By Phil Rockstroh
Regardless of the dissembling of corporate state propagandists, free market capitalism has always been a government subsidized, bubble-inflating, swindlers’ game, in which, psychopathic personalities (not “job creators” but con job perpetrators) thrive. By the exploitation of the many, a ruthless few have amassed large amounts of capital by which they dominate mainstream narratives and compromise elected and governmental officials, thereby gaming the system for their benefit.
Historically, the system has proven so demeaning to the majority of the population that the elite, from time to time, have, as a last resort, due to fear of a popular uprising, introduced a bit of socialism into the system, allowing a modicum of swag to funnel downward, and, as a result, the ranks of the middle class have been expanded. For a time, the bourgeoisie are bamboozled by the sales pitch that one day they will be affluent enough to be freed from the taxing obligations of a dismal, debt-beholden existence, when, in fact, they sowed their fate (like those swindled by opening their bank accounts after receiving email from parties claiming to be momentarily cash-strapped Nigerian royalty) by their own greed i.e. by their self-imprisonment within their own narrow, self-serving view of existence.
These stultifying circumstances will level an atmosphere of restiveness and nebulous rage. In general, the middle class can be counted on to detest the poor…blaming those born devoid of societal advantage and political influence for the impoverished circumstances that were in place long before the happenstance of their birth. Moreover, in a bit of noxious casuistry, as despicable as it is delusional, all too many members of the middle class have been induced by grift artists, employed by the ruling elite, to blame their own declining social status and attendant beleaguered existence on the poor.
“Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail.”–John Donne
This has proven to be an effective, time-tested grift: Because as long as the animus of the middle class remains fixated on the poor, the criminal cartels known as the economic elite can continue to ply their trade. Of course, in reality, by their greed and complicity, what the middle class has gained is this: trustee status in the capitalist workhouse.
Although, there is no need to fret: The run of neoliberal capitalism is about over. Don’t mourn: This late stage, rapacious, mutant economic strain has leveled destruction on community and the planet itself as well as the hearts and souls of too many of those imprisoned within its paradigm.
At this point, the situation comes down to this: paradigm shift or perish.
The hour is amenable to reevaluate, reorganize and re-occupy. Doing so will prove helpful in withstanding false narratives.
Apropos: As of late, in my hours spent at Liberty Park, I’ve been witness to increasing numbers of tourists wandering in and repeating derisive, rightwing distortions regarding the OWS movement and its participants. For example, they are a collection of whiny college students who want taxpayers to be responsible for picking up the tab for their student loans because they are too lazy and spoiled to work off their debt. These tales are variations of the old canards involving welfare queens, mouths gleaming with taxpayer financed gold teeth, arriving at grocery stores lounging behind the steering wheels of late model Cadillacs, and proceeding to purchase steaks and fifths of gin with food stamps.
Ronald Reagan spoke of this mythical figure often, affording her near supernatural powers: She, through indolence, guile and a welfare state-bestowed sense of limitless entitlement, was the near singular cause of the nation’s economic woes; her very existence, not only depleted the U.S. Treasury of dollars, but drained the U.S. free enterprise system of vitality and the very will to compete. She was a succubus who arrived in the socialist haunted night to feed on and zap the very virility of capitalism.
Because of the wealth inequities inherent to capitalism, in order to prevent social unrest, the system is reliant on creating false narratives that foster misplaced and displaced class resentment. These tales are very potent, because they serve as palliatives for the enervating states of shame inflicted on the population at large by their enslavement to the free market. Accordingly, because the vast majority of the populace are deemed “losers”, due to how the system is rigged, techniques must be created and maintained to displace the rage, borne of a sense of powerlessness, that grips the system’s exploited underlings.
OWS is beginning to change the narrative…align it with reality–and that is an alarming development for the 1%; hence, the retooled, amped up propaganda campaign we’re seeing signs of at present.
This is the reality the 1% endeavor to obscure: Capitalism is a pyramid scheme; by its very structure, only a few will ever receive its bounty…that is wrung out of the exhausted hides of the vast majority. Fact is, capitalism, the neoliberal variety or otherwise, has never worked as promised; its innate structure ensures exploitation and inequity. Therefore, time and time again, adding aspects of socialism (e.g., New Deal era programs and reforms) have saved capitalism from itself. But, after a time, the plutocrats regroup and begin anew to launch a big money-financed, slow motion coup d’état of government (e.g., the Reagan Revolution).
A vast disparity of wealth within a nation will all but ensure this societal trajectory. But that isn’t going to happen, this time. The planet cannot endure the assaults wrought by a system that requires exponential growth to be maintained. The run of capitalism is nearly over. A more sustainable economic system, based on horizontal rule, is being developed, globally (e.g., the Icelandic model).
The vertical structure inherent to capitalism brings about the self-perpetuating reign of an insular elite who choose to go the route of empire and, by doing so, overreach and bring themselves down, but only after much unnecessary suffering, exploitation and death–the calling card and ground level criteria of imperium.
Yet, often within a declining empire, even as the quality of life grows increasingly degraded for the majority of the populace, questioning sacrosanct beliefs, such as, the myth that capitalism promotes societal progress and personal advancement, by means of the possibility of upward class migration, proves to be a difficult endeavor for many. The reason: Even given the degraded nature of life as lived under late capitalism, the act of taking stock of one’s situation–beginning to question how one arrived at one’s present station in life–will engender anxiety, anger and regret.
Apropos to the shame based Calvinism of the capitalist state: If I was duped in a rigged game, what does that say about me? The narrative of capitalism insists that if I work hard, applying savvy and diligence, at fulfilling my aspirations then I would, at some point, arrive in the rarified realm of life’s winners.
But if success proves elusive, then my flawed character must be the problem–not the dishonest economic setup–and miasmic shame descends upon me. Yet I can count on rightwing media to provide the type of provisional solace proffered by demagogues i.e., imparting the reason that folks like me can’t get ahead is because scheming socialists have hijacked my parcel of the American Dream and delivered it to the undeserving thereby transforming my shame into displaced outrage.
And that must be the case; otherwise, it would behoove me to make the painful admission that I have been conned…have co-signed the crimes committed against me. Worse, I would be compelled to question all my verities and beliefs–all the convictions I clutch, regarding, not only the notions that I possess about myself and the methods I’ve adopted in approaching life, but also, the social structure that influenced my character.
Imagine: If you had to re-imagine your life. Imagine, how the act would unnerve your loved ones, threaten friendships, even endanger your livelihood.
What an unnerving task that would prove to be…an ordeal certain to deliver heart-shaking anxiety, devastating regret and nettling dread directly into the besieged sanctuary of what is suppose to be the inviolable precincts of my comfort zone
“At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.”–Albert Camus
Accordingly, I might turn to Fox News and other well-rewarded, professional dissemblers of the political right, imploring them to dissolve my doubts and dread. To escort and ensconce my troubled form back into my comfort zone by telling me the problem is not the iron boot of the corporate state upon my neck; rather, my oppression stems from the barefoot hippie lefties of OWS “who need a bath and a job”; it is their odious presence in our lives that has subdued my happy capitalist destiny by the pernicious act of laying down an effluvia (more demobilizing than pepper spray) of patchouli musk and has caused capitalism itself to weaken into an enervated swoon.
Yes, this has to be the case: The cause of my oppression. Those America-hating Occupy Wall Street hippies are actually the hidden hand that controls the global order and who possess a craven desire to smelt down the gleaming steel of the humming engines of U.S. capitalism into creepy, Burning Man statuary, who want to hold 24/7 Nuremberg-style rallies in the form of annoying drum circles.
In reality, it is those dirty hippies who are actually “The Man.” Withal, hippies crashed the global economy and pinned the blame on the selfless souls who ply their benign trade on Wall Street.
Now, you know why conservatives harbor such animus towards hippies. Don’t claim that Fox News et al–those selfless souls–who only desire to protect the glories of the present order, and who only have your best interest in mind, didn’t try to warn you.
“I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” –Mark Twain