Reading through some of the year-end “summing up” articles appearing around the blogsphere post-Christmas/pre-New Years, there seems to a general consensus—right, left and all parts between—that if 2011 was an “interesting” year, then 2012, with a US presidential election as its centerpiece, should be a real firecracker. This year we had an Arab Spring, full-scale burn-shit-to-the-ground riots in England, a crisis in the Euro-zone, the re-awakening of the labor movement in Wisconsin and Ohio, Occupy Wall Street…yes, it was a, um, novel year, indeed.
We keep hearing that 2012 will = “the next 1968”—but if that’s true, did 2011 = the Summer of Love???
What’s love got to do with it?
Or is there something else entirely going on? (And no, I am not referring to the fucking Mayan Calendar running out, okay? There’ll be none of that around here…)
I think people are simply starting to wake up to which side of the fork they’re on.
And nothing less… That’s a very big deal for mankind, most who would rather not think about such matters.
Even for dummies who only get their “facts” from Fox News or talk radio, enough… ah… “reality” is still slipping through the cracks that it’s becoming harder and harder to remain ignorant of how the financial elites have left the world in economic ruin.
It’s not like you can blame this shit on the unions, illegal aliens or the budget deficit anymore, no matter what Fox News or Rush Limbaugh tells you. That entire worldview is leaking water.
Looking back on 2011, personally, the thing that I found the most astonishing—at least in terms of the media, which is all there really is anymore, right? I mean that in a Lacanian sense and in every other sense, too—is how so many mainstream commentators have taken it upon themselves to crank the rhetoric of “class war” up to 11.
It used to be that—how shall I put this—drumming up support for “the revolution” was not done in polite company. What is today casually said on television (and applauded) could have gotten you blacklisted—or worse—in the 1950s.
Nope, it used to be that unless you went out and looked for, you know, “left wing rhetoric,” it just didn’t come find you. Or you didn’t discover it by accident. And certainly not by accident in your own home. It was something you basically got from sources like ‘zines and punk rock records.
This was true up until fairly recently. This year, however, things changed in a big way and you could see and hear reasonable-seeming people making reasonable-sounding arguments for beheading stock brokers in the opinion pages of the major daily newspapers on cable TV.
Personally, I think it’s about time that, say, Jello Biafra’s politics became mainstream. As far as I am concerned, it’s taken long enough already… but make no mistake about it, it is happening.
There is a particularly good example of what I am talking about written by novelist and financial reporter, Michael Thomas and published at Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Thomas is no wide-eyed leftie or aging punk rocker, he’s a 75-year-old man who has lived his life at an especially high vantage point, one that makes him able to understand how the world really works: He was a partner in Lehman Brothers, where he worked for 30 years. He writes for the New York Times, WSJ, and the New Yorker. He’s got some hard-fought wisdom to share with us and it doesn’t sound all that different from what we’re hearing on the street level, too.
Is it significant when a former partner in Lehman Bros. publicly predicts, and indeed seems to support, a retroactive confiscation of Wall Street’s ill-gotten gains? I sure think it is, because it’s starting to look like common sense when there are these bastards living in gated mansions in Connecticut and upstate New York while entire families are living in their cars. What did Huey Long say in his famous “Every Man a King” speech? Oh yeah:
How may of you remember the first thing that the Declaration of Independence said? It said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that there are certain inalienable rights of the people, and among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; and it said, further, “We hold the view that all men are created equal.”
Now, what did they mean by that? Did they mean, my friends, to say that all me were created equal and that that meant that any one man was born to inherit $10,000,000,000 and that another child was to be born to inherit nothing?
Did that mean, my friends, that someone would come into this world without having had an opportunity, of course, to have hit one lick of work, should be born with more than it and all of its children and children’s children could ever dispose of, but that another one would have to be born into a life of starvation?
That was not the meaning of the Declaration of Independence when it said that all men are created equal of “That we hold that all men are created equal.”
Now was it the meaning of the Declaration of Independence when it said that they held that there were certain rights that were inalienable—the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Is that right of life, my friends, when the young children of this country are being reared into a sphere which is more owned by 12 men than it is by 120,000,000 people?
It’s taken a while, but nearly 80 years after Long said those words, the consensus position is anger. The default conventicle, only now beginning to be discussed in public, is becoming retribution. (And please don’t mistake my position here as advocating anything—even if I would advocate or otherwise support something like this because I most certainly would/do—I’m merely trying to make the case that this is something likely to become one of THE defining topics of 2012).
This time, I fear, the public anger will not be deflected. Confessions, not false, will be exacted. Occupy Wall Street has set the snowball rolling; you may not think much of OWS—I have my own reservations, although none are philosophical or moral—but it has made America aware of a sinister, usurious process by which wealth has systematically been funneled into fewer and fewer hands. A process in which Washington played a useful supporting role, but no more than that.
Over the next year, I expect the “what” will give way to the “how” in the broad electorate’s comprehension of the financial situation. The 99 percent must learn to differentiate the bloodsuckers and rent-extractors from those in the 1 percent who make the world a better, more just place to live. Once people realize how Wall Street made its pile, understand how financiers get rich, what it is that they actually do, the time will become ripe for someone to gather the spreading ripples of anger and perplexity into a focused tsunami of retribution. To make the bastards pay, properly, for the grief and woe they have caused. Perhaps not to the extent proposed by H. L. Mencken, who wrote that when a bank fails, the first order of business should be to hang its board of directors, but in a manner in which the pain is proportionate to the collateral damage. Possibly an excess-profits tax retroactive to 2007, or some form of “Tobin tax” on transactions, or a wealth tax. The era of money for nothing will be over.
But it won’t just end with taxes. When the great day comes, Wall Street will pray for another Pecora, because compared with the rough beast now beginning to strain at the leash, Pecora will look like Phil Gramm. Humiliation and ridicule, even financial penalties, will be the least of the Street’s tribulations. There will be prosecutions and show trials. There will be violence, mark my words. Houses burnt, property defaced. I just hope that this time the mob targets the right people in Wall Street and in Washington. (How does a right-thinking Christian go about asking Santa for Mitch McConnell’s head under the Christmas tree?) There will be kleptocrats who threaten to take themselves elsewhere if their demands on jurisdictions and tax breaks aren’t met, and I say let ’em go!
At the end of the day, the convulsion to come won’t really be about Wall Street’s derivatives malefactions, or its subprime fun and games, or rogue trading, or the folly of banks. It will be about this society’s final opportunity to rip away the paralyzing shackles of corruption or else dwell forever in a neofeudal social order. You might say that 1384 has replaced 1984 as our worst-case scenario. I have lived what now, at 75, is starting to feel like a long life. If anyone asks me what has been the great American story of my lifetime, I have a ready answer. It is the corruption, money-based, that has settled like some all-enveloping excremental mist on the landscape of our hopes, that has permeated every nook of any institution or being that has real influence on the way we live now. Sixty years ago, if you had asked me, on the basis of all that I had been taught, whether I thought this condition of general rot was possible in this country, I would have told you that you were nuts. And I would have been very wrong. What has happened in this country has made a lie of my boyhood.
The Big Lie: Wall Street has destroyed the wonder that was America (Newsweek)
And then, after you have, watch this video of Ian Bone’s infamous “hypothermia speech” from 1985’s Class War conference. Notice how they’re sorta saying the same thing? And how long will it be before Ian Bone has his own TV show, anyway? I’d watch, wouldn’t you?