Skip to main content

Nothing screams credibility, clear-minded insight, and heroic dedication to progress like an all-caps titled diary declaring the 8-century march of freedom, democracy, and scientific enlightenment at an end and the purpose of this website futile.  Short of a sandwich board laden with Bible verses, it doesn't get much more boilerplate apocalyptic: The diarist runs through a litany of current socioeconomic disruptions, then deduces from his own narrow expertise in this specific area that (a) nothing else whatsoever is happening or will happen in the world to mitigate, complicate, or reverse these problems, (b) human beings are powerless meat-puppets of economic theory with no active role in shaping our own future history, and (c) the only thing that can possibly save us is the total obliteration of global financial markets, because naturally our salvation can only come from a practical impossibility or a deus ex machina - standard fare for self-important historiographic melodrama.

The greatest realization of the Renaissance was not that human beings are such noble or hardy creatures - Europe had just passed through the chaos and terror of repeated outbreaks of the Black Death, so those societies were well aware of what fragile, deranged, selfish shitheels people could be under pressure.  The most profound epiphany, that gave birth to everything we cherish in modern society, was the utter uselessness of constructing our view of the universe on fear and frailty: The arms and castles of the mighty didn't save them, the humility of the pious was no shield, and the stone sanctums of the priestly class afforded minimal protection.  The vile and saintly died in droves together, and the rats that gnawed on their corpses didn't seem to notice any difference in flavor.

What emerged from the wreckage wasn't more compassionate, more principled, or more orderly than what preceded - people had simply lost interest in morbid obsessions, and increasingly lost patience with people who made cults of misery.  They died of the same diseases, deprivations, wars, and cruel murders as their medieval ancestors, but somehow it became more pertinent to care about cultivating what was worthwhile in life than to wallow in its insecurities and failure modes, and out of that came everything.  They had no reason to expect this future to emerge, and most of them would probably have been horrified to see the complications and occasional catastrophes their decisions have created over centuries - they just chose to stop being cowards, and that made all the difference.  

Would you rather be the contemporary of Galileo Galilee, risking your life so that modern science would not be smothered in its infancy by the Inquisition, than live now and face down the cornered rats of religious fundamentalism corrupting textbooks and occasionally blowing up buildings?  Maybe you think there is some kind of comfort in the past because you already know where it led, but no intelligent person would prefer for the past to be the present - and yet it's the very certainty of the past (illusory certainty at that) which makes it so attractive to various forms of intellectual masochism to imagine our past as our future.  

The urban Romans became obsessed with a fantasy of heaven that looked like a Bronze Age pastoral village; the Dark Age Christians who actually lived in pastoral villages adopted a Mother cult because they wanted to crawl back up inside the womb; then in the 20th century, since we are all such weak children incapable of making rational decisions, we were supposed to blow up the world and end up prey to barbarian hordes with spiked shoulder pads and funny hairdoos; and now we're going to be agrarian serfs under the lordship of...Manhattan bankers?  How exactly does that process unfold, Professor Wray?  

I get the part about their undermining government on behalf of private interest, but that kind of happened a lot even in modern history, and I don't recall any developed country reverting to the 12th century because of it.  It just didn't happen very often or very deeply in the United States, so I can partly understand this "hysteria of the privileged" suddenly confronted by what are relatively commonplace problems in history.  Warnings that the United States could come to resemble the darker periods of 20th century Brazil, Argentina, or even post-Soviet Russia if absolutely nothing is done and we just passively march to our doom have the ring of credibility to them, but the implication that our civilization is destined to dissolve à la Cambodia or Afghanistan seems based more on comic-book-driven pop culture dystopias than rational assessment of anything.  

The reason the future is now so often portrayed as a catastrophe in popular culture is not that reality has gotten worse, but that it's simply easier - i.e., cheaper to write, market, and consume - than articulating a better future.  And it's the exact same reason purveyors of Apocalypse have a leg up in most venues of thought and belief: It's very, very easy - and often seductive - to conceive of circumstances worse than those we experience, and to linearly extrapolate contemporary problems to absolute extremes.  Societal improvements on any but the most superficial level require some kind of genuine imagination and talent to communicate, and some level of imagination on the part of the viewer to understand and appreciate, so it's always far simpler to sell people their own fears packaged in authoritative-sounding language than to come up with anything useful.

To return to the Renaissance, the lives of ordinary people in Europe outside of a few intellectual hotspots were essentially the same as in the late medieval era - and advances in other parts of the world were still less significant or even radically backward (e.g., the eradication and subjugation of New World civilizations by the Spanish).  In fact, Europeans in general had it somewhat worse in terms of both material and psychological security because of social, political, and religious turmoil, so it was not a time of utopian optimism and human happiness - quite the opposite.  

