Originally posted by James Hepburn here, and reposted with express permission.
And now re-posted from Voices on the Square– ek hornbeck
Am I the only one who saw the America "being reborn" diary and it immediately conjured up images from some scifi dystopian movie you probably only saw the trailer for? Like, "It Lives II – The Rebirth"
Well, if it didn't, it should have. Let me summarize that diary's main points:
1. America was never all that – there was no heyday.
2. Shit has sucked before and so it will again.
3. Not falling apart – being reborn, into what nobody knows.
4. But it's not that bad because 3D Printers can print solar panels.
5. We're in a great revolution, shift, change – reborn into what even the powerful don't know.
6. Now is the time to steer the direction of history, these are not end times, but interesting times – "Homosexual couples can get married in America. A Black man is President. We are world leaders in a reduction of CO2 emissions."
7 The world is changing, but the powerful will "push back."
8. They will appear insurmountable, until they aren't.
This evoked cries of Yay! from many commenters extolling the virtues of optimism. 'Things aren't as bad as that. And thank you for being positive for a change.'
One commenter even asked what hole all these pessimists crawled out of. "Progressives are supposed to be about progress. Leave the "we-can't" stuff to the other guys," he said.
I have long suspected that some on this site exist in some kind of shell, and when news or information that threatens or challenges their views gets posted, or even makes it to the Rec'd List, they simply ignore it.
And I will say now, I don't blame them. Reality is depressing. Who wants to sit around thinking about how earth is in its 6th mass extinction event, or how, at the current rate, the Amazon Rainforest will be wiped out before the end of the century greatly amplifying and feedbacking the effects of climate change, or how climate change is, according to a report (PDF) sponsored by the World Bank, moving us toward conditions that could be accurately likened to an apocalypse, or how the world is running out of fresh water and our aquifers are drying up,or how, as we speak, the Fukushima reactor in Japan is leaking untold amounts of radioactive water into the Pacific ocean, or how Obama and BP's solution to the Gulf oil spill actually made it much worse, or how the real unemployment rate is actually worse and continues to get worser still, or how the same economic "policies" that have devastated Detroit and other formerly industrial cities will be devastating your city soon enough, or how our schools have become pipelines to prisons, or how our corporate produced foods have become poisonous, etc etc etc.
I get it. This shit, like, totally harshes your buzz. So it's easy to turn away – especially when a lot of it is happening somewhere else or doesn't quite effect you personally yet (except for the tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, floods, snowpocalypses, epidemics of strange illnesses and other more normal ones like childhood asthma, health care bankruptcy, getting fired from your job, etc etc etc). So as long as we ignore all the things that are wrong, things look pretty fucking good. As one commenter in said diary said, compared to 2nd world countries, "We're in pretty good shape."
A lot of it depends on one's perspective. My inlaws paid about 1.5 mil. for their house. It's in a gated neighborhood with water sprinklers that keep the vast acres of grass green, even in some winter months. Things look super from there. No crime. Best public schools in the state. Roads perfectly paved.
It helps to put things in perspective. I guess.
Anyway, as for the "Reborn" diary, I just want to make a couple of corrections.
It is true, there was never a heyday when all was well in America. But utopian perfection has never defined what made up the US's heyday. Trajectory does.
1930s-1970s: That was America's heyday. Not because there weren't serious wrongs during that period. But because things were getting better. We were on a progressive trajectory, established by progressives. That trajectory began to change in the early 70s. Not because of some unknowable, great global shift revolution that is "all around us."
It began to change because a few assholes figured out how to rig the system and then went about doing it. It's not a mystery. And it's not a secret. They got together with all their right wing, billionaire buddies and coordinated a campaign to change the trajectory of this country.
Their plan was pretty simple. Work together and form big lobbying groups. Buy the government. Buy up all the mass media and get it away from all those bleeding hearted liberals. And impose their pro business agenda on every major university.
It ain't rocket science.
Muskegon Critic says that America isn't falling apart. He's right. It is being disassembled, piece by piece. The shifts that are occurring aren't a result of an inevitable force. We are not being swept up in some mystical wind of change.
