Sunday, October 23, 2011

Frodnonag on OWS & Sorely Needed Change

What follows is another part of Frodnonag's comment, posted with his permission. For the first part, spotlighting "The American Dream" see yesterday's post. Here the writer looks at the current state of affairs in the USA, and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Comment was dated Oct 19 2011 - 9:22pm at

"I want to be as positive as possible, and I do wish the (Occupy Wall Street) movement success, but also know that Wall Street and the NYC authorities are counting on the weather to put a stop to the demonstration, and it probably will. The people now on the street will be able to find warm shelter when winter comes; most likely, every single one of them. When things get so bad economically that people are forced to live out in the cold, that is when people will stay out in the cold, and not before.

The big players of banks and of Wall Street, and the government authorities, are being indulgent with the protesters, for the most part, because that is the easist path for them to take, and costs them nothing. It is not a concession, nor charity, nor brotherly understanding, but just more self-interest.

Same with the chimera that we want to believe is the media finally starting seeing things the 99% way. Nope. Maybe a little. But it's shallow, not deep, and its sincerity is questionable.

The method being used on us as American citizens these days is insulting and degrading, but sadly, it is also pretty effective; it is not too different from the methods used to calm a child before bedtime. "Take your medicine, say your prayers, have your warm milk, and enjoy your bedtime story time...."

"Hush now, child, and listen.....close your eyes. Once upon a time, there was a very handsome and wealthy king. But he was also a very sad King......" And then comes "the nod": drifting off- (while wishing we could help that poor sad wealthy king, for some reason)- one more time, like every time, "We the People" slip off to that ephemeral and unclutchable "American Dream"-land one more time; and everyone feels sort of proud of themselves for no good reason, and basks in it, but the net result is that it's all just warm air: nothing worth doing really gets done for the 99%.

We are people who are sometimes trusting to a fault and other times paranoid of those who would benefit us all. We are a people, it seems to me, inclined to thank someone who stabs us with a 12" knife, and then claims salvage rights on our bodies and selves after pulling the blade out 6". If We the People were high school chicks, and the government was the football team guys, I have no doubt we would be called easy. (or much worse). Sad but true.

It's good to trust. Unforunately, being trusting has its drawbacks when untrustworthy people are around. And without a doubt, Americans have been trusting the wrong people for far too long.

So it seems to me that the strategy from the "powers that be" is one of humoring the protest, and convincing the the protesters that their positions are being taken somewhat seriously, all without any real, meaningful, actual concessions from the 1%.

We live in a bread and circuses society as surely as the ancient Romans did, and of course govenment calculates to a fine point the tolerance of the people, and generally judges it quite well, and controls it via the modern-day versions of tried-and-true bread and circus methods.

As long as Americans have television, gasoline, alcohol, access to guns and ammo, fast food, and professional and college sports, and texting, (not necessarily in that order ) there will be no revolution but a very slow one.

Maybe that is, in the long run, the best way, compared to a revolution of more brisance, such as the French or American or Russian revolutions, all of which were extremely violent.

Maybe slow evolution, with infinitesimal concessions and changes made so slowly they seem to be in geologic time, is best overall. Or maybe not. I don't know. The down side is that the famous "fierce urgency of now"- which someone spoke about some time or other - gets lost in such slow social changes.

It seems that the hard truth about this country is that "the fierce urgency of now" only applies to war-making, or assassination, or executing some poor convict, or facilitating emergency bailouts and automatic forgiveness of crimes, within a morally bankrupt "old boy" buddy system.

And in the U.S. anymore, more and more it seems that you are either in the In Crowd, or you are not. Migration from poverty to relative wealth becomes more difficult with each passing year as the classes become more rigidly stratified. This is something which we are accustomed to think of as very "anti-American", strangely enough, but it isn't a new phenomenon.It may seem "anti-American" - this stratification, that is. You could just as well say that it's as American as apple pie, and that would be just as true. However, my "feeling" about it is that it seems to be happening at an accelerating rate.

Evolution, not revolution, may be best, and probably is - I really can't say I know a thing about it, to be honest. But with snail-slow evolutionary change of economic or political systems, in the interim before effective changes that really help people are actually enacted, many, many people suffer or die - unnecessarily, it seems - because of long delays, caused only by politics and prejudice, in accomplishing any improvements towards more equitable distribution of resources among the people, or other beneficial social change.

So while the nation dithers and argues and fumes impotently and works against itself, more harm is done. A more ideal situation would be that things are changed "as needed", if not before, with the kind of fervor and dispatch the U.S. showed when on the march to war.