Believers of all stripes felt assailed by what their various traditions saw as heresies, just as in the first few centuries of the Dark Ages; Constantinople had fallen to the Turks; epidemic plagues kept terrorizing the great cities and economies of the continent; the torch-bearers of scientific revolution worked furtively in fear of Catholic Inquisition and Protestant fanaticism, and modern ideals of universal rights simply didn't exist even among the enlightened aristocrats.  The best of the elite sought to be benevolent and paternalistic, but no less absolute rulers, and disemboweled insolent subjects with the same savagery as their illiterate barbarian ancestors.  

The lesson, in case you've missed it, is that bright futures do not follow from how happy, prosperous, or optimistic the people that build them are.  A case could even be made that there is an inverse correlation, within limits - that humanity only ever has an opportunity to improve itself when confronted by points of stark decision, and that all the wrong choices in all time before mean absolutely nothing when even once the right decision has a chance to take hold.  This is more basic and profound than philosophical humanism, and goes to the very basis of evolution itself: Once an adaptation increases the survival and versatility of life in general, it becomes an unstoppable contagion that persists even across eons.  

Freedom, democracy, social justice, human dignity, equality, and enlightened inquiry are not fragile hothouse flower ideas that wilt in the unfiltered sunlight - they are unquenchable fires that spring up everywhere there is the remotest opportunity to do so, born in the blood-soaked chaos of a backwater peninsula and now so predominant their enemies don't even bother to argue with them anymore.  The opponents of the Enlightenment have no authority left standing, and instead pursue their agendas by default - distracting people with idle amusements, trivial disputes, and overwhelming floods of junk information to drown out the formation of coherent understanding.  These retrograde forces have given up directly controlling us - there has never been a more spectacular rout in human history than the overthrow of totalitarianism - and now the best they can do is appeal to our individual weakness, greed, fear, and apathy to drag us into their swamp where our higher nature won't threaten them.

Looking down from the perspective of history, I don't see villains worthy of fear - I see sponges, vultures, flies, and assorted opportunistic parasites who wouldn't even be a serious concern if not for our willingness to cooperate in our own degradation.  This is how the disease of corporatism functions, and it's not the same thing as the private feudal dynamics it enables - feudalism, like every other social dynamic that has ever evolved, is always present, everywhere.  People are motivated by powerful instincts to seek advantage for their children, even if those advantages are unfair, and the result is similar whether the context is medieval Spain, the Canadian parliament, or the Vietnamese politburo.  And because these instincts are always present, there are complex social immunities that are constantly undermining, diluting, and eradicating dynasties.  

There's a reason we don't have states in this country called Rockefelleria, Carnegieland, and JP Morganistan, and it isn't because of trust-busting or New Deal social spending - those were good for ordinary people, but were not the primary reason the heirs of the original robber-barons don't rule over us.  The reason is that the highly financialized corporation is a barbarian horde enterprise, not a feudal/manorial economy - they don't produce anything or directly manage actual productive capital, they just suck up money through opportunistic maneuvers and strategic usurpations.  As a result, it's not the aristocracy/shareholders who primarily benefit, but the executive agents of the corporation - the warlords/CEOs and their lieutenants, and as a result corporate thievery is a remarkably meritocratic institution.  It's somewhat like the Mafia had once been - it helps to literally have family in the Family, but it's not essential, and ultimately the thieves can't help but express their degenerate nature by preying on and betraying each other.

That isn't to belittle the amount of damage corporate warlords can do in the meantime while society is organizing defenses - hell, it took 80 years before the United States could make a dent in the Mafia, and that was only after the mob had been weakened by wars, competition with other criminal organizations, and the chaos introduced by drug trafficking.  But sooner or later, people who produce nothing and subsist on thievery always get sloppy, and the societies they glean off of smack them down - or else their children become mainstreamed, and the problem is reduced to the unfair advantages of a wealth-supported political career rather than some Hunger Games scenario where we're all slaves to terrorist elites.

I present the Bush regime as Exhibit A of this principle: Total, three-branch control of government for eight long years; utter criminalization of the Executive branch; open use of torture and imperial conquest to expand private interests; terrorist threats and familial retaliation against critics; systemic falsification of government documents, intimidation of witnesses, obstruction of justice, suppression of science, overwhelming infiltration of a tiny religious cabal into the highest echelons of power; thorough control of media; and brazen subversion of democracy both at home and abroad.  So...why was my beheaded corpse not lying in a ditch somewhere circa 2005?  Why am I - or more importantly, any liberal activist at all - not scrounging for cockroaches to eat in the corner of some dank cell for political prisoners?  

