Ev’rywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
’cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy
But what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock ’n’ roll band
’cause in sleepy london town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man
-- M. Jagger/K. Richards
In 1968 a big change was in the wind. The population python had swallowed the hog of a huge generation and before it could rehinge its jaws it was feeling dyspeptic from the bulge. Western culture had lived with the cold war and the iron curtain for twenty years and a new generation of Tom Jeffersons were on the streets with a powerful revolutionary urge to change the status quo.
People thought the enemy was government. The aristocracy of great wealth anonymously wielding power as shareholders in huge corporations was camouflaged. The myth of "the people versus the government" was encouraged, even as the corporations took control. Today the camouflage is gone, the concealment stripped away. Big business owns big government. In order to nail down the coffin lid and bury the last vestiges of popular government, the plutocrats have emerged. Amazing voting scandals, wars by presidential fiat, admittance of torture to the tool kit of interrogators who previously were at least nominally bound by the Geneva convention, denial of habeus corpus, destruction of public policy making bodies -- all these things and more mark the victory of the free market, the victory of rapacious greedsters.
By the turn of the twentieth century it was clear to the world that laissez faire capitalism needed boundaries and public policy controls. From mine safety to rural electrification, it's been clear that government influence, incentives, and control are needed to bring the plutocrats to heel. In a comment to a prior post, Jon Husband asked,
My question .. if you have some awareness of the scope and depth of this set of conditions and the structural reinforcing rods that are legislatures, laws, unscrupulous power and connections that make it all go, etc. ... how does one stay out of despair?
I'm a committed pacifist. In 1968 we went to the woods and trained with firearms, and supported an underground that brought us very close to a violent revolution in the US. I no longer think that's an adequate answer. While I know the world would be a better place if the Bush family was on some island somewhere with their cell phone service disconnected, I'm not sure how to get them there.
Even if I did think it was the right thing to do to pick up a weapon and attempt to influence the course of history in a, well -- radical way, I don't think the "old farts brigade" would stand a chance against the well paid, well trained, young, strong and violent mercenaries in service to the Plutes, outfits like Blackwater USA. For my generation revolution is no longer an answer, and the new generation has not a clue about what is the question.
But the dust blows forward and the dust blows back, and the pendulum of history has swung so far to to the right that it will achieve a terrible momentum on the downswing back toward the left and I feel a curious sympathy for the devils that will be ground in the dust of the emerging revolution. I think it would be wise for the greedsters to pack an overnight bag and keep it by the door. You know, just in case something awful comes down...