When things don't change, it is sometimes because they can't be changed. But the issues of the Wall Street protest movement are all issues that could be changed, and with alacrity, too, if the will to do so was present among the people who have the capability to make the changes - that is, people in high corporate, financial, and government perches.

The will to do so is almost entirely lacking - partly because there have been few, if any, consequences upon the 1% for their excesses, crimes, deceits, thefts, etc.; they have bought and bullied and worked hard to make themselves almost above the law, and those who might prosecute them are of the same level of social/financial class. And so, it is a "you scratch my back and I will scratch yours" situation, or an example of a kind of brotherhood, of intrafraternal love, and, My Dear 99%, this brotherhood is much stronger than any charitable feelings towards any of us out here in the land of the Great Unwashed. We who with our pennies here, and our taxes there, and our penalties here, and our interest payments there, have financed their very rise to wealth, are really not appreciated by them at all, except insofar as we continue to enrich them.

Because the wealth was built upon our backs - we the people who actually work and produce, I mean - it seems to me that without enough low-level backs to hold up the rich people's pyramid, it would start to crumble and collapse.

One key is to start to control our own consumer desires, because all corporations play us for suckers and know just how to make things that people will sell their first-born AND their beloved Grandma to possess.

We are a gadget-happy bunch of trade rats, and shiny things that blink are our undoing these days. As a people we have become a cyber-herd of remote-controlled minds, controlled by mass media input from outlets which are highly selective about their choices of information to give to us.

And of what is given to us, a large proportion is literally calculated to produce an effect, often an emotional effect, followed by action - usually spending, but not always - because when it comes down to it, Americans are not all that different from Pavlov's rats, and will salivate on cue, and so forth, and this has all been worked out quite extensively by the advertising industry as well as by government agencies, I think.

When I think of the Wall Street protest movement I can't help but think of the Bonus Army of World War 1 veterans, and how they were an even more peaceful and respectful bunch than we have in the New York gathering today.

But eventually, when they would not decamp, MacArthur and soldies were sent into the camps to clear them out by force if necessary, and that is when it got a bit rough. The result was refusal of the promised, legally obligatatory bonus the veterans were demanding (until some time later) and also expulsion by force.

Had there been more resistance there would have been more violence. The federal government is not in the habit of backing down to citizen protests - it takes a lot of pressure for a long time, and even then, citizen protests are not so effective if there is no real effect upon the people being protested against.

I know that things always need to change for the better, and that most if not all of us feel that changes are slower than they should be or need to be, and that it is mainly just stubbornness and greed and so forth that prevents effective change. I also know that when there is a national will to do something, Americans can get stuff done in a way my old friend Doreice calls "going at it like killin' snakes".
So the problem is maybe largely: 1. the lack of will among the rich combined with 2. the lack of real desperation, yet, among most of the 99%.

I mean, from my limited perspective, it seems that way. I realize it is much much bigger subject than any little essay I might write about it.

It may be we are still a long way from a critical mass of discontent. It would be nice to have good changes made because we all want to, rather than hang on like stubborn children until none of us has any choice left about changing because it becomes a life or death situation.

But knowing humans, I expect that is how it will go. We are not stupid, but fall for tricks very easily, and fall for the same flim-flams again and again, generation after generation.

I think the education system could do something about it, but it too is subject to the big national hypnosis and delusion within which the U.S.A. and so may of its people are lost.

Also, as a populace we have been kept from unifying by the divide and conquer effect from 9/11 and the wars, which have caused lots of internal strife that keeps us from effectively banding together as a people to confront the vastly outnumbered ones who we allow to oppress us by allowing them to manipulate our desires, and effectively hold us hostage because of our own individual wants and cravings and dependencies.

I know that good changes could be made more quickly, were there the national will to do so; and I believe that the problem to examine is right there.

That is, perhaps we need to seriously ask the question of what our national will is, why it is so fragmented and riven by internal conflict more than it really should be, why Americans seem to be either angry, half-asleep, in denial, or Pollyannas; what role the huge surge in psychiatric prescription drug use has had on the national will; and finally, the real long-term effect of 9/11, after the yee-haw go get 'em phase I mean - and the effect of the bogus official explanation of it, and of the evil wars it enabled, which have plagued us and the world since then."


Anonymous said...