It certainly wasn't for lack of malevolent desire on their part: Dick Cheney was happily about the business of plotting internment camps for political dissidents when the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina removed the veil on what the regime really was - a bunch of incredibly, cartoonishly self-involved criminals who were so busy stealing the change from the taxpayers' couch cushions they forgot to even pretend to be a government.  They were so degenerate, and so useless in their stolen offices they forgot to give anyone a reason to obey them - even their own underlings.  Cheney himself didn't even know that - he seemed to think he was building some kind of corporate-religious juggernaut state that would grind his enemies into dust, and many of us thought so too: The problem, for him, was that he was trying to build it out of stupid, selfish, cowardly vermin - the raw materials of right-wing conservatism.

His fantasies blew away like a dry sand castle in the lightest wind of real opposition, because the regime's power was always entirely conditional on the apathy or fear-driven acquiescence of the American people.  Even they understood that to some extent, which was why they were always very careful to insulate the public from the consequences of their policies - avoiding the very mention of a military draft like the plague, and relying on a pattern of petty retaliation and intimidation to silence critics rather than going the full Pinochet like many of them clearly wanted.  In the end, all they succeeded in doing was denying the American people a government for 8 years, but they could not create one themselves and they could not stop us from electing one when a real candidate finally showed up.

Which brings us back to the nature of the corporate power gnawing at our society - its ability to impose anything is limited by its single-minded nature and fundamentally cynical motives.  After all, who would volunteer to die for a corporation?  That was another lesson of the Bush regime - Republican support of its policies was almost entirely mercenary and based on never being asked to sacrifice for them in any way, shape, or form.  Their objective, same as the corporations they serve by default, is simply to be takers without consequence - to give nothing back, ever, because they have a sense of absolute entitlement and moral impunity that permits no external accountability.  This is the gangster mentality, and fortunately people who are like this usually have a lot more loose screws in their brains than just a lack of empathy and moral objectivity - they're not bright, and not very good at adapting to changing circumstances.

What they are (at their best) is tactically clever predators with an instinct for sensing petty opportunities they can exploit, and that's how the corporate assault on democracy worldwide is operating - not via the bloody fascist coups of the 20th century, but through the cracks in people's attention and the fault lines in their solidarity.  And contrary to what we may believe or wish to believe to excuse our own inadequate responses, this is largely not a pervasive conspiracy, but a case of many similar people with only loose associations behaving along similar lines in their own countries and industries.  

Watch a wolf pack zeroing in on prey, herding it into a trap: There's no plan involved, and no prior agreement to pursue any given line of attack - it's just that the wolves know their roles in the pack, and know from instinct what they're called upon to do based on their position relative to the prey.  Without this kind of parallel thinking and predatory instinct, there would be no danger from organizations like ALEC - nothing they say or do explicitly is the key to their influence, but the relationships they form by cornering political and regulatory authorities.  

If it were as simple as buying politicians, wealthy people on our side like George Soros would be every bit the puppetmasters Republicans project on them as being, but politics is always more complicated than the idealistic understand it to be - always a balance of forces in constant motion.  Corporations can't own politicians, they can only rent them - and the same is true of the corrupt sector of the electorate, as Republicans are continually discovering to their chagrin and rage.  They have to pour the wealth of nations into keeping our government sabotaged and dysfunctional, because we have proven time and again that we can dispel generations of their most concerted efforts and thickly-lain lies with the force of a mere decision.  

All of which is an elaborate way of saying that I'm not impressed by the direness of our situation.  Sorry to be a party-pooper.  I know it's gratifying to translate personal  struggles and depressing trends into some kind of epic narrative, and often irresistible for specialists and quantitative experts to inflate their narrowly-derived conclusions into some kind of cosmic law of historical destiny, but that's just not how things work.  Is Professor Wray claiming that the vast majority of the American population is going to starve to death?  

Because that would seem to be the implication of claiming that the vast majority of our diverse economy is going to evaporate into medieval simplicity.  And since he's talking about the global economy, isn't he really saying that the entire world is going to face a massive population bottleneck?  And if that's the case, it isn't hyperbole to say that he is predicting Apocalypse.  I just have one question: Does he project that in this future, there will be cage matches to the death where people chant "Two men enter, one man leaves"?  Will Tina Turner wield political authority in this bleak future?  If one Busts a Deal, must one Face The Wheel?  

Again, I apologize if I'm getting a little flippant here, but I've read too much history.  I'm aware of how the Roman Empire fell, how the Dark Ages came about, how they ended, and how the "enlightened" 20th century was soaked in blood and characterized by totalitarian jackboots proverbially stomping on human faces forever.  More locally, there was that whole period in the 19th century where millions of people were sold as chattel, hundreds of thousands of Americans died on battlefields fighting their neighbors, and emaciated Irish corpses arrived in New York Harbor by the boatload.  That seems a little more disturbing than what we're going through now and are likely to face as a result of it.  

