Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Monday, May 27, 2013
George Cukor's The Marrying Kind -- one of the dearest American movies of the 1950s -- loves public space. The married couple, played by Judy Holliday and Aldo Ray, are almost never alone. They met in Central Park, adore their kids, have company over non-stop, and basically let friends and relatives run their lives. The husband and wife are just fine with that. In New York City 1952, others are not mere externals to be sniffed at. Beside its beautiful ending, its most memorable scene (set on Decoration Day) is one of the most peaceful -- and then terrifying -- in 50s cinema, Cukor signaling the upcoming horror by the panicked running of others.
And it breaks the marriage in two.
And it breaks the marriage in two.
Monday, May 20, 2013
"Behind Obama, and next to the financial aristocracy, stands a privileged middle class layer—approximately the top 90th to 99th percentile. Some within this layer maintain minor differences with the financial aristocrats on lifestyle, race, culture and identity issues. However, they depend on the existing setup for their privileged status, income and respectable positions in corporate management, university departments, law firms, the entertainment industry, the trade unions, NGOs, the media and so forth. On board for imperialist war and the defense of the capitalist system in general, this layer is prepared to go along with a police state if the alternative is a revolutionary overthrow of the system by the working class. The vast majority of the American population—the bottom 80 to 90 percent—is wholly excluded from the official political life of the country. Obama does not address himself to them. Their interests are not taken into account in any major political decision. They do not matter."Tom Carter on the decomposition of American Democracy.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Sunday, May 5, 2013
As quiet as the months got, 50 years ago. Not so quiet. . . .
On May 2nd, thousands of Negro children march in Birmingham, Alabama – Project C (for Confrontation): challenging the segregation of lunch counters, restrooms, fitting rooms, water fountains. By the end of the 2nd, over 1,000 children – bitten by dogs, clubbed by crackers, and water-cannoned by Police Commissioner Bull Connor’s finest -- are arrested. The biting, clubbing, arrests, and use of fire hoses continue for a whole week, until May 11th when Bull Connor – under tremendous pressure from the Kennedy Justice Department – is ordered to vacate his office. On May 8th, the first (and butchest) James Bond/Sean Connery movie opens in New York City, Dr. No, starring the impossible-to-believe Ursula Andress. Also on the 8th, the government of South Vietnamese President Ngo Din Diem fires guns and grenades into a crowd of Buddhist protestors, killing 9, igniting a countrywide religious war -- concocted by US Intelligence agencies -- between Catholic Diem forces and the overwhelming South Vietnamese Buddhist majority, leading to Diem’s overthrow and assassination the following November. On May 22nd, another assassination: anti-Fascist resistance leader Grigoris Lambrakis is murdered in Greece after rallying hundreds of thousands throughout March and April in opposition to the Greek military junta.
Yet on the 15th, Gordon “Gordo” Cooper pilots the longest and last of the American Mercury rockets, orbiting the earth 22 times throughout 35 hours among the stars. . . .
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Fuck Off And Die.
This is the lodestar guiding leaders of every political stripe across the breadth of western civilization. If you want to make your way through their billows of bullshit, hold fast to this phrase. It’s what they’re really saying to you.
Of course, elite attitudes toward the lower orders have never been exactly tender; but in times past, a rather large number of sufficiently quiescent peasants and proles were required to create the wealth for plutocratic plundering and maintain the machinery of power and privilege. Thus some attention had to be paid to the rabble’s basic needs and even -- occasionally – their pitiful aspirations for a more meaningful, more humane life for themselves, their families and their communities. But now the means of production (to borrow a phrase) are largely mechanized and digitized; you don’t need many warm bodies -- and certainly not skilled or experienced or well-paid ones – to keep the money rolling in. And perhaps more importantly, the means of control -- the technologies of violence and surveillance -- are now vastly more powerful and pervasive and efficient than ever.
To put it plainly, the elites don’t need us anymore -- or not many of us, anyway. And thanks to runaway population growth -- and the greasy mobility of global capital -- those few of us they do still need to keep the machinery going can be easily replaced, at any moment, by some other desperate chump trying to avoid destitution. So there is no longer any reason for elites to concern themselves with the wearisome creatures out there beyond the mansion gates and the penthouse glass. No need to worry about workers’ rights: if they get out of line, sack them, or even better, send the whole operation overseas, where sweatshop fodder is thick on the ground and comes dirt cheap. No need to worry about communities, the personal, social, economic and physical structures that gave a richer embodiment to ordinary life: just strip them, gut them and leave them to die -- and when the rot gets bad enough, as in Detroit, send in an unelected “manager” to pick the carcass clean.
And no need to worry about mass uprisings of the dispossessed, debt-ridden, insecure, angry, overwhelmed, isolated, media-dazed rabble. With hyper-militarized police forces, cameras on every corner, spies and provocateurs infesting every possible base of dissent, and gargantuan data-harvesters mining every public move and private click of the populace, repression is a piece of cake. And if by chance some pocket of protest does reach critical mass somewhere, your hi-tech, heavily armored goons can easily beat it, tase it and pepper-spray it into submission.
So the elites no longer need us or fear us. We are superfluous to their requirements. And their policies are now ever more nakedly geared to hammering this truth home.
The Great Crash of ’08 gave them the excuse to rip off the mask at last. For five years now, the iron hand of “austerity” has been pressed down hard upon ordinary people. We had no part in the criminal folly that caused the disaster -- yet we are the ones left paying for it, in lost jobs, lost homes, lost services, lost freedoms, lost opportunities, and cramped, crippled, diminished lives. From the "progressive" Obama to the Tory toff Cameron to the pseudo-Socialist Hollande to the dour centrist Merkel -- and all the other clowns, clerks and ciphers turning their self-proclaimed “great democracies” into cash cows for their cronies and controllers -- the infliction of pain on ordinary people is the only game in town. ‘O my gosh,’ our leaders cry, throwing up their soft, unblemished hands, ‘there's just no more money left, no money for your schools, your roads, your jobs, your pensions, your rights, your benefits, your elderly, your sick, your poor, your vulnerable. The money's all gone, what can we do?’
But of course the money is not gone, not at all. A new study -- by an inside man, James Henry, former chief economist at McKinsey -- shows that up to $32 trillion has been stashed away by the world’s elites in offshore accounts and other hidey-holes. Even a modest portion of this mountain of swag would completely alleviate the draconian “budget crises” and ludicrous “sequesters” that have been artificially imposed on nation after nation. All of the suffering, chaos, ruin and degradation being caused by these policies -- all the “skin in the game” that’s being flayed from the backs of ordinary people -- all of it is unnecessary. The money is there to solve these problems -- if our leaders wanted to solve them.
But they don’t. For “austerity” isn’t designed to fix our problems; it is instead meant to be a permanent condition, a new normal, the endless, changeless natural order. (Just as the “emergency” of the “War on Terror” has now morphed into a permanent way of life.) It’s all out in the open. Obama is eagerly offering to slash the social compact to ribbons. Cameron is driving the poor and sick to their knees. The IMF is breeding Nazis in Greece. They’re not even pretending to care about anyone outside the golden circle anymore.
Fuck off and die: that’s it, that’s all they’ve got to say. The rest is show-biz -- strip-tease and shell games -- to fleece us of our last few coins as they shove us out the exit.
Posted by EJK at 7:04 AM