Two years ago, those of us who saw the inevitability of a collapse in the structure of fictional value were dismissed. One year ago, the great unease began. Six months ago, we started seeing what happens when a house is built on the sand. Three months ago, people were still talking about the “bottom,” when the recession — a heretofore contested word — would dissipate and we could start back in on the cornucopia. Now the media are speaking daily of 1930, and the new administration will be spending a trillion to “prime the pump” in a semi-Keynesian rescue effort run by exactly the same people who oversaw the whole debacle for eight years — the Clinton presidency’s veterans, who almost crashed the system when they injected the “flu” into Asia in an attempt to enforce neoliberalism, and when they inflated the last big gasbag of fictional value — the dotcom boom.
Let’s stay honest. Bush built up the war; but Clinton built up the economic crisis — a process that took off in the Reagan years. People who say, “Let’s not point fingers now, we have to do something,” are telling us to ignore the etiology of the disease.
In keeping with the duties of any good Kassandra, let me say that we are far, far, far worse off than in 1930; so Keynesian pump-priming isn’t going to work. Moreover, there is no World War II Redux in the wings to act as the US deux ex machina to build us up on the corpses of 60 million people… yet.
In 1930, there were just over 2 billion souls aboard the planet; now we approach 7 billion.
In 1930, the majority of those inhabitants were rural, with some access to direct subsistence; at some point last year — by many estimates — the world became more urban than rural, even as arable land is being destroyed by commercial large-scale agriculture used to feed this burgeoning city population.
In 1930, there was no atomic bomb; now nine nations have nuclear weapons, one of which is the expansionist rogue state of Israel engaged now in the racialized slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, and two states (Pakistan and India) who are rivals sharing a border. The latter two are being destabilized internally and externally, Pakistanin particular by US military machinations in Southwest Asia. Let’s not discount Muslim resentment for the US supporting Israel’s serial savageries, that plays out in Pakistan, therfore in the South Asian nuclear rivalry.
In 1930, the US wasn’t spending more on weapons production and military logistics than the rest of the world combined.
In 1930, the US was not propped up economically by a combinatoin of “securities” scams and dollar hegemony.
In 1930, the world was not faced with the accelerating approach of climate destabilization and rapid rises in sea levels.
You can go down this list indefinitely…
But here is a big intangible: In 1930, the majority of the population in the US was not as utterly dependent and helpless as it is now. Consumerism has created a nation of cyborgs who will go mad when the grid begins to shut down. They are epistemologically disabled; and they are psychologically fragile. They are self-centered and avaricious, with extremely low frustration tolerance levels.
Now, with this crisis in mind, how do we think about something as nessesary by one measure and insane by another as propping up the automobile industry? Automobiles are essential to support our existence such as it is… halt them today, and many will literally die. But they are also a key part of our problem with greenhouse gases, habitat destruction for roads and the attendant sprawl, transportation of food, etc. etc. At the same time, they will stop one day, as sure as the sun rises.
Cars are (1) dirty, (2) dangerous, and (3) expensive.
A brief Wiki clip:
In the United States the average passenger car emits 11,450 lbs (5 tonnes) of carbon dioxide, along with smaller amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen. Residents of low-density, residential-only sprawling communities are also more likely to die in car collisions, which kill 1.2 million people worldwide each year, and injure about forty times this number. Sprawl is more broadly a factor in inactivity and obesity, which in turn can lead to increased risk of a variety of diseases.
You can — with very little imagination — continue listing the sequelae encylopedically.
Very short of time this morning, but there are the outlines on the topic of “the infernal machine.” I think the preparatory context is necessary to see how deep the crisis is that contextualizes the anecdotal fact of a “bailout for the auto industry,” because it tells us something important about how silly we look to any eye-in-the-sky with our policy prescriptions, electioneering, and self-limited “democratic” imagination. If there is any solution (a real question), it will not come with any initiative from above. Re-design and re-localization… from below.
To hell with ideologies, and to hell with the government. We are on our own here, and the solution is many solutions. Do it yourself.