We are simply under attack. And it's an attack that has been ongoing for decades.
The agenda of our attackers is also quite simple, once you get past the distractions. Their agenda is to transform America from the great society vision encapsulated in the New Deal, with a high paid labor class, widespread advanced education, the expectation of a strong social safety net, and tight government controls on big businesses to prevent the exploitation of workers, the pollution of the environment, and ensurance that those who benefit most from our society pay the most to maintain it.
In place of this, they want basically the opposite. They want apeasant labor class to exploit, to weaken government by corrupting andsabotaging our democratic institutions, unfettered access to our naturalresources which, in any sane society would be consider our commonwealth, and no social safety net.
What big business figured out is that they need lots of poor people.The poorer a country is, the more corruptible it is, the moreexploitable it is, the easier it is to pillage.
The kind of society that the New Deal began to create, was unacceptable to the corrupt parasites of the ruling class. Suddenly you had this emerging labor class, middle class, and academic class that was uber-educated, pretty well informed, and getting smart enough to demand a more just, more equal, and better managed society. Some people call it the 60s. But it wasn't just a trend or an era. And it wasn't limited to hippies or university intellectuals. They were just the cutting edge of something entirely new: the ascendency of a new class in world history. An educated, empowered, financially secure, and politically activated lower class.
The world had really never seen that before, nowhere near on this scale. And all those smart people who used to be too insecure to complain, too ignorant to know what to complain about, and to alienated by the political process to act anyway, were now becoming a big problem. They had expectations of fairness, and the political power, through unions etc, to, to leverage those expectations. They were getting too uppity to be sent off to die in Parasite wars. And they were demanding that the environment be protected. Something had to change.
When all the big business, right wing assholes came together around the Powell Memo, they weren't just acting to advance their business interests. They knew they needed to transform the American public. We needed to become a lot more like a 3rd world country.
That's what's changed. No great tides, or winds or the inevitable replacing of the old with the new. Just some assholes, who own TV networks, radio stations, newspapers, universities, think tanks and countless other little organizations, all designed to make people think what they want us to.
Nothing mysterious about the changes that have transformed our economy either. Over the last 40 years, and in response to New Deal labor laws, and then new environmental regulations passed by LBJ and Nixon, big American businesses basically said fuck America, we'll go to Indonesia, and pollute the fuck out of wherever we want. And labor will be 3 cents on the dollar.
And they and their lobbyists over at the CFR bought up our two parties and, while we were enjoying the sex revolution and Meathead on TV, then quietly began the process of dismantling the entire manufacturing sector of the country. Incredibly, most liberals still don't comprehend what happened there. But that's a huge part of what has changed. The US is now suffering varying degrees of Detroit. And it's going to keep getting worse.
Now is the time to shape history. But unless you have at least some grasp of what that change is, and who's causing it, and how they're causing it, you don't have a chance in hell of changing it.
Yes, America's being reborn alright. But you won't want to see what it's being reborn into. For those of us who have been paying attention, the end result of this re-birthing is no mystery at all. It's exactly what we've seen in other countries, where neoliberalism has been allowed to run unchecked.
And it's not pretty. Liberals generally decry notions of American exceptionalism. But we have our own brand. The "it can't happen here" brand. Are we really so different than the people in Columbia or Chile, where leftists and labor leaders are hunted and murdered?
Is the mass surveillance apparatus, much of which is controlled not by the big brother state, but by private corporations, really immune from abuse by those who wish to defeat American labor and progressive politicians?
Is it really so hard to comprehend why allowing phone calls to recorded and stored by a nameless, faceless, security apparatus is a threat to not just your privacy, but to democracy itself?
Is the trajectory of our country towards increased concentration of wealth and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people, towards greater and greater poverty, towards poorer and poorer education, towards even more manipulation of public perception by corporate mass media, and the threat that poises for all of us, not obvious? Even to those who enjoy good paying jobs?
America has never been perfect. Not even close. But there was a time when its trajectory through history was in alignment with its promise.
Its trajectory now is toward the unthinkable. Unthinkable power, through of technology of weapons and surveillance, combined with an unthinkable absence of democratic governance or accountability.