To say that 2018 will be interesting is akin to noting that a house on fire smells like smoke. Aside from the obvious that is gleaned from whatever your preferred news source imparts, there is the historical imperative that nobody but historians and gadflies frequent and yet is by far the most revealing of our current predicaments and, sadly, no more helpful in curing our ills except to say that what comes around goes around and no amount of dirt covering the head and neck will change that.
Our problem is Capitalism and has been since the beginning, certainly where the United States is concerned. Many will be shocked by that; many will denounce it as Communism and me as a Communist stooge or some warped socialist without recognizing that Communism as practiced by Soviets and Maoists, or more precisely their current descendants, is merely capitalism as a state enterprise or corrupt oligarchy or kleptocracy, but they are hardly not in it for the money.
To provide a baseline along with a biographical note, I am the quintessential American; white, middle-aged, male, reasonably educated, reasonably productive as relates to society and business, middle-class, and steeped in the iconography of the America that Donald Trump and his merry band are trying to bring back. Won’t happen; Capitalism is deeply remorseless, predatory, and not prone to nostalgia however shamelessly it may pretend to be. I am not, or should not be, as generally describes my demographic, prone to question what has been inculcated as to the bright shining city on the hill, but my desire for reason sent me over the side.
History, that bugaboo of inconvenient facts, will beat you about the head if you dare to deny it, but many do in the quiet confidence, with their heads in the sand, that if they ignore it everything will work out for the best; no one will take the time and effort to find out for themselves save those who feel the need to learn and process inconvenient facts and no one will listen to them unless they simply verify what our iconography preaches which is that Capitalism is the greatest thing since oxygen and water. It might even be more important.
Of our many recent struggles; of our desire to bring back the great industrial period to those places and communities displaced or disposed of by the inexorable march of change and technology, it’s important to note that these spasms did not produce any meaningful response because the powers that be have moved on; it’s what they do. You and I may well mourn the loss of opportunity, history, community, but the great capitalists of our time, just as their predecessors had, are not inclined to believe, as Jacob Marley might say, that humanity is their business. Humanity is a cost to be born in the pursuit of profits. This must be understood or nothing said will have any meaning! Politics, lobbyists, are a cost as well. It is not surprising that Congress gave a tax break to business and the wealthy; it is their country, always has been; those who depend on these people for work and substance are simply along for the ride. The only option is to attempt to break into that sphere or fall into the mob, an appellation given to the refuse of Capitalist production- yes, that foment of the 19th century is still with us.
They churn and gnarl….
And they have spoken, yet their champion is a charlatan who parrots their words and grief and acts on neither. And their scorn, their desolation is to let the ideals they once professed to cherish and defend wither rather than be realized in a more alien and diffuse population, one that does not resemble the postered and white-washed one they grew up with. If there is a Stalin or Hitler among them (the great fear of the federalists among us), he (or she; it is possible is it not?) has not yet asserted himself and is probably unlikely to do so because we are too spread out, too heterogeneous to be prey to that kind of national demagoguery, but locally we might.
Capitalism will not care anymore than it does for the mob it leaves behind; nor for the democracy it diminishes. Shareholder are more important, as is the money and the support it provides, and whatever the State may be, this progeny of Imperialism, guarantees it.
Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Yes, it’s not exactly uplifting, is it? And it’s not an unknown either to those we elect, to those at think tanks and universities; it’s a secret in plain sight; something we can do nothing about because we’ve been told time and time again that there is no viable or workable alternative that isn’t more uplifting or degrading or creative or destructive, more life affirming or crushing.
It’s why we drink, drug, and pray to the almighty.
Fun recent reads and sources:
Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt
American Slavery, Peter Kolchen
How Did We Get Into This Mess, George Monbiot
The Globalization Paradox, Dani Rodrik