Then in the following century, an entire continent - the most developed, wealthiest, most educated, and most "civilized" - was torn to shreds twice in a single generation, and spent the remainder of the next half-century under the shadow of the real-life Mordor with 20,000 thermonuclear warheads on hair-trigger.  I would find that slightly more anxiety-inducing than a pack of con artist swine selling worthless speculative instruments and paying off governments not to hold them accountable for it.  

Of course, there are real dangers in the ensuing poverty and disorder suggested by history, but largely in the form of ill-conceived, psychotic, or counterfeit reactions against the status quo: Crazy apocalyptic religious militias, criminal dictator-governors who spit in the face of the Constitution (Scott Walker and Rick Scott have already achieved this status), and of course demagogues who rise to national prominence promoting bigotry.  In fact, there's even a slight danger on our side - many of us would forgive a lot on the part of a leader who pulled out all the stops to fight Wall Street, or at least offered suitably incendiary rhetoric.  But I'm not too concerned about that, and not quaking in my boots over parasites like Walker and Scott.  Even the giant sponge-on-wheels that is Mitt Romney would be little more than yet another degenerate placeholder preventing the American people from having a functioning government.

Honestly, what is "We're Screwed" supposed to accomplish?  Does that line actually motivate someone?  Because it has done the opposite in my case: It's an affront to reason based on self-indulgent hysteria, and it just makes it that much harder to take legitimate concerns seriously.  And even if I did take it seriously, am I supposed to interpret a hyperbolic pronouncement of doom and pusillanimous surrender to an imagined fate as a call to action?  It sure doesn't sound like one - it sounds like an invitation to join Professor Wray in contemplating the futility of existence while sighing into a book of Kierkegaard and watching an Ingmar Bergman marathon.

Here's a radical thought: Perhaps someone with a PhD in economics would be better employed exploring opportunities for progress, probing for weaknesses in the phenomena that obstruct it, and sharing these insights as a way to spark and promote the general advancement of humanity toward the unknown unknown rather than telling people to go hide in a cave because Smeagol-in-a-business-suit is coming to get them.  Yeah, corporations will try to steal your money, property, and liberty; and the rats in your pantry will try to steal your food; and the bacteria on your hands will try to colonize your internal organs; and always entropy is gnawing away at things.  And yet here we are - most assuredly not Raptured, racially homogeneous, clapping in unison to some mustachioed Dear Leader, glowing in the dark, or fighting over ratburgers in sewer cities.  Anyone who thinks that's in our immediate future, feel free to unload your soon-to-be-worthless dollars and bearer bonds on me.  I will gladly take them off your hands so you can get about the business of stockpiling canned beans and claymores to fight off the zombie hordes.

Originally posted to Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 02:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Federation.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  QFT (13+ / 0-)
    Honestly, what is "We're Screwed" supposed to accomplish?  Does that line actually motivate someone?  Because it has done the opposite in my case: It's an affront to reason based on self-indulgent hysteria, and it just makes it that much harder to take legitimate concerns seriously.
    For a few recent days, the "recommended" list makes me feel... I dunno... a bit embarrassed.
  •  Pardon my skim (15+ / 0-)

    But my skim of that other diary told me to not bother even skimming more that diary. My skim of this dairy finds more fertile ground.

    Well, I had to interrupt my skimming to tell you that.

  •  3,500 word epic: won't fit on a bumper sticker (6+ / 0-)
    And yet here we are - most assuredly not Raptured, racially homogeneous, clapping in unison to some mustachioed Dear Leader, glowing in the dark, or fighting over ratburgers in sewer cities.  Anyone who thinks that's in our immediate future, feel free to unload your soon-to-be-worthless dollars and bearer bonds on me.
    Me, too.
  •  A truly epic rant (5+ / 0-)

    I'll happily take any Federal Reserve Notes as well.

  •  I opened it , read two lines and shut that diary. (13+ / 0-)

    Yours on the other hand is one of the finest diaries I have read in a long time. Superb parsing of history and politics. I truly hate hair afire diaries and yet sometimes like a weak kneed ninny I fall into a similar pattern... WE are on a cusp of great change and I think we are going to climb farther from the brute.

    All I can say is Thank you for a diary I have copied and will reread often.

    How can you tell when Rmoney is lying? His lips are moving. Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 03:19:37 PM PDT

  •  Great stuff, troubz! (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks.

