Friday, August 16, 2013

Do You Feel It?

Have spent more than an hour with this post from Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism and reading through the almost 200 comments. Here's how Yves starts out:

A Disturbance in the Force?

Perhaps I’m just having a bad month, but I wonder if other readers sense what I’m detecting. I fancy if someone did a Google frequency search on the right terms, they might pick up tangible indicators of what I’m sensing (as in I’m also a believer that what people attribute to gut feeling is actually pattern recognition).

The feeling I have is that of heightened generalized tension, the social/political equivalent of the sort of disturbance that animals detect in advance of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, of pressure building up along major fault lines. The other way to articulate this vibe is that it is as if events are being influenced by a large unseen gravitational or magnetic force, as if a black hole had moved into the ‘hood. We can’t see the hidden superdense object, but we can infer that it’s distorting the space around it.

Yves is one of the smartest bloggers I've encountered on the Internet, with a focus on economics, finance and politics. Former manager at Goldman Sachs. Very knowledgeable in mortgage-backed securities. A true heavyweight, particularly looking at Wall Street, and what went wrong. She wrote a penetrating, and for me, riveting account of the GFC in her book Econned.

Fairly quickly after Obama's election, when it became clear he was not going to take on the banks in a serious way (nationalization, reinstituting Glass-Steagal, tough prosecution of mortgage fraud), she turned anti-Obama. She began a relentless and always well-written attack on Obama, the true Manchurian candidate, who was elected on a Grand Deception, and whose focus is supporting the 1% elite, and tearing down the social safety net. The site is hard left, and I have rarely found a dissenting voice in the comments.

Today's post is right in line: essentially 100% agreement with Yves that there clearly has been a "disturbance in the Force", and something deeply ominous is imminent. Do you remember in the original Star Wars when Obe wan Kenobe says this, the Death Star has just concluded a successful test of its Death Ray, where an entire planet was vaporized. Do you feel it?

If you are up for a somewhat startling and, for me, very discouraging ride, go read the blog, and delve into the comments. Almost no hope is expressed. Our society is in collapse. Its elite-controlled, rapacious, immoral social structure, with Obama firmly at the helm, is taking us to Armageddon. Revolution is the only course, because the rot is so deep. Both parties are hopeless, so there is no visible organizational structure to lead the change process, to articulate its aspirations. The presumption is that when the non-elite intelligentsia moves from passive nihilism to active nihilism, they will start tearing stuff down, and the masses will follow.

This is scarily close, albeit different in quality, from the powerful anger I find everywhere I look on the Right. For the Left, it seems to be more of a deep resignation, a melancholy, a huge sadness. On the Right, it's tinder-box anger waiting for the explosive and fire-starting spark it knows is coming soon. The Hard Right, it seems to me, is deeply, inconsolably Angry. The Hard Left is in Deep Despair. Can you feel it? Do you hear it in conversations around you? Do you feel one or both of these emotions within yourself?

The Anger doesn't surprise me, or confront me as much as the Despair. The Right hates Obama, and has never considered him legitimate as President, or even as a national leader. They hate his government-sourced economic policies, with Obamacare as the most vile representative of these policies. But more than anything, they hate the Rising American Electorate coalition (minorities, unmarried women, Millenials, and professionals) that carried him to two convincing electoral wins, and that seems to require fundamental change in the GOP to prevent the Party becoming a fossilized, regional wreck.

So what is this Despair? Deep disappointment with Obama. A growing conviction that the Democratic Party is captive to the moneyed, Wall Street elite - that it has lost all its true energy from the New Deal period, where the Party fiercely and consistently fought for the poor and the working class. No more. Everyone is a Rubenite, comes from and eventually returns to Wall Street. The centrism of Clinton, that took down welfare and brought in the job-destroying, elite-enhancing NAFTA - the centrist "disease" has taken over the party. When the Party coordinated with local police to shut down, to kill the Occupy movement; when Obama followed the Rubenite Tim Geithner in going easy on the banks; when Obama gave up on the public option in Obamacare; and now when Snowden has shown us the precise extent of the Surveillance State - Hope walks out the door, and Despair walks in. And that's where we are.

I am an optimist. I am rooted firmly in the tradition of Julian of Norwich, an English anchoress and mystic in the late 14th Century, who said:

               All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

Not right away, perhaps. But we get there, if we keep at it, and sometimes, even when we give up. Something is always emerging, or trying to emerge, or about to emerge. It's never Over. Even catastrophe brings new birth, new life. Transformation is built into us as a possibility, individually and collectively. As a single person, I can choose to step off the path of growth in awareness and consciousness. But the collective community cannot. Growth will happen. The old will be broken down, sometimes violently, and something new will step in. Always. Forever.

Might we blow ourselves up? We might, and then Consciousness will find a new path that will allow it to proceed on evolution's quite purposeful journey. So why Despair?

Despair is only present when all Hope has been rejected. St. Paul said that of the three great Virtues - Faith, Hope, and Love - that the greatest of these was Love. But let me tell you - Faith and Hope have extraordinary and powerful energies as well.

I will always stand with Hope. I will never embrace Despair. There is enormous power for me in those words.

I feel it.

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