… might be a sign of progress or bloody reaction. It’s a nodal point, where history’s pivot presents a very real bifircation.
Mark Jones eight years ago described the post-Cold War booms as the capitalist metropoles digesting the fallen Eastern Bloc, somewhat slowly, “like a snake who’s swallowed a goat.” The snake is shitting now… and starving.
The unfolding economic crisis — which surprised the mainstream commentators and analysts, but about which those crazy leftists have been Playing Cassandra for a decade — is now firmly off the tracks and roaring toward some abyss.
When these things hit, the peasants have a tendency to seize pitchforks from the barns and form scary mobs at the city’s edge. Only in this case, the peasants have been barracked in the low-density exurbs, cleaned up and provided with technocratic educations, provisioned with thousand-mile food and entropic toys, called middle-class (whatever the hell that ever meant… but they believed it), then saddled with the debt that fueled their colossus-cars and, likewise, the runaway train.
The somnambulence of this sector is about to end.
Poor people alrady know the crisis; but the most dangerous potential resides within Suburbia, the political center of gravity in the US.
From yonder financial ridge, where the gran manje had thusfar shushed one another’s feverish conversations, the cries of anguish are being heard in the ‘burbs. The hot-shots are being eaten by bears. We may all be eaten by bears. The ruckus is rousing Levittown.
“The shit,” as we say in Academia, “is on.”
The question, one of the big questions, is what will the peasants do?
That depends, really. If they hear only from demagogues, then they will behave like demagogic mobs. When populism took hold in the US at the turn of the last century, “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman led the mobs who beseiged their creditors (rightly so) away from the banks and out to lynch Black people. Hitler led his peasants into the industrialized slaughter of Jews and Slavs… one might call it Genocidal Keynesianism.
Not having an answer to these questions, my two-cents is this. Start right now explaining that this crisis has a home address: Wall Street.
It also has a religion: property. I don’t mean property like your house (though they probably own that) or your clothes or your grandma’s china. I mean forests and prairies and development properties and strip malls and factories.
I bring this up from my memory of strip mall and box store parking lots when I was in the Gulf Coast two years ago. Hurricane Katrina gave us a snapshot of generalized disaster.
The massive parking lots had been taken over by relief-squatters. Thousands of (mostly young) people who wanted to help had converged from around the country and set up food-and-clothing distribution points, soup kitchens, day-care, and ad hoc flea markets. The need was so great, and the relief provided by the government so non-existent, that no one, not even the cops (many of them devastated by the strorm themselves), gave any of them the lecture about, “This is private property.”
The people needed it. The people wanted it. And that, for the time, settled it.
No one knows where this will end up. But let’s don’t be led away from the bank to hang the innocent. And let’s don’t dismiss the value of squatting. We may have to re-write some rules.