    I ♥ President Barack Obama.

    by ericlewis0 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 03:20:36 PM PDT

  •  Interesting, well-argued perspective. (8+ / 0-)

    I would counter, however, that just because things are not worse now than they have been in the recent past, that they won't get worse.  We clerly are on a trend that eerily resembles the fragmentation of power at the end of the Roman Empire's existence, when central government became less and less important than the local ultra-wealthy landowners.  There are different kinds of serfdom, and today's ultra-wealthy have found that money, not land, is the ultimate source of power, and that governments can be bought--and the trappings of democracy maintained--without needing to replace them.  They, particularly in the financial sector, have not only escaped any punishment for their crimes of the last decade, they have profited from their influence on the government.  They are also making our middle class poorer and poorer, and thus more and more irrelevant.  It is almost inevitable that some crisis will come along to really foul things up (say, substitution of the dollar with some other currency as the world's reserve currency), at which point things, already on a downward trend for many of us, will get much worse much more quickly.  Change tends to happen fast.

    Perhaps we are not "screwed".  But neither are we in a safe place, and the more people that come to understand that a screwing is possible, the better, IMHO.

    The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

    by TheOrchid on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 03:22:55 PM PDT

    •  Well said. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Smoh, kalmoth, Pandoras Box

      I agree with your assessment, and would add that the ultimately significance of a crisis is only known after the fact: Some are harbingers of chaos, some are defining moments of clarity that bring renewal to the hope of mankind.  

      But on a darker note, we can take comfort at least in this ultimate guarantee: Mercenaries aren't willing to sacrifice, but citizens are.  I think most of the people behind this white-collar crime spree are smart enough to know the limitations of their kind of power.

      "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

      by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 03:58:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  but the bad guys aren't just mercenaries (3+ / 0-)

        There are a lot of true believers at work here.  From the Galtoids who've elevated greed to a moral obligation, to the neo-aristocrats who believe that absolute power without consequences is their natural right, to the Religious Right who can excuse any amount of suffering as a divine commandment, punishment, and/or ego trip, to chauvinists who will never tolerate anything that also does something good for the Other.  How do you deal with evil people who aren't just in it for themselves, but who have what they believe to be a righteous cause with the fate of humanity and the cosmic order at stake?

        What's that line from Paradise Lost: "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven!"  The real danger is not a hungry horde that can be bought off or convinced to settle down, but rather it is people who will be just fine with objective loss if it can give them a relative gain by degrading the rest of us to a far worse degree.

        To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

        by Visceral on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:43:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think our experiences under Bush (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Visceral

          indicate that sincere fascists are a relatively weak part of the conservative coalition, and are constantly undermined by their idiot-loudmouth and mercenary comrades.  Conservatives are fundamentally lazy, complacent people who just want to sit on a throne and have the world cater to them, but True Believer types aren't like that - they have real chaos inside them, and love to share it.  

          The corporate people we're talking about here are relatively reticent to empower those types - they don't like disorder, and they're intelligent enough to know that beyond a certain point trying to impose order is itself a cause of disorder.  Fascists don't care - they fetishize the act of oppression itself regardless of what comes from it.  Banksters are highly rational villains.

          "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

          by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:21:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  are banksters rational? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour, psyched

            They're extremely intelligent and dedicated, but somehow I'm not convinced that they're rational.  They aren't the old school rich people who had a vested interest in the health of the golden goose and are more like barbarian raiders who don't see any reason not to burn down the town for kicks after they've eaten their fill, raped any available virgins, and grabbed all the gold they can carry away in their saddlebags.  The banksters' actions make a lot more sense if you attribute a "grab the money and run" motivation to them, except they can't stop grabbing and running even as the economy grinds to a halt and people start getting scared and angry.  If we're dealing with a sort of warrior ethos that thinks settling down to milk a peaceful and productive kingdom is beneath them, then the normal incentives to civilization have little appeal.

            Thorstein Veblen once argued that the businessman was in his heart nothing more than a barbarian raider who's simply learned better tactics: a man whose entire worldview revolves around skill at taking and making others respect him for it.

            To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

            by Visceral on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 08:02:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Good points there. (0+ / 0-)

              I do say they're rational insofar as villains can be.  To use a more "legitimate" example of their rationality, it may be far more economically beneficial in global terms to use farm land to make crops that humans eat than to raise cattle for slaughter, but that doesn't mean any individual businessman won't find it more profitable to run a slaughterhouse than farm human-edible staples.  And it does have a significant economic cost, but not enough to undermine the profit motive that causes that decision to be made.  

