Tuesday, June 29, 2010

beyond politics


I get so tired of the wining bastards who want to put down this Great Country and our Flag says a contributor to the Facebook page, "If the American Flag Offends You, I'll Be Happy to Help You Pack." If this is such a bad place then why did you come here and why do you stay. One of the things that makes our country great is the fact that you can leave any fucking time you want to, so if is so bad then get the FUCK out. GOD BLESS THE USA AND THE FLAG THAT REPRESENTS US!!!!!!!!

My purpose here is not to ridicule internet litter; that's unnecessary considering the ineptitude. However, this kind of disjointed, barely articulated crying out is useful for showing the degree to which people are capable of misjudging the scope and seriousness of the crisis confronting not just this country, but the entirety of what is sometimes called the developed world.

If our current troubles were just a matter of plugging the leaks in this zombie empire still trying to pass itself off as a country, and setting it on a course more likely to enhance our survival as a nation, that's doable. Unlikely, but possible. If it was just a matter of righting the ship of state, the tasks facing us would be, not easy, but a lot easier.

The thing is, the crisis now unfolding isn't just political -- it's way beyond that. We're locked into one of those enormous historical centrifuges now, in which everything -- countries, economies, populations, cultural identities -- everything is being spun irresistibly from the center. A whole way of life, and a whole orientation toward life is going down the tubes right now. The seeds of destruction were sewn, says Morris Berman, 100 years or so ago, when the scientific method, so necessary to human progress in the dark and superstitious past, was integrated into, and began evolving "within the context of an expanding industrial, technological, and ...global corporate/commercial culture."

Especially since World War II, the good in our lives has been defined by goods, and the object of living to pile up lots and lots of stuff, because the "values and ideology of marketing and consumerism managed to overwhelm America in the twentieth century."

"(C)ommercial groups in cooperation with other elites committed to accumulating profit on an ever-increasing scale" gradually came to dominate both economies and cultures world-wide, Berman continues, "until this way of viewing the world pushed out any other vision of the good life."

Now, all of a sudden, that way of viewing the world has fallen to ashes, and sunk under the weight of the BP oil spill, and that catastrophe has forced us to focus on what really matters, and sent an instant revelation showing like a compass where the true good lies. The spill is augmented by this empire's perpetual wars in distant places waged for inscrutable reasons, and most importantly by the second Great Depression, which appears here to stay, further undermining the constant media hum encouraging everyone to "buy more." Under these pressures, the world -- the developed world especially, is breaking out of what sociologist Max Weber called the "iron cage" of industrial society.

We're not talking regime change here, such as the one where the regime of Clueless George gave way to that of the vague and timid Barack Obama. This is (I hate to say it) a paradigm shift, and world systems, says one historian, don't fail, they "restructure."

"Guernica" was painted by P. Picasso to commemorate a fascist bombing raid on a village which killed mainly civilians during the Spanish Civil War. Click on the image for a larger view.

All quotes from Morris Berman are from "The Twilight of American Culture" (Norton, '06), pages 110-120.

3 comments:

Joe said...

The argument that dissenters can leave doesn't address the problem that then the destruction of the subjugater types on the world would be even worse without the universal justice seekers discouraging such behavior inside the country. It'd be a bad move to emigrate to a remote land and later be molested by the people you're trying to escape from.

Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer said...

You're right Joe, although what you said kind of takes that old thing about "We're fighting the 'terrorists' over there so we don't have to fight 'em here," and turns it upside down.

I'm certainly not planning on going anywhere, and wouldn't be thinking about it even if I took bozos like that seriously.

Joe said...

Indeed Dave, since we've always been here we don't have to go anywhere else.