Meandering through HuffPost Tuesday, I came across a piece from Diane Francis, Editor-at-Large, The National Post: "Europe Boots Out It's Political Morons". For those who have not invested any attention in the travails of the EU, that well-meaning union of Nation-States is on the verge of collapse. Which would have grave ramifications for that union affectionately known (at least in some parts), as the United States of America.
She writes, of the appointment of Mario Monti as Italian Prime Minister, and the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi:
"The relatively seamless transition from elected to technocrats is a healthy and necessary way to circumvent short-term democracies which have failed to cope with this crisis. This is no different than a private sector "workout" where the CEO is removed from a failing corporation and is replaced by the bankers' representatives."
To which I replied in the comments:
"That, Ms Francis, is otherwise known as a coup. Which, here in America, is also called treason. I recommend resisting the urge toward ego inflation and the advocating of policies that are fundamentally unconstitutional, lest you find yourself on the authoritarian side of history, part of that long list of usurpers and destroyers. This is a country of people - one person, one vote - not a corporation. Your words betray your comfort with that top-down, dictatorial hierarchy, and your lack of attention to the ideas out of which America was conceived - that there are urges toward power that must be checked, or freedom becomes what usurpers and dominators decide it will be."
It isn't surprising, this kind of thinking like Ms Francis', floating about the mainstream media. Millions of Americans are employed by some kind of corporation, and many more Americans will vote for none other, with their dollars. It should be remembered that there is nothing democratic about most corporate cultures; they are purely dictatorial. And very successful until recently, at providing for associates a certainty that there would always be a higher standard of living. If one lives in the kind of comfort provided by that employment, it shouldn't be surprising at all that one would become comfortable with authoritarianism. Many are finding now that that service isn't always so sweet, and no guarantee of anything. Notwithstanding, people do not forget what that comfort was like, and most want it back, at what currently seems to be any cost.
In the midst of crisis, Europe officially chose authoritarianism - an unelected autocracy of financial organizations, selecting technocrats to lead nations, free of any messy electoral process that surely would not lead to autocratic technocracy and steep cuts to social programs. Everybody is trying to keep their's, the billionaires and the pensioners, hardly a one willing to give. Still, it is nothing short of usurpation, the few who have the greatest financial stake claiming power extraordinarily, even risking a potential North/South conflict - if the bond vultures are allowed to dine, it's hard to imagine Italians, Spanish and Greeks living quietly in servitude to northern Banks, and bondholders from around the globe.
I heard the following quote, attributed to a famous bond trader (who I won't name because I can't confirm him having said it), referring to the Congressional Super Failure.
"If the cowardly lions can't find their courage, maybe it's time to let the wizards of Finance run things."
Very clever, and apt in half, but I really hope my fellow Americans think this is as ridiculous on the whole as I think it is. Never mind the wizard in that story was just a man pretending to be like a god. In some ways, it doesn't seem like it matters, because ideologues on the right and left seem to have accepted the necessity that financial wizards dictate the course of the country. Stealth usurpation. I don't even hear any Tea Party Congressperson who isn't talking about letting financial wizards define America's economic future; many seem their foremost advocates, as if the only freedom worth advocating is the self-interested accumulation of money.
It is probably time to point out, as if I were the first, that self-interest is driving humanity inexorably toward ecological oblivion. If we know anything about the human animal, it is that once he has something, he is going to do what he has to do to keep it. That goes as well for health care, homes and pensions, as it does for the rewards of hedge fund management. Capitalist economic doctrine is now the preferred economic model worldwide. It is wise to remember, an economic model does not a Nation make; and, that there is a vast gulf between the extreme binaries that are Capitalism and Socialism, those two economic models the ideologues of the world have forced upon us.
John Michael Greer wrote a prescient post in this regard, recently, leaning on the work of Aristotle, and the mystic Rudolf Steiner, to point out that the binary relationship is a false one, they being typically two sides of the bad, with the good, or the virtue, at the center between the two. That place between Capitalism and Socialism, in my conception, being the balance between self-interest and service to the whole, or something like the gift economy Charles Eisenstein elucidates in his Sacred Economics.
To be fair to Ms Francis, she has not advocated for the direct suspension of any Constitution, though she did write the piece before the Congressional Super Failure. I wonder what she will write next (she had some particularly authoritarian language for the opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline). And as far as I know, Monte will have to run for Italian Prime Minister, in the next election. Then again, I'm not sure the national sovereignty of Italians or Greek or Spaniards or even the French is as important to EU financial leadership, as the health of the current economic regime. It is equally clear to me that the government of America, from the Judiciary to the Congress to the Presidency, is more concerned about the Market than the Constitution or democracy. I am less clear about the people.
I'm not sure how invested we are in the freedom to do much of anything but make money and buy things. We have been able to buy so many things for so long, we have let this country tilt toward authoritarianism, and once unleashed, that is no easy thing to restrain. We are going to have less money to buy things with, in the future in America, it is looking like. Whether we will allow the continued creep of authoritarianism, in the false belief that it will lead us on another long, lucrative empirical run, I don't know. Suspending the Constitution in an effort to protect capital interests, seems entirely possible.
What we forget about the human animal (aka human being), is that having lived for so long in community, we are quite capable of giving. In fact, many human beings know it feels good, and it is exceedingly healthy, to give. We are going to have to remember how to give if we have any hope of passing through the transition that will be the end of fossil fuels, with the knowledge that will allow us to live happy lives, generation after generation.
John Michael Greer has recently written too, about the tendency to become like the thing we contemplate. With due respect, and he deserves much, I would suggest that we must contemplate the loss of our freedom, if we are to maintain hope of retaining it. If we are to contemplate it, it is imperative too, and I think he would agree, that we give thanks for the freedom we have, and our ability to contemplate it freely.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the freedom to write publicly, without living in fear. I am thankful for the police, those who take seriously their creed to protect and to serve. I am thankful for social media, which has reminded them, and us, that authoritarian behavior is alive and well in America. I am thankful for the abundance in my life, my beautiful family, the beautiful families I know, for this house that remains my abode. I am thankful for a job, and those who have provided me with it. And I am thankful for my readers.
Blessings to you and yours. Happy Thanksgiving.