities of their super goodness and self-righteousness.
A curiosity: In recent times I have noted a rebellion of objects. I happen to touch a glass awkwardly, not hard at all. Yet it falls from the rack. It breaks into pieces, it seems on purpose. A suicide. Splinters rebound back up at me, slithers in my hands and on my cheek. I stand bloodied above the suicidal glass. What was the problem? What had I done to deserve it? Well, I admitted, I washed it haphazardly, without soap and tossed it into the rack. I wondered what special attention a glass needs. That glass rebelled, like animals sometimes rebel; a dog bites a human or the proverbial mule refuses to move. And now planet earth too is rebelling against occupation by human beings. One has to conclude that, yes, there is a human stain.
It is truly an enigma.