              So if a highly progressive venture capital firm is like a farm that raises organic, ecologically efficient crops with clean energy; and something in between would be like a dairy farm that buys companies just to periodically milk them of value via outsourcing and restructuring; then something like Bain Capital would be a factory-farm slaughterhouse that smashes-and-grabs companies, leaving a bloody mess behind.  It's the same evolutionary perverse incentive that creates predators in the first place - the individual marginal value of the prey is high, even though there's massive ecological waste in the process of predation.

              "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

              by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 08:35:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  We'll Never Find Our Ecstasy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, Troubadour, 3goldens

    Unless we first embrace our resentment, our despair and our outrage, and work ourselves through it.

    We need to acknowledge these feelings before we can move on to the next level.

    Faced with the prospect of millions of Americans being impoverished as a consequence of his policies, Ben Bernanke told us to write in our gratitude journals.
    Fuck that.

    I am angry.

    I am resentful.

    I feel despair.

    And I'm going to keep on feeling and expressing these things until they are drained out of me.

    And I don't expect this to happen for a while.

    Especially since events in global finance are right as we speak setting the stage for another theft of incredible magnitude.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 03:26:52 PM PDT

    •  we who? n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour
    •  Pretty sure they don't care what you feel (5+ / 0-)

      or how vehemently you express it - their leeching couldn't possibly be less personal for them.  To them, the average American is about as morally relevant as a single krill to a whale.  We're their food, and not even a significant amount of it.  But that's true of all macro-parasites and gangsters, so the best you can do is try to identify ways that you unwittingly contribute to them and avoid doing that.  It can be a pain in the ass to do that rigorously, but it's really up to you how determined you are.

      Me, I don't have much for them to steal anyway, so I'm not particularly concerned.  I just loathe and despise them for what they are.

      "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

      by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 04:32:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What I find even more interesting (9+ / 0-)

    than such diaries is the unseemly eagerness and excitement with which so many recommend them. Yes, there is a reason a lot of us call this sort of thing "doom porn".

    Herman [Cain] makes my arse wanna dip snuff. ~ Pinto Pony

    by MeMeMeMeMe on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 03:30:31 PM PDT

    •  Poorly thought out... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cardinal, kalmoth, Troubadour

      ...crap makes it to the Rec list a lot, I notice.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 04:01:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow, that's just so much more graphic than (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kalmoth, Troubadour

      handwringing.

      Hands off my ObamaCare[TM] http://www.healthcare.gov

      by Mokurai on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 04:12:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, it's pathetic. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wreck Smurfy

      I swear some of them have the tone of obscene phone calls.

      And then...(heavy breathing)...the rivers will boil...and the sky will turn as black as sackcloth...(heavy breathing)...and the bunny rabbits will be gutted and ripped to pieces and their intestines will be used as draperies in the Halls of Mammon...(heavy breathing)...and there will be bloody revolution among the casts of sitcoms...(heavy breathing)...
      Not that that particular diary was that ridiculous, but it did seem a bit like the diarist was swooning in Christly anguish at the thought of bankers getting away with theft (such a novel occurrence in history!)

      "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

      by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 04:50:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  YOU'RE no fun: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vote4Obamain2012, slksfca, Troubadour
    All of which is an elaborate way of saying that I'm not impressed by the direness of our situation.  Sorry to be a party-pooper.  I know it's gratifying to translate personal  struggles and depressing trends into some kind of epic narrative, and often irresistible for specialists and quantitative experts to inflate their narrowly-derived conclusions into some kind of cosmic law of historical destiny, but that's just not how things work.
    What - do I now have to trash my last four diary drafts??!

    Thanks a lot.

    :-(

    Politics is about the improvement of people's lives. - Paul Wellstone

    by occams hatchet on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 03:36:39 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary (5+ / 0-)

    I might even call it epic. It's a masterpiece, or close to it.

    I don't necessarily agree with every word, but I agree with most of it and couldn't put it down.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 03:59:28 PM PDT

  •  I'm not surprised, considering the diarist's... (9+ / 0-)

    ...virtually complete lack of reference to 20th Century American history, that this post is little more than a gratuitous ode to their knowledge of irrelevant historical truths that, inevitably, fail to forcefully rebut the things Wray has stated, in any substantive manner, whatsoever.

    Or, is the fact that "we survived the Dark Ages" a credible "argument?" I think not.

    Then again, the claim of all caps in the other diary's title just reeled me in with its purpose and meaning...I mean, I was totally floored by its power.

    At the end of the day, IMHO, this is one of the most meaningless, self-indulgent pieces I've read in my six years in this community.

    But, that's just my opinion.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 04:07:55 PM PDT

  •  An excellent rant, but I went to the other (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, Troubadour, houyhnhnm

    diary to give the author and some of the handwringing commenters what for.

    This turns out not to be the case

    because we aren't scared of your bogeymen, even knowing that they have the power to harm us deeply, and everybody and everything we care about. Because we have the power to harm their greed, their bigotry, their anger, their inhumanity to man, women and child.

    Our ancestors faced down far worse from time to time, and our descendants will continue to do so.

    You may continue to be cowards if you wish to have the rest of us point and laugh.

    These are the times that try men's [sic] souls. The Summer Soldier and the Sunshine Patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of men and women.
    Thomas Paine

    Hands off my ObamaCare[TM] http://www.healthcare.gov

    by Mokurai on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 04:11:42 PM PDT

    •  I'm more amused by the swooning weakness (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kalmoth, Sophie Amrain

      of some of the content than offended by it.   Some of the attitudes I've seen make Philippe Pétain sound like Leonidas.  And I'm not even exaggerating - I mean seriously, how little do the Bad Guys have to do to make some of these folks curl into a fetal position?  

      Industry had private armies opening up with live ammunition on labor protests in the 19th and early 20th century.  Now we're distraught because companies won't play fair when workers try to unionize?  Business plotted a military coup against FDR, and now we know why the caged bird sings because they used their capture of the Supreme Court to deregulate campaign finance?  What the hell is wrong with these people?

      Why do so many of them think they have to obey whatever some authority figure tells them, even if it's totally lawless?  Don't they get that they're participants in the formation of everything that goes on in this society, not just passive recipients of someone else's benevolence or malice?

      "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

      by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:54:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  negative emotions are useless (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, kalmoth, houyhnhnm

    There is no legal or moral way to act on my feelings about rich people, fundies, etc.  The only thing that gets my mind out of that black pit of hate is to imagine utopia - a true utopia in all its fantastical beauty and wonder - and try to work out who we need to be and what we need to do for it to function.  

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:09:34 PM PDT

    •  Plodding bit by bit we climb. Some full of fear (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, Visceral

      genuflect and make do. Some raised by those who are servile  learned at thier knee to fear the Alphas who raise themselves up even as they feed on those less ambitious, unable to see any other lives as worthy as thier own... I am sick of hearing how they are somehow the glory and the saving of our species. Is global warming that they lead us into for thier own power and aggrandizement going to save our species? Is enslaving, abusing, oppressing,... going to save our species or is it all about them living thier lives at our species expense? When did any living creature become so insulated against what affects all life that we share this planet that they can ignore the end result? Are these the monsters who would use human skin for lamp shades and bones for furniture or fertilizer.  They cannot exist alone and we outnumber them... They can raise up thier armies of Igors to fight against thier natural allies of rank but for how long can they stand? Can they make us produce? Can they make us consume and enrich them? Can they claim it all and then live on a world that they made unlivable?

      These people are simply fiercely amoral and paranoid because they have built themselves castles made of the bones of those they have fed on to enrich themselves beyond all reason and meaning. I am concerned that they are seeking to reduce the worlds population to themselves and servants. I begin to believe they have convinced themselves they can live without most of us.

      Is this a weakness amongst all humans that most elevated in wealth and power will fall for the same isolating defenses and continual increases in their own wealth thinking it will protect them? It makes me think of Libya where Qadaffi fell and those who took him down appear to be no better ... just eager to fill his shoes and wield his power. I read that Syria is the same as was the Taliban. How many times have we thought the rebel was a heroic figure only to find them no better?

      Is it times like this that make us awake from the day to day struggle to live alife of meaning to ourselves to find that all around are having the same struggle?

      How can you tell when Rmoney is lying? His lips are moving. Fear is the Mind Killer

      by boophus on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:01:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are two forms of rebel. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Visceral

        The healer, and the closet aristocrat.  One wants to liberate his country to be whatever it is, the other simply wants to own the country for himself.  All healers are fundamentally pragmatic; all pretenders to the throne in the guise of revolutionaries are as selfish and violent in radicalism as their institutional enemies are in conservatism.  

        You know a healer because the country they liberate ultimately outgrows them like their own children; you know a Napoleon because they warp and torture a nation into a taxidermist's mockery of idealism, incapable of escaping their control and the shadow of their personality cult.

        "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

        by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:32:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes I see that. It just depresses me to believe (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour

          someone is a deliverer only to find them a despot. Was Mandela a healer?

          I frequently rant about idealists because so often the ideal they hold dear is thiers and benefits them the most. Utopias for the same reason appall me because there is no group without coercion that everyone agrees on everything so to establish a utopis requires punishment,imprisonment and or death of any dissidents.

          Are alphas really sociopaths or psychopaths?

          How can you tell when Rmoney is lying? His lips are moving. Fear is the Mind Killer

          by boophus on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 08:20:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's all in the definition of utopia. (0+ / 0-)

            If it's some grandiose architect's vision of perfection, then yes, it's going to be a horror show.  But if it's built on empowering people to be themselves and have opportunities, then it's a "practical paradise" rather than a utopia.  That doesn't mean it's trouble-free - liberation from the more basic problems creates its own complications - but there are plenty of practical paradises in the modern world in various cities and countries, although different ones are best for different classes of people and personality types.

            "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

            by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 08:48:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Actually, all-caps title of that diary is an (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, congenitalefty, psyched

    artefact. It was copy-pasted from another site (with permission and citation) and on that site all-caps titles are common. If you ignore the title, it's not a bad diary.

    •  Okay, it's not a bad diary. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, Sophie Amrain

      Insofar as "bad" means one-line links to MSM articles with the words "Whoa, check this out!" or troll trash peddling CTs about Barack Obama.  It's just that the intellectual content is far, far beneath the level of the rhetorical and narrative coherence - it paints an unrealistic, lacking perspective, and entirely emotion-based picture in words that are undeservedly persuasive, and I find that irritating.  I always find style-based content counterfeits irritating - the form is right, but Wray pours a warped perspective into it that doesn't help us.

      "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

      by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:39:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not a big fan for UMKC Econ crowd, I just (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, Sophie Amrain

        find them too self-important. The description of securitization of everything is not too bad but he takes the conclusion too far to the point of them being completely ridiculous. It's like 'there is a forest fire thus the whole world will burn'.

        •  Well said. My point exactly. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FG, Sophie Amrain

          "Combustion occurs in the presence of oxygen.  There is oxygen in the atmosphere.  Therefore, if I light a match the atmosphere will ignite."  Mind-numbingly simplistic linear extrapolation of processes bounded in reality by multiple variables and feedback loops.  People react every day, every hour, every minute to the economic decisions of other people.

          "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

          by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 08:59:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  lol (0+ / 0-)

    Like a mosquito trying to puncture the skin of a brick.

  •  This has become my creed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, The Hamlet

    in these troubled time.

    The Two Trees by William Butler Yeats.

    . . .
    Gaze no more in the bitter glass
    The demons, with their subtle guile,
    Lift up before us when they pass,
    . . .

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 08:50:46 PM PDT

  •  A very self indulgent blog. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SpecialKinFlag

    Where's the beef?

    •  Your comment makes no sense. (0+ / 0-)

      For all the reasons identified, the diary I discuss should have triggered the liberal intellectual immune system against bullshit, but the opposite occurred.  I wanted to point that out and explore why that happened as a public service.

      "I'm going to rub your faces in things you try to avoid." - Muad'Dib

      by Troubadour on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 10:21:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe no beef, but there is a point. And (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      the point is 'doomsday scenarios are generally wrong and worse, they serve the purpose of the right.'

      He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

      by Sophie Amrain on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:39:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No beef and wrong point. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SpecialKinFlag, psyched

        The point is that the world economy has been taken over by the neoliberal economic mantra pushing unregulated financial corruption and unwarranted austerity on the world's greatest countries, creating financial bubbles and transferring wealth to the 1% at a rate never seen before. We're screwed if we don't do something radical to change that reality.  If you think Barack Obama and the Dems have the answer, you're wrong.  They buy into the same neoliberal scheme that has gotten us where we are and are just as responsible for the Great Financial Crisis as are the Republicans.  This is doubly ironic when you consider that a sovereign government that issues its own currency, such as the US, can never run out of money, and yet its leaders continue to act like "we've run out of money," to quote Obama.

        If you really want to learn something about economics, take a look at Professor Wray's book, Understanding Modern Money or, even better yet, take a look at his new book coming out in September regarding Modern Money Theory.

        The good professor is trying to alert us all that we are being bamboozled by booth sides of the isle.  If that's a doomsday scenario, so be it. We're screwed because we have all bought into an economic fallacy that will ruin the world's economy no matter who wins elections--that's the bottom line.

        If you don't have the time to read Wray, take a look at Warren Mosler's Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy which is free on his web site.

  •  Agreed. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hedwig, Troubadour

    It's important to remember that people see apocalypses and tyranny coming in every age from every direction.

    The vast majority of worry is ridiculous in its nature.  In that other diary, I didn't see any evidence given besides what I fear might be true.

    No evidence, but reliance on fear of tyranny is not a good argument.

  •  Just had to add my thanks for a brilliant piece (0+ / 0-)

    Confirms my arguments against left-wing Obama haters convinced he is no different from the alternative.  Maybe not different enough, but that still makes all the difference in the world.  

    "Something in the way, yeah." Kurt Cobain

    by The Hamlet on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 06:56:45 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site