GP: As an "habitué" of T's remarquable blog I remember of her predilection of de la Fontaine's parables. Hoping she will like this one, of my own fabrication, but fitting into FRODNONAG's views, here my Sunday thoughts (T. got people now "working" on Sundays, same salary, same fun):

Here in Brazil, spring just having started, in the tropical florest where I live, same time every year, like clockwork, hundreds of thousands of ants surge from nowhere and invade houses, horses stables, any structure and give it a thourough spring cleaning. They eat all flies, spiders etc.

But at close inspection, I perceived that there are some mega-ants (and they have wings -which the others don't have) who eat the normal ants!

When America was invaded by litterally starving Europeans, some winged mega-imigrants then must have been "waiting in the wings as well". They then were called "rober-barons".

So one fatty gets eaten by aonother more fatty... As per Darwin or some other evolutionist's theory.

The one problem "people" in America have not quite realized which creates a major obstacle towards any serious change are STUDENT LOANS: They now reach some 1 Trillion $, a sragering amount. And each student with some of that debt on his shoulders will tend to "conform", ply himself to the system, if not, he won't even be able not only to find a job, but not even to have a car, or a family , all part now of that "American dream".

As this is a parble, no need to apologize for comparing Americans with some Brazilian ants...

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~

I like your parable of the ants GP! :-) humans are not far removed from their insect cousins, even now, after aeons have passed. that eat-or-be-eaten has to be a built-in aspect of all life on Earth. Robber Barons, bankers and
"the 1%" being evolution's latest version.

The student loan problem IS one of the most serious and often mentioned problems to be seen written on protesters' signs - along with lack of jobs, poverty in general, and over-expensive health care. As you say, unless somehow resolved its tentacles will reach far into the future.

anyjazz said...

It's thoughtful piece. Thanks for the post.

libramoon said...

The hope was always in the People, not a candidate. The hope now is poignantly held in hearts and minds of people not only out on the streets, but so many more watching. The myth is the hateful, greedy, immobile American. The myth is the rule of the sad monarchs or oligarchs. The power, should we accept it, is in the people who go out and do what needs to be done, because it needs to be done. Such people have always existed, though not often honored. The Occupy Movement does honor the values of courage, community, gathering to communicate and claim the rights that only live when used.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~ Welcome! Yes, I thought so too.

Twilight said...

libramoon ~~~ Beautifully expressed - thank you!

libramoon said...
8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance

"1. Student-Loan Debt. Large debt—and the fear it creates—is a pacifying force. There was no tuition at the City University of New York when I attended one of its colleges in the 1970s, a time when tuition at many U.S. public universities was so affordable that it was easy to get a B.A. and even a graduate degree without accruing any student-loan debt. While those days are gone in the United States, public universities continue to be free in the Arab world and are either free or with very low fees in many countries throughout the world. The millions of young Iranians who risked getting shot to protest their disputed 2009 presidential election, the millions of young Egyptians who risked their lives earlier this year to eliminate Mubarak, and the millions of young Americans who demonstrated against the Vietnam War all had in common the absence of pacifying huge student-loan debt.

Today in the United States, two-thirds of graduating seniors at four-year colleges have student-loan debt, including over 62 percent of public university graduates. While average undergraduate debt is close to $25,000, I increasingly talk to college graduates with closer to $100,000 in student-loan debt. During the time in one’s life when it should be easiest to resist authority because one does not yet have family responsibilities, many young people worry about the cost of bucking authority, losing their job, and being unable to pay an ever-increasing debt. In a vicious cycle, student debt has a subduing effect on activism, and political passivity makes it more likely that students will accept such debt as a natural part of life."

Twilight said...

libramoon ~~~ Thanks for that - it really is a vicious circle!

I've just read about yet another stumbling block these young people, and older ones, face:

“Anyone can lose their job and fall behind on bills in this economy. But now that may keep them from finding new employment. This week’s credit check: Six out of 10 employers use credit reports to vet job applicants. More than 20 million Americans may have material errors on their credit reports…. Where should they turn when they’ve lost a steady paycheck, but still have to keep up with bills such as mortgage payments, student loans, and the basics like rent and food? With no money coming in, many understandably have to turn to debt. But taking on debt — and being unable to pay it back, or pay back any of the debt they may have took on when things looked better and they had a job — could be the exact thing that keeps the unemployed from becoming re-employed. In a massive Catch-22, many employers are looking to credit reports when they do background checks on prospective employees, and a bad mark due to an unpaid medical bill or lapsed student loan payment could make the difference in getting the job…. Marketplace recently told the story of Sarah Sholar, just one of those employees with bad credit who has been turned down by prospective employers. “I can’t pay my student loans because I don’t have a job,” she told them. “I can’t get a job because I can’t pay my student loans.””