It was amusing to see President Obama try to align himself with the OWS movement. The genial Millard Fillmore update asked them not to "demonize those who work on Wall Street." Of course, demonization proceeds from the failure of this president and his appointed agents in authority to subject those who work on Wall Street to the laws that mere mortals are supposed to follow in money matters. Hence, those who work on Wall Street appear to be something other than mortals. And since their work (on Wall Street) has had a malign influence on the common weal, some might leap to the conclusion that they are malevolent non-mortals, i.e. demons.
In this early stage of the convulsion rocking the western world, especially here in the USA, a peaceful ambience rules. That is because a