Sunrise: A Global Moment Unlike Any In Memory

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

All-American Decline in a New World: Wars, Vampires, Burned Children, and Indelicate Imbalances

by Tom Engelhardt

This is a global moment unlike any in memory, perhaps in history.  Yes, comparisons can be made to the wave of people power that swept Eastern Europe as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989-91.  For those with longer memories, perhaps 1968 might come to mind, that abortive moment when, in the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere, including Eastern Europe, masses of people mysteriously inspired by each other took to the streets of global cities to proclaim that change was on the way.

For those searching the history books, perhaps you’ve focused on the year 1848 when, in a time that also mixed economic gloom with novel means of disseminating the news, the winds of freedom seemed briefly to sweep across Europe.  And, of course, if enough regimes fall and the turmoil goes deep enough, there’s always 1776, the American Revolution, or 1789, the French one, to consider.  Both shook up the world for decades after.

But here’s the truth of it: you have to strain to fit this Middle Eastern moment into any previous paradigm, even as — from Wisconsin to China — it already threatens to break out of the Arab world and spread like a fever across the planet.  Never in memory have so many unjust or simply despicable rulers felt quite so nervous — or possibly quite so helpless (despite being armed to the teeth) — in the presence of unarmed humanity.  And there has to be joy and hope in that alone.

Even now, without understanding what it is we face, watching staggering numbers of people, many young and dissatisfied, take to the streets in Morocco, Mauritania, Djibouti, Oman, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya, not to mention Bahrain, Tunisia, and Egypt, would be inspirational.  Watching them face security forces using batons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and in all too many cases, real bullets (in Libya, even helicopters and planes) and somehow grow stronger is little short of unbelievable.  Seeing Arabs demanding something we were convinced was the birthright and property of the West, of the United States in particular, has to send a shiver down anyone’s spine.

The nature of this potentially world-shaking phenomenon remains unknown and probably, at this point, unknowable.  Are freedom and democracy about to break out all over?  And if so, what will that turn out to mean? If not, what exactly are we seeing?  What light bulb was it that so unexpectedly turned on in millions of Twittered and Facebooked brains — and why now?  I doubt those who are protesting, and in some cases dying, know themselves.  And that’s good news.  That the future remains — always — the land of the unknown should offer us hope, not least because that’s the bane of ruling elites who want to, but never can, take possession of it.

Nonetheless, you would expect that a ruling elite, observing such earth-shaking developments, might rethink its situation, as should the rest of us.  After all, if humanity can suddenly rouse itself this way in the face of the armed power of state after state, then what’s really possible on this planet of ours?

Seeing such scenes repeatedly, who wouldn’t rethink the basics?  Who wouldn’t feel the urge to reimagine our world?

Let me offer as my nominee of choice not various desperate or dying Middle Eastern regimes, but Washington.

[snip, snip, snip, snip…]

History is now being reshaped in such a way that the previously major events of the latter years of the foreshortened American century — the Vietnam War, the end of the Cold War, even 9/11 — may all be dwarfed by this new moment.  And yet, inside the Washington echo chamber, new thoughts about such developments dawn slowly.  Meanwhile, our beleaguered, confused, disturbed country, with its aging, disintegrating infrastructure, is ever less the model for anyone anywhere (though again you wouldn’t know that here).

Oblivious to events, Washington clearly intends to fight its perpetual wars and garrison its perpetual bases, creating yet more blowback and destabilizing yet more places, until it eats itself alive.  This is the definition of all-American decline in an unexpectedly new world.  Yes, teeth may be in jugulars, but whose teeth in whose jugulars remains open to speculation, whatever General Petraeus thinks.

As the sun peeks over the horizon of the Arab world, dusk is descending on America.

Read all of it here… it’s more than worth it.

5 comments

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    • Edger on March 4, 2011 at 1:09 am
      Author

    The time between the notes relates the color to the scenes

    A constant vogue of triumphs dislocate man, so it seems

    And space between the focus shape ascend knowledge of love

    As song and chance develop time, lost social temp’rance rules above

    Ah, ah

    Then according to the man who showed his outstretched arm to space

    He turned around and pointed, revealing all the human race

    I shook my head and smiled a whisper, knowing all about the place

    On the hill we viewed the silence of the valley

    Called to witness cycles only of the past

    And we reach all this with movements in between the said remark

    Close to the edge, down by the river

    Down at the end, round by the corner

    Seasons will pass you by

    Now that it’s all over and done

    Called to the seed, right to the sun

    Now that you find, now that you’re whole

    Seasons will pass you by

    Yes – Close To The Edge

    Back in the sixties we did everything we could do to bring the system to it’s knees and remake the world in the image of our imagination.

    Heh! Little did we know we’d live to see it happen….

    Peace. It’s only the end of the beginning. 😉

    • RiaD on March 4, 2011 at 2:00 am

    very much worth the loooong trip thru the tooobz

    good thing i had my Alliance Bar, made the trip back go quickly!

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