As global tension and rebellion grows, the drums of internecine and international war continue to sound louder across MENA – Bahrain, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Israel — while Athens burns!
Between the international politics being played out by empire and its Western allies, together with the global chicanery initiated by our largest financial institutions, this world of make-believe that was hastily constructed on the heels of industrialization is coming unglued, more slowly perhaps then anticipated, but just as surely… while Athens burns!
Yet, the queen sitting atop the IMF snickers silently through her crowing, callously dismissing the fate of an entire people.
The International Monetary Fund has signaled that Greece will have to give up autonomy over its budget…With the country on the brink of a default, Christine Lagarde, the director general of the IMF, said that a new “fiscal compact” was set to be signed by European Union members… that would centralize budgetary powers [for Greece]… Ms Lagarde said that the IMF would not risk its reputation by lending money without conditions. 1
In criticism of such pronouncements by those “bankers… who have been recycled to head international institutions and who, all of a sudden, are wagging their fingers at the Greeks,” the French political philosopher, Bernard Henri-Levy had this to say in response.
In such a declaration… a tone free of contempt, less like a diktat, would have been appreciated. One would have preferred that they not contemplate the replacement of the Greek finance minister by a European commission, the very idea of which could only be perceived as a useless form of humiliation.
As Henri-Levy concludes:
All [of this] is not a question of style but of substance, and even of destiny, first of all because the images transmitted from Athens are not those of simple demonstrations but of a social tie that is disintegrating, exploding, dissolving – and it’s like the end of a world… which is the eternal refuge of worn-out societies indifferent to the form of chaos they choose or, in reaction to chaos, to that of their chosen tyranny. 2
Well, so much for presumed civil behavior from those newly appointed European masters of the universe, Queen Christine and her IMF cohorts.
While Athens burns, what are we doing here in the USA? Well, of course, this week was just like the last, only a different venue. You see, now we have been gorging ourselves on more entertainment and more diversionary tactics – the Grammy Awards, of course. Who is hot! Who is not! Who will receive the most awards! And who will flop? And of course, it was all about Adele and Whitney, don’t ya’ know. As one paper breathlessly reported, “A diva was crowned. And another was mourned.” So now we feel better as a nation; hugs all around, and another one of those rare communal moments here in Amerika. We have honored the newest and paid our respects to she who has passed-on. All while Athens burns!
Is there no sense of shame in this nation, no interiority, no feeling for the weightiness of global events, but only a prosaic concern with our stars, our celebrities, our painfully adolescent melodramas, and our depraved diversionary tactics?
Speaking of depravity. While Athens burns, Obama prepares his 2013 budget for Congress. We hear from the hegemon alot of hopey talk about “rebuilding” rather than the more ‘austere’ austerity language that has been haunting Europe of late, a language that seems ever more likely to be coming to a theater near you very soon! But, of course, his talk is more pie-in-the-sky diversionary dreaming… something to help keep his Highness in the highest seat of global political power, a handmaiden to the big money and international corporate interests. We all know that retrenchment, not rebuilding, is what will be required to salvage even a shred of human decency, as well as help preserve life on this planet. But the retrenchment called for is not just economic or fiscal; it is industrial, technological, societal, and political. We need a reduction in the size and quality of our overall footprint on earth. All the while, Athens burns!
So why is the Occupy movement floundering in the dark here in the homeland while MENA is lit up like an incendiary device, and Athens continues to burn? I raised this possibility back in April of 2011, months before the Occupy movement ever saw the light of day.
The Soviet émigré, Mikhail Epstein, pointed out several years ago in Transculture and Society that American culture, this culture that commodifies everything it touches, “is able to absorb and assimilate even revolutionary challenges through the mechanism of commodification.” In this way, any challenge to the system is instantly transformed – “denial itself, turned into another commodity.” Or, as Allan Bloom has suggested with a slightly different twist in his work The Closing Of The American Mind, a liberal democracy is capable of taking even the most of countercultural activities and absorbing them into the mainstream, transforming such acts into acceptable cultural practice – with appropriate rules, policies, procedures, and eventually capitalizing it with marketing spin-offs.
And such cultural forces have no interest in changing, reforming, or trashing the current economic or political system, rather, they want to SAVE IT, (cigarette and all). They simply want their piece of the pie — their American dream. Unfortunately, such processes have already begun to overpower the OWS movement. Professional organizers from the Liberal Left, in concert (although perhaps not in conspiracy) with big money donors, unions, and other bureaucratic principals, have been working overtime to co-opt and transform the revolutionary ardor of the earliest days of the movement. It’s broad revolutionary mission is being subverted, and it is in danger of becoming just another liberal political mechanism, an insider-activist group, a commodity to be bought and sold in the marketplace of political ideas, negotiations and payoffs. And still, Athens burns!
Something similar happened to the environmental movement and the emergence of the Green Party over the years, spreading its political wings across the USA like interstate highways, from sea to shining sea. It is in such instances that the revolutionary impetus is extinguished, transformed into just another tool to be manipulated by and for the corporate interests running the show. Now, for example, everybody is “green” and “eco-friendly,” including the likes of Exxon-Mobil, BP, GE and even your local public utility – you know the one that is committed to fracking away as we speak. Why, even Monsanto itself advertises as a Green company, citing its own efforts to engineer a second green revolution built upon agricultural sustainability. Now if that is not ludicrous whitewashing bullshit, then I do not know what is.
In similar manner, soon everyone will be part of the 99%; even the investment bankers will find their way in. In fact, there has been at least one instance of a Wall Street investment guy stopping by to talk to the OWS folks in Manhattan on his lunch hours, commenting that he was fully in favor of their protest movement. He even lauded their effort to occupy Congress because, as he said, there are laws already on the books to regulate his industry, it is just that Congress looks the other way because of the paydays. So, as you can well imagine folks, when everyone is part of the 99% then we will have another American communal moment. Won’t that be just grand? Then we will go to the election booths, and vote for the next dissimulating, comedic diversion to lead us off the precipice.
Isn’t this a nice fairytale we keep reliving, folks? It is just like groundhog day, all over again. And where is our (and their) vaunted democracy, while Athens burns? I will say it clearly; it is nowhere. Why do I say this? Because, in truth, democracy has never actually existed in the history of the civilized world. As Chris Hedges has stated time and again, even our democracy turns out to be a form of “inverted totalitarianism,” where the will of the people is dictated and managed by the marketing and other soft propaganda of our leaders. We are all engaged in a set of entertaining charades — musical chairs, spin the bottle, and other diversionary tactics — all designed with one goal in view: maintaining the status quo. So enjoy the spectacle, my friends; while Athens burns!
But why is Athens burning? What is the endgame in this financial war, the economic destruction of the Greek people and their landbase? And what is in store for the rest of us, as global fire-sales continue? It is, I propose, the crowning development of an imperial design, taking the planet by storm as civilization unleashes its final sprint to the summit before the great unraveling begins. To be continued!