I have been reading a lot on the internet, catching up with the holidays where I tended to veg-out under the covers. This article in Salon originally appeared in the TomDispatch written by Rebecca Solnit. The article makes a strong point for what I will conclude is a reactionary capitalistic oligarchy having gone too far in the pursuit of vast profits at the expense of the health of this planet and the whole concept of truth and empathy, opting instead for lying, corruption, and strong-arm tactics to subdue the country and have it bow to their wishes.
Rebecca Solmit assesses our poisonous fossil fuel dependency — and why we’re on the verge of a paradigm shift. I think there’s an old adage in history: if you go too far, someone will invent a guillotine (or something to that effect).
It was the most thrilling bureaucratic document I’ve ever seen for just one reason: it was dated the 21st day of the month of Thermidor in the Year Six. Written in sepia ink on heavy paper, it recorded an ordinary land auction in France in what we would call the late summer of 1798. But the extraordinary date signaled that it was created when the French Revolution was still the overarching reality of everyday life and such fundamentals as the distribution of power and the nature of government had been reborn in astonishing ways. The new calendar that renamed 1792 as Year One had, after all, been created to start society all over again.
In that little junk shop on a quiet street in San Francisco, I held a relic from one of the great upheavals of the last millennium. It made me think of a remarkable statement the great feminist fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin had made only a few weeks earlier. In the course of a speech she gave while accepting a book award she noted, “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.”
That document I held was written only a few years after the French had gotten over the idea that the divine right of kings was an inescapable reality. The revolutionaries had executed their king for his crimes and were then trying out other forms of government. It’s popular to say that the experiment failed, but that’s too narrow an interpretation. France never again regressed to an absolutist monarchy and its experiments inspired other liberatory movements around the world (while terrifying monarchs and aristocrats everywhere).
Americans are skilled at that combination of complacency and despair that assumes things cannot change and that we, the people, do not have the power to change them. Yet you have to be abysmally ignorant of history, as well as of current events, not to see that our country and our world have always been changing, are in the midst of great and terrible changes, and are occasionally changed through the power of the popular will and idealistic movements. As it happens, the planet’s changing climate now demands that we summon up the energy to leave behind the Age of Fossil Fuel (and maybe with it some portion of the Age of Capitalism as well). …
So the paradigm is that this country is becoming more and more divided between the super-rich and the poor; between the plutocrats and the proletariate; between the haves and the have-nots; between unimaginable wealth and labor with two or three jobs to support their families modestly. Then someone realizes that the planet is being led off a cliff and the super-rich don’t care as long as their obscene greed is satisfied; then someone invents a guillotine.
Sounds about right to me …
Read the complete article at TomsDispatch or reprinted at Salon.com before the barricades go up in the streets and Anne Hathaway starts singing.