Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Black Friday melee

There have been reports of inappropriate behavior at stores and shopping centers on Black Friday in the past, but this is the first time there has been a nationwide wave of consumer-driven violence on the day after Thanksgiving reminiscent of the Festival from the old "Star Trek" episode "The Return Of The Archons". And if you think I'm exaggerating, keep in mind that there have been reports of shootings and stabbings attending this madness.

Now, everybody who isn't being an ostrich with their head in the sand (and in the USA, that isn't very many folks at all, really) knows that we're heading toward a collapse of some kind. Exactly what form it will take and when it will happen is not for me to say. But some kind of mass-reversal of American society's fortunes is on the horizon from environmental degradation, resource depletion, and financial over-exploitation. The form and severity of any such event will always and inevitably be shaped by the moral condition of the society in question. This Black Friday 2013 ugliness has really driven home for me that there is no hope whatsoever for our society. If anything good emerges on the other side of collapse, it will be because what's left of society in the aftermath will renounce everything that we are as of this writing as a consequence. But before that? The big meltdown will be massively ugly. Thinking about that made it hard for me to remain asleep last night.

The new pope seems to be in agreement with me, as he recently penned an apostolic exhortation warning that the "tyranny of capitalism" is propelling all towards "disintegration and death". Right-wing know-it-all blowhards such as Rush Limbaugh have predictably slammed Pope Francis's critique as "pure Marxism", but one doesn't need the ideological shackles of Marxist doctrine to realize what is becoming increasingly apparent.

For instance, there's the financial crisis of 2008 from which we never really recovered, and the consequences of which are merely being held at bay with unsustainable financial gimmickry such as the Zero Interest Rate Policy and everlasting Quantitative Easing. What brought this about was an orgy of greed and corruption driven both by shady financiers and consumers eager to use their houses as an ATM for fueling their out-of-control consumption. There's the fact that the ability of the planet to sustain life is being dealt body-blow after body-blow. Everybody knows about global warming, even if they're in denial about it. But how many people know that the oceans are dying? For pity's sake, the oceans are where life on this planet began!

But this Black Friday ugliness really draws a big red circle around the fact that it isn't just the big capitalists and corrupt politicians who are to blame for the mess we're facing. It's ordinary people who don't know any better who are a big reason why nothing has changed despite how obvious it has been for so long that something must change if we are to avoid a very nasty collision with some very severe consequences. This Black Friday ugliness is a good example of why our collective foot is going to remain on the proverbial gas-pedal right up until this collision occurs. There's no point in being bitter about it because being bitter has never helped anything. But I must confess to being more than a little alarmed, dismayed, and yes, downright afraid.

So in closing, I'll just turn the microphone over to Chris Hedges, who as always gets to the heart of the matter much better than I ever could.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Debt ceiling political crisis

A lot of bandwidth has been used up by various liberal analyses of the debt ceiling hub-bub, but what it boils down to is that it's really an entirely premeditated crisis. And the reason for it is because the white-supremacist coalition that has been running this country for the past three decades, as well as the value system associated with it, is on the verge of becoming a minority political tendency in this country. (And it is this coaltion, by the way, whom we can thank for having to settle for the sort of "halfway healthcare reform" represented by Obamacare, because they killed true universal healthcare before I or Barack Obama were even born.) The most fanatical acolytes of this political tendency would rather destroy the country they claim to love so fetishistically, than allow that to happen. They may have thought that they were on the rise with the Republican victories in 2010, but the fact that more votes for Congress were cast for Democrats than Republicans (Republicans retaining their majority in the house with brazen and desperate gerrymandering) in 2012, shows us that 2010 was merely a swan song. After all, the same state that handed Scott Walker a victory in the recall election, also went for Obama and sent Tammy Baldwin to the Senate a mere few months later. So I guess I'm back on board with the Democrats for a while, as long as the alternative is a bunch of foaming-at-the-mouth Klansmen who want to drive the country over the edge of a cliff.

But of course, there is a much bigger story at work behind the scenes, which is well summarized by Reverse Engineer over at Doomstead Diner. This really explains as well as anyone could why the problems this country is facing in the near future aren't like those in the past, and claiming otherwise is just the rankest sort of denial. So given that, yes, I believe that collapse is inevitable and unpreventable because the whole system is in a rather more fragile state than most people seem to want to realize. Austrian-school economists such as Peter Schiff think we shouldn't raise the debt ceiling no matter what and face the pain of a serious depression, and then the Magick Market will eventually fix everything and we can all live in a devil-take-the-hindmost libertarian paradise with a gold-backed currency. It's a pretty little fantasy, to be sure, but it only goes to show how both Keynsians and Austrians blind themselves to the deeper reality by clinging to the insane notion that you can have infinite growth on a finite planet. I guess I just want to delay the disaster until some of my current health problems improve somewhat. Though a doomer case can certainly be made for embracing an economic depression.

And speaking of the Archdruid, his own perspective on the shutdown and the fiscal cliff also provides much-needed context and food for thought.

And as long as I'm piling on links, here's another way of explaining the same situation.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

I'm goin' through changes....

I've deleted all my health-problem-related posts because 1) I don't feel like talking about that crap anymore, and 2) it was sidetracking me from my original intention for this blog which is...well, I'm not sure what it is, but I now it really shouldn't be about going on and on and on about my sorry-ass health issues.