Notes Regarding the Feasibility of a Minor Revolution, Part 3: The Stagnant Soul Must Learn to Rise Again:
Goddamn, this fight gets weary, no? Year after year, through flush times and failed times, we on the left have said that if you fail to take care of the shit that matters to people on a daily basis, there is going to be a disaster. Oh, sure, we've been predicting the mass destruction of our environment through greed and fossil fuel dependency. We knew that the end result of deregulation would be disaster wherever it touched, starting with the airlines, ending with the banking industry. We knew, we goddamn knew that ignoring the infrastructure of the nation, the needs of the working class, the exploitation of the poor, the dismantling of even the smallest of safety nets would result in economic disparity that moved from unfair to savagely cruel. We have stood here and screamed and yelled and tried, but we also knew that unless money was taken out of the political process, our voices would barely register, like a feather tossed in a metal bucket. And you know that this list of sighs is barely scratching the surface.
But there's one thing we didn't see coming: that people would just become so fucking apathetic, to the point where, almost always, they are contemptuous of those who offer genuinely transformative ideas, not the fake revolution offered by the Tea Party, our mutant model of protest now. Sorry, but if your goal is to offer aid and comfort to the rich and powerful, you're not protesting jack shit; you're merely signing your own death warrant. The purpose of the Tea Party movement is individualism gone mad, which means "If you fuck off and leave us alone, government, with our god, our guns, our high fructose corn syrup, our Facebook, our shitty jobs and wages, you can go about your business." The Tea Party's "success" is just a clever exploitation of our American nihilism, a march into oblivion, or wheeled into it unawares as we gaze at our Blackberrys assuring us that every little fart of a thought is important. The election of Barack Obama is beginning to seem less like an urgent call to change than the huffing effort of a fat guy forced to call 911 because his kitchen's ablaze because of an exploded microwave burrito. "Oh, the fire's out? Can I get that burnt burrito? Because The Biggest Loser's about to come on."
Progress is unbelievably frightening. But progress is all there is. You don't move backwards in this life. That's what the right wing wants now. The entire "I Want My Country Back" meme is such a lie because that crazy woman with that sign never had her country. And it ain't going back because what she wants to go back to never existed. That unstoppable urge forward is meeting this fear of the future, and the result is a stalling out, where progress inches, rather than leaps, ahead. It's caused our politicians to become stymied, with few actual leaders out there, with baby steps, like the financial reform bill, actually seeming like man-on-the-moon moments. We have lowered the bar on progress.
But everything has potential energy. Every stone, every fat fuck in an easy chair. The question that the Rude Pundit's been trying to get to is how to tilt the landscape so that gravity inevitably creates kinetic energy. In the last two parts of this series, the Rude Pundit has said that we need bogeymen, that we need to get our rage on over something, and that the current evident excesses of unfettered capitalism has given us the potential opening.
There's an awesome article by Michael Lind at Salon today; in it, Lind breaks down the history of American capitalism into five different versions, leading to a point now, where, he says, it's time for a new version, American capitalism 6.0. What Lind leaves out is that each of his time periods ends with a great upheaval in the nation that forces social changes. For instance, version 1.0 ends with the Civil War. Sometimes, the result is a more responsible capitalist model, as with version 4.0, which came after the Great Depression, and, according to Lind, was, for all intents and purposes, a time of responsible capitalism. Then, post-1960s and 1970s rights movements and the Vietnam War, the increasing drive towards globalization saw an abandonment of regulation, starting with President Carter, and a greed virus released on the financial markets that has led us to our current endtimes. Lind concludes, "Capitalism 6.0 will be just as American as its predecessors, but it will be better than what we have today. It could not possibly be worse."
Whatever it is, it needs to begin with a way to open the blocked arteries of the masses.
Christ, there's a lot of balls in the air here. Let's see if the Rude Pundit can bring it all home in the fourth and final part of this series.