While the Republican presidential candidates continue trying to “out-conservative” each other in debates that none but those in that rarefied purgatorial stratum reserved for political junkies care about, out there on the streets of America some interesting things are happening.
The Tea Party is being eclipsed by what, at this stage of its infancy, is called the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. While those Republican candidates deride this as a dangerous mob, others are recognizing it as the American people.
The Tea Party, already “so yesterday,” was birthed by a Wall Street pundit, funded by corporate wealth and choreographed like a grass-tops morality play by a Washington-based Republican events firm. But as the economy continues to stagnate and Republicans in Congress are signaling they have no intention to allow for basics like an extension of unemployment benefits, the “average American” component of the Tea Party is starting to wither.
Instead, as it sees something else in motion, something more directly tied to its own interests, it’s taking a good hard look at the “Occupy Wall Street” (OWS, for shorthand) movement, and beginning to wonder if their loyalties shouldn’t begin to reside somewhere new.
After all, it’s the OWS people who are calling themselves the “99 percent” in what GOP dissemblers call “class warfare” talk. Neither a one percent element nor a 99 percent group represents a “class.” It’s just the happy, luckiest beneficiaries of this era of unprecedented greed against the rest of us schmucks, who are a combination of many who played the same greed game but didn’t do so well, and the genuinely disadvantaged and poor.
But here’s the problem for those who would like to see the OWS succeed: it is selfish self-interest that got us into this national mess, and for real change to happen, something else has to replace it.
The post-World War II national ethos that united and sacrificed to defeat tyranny around the globe, that ushered in an unparalleled era of generosity and reconstruction with the Marshall Plan in Europe, the reconstruction of Japan, the high-minded vision of the United Nations’ “International Declaration of the Rights of Man” and the domestic GI Bill and national Interstate Highway and related infrastructure programs,” reflected a dominant national nobility of spirit. It veritably transformed the globe from the depths of depression, tyranny and war to the potential for a golden age.
But other forces remained at work, the forces that contributed to the abject misery of the political and economic conditions that led into World War II to begin with.
As historians and critics of the fall of the Roman Empire could see way back then, immoral leaders who sought to control subject peoples saw the key to their success in demoralization. It was through banalizing and degrading their populations, eroding their honor and virtue, that they held sway. Of course, what they didn’t foresee was how this set in irreversible motion a process of decay that led to the collapse of the entire imperial structure, ushering in the Dark Age.
Now, beginning in the 1950s, a similar process was set into motion in the U.S., orchestrated by an international network of like-minded financiers and their cohorts who invented Hitler and the fascist model.
In the U.S., the plan was to turn the American population from noble citizens into greedy, grovelling, selfish consumers, all the unsavory attributes associated with our so-called “baby boomer generation.”
Madison Avenue, credit cards, an explosion of the boundaries of radical hedonistic pursuits, and the mainstreaming of marginalized Bohemian subcultures all played a role.
By the time George W. Bush came into office through fraud in 2000, the American ethos had been transformed. Satiated with “bread and circuses,” the new American didn’t care about much of anything except being able to continue consuming everything in sight. Yes, 911 threatened to take that away, so the rage was palpable.
But the economic meltdown of 2008 brought a reckoning. Now, in the aftermath of that, a new social movement is beginning to stir. Only, it won’t achieve anything unless it can see its role as reversing the demise of the American spirit.