When I began this experiment in blogging back in March of 2011, I had no idea if I would be capable of writing “well” weekly and, more important, whether I could maintain the interest of a lively and demanding group of readers and commentators. The response has exceeded my silliest imaginings. I have had much good fortune to be grateful for in my life; and I never can forget that. Yet, just now I thank you, my fellow readers, for tagging along on this part of the journey with me.
However, one thing I am not grateful for is the reality I have come to know intimately as my character. The “good life” of American exceptionalism, hyper-individualism, relentless acquisitiveness, unforgiving productivity, death-dealing competitiveness, the maniacal pursuit of personal excellence and accomplishment that I was taught to emulate and eventually grew to inhabit – that life has become me; and it has apparently made me unfit for a more cooperative, communalistic lifestyle with its more forgiving spirit of mutuality and understanding. I will own up to who I now am, recognizing that it is counterproductive to life. For those of you I have abused due to this compulsion, this disease, I apologize. In the spirit of new beginnings, let us begin again.
My recent visit back to the States was a classic American example of the opulence and solipsistic personality disorder to which I am referring. For some reason, I remain constantly amazed by the utter abandon with which we American consumers consume (and I do count myself among them). One would not know there was a global economic crisis, or austerity measures floating in the air, by simply walking down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, visiting a local bar near the dreaded Wall Street, or, for that matter, watching the Christmas shoppers meandering around Larimer Square in Denver, Colorado. And, the Capital Grille on Larimer is full to overflowing nearly every night. Again, I know, because I too was there, each night of my stay in Denver.
Indeed, it seems that the words ‘austerity’ and ‘crisis’ have not yet filtered up to the more rarified atmosphere in the Rocky Mountain high of downtown Denver. The building boom there, the erection of towers dedicated to personal comfort and narcissistic luxuriating, is unforgiving. As if they did not already have enough well-appointed accommodations in downtown, a new magnificent Hyatt Hotel as well as a classic Four Seasons property sparkle with holiday glitter in the lower downtown (Lodo) area; while more than a dozen new upscale restaurants and bars are full-to-overflowing with well-heeled patronage looking to be pampered. And there is more construction underway, around every corner, with several new, grand museums already dotting the famed Denver skyline. Yet, all of this development is happening against the backdrop of a Federal Appeals Court ruling here, that Denver billionaire, Phillip Anschutz, and his large conglomerate, owe more than ninety-four million ($94,000,000) in unpaid taxes. Is this ironic, or just a prime instantiation of the narcissistic self-absorption of the populace, large and small?
In short, it seems that nothing in this world can deter the American sense of consumer confidence and capitalist entitlement, or the maintenance of our materialistic paradise. It is our presumed divine right to shop and spend and drink and eat, consume and horde, and deplete the world’s resources in the process, as we protect our asses and our assets, simply because we are Americans and we can. We believe that we are at the top of the heap, and we will use our military might or our attorneys if necessary. The world is our oyster, and we will not be denied. Just ask Anschutz.
On the other side of the equation, my visit to the Big Apple indicates that the OWS movement is now officially on life-support. At my brother’s urging, we wandered into an organizational meeting of New York’s OWS crowd in the Atrium Building at 60 Wall Street, which, post-9/11, now houses more than 4,500 employees of Deutsche Bank, New York. There were approximately twelve generally disheveled and incoherent OWS comrades in attendance, and screaming over one another. The big issue of the evening appeared to be the question of who was going to be eligible to receive free subway metro-passes, an issue that never seemed to be resolved. Yet, several folks were pushing a side agenda aimed at ejecting one of their “members” for failure to cooperate. Can you imagine that… non-cooperation, in America? We can’t even get protest right; we must organize into general assemblies (a subordinating move itself), because we do not naturally understand cooperation. I could sense that this was not Tahrir Square in Egypt.
Speaking of Egypt, it seems as though they are driving full-speed towards a new military dictatorship there for 2012 and beyond. And, get this, the new regime is closing up local American-sponsored NGO’s “promoting” democracy in Egypt. What hypocrisy: the USA promoting democracy. Yeah right! Just ask the CIA what the Realpolitik there is. Yet, perhaps the USA is not too far behind. Just wait until Michele and Rick take their seats on the high throne of our corporatocracy next year. After all, it seems to me that they are the perfect couple to run this train right into the ground. A new Christian Crusades seems inevitable and only just around the corner. Certainly, the necessary technologies (and laws) are already in place for monitoring our every move and insuring homeland security – street-side cameras, cell phone tracking, domestic military police, indefinite citizen detention, and the list goes on.
But, just imagine the power of this new un-closeted combination – onward Christian rulers led by our capitalist corporatocracy. Then there really will be a Holy War waged against the infidels in the name of our God and our Holy Christian National Interests, both at home and abroad. First, we will take out those Iranians; after all, they have a competing theocratic hegemony. Anyway, they’ve decided to blockade our access to sacred Gulf oil. That is intolerable! We will move on from there, again seeking to remove a fanatic Taliban hierarchy, now well installed in Iraq. In fact, this new Holy Inquisition will target any enemies who are blocking our god-given right to prosperity and the American Dream. We will seize essential resources wherever they may be found – in Africa, Alaska, Canada, South America, the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Mexico, and perhaps even Russia. After all, the US State Department remains undeterred in its criticism of the Great Bear. As well, the powers-that-be will work quickly and covertly to silence those “terrorist” voices of dissent here in the homeland; again, we now have the tools, the mechanisms of control and means of compliance. In this way, a new Holy See (Naked Capitalist Christian America) will continue to claim and demonstrate its biblical right to dominion over the earth and all its creatures, raping and plundering – fracking, pipelining, and invading our way to a divinely-ordained prosperity.
Default on our debt to China: and why not? Let us dare those pseudo-capitalist commies to go to war over their claims. We will stand for no interference with acquiring what is critical to our National Interest, and keeping others from stealing it away. Just ask Anschutz. Or perhaps, a Korean War redo, anyone?
Anyway, you know the world is undergoing severe economic and societal, not to mention climatological, readjustment when Turkmenistan is repositioning itself as a major new tourist destination, using billions in public funds to build several luxury resorts on the frigid and not-so-pristine coast of the Caspian Sea. Boy, they sure must be packing in those crowds from nearby Kazakhstan and the other former Soviet block countries. Don’t you just love the can-do, competitive, capitalist spirit of global destruction spreading across the world?
Meanwhile, things are heating up here in central Siberia. Today, December 31st, the temperatures in Barnaul, Altai Krai, are hovering around the freezing mark (32 F). That is warm for us this time of year. So, I imagine global warming is proceeding apace, as the increasing severity of natural disasters that 2011 has provided reminds us that our reliance and impact upon the environment is real.
Happy New Year friends – с Ноым годом друзья