Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I read about the waves of protests and strikes sweeping France as the population resists austerity measures that are aimed, not at the health of the nation, but at paying off the banking industry, and I notice enormous numbers of students participating. The very idea of American students taking to the streets over raising the retirement age and over economic austerity measures is just unimaginable. Ours are way too self-absorbed, and like all the rest of us, they've become as passive and fatalistic as Chinese peasants.
Which is curious, because Chinese peasants are no longer quite so passive and fatalistic anymore. They are now much more combative and eager to challenge local corruption, and at much greater risk, than most of us these days.
Americans appear to be making the transition from citizens to peasants just as the rest of the world is moving in the opposite direction. The Teabaggers are today's sans culottes gone crazy, rioting in the streets on behalf of Queen Marie Antoinette and her royalist absolutism shouting "We want cake! Spit in our faces! Treat us like shit!"
Our overlords (who've done nothing over the last 30 years but loot the economy for fun and profit) now openly expect deference as society's "winners," and the rest of us very meekly give it to them. They've fucked us all over so contemptuously, even more than the French or the Chinese peasants, and we just roll over for more.
A scullery maid would spit in disgust at such servility.
I remember Digby once said that there was a time when rich, middle class, and poor all had a sense that they share the same country. Now Ayn Rand tells us that the remaining 99% percent of us who saw our take-home pay drop by 7% (and still dropping) over the last 30 years (while our 1% owners got a 23% income increase over the same time period) should count ourselves lucky that our overlords just don't fire us all and get new help.
I remember recently telling my friend David Kaplan that a society that divides itself between "winners" and "losers' can forget about having a middle class. He replied that such a society can forget about having a country.
But, as they say, time only moves forward. Let's hope we can eventually recover our self-respect and our courage.
Sorry about the coarse language, but I'm through being nice about this.
Posted by Counterlight at Tuesday, October 26, 2010