January 6, 2010

The Shock Decade


It’s now been nearly ten years of Shock and Awe for America. Two great shocks in ten years. The first puncturing of the blue sky was the destruction of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In retrospect this seems appropriately symbolic, as the WTC was the avowed icon of globalization (even if few of its clients were ever in fact real world traders; appropriately as well, it was mostly fictional finance traders residing here).
The cosmetics of this are compelling: Globalization reaches its final bottleneck, and only extreme measures can keep it going. Thus a conveniently timed defacement of the hood ornament. Meanwhile the military was well was ready to serve as the vehicle of the next great corporate adventure. So it’s also appropriate that the Pentagon received its wounds it could then show off like Coriolanus, and with the same surly intent.
It’s not important where this attack came from, which is why the whole Truther debate is really beside the point. The power system took full ownership immediately, strategically and morally. The watchwords for the decade: War, fear, and the escapism of the housing bubble, the magical force which would let the bounty of consumer binging go on forever.
The second great shock has been the Bailout War upon America itself. Here there can be no doubt about who were the criminals who intentionally blew up an insane bubble, who enabled it, who shilled for it, who raked in the rents through every kind of con and swindle, and who then used the inevitable crash to embark upon history’s ultimate looting frenzy.
There has never been a crime like this before, and there never will be again.
The country has now been permanently converted into a serf whose harvest is to be seized to keep the lord of the manor fat. Just as the administration keeps extending the tenure of the Iraq and Afghan wars into the indefinite future, so Obama has now announced that Fed and administration purchases of worthless MBS from the GSEs are to be permanent.
This is confirmation that all the banks are insolvent. All the paper on their balance sheets is worth nothing but the phony value they can pretend so long as the government keeps buying. The ultimate goal, as it has been from the start, is for the government to directly buy all the bank-held paper as well.
How can all this be? It’s all nothing but simple insanity. Some sentences from Hannah Arendt convey the vastation:
“Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest – forces that look like sheer insanity…”
“Desperate hope and desperate fear seem often seem closer to the center of such events than balanced judgement and measured insight.”
It seems as if “all traditional elements of our political and spiritual world were dissolved into a conglomeration where everything seems to have lost specific value, and has become unrecognizable for human comprehension, unusable for human purpose.”
“Under the most diverse conditions and disparate circumstances, we watch the development of the same phenomena – homelessness on an unprecedented scale, rootlessness to an unprecedented depth”
It seems this homelessness and rootlessness go to the core of the crisis. Spiritually and politically everything has been traduced and violated and corrupted and just plain bought. We are homeless in the most literal sense, most of even the so-called “ownership society” just debtor transients on an alienated ground.
How did the literal soil get stolen from literally under our feet? How was the American soul itself slathered in paint and turned out onto the filthy streets?
We must now face the fact of tyranny. For as long as the government continues to exist in this form, it will be nothing but the executor of the Bailout War and the Permanent War. All else – entitlements, infrastructure, public works, national parks, public and environmental health, social amenities, law enforcement for anything other than as hired corporate goons, and of course the fraudulent subsidies for worthless “health insurance” around which so many idiot “progressives” are making their last stand like some moonie cult – will be gutted. It’ll be sold off, allowed to rot, discontinued. We will sink inexorably into slavery.
The evil goals of the power system cannot succeed in the end, as they depend upon an unsustainable level of energy use for their centralization. But the descent is unpredictable, and there may be many years of aggressive fascism ahead of us.
Few are aware of the full picture, and it looks like people are divided into the delusionaries who still believe in a miracle to revive consumerist “prosperity” (with two groups among these, the liberals who still dream “reform” is possible, and the teabaggers who think they can make a good living as goons of the tyranny), and those who have surrendered to fear, ignorance, fate.
Looking around the world we see the same delusion playing out everywhere. In some places some rays of light may seem to peek through the clouds, for most the sky is as black as over America. But everywhere the great storm must rain. In Dubai extend and pretend has worked again for the moment. The sovereign default contagion, like the Black Death of the 14th century, will march from country to country. Voodoo hexes way ward it off in one place of another, for a little while. But in the end it will be triumphant throughout the globalized economy, since this economy is bankrupt.
I hope we are figuring out the real forces at play here. We are in the clutches of the core rapacity of the growth ideology; we have the fundamental predation of feudal racketeering, monopoly-seeking; its first attempt through 19th century European imperialism to keep the machine going forever once European resources, physical and economic, reached their limits; America’s post-war attempt at internal colonization in the form of suburbanization and consumerism; their facing the simultaneous limits of the consumer economy and the American oil Peak (basically the same limits Europe had run up against a hundred years earlier, in somewhat different form); how America embarked upon its own replay of European imperialism in the form of globalization, petrodollar recycling, financialization; how financialization also propped up the otherwise doomed domestic consumer economy via exponential debt; how with the end in sight Bush embarked upon the Permanent War; how the debt bubble and global Peak Oil simultaneously reached their greatest extent, broke, and must now roll back forever; and how the US power system must now become ever more kleptocratic and fascistic to try to preserve its wealth, power and privilege for as long as it can, to the extent of first debt slavery and then the de jure kind.
This is the story of the age; no other has any real life, order, or meaning, but is just one of the innumerable funhouse paths of escapism and decadence the MSM/entertainment cadres have been deputized to offer as anesthesia.
We must comprehend all this, however outrageous, however unpleasant. We mustn’t let the endless bombardment of lies and distractions, and the blazing lights in our eyes meant to just plain blind us, lead us astray.
Nor can we let perhaps well-meaning but clueless and captured interpreters try to normalize the unprecedented convulsions and great crimes. This is the Peak of the oil age, and of all that was lofted with it. History must now return, however violently, to its normal road.
So the question before us is whether we shall let ourselves be carried along fatalistically, as goons or as victims, or whether we shall try to carry our humanity through the flames. There is much from the last 250 years worth preserving, and we can return to history as wiser citizens than we left it. But nothing shall stand, and least of all ourselves, if we don’t force ourselves to stand tough. Strong with the will to see, to know, to speak, to fight.
I’ll try to do whatever small part I can, but I can only hope the same idea rises among others, perhaps soon to shine forth everywhere. The sleeping citizen must awaken from his dreaming to a bracing, gray dawn. he must build a fire. Then, maybe, that small point of organic light shall soon find its reflection somewhere behind the clouds.


  1. Refreshing and inspiring as always.

    Comment by Edwardo — January 6, 2010 @ 9:08 pm

  2. Thanks.

    Comment by Russ — January 7, 2010 @ 7:25 am

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