October 2, 2008
Proudly surveying our kingdom from atop the capitalist pyramid, we US Americans have deluded ourselves into believing we are at the pinnacle of cultural, social, political, and economic evolution. We fancy ourselves to be so exceptional that we are entitled to a perpetual blessing from "our" Christian God.
Break out the Haldol!
We have afflicted the globe with the fatal contagions of the American Way and corporatism. And all of us, to varying degrees, are culpable. From bicycle-peddling vegans to limo riding corporados, we are each complicit in perpetuating American capitalism, a system so rotten that were it a piece of decaying meat, starving maggots would reject it.
We would have far fewer amends to make if our nation’s impact were limited by the size of our population. Were that the case, we would be a mere blemish on the face of Mother Earth. But due to our extraordinary wealth and power, insatiable avarice, hostility towards life, and obscene appetites for consumption, the United States is more akin to a cankerous fist-sized boil, oozing pus and reeking with infection.
We’re gluttonous beyond belief, greedily devouring every morsel of meat and marrow and leaving the "dogs" of the rest of the world to gnaw hungrily on the hollow bones we thoughtlessly cast aside.
Spiritually we’ve struck a perverse Faustian bargain. Like the good doctor, we crave "more than earthly meat, cheese and drink." But knowledge is not the object of our desire. What an insult to think that we’d relinquish our souls in exchange for something so hollow and meaningless. Big Macs, the NFL, NASCAR, McMansions, Hummers, American Idol, liposuction, and Viagra—we’ll settle for no less. Gloating over our seemingly endless supply of fast foods and hard-hitting dudes, heart-pounding races and expansive living spaces, monstrous cars and aspiring stars, and hot chicks and hard dicks, we glare contemptuously at the "rats" from other nations scurrying about our feet and fighting over the crumbs we don’t manage to inhale.
For years we have satiated our desires with utter disregard for environmental cost, have ignored the abject suffering we inflict upon humans and animals, and have spilled a veritable ocean of blood to enable corporate plunder and to stomp anti-capitalist movements into the ground.
Yet when we finally reaped a bit of what we’d sown in September of 2001 and again in September of 2008, we wailed, wept, and gnashed our teeth as if we were the only people ever to have sustained staggering blows.
While both events are tragic, how can we express such righteous indignation that we’ve been wounded as a nation when we’ve been dishing out misery for years and have remained relatively unscathed?
And can we be so blinded by the shimmer of the gold and diamonds that we worship that we can’t see that these deep wounds to the very heart of capitalism (both the destruction of the World Trade Center and the current financial market crisis) are clarion calls to slay this formidable but staggering beast?
Capitalism has had its run and it has failed. Miserably.
Despite a number of 'socialist’ measures implemented by the ruling elite to pacify the masses throughout the crisis-ridden history of American capitalism, we still have an obscene percentage of wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, poverty and homelessness, unemployment, imperial conquests, monopolies and oligopolies, and 'recessions.’
And our collective psyche suffers from a host of maladies and malformations. We are alienated from nature, each other and ourselves. We value property over life. We buy far more than we need or could ever use. We measure success in dollars and cents. We are driven by greed and selfishness. We worship money and militarism.
As obviously dysfunctional, unjust, and destructive as our system is, many of us who oppose the $700 billion 'bailout’ of the financial markets still soberly nod our heads in agreement when bourgeois economists insist that while the 'bailout’ proposal is excessive, 'something must be done to restore investor confidence and get credit flowing again.’
How about no? How about we do nothing?
Most of those who stand to benefit from a 'bailout’ of any dollar amount are all about the 'free market’ and 'law of the jungle’ capitalism. It’s sad how quickly those in the moneyed class cast aside their 'principles’ when adversity slaps them in the face.
'Dog-eat-dog’ is their mantra when they’re fighting tooth and nail to cut spending on socially beneficial programs, rewarding mass firings by increasing stock values, pushing for increased regressive taxes and decreases on progressive taxes, and slaughtering millions of innocents in resource wars. But when these uber-predators become prey, they expect the rest of us to charge to their rescue.
So what of Paulson and the rest of the power elite who are coming to the working and middle classes on bended knee, begging for a hand-out? Let them twist in the wind and pray they start hurling themselves out of windows.
What of the financial markets, Wall Street, and the decaying socioeconomic infrastructure of American capitalism? Let them collapse.
What of the rest of us? Let us suffer as our victims have suffered for decades.
Motivated by pain and by the realization that our system is ecocidal, genocidal, and morally reprehensible, we of the working and middle classes can finally redeem ourselves by nailing our depraved god of American capitalism to the cross and starting to forge a just, egalitarian, democratic and humane socioeconomic order. Good for us and good for the rest of the planet!
Jason Miller is the associate editor of Cyrano’s Journal Online, founding editor of Thomas Paine’s Corner, and a corporate wage slave. He has experienced unemployment and homelessness, looks forward to meeting interesting people at the soup kitchen once his 401K has zeroed out and his job has been eliminated, and wonders when America’s wage slaves will finally unite and revolt.