Thursday, May 19, 2011

Much Ado About a Revolution

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." - Bob Dylan

Sociopolitical revolutions have been an increasingly common occurrence since the beginning of the Industrial Age. As Karl Marx predicted, the ever-present tension between the working class and the capitalist elites has frequently manifested in periods of extreme violence and chaos. Many of these eruptions, however, ended up producing purely political results, in so far as they disbanded or significantly altered the current form of government, but did not change the relations of property.

Therefore, the oppressive capitalist class structures existing before the revolution were largely left untouched. Some notable exceptions to this rule include the Socialist revolutions in Russia, China and Eastern Europe, but property relations rapidly returned to their unequal settings in these countries after the post-revolution governments once again formed alliances with the country's financial elite. The quintessential example of this circular revolutionary dynamic is the client state breaking away from its colonial oppressor to form an "independent" government.

For example, the American Revolution was a direct result of the British Parliament's decisions to levy hefty taxes on working class colonists to pay interest on loans generated by the Bank of England, the bulk of which benefited an elite class of British citizens. After the Revolution, the "United States of America" organized itself under novel political structures of "republican democracy", but it was not long before its people had to entertain a series of National Banks similar to the Bank of England.

These developments culminated in the secretive formation of the Federal Reserve on Jekyll Island in 1913, and an amendment to the Constitution the same year, which created a federal income tax to be used for servicing the federal debt. The former American colonists once again found themselves living at the mercy of the financial empire, paying for federal loans that only benefited a small class of Western citizens.

In the 1960s and 70s, a wave of "counter-culture" movements spread across this nation in response to the Vietnam War and, more fundamentally, the end of the longest period of sustained economic prosperity in American history. The spirit of these new social movements was most forcefully demonstrated by the Weather Underground, a "radical" group of anti-capitalist activists. [1].

This organization declared a "state of war" against the U.S. government and was responsible for numerous bombings of government buildings and financial institutions, including the U.S. Capitol Building and the Pentagon. It consisted of people who were truly committed to overthrowing the U.S.-backed financial empire and creating a global socialist utopia. By the mid-70s, however, it was largely relegated to the sprawling graveyard of idealistic social revolutions.

Now, when you Google "the Weather Underground", the first link you get back is to a website that actually tells you what the weather may or may not be in locations around the world. And you don't have to look at some website to know that the weather in Egypt will be "cloudy with a chance of oppressive military dictatorship and economic collapse" for an indefinite period into the future. Just a few months after the political revolution in Egypt forced Hosni Mubarak out of the Presidential office, hundreds of protesters were back out in Tahir Square calling for some real change (criminal prosecutions), only to be shot at by army soldiers and dispersed. [2].

The Libyan people directly to the west of Egypt are in a similar position, as their insurrection has left them stuck between the ruthless military forces of Gadhafi and the even more ruthless forces of the U.S. and Europe's military-industrial complex. [3]. Their cities are being bombed to smoldering ashes and their national energy resources plundered, while other people keep telling them that they are fighting to form a democratic and just society.

What these others don't tell them, and what they don't need to be told, are the physical, financial and emotional prices they must pay to contort themselves into such a twisted, upside-down version of justice. Show me a democracy, and I'll show you a massively indebted, class-divided and day-dreaming population living the entirety of their lives under the convenient guise of political freedom. We have the freedom to be placed into debt servitude and to suffer the consequences, that's all.

The only difference between us and them is that we live longer, which gives us enough time to contemplate just how incapable and unwilling we are to sacrifice for meaningful change. American teachers and firefighters take to the streets today because they don't want to see their bloated pensions stripped away. Tea Party activists hold rallies today because they don't want to see their taxes increase at the margin. That's really the extent of the mainstream, "politically-active" American's vision for change - throw me a doghouse to live in and a bone to chew on, and I'll be your loyal pet until the day I die.

If and when all of these people end up rioting in Times Square and the Washington National Mall, refusing to disperse until Wall Street executives are collectively prosecuted under RICO statutes and the Federal Reserve system is disbanded, then they will start to understand the plight of the Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians and countless others that have come before them and have yet to come. It takes more than isolated demonstrations, insurrections or even full-blown revolutions to change the global structures of power... much, much more. What it really takes is a systemic synchronization of wholesale economic, social and political restructuring or collapse.

By the time this piece is up, President Obama would have presented his "deficit reduction plan" to the American people on national television. One thing I know for certain about this proposed plan is that it will be counter-productive to breaking the bonds of global oppression, regardless of the details concerning entitlement spending or taxes. It will not force major banks to mark their assets to market value, repurchase toxic debt-assets from the American public or enter the bankruptcy and receivership system. Perhaps more importantly, it will not repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 or the 16th Amendment, return the issuing power of currency to Congress and allow states to charter their own central banks independent of any superseding "federal" authority.

If the federal government wants to do anything meaningful and sustainable about the federal debt/deficit, then it must absolutely do those things mentioned above, but it won't. Instead, it will finish gutting the productive economy and transferring the last viable scraps to a small cartel of powerful institutions and individuals. This grand theft, however, will also signify the time when "peaceful revolution" has been made entirely impossible, and violent insurrection has been left as the only option. Not only for isolated populations in certain countries, but for a majority of the populations in every major country, located in every single region of the world. Now, that's what I call a revolution.

1 comment:

  1. As I've been walking around the streets of Granada, Spain over the last few days I'm seeing the protests grow every day even though police are trying their best to quiet things among the students here. People were marching with megaphones today and handing out flyers tell all of us to gather in the town square. Much of the pressure here is in anticipation of the election that's coming soon but all the candidates are still thinking within the mainstream paradigm. In the very near future, Spain will have to deal with its debt and that likely means a bailout from the EU with the restructuring required, now that the youth are becoming more and more organized after frustration with low wages and 40%+ unemployment, Spain has everything in place to become the first European nation to experience a full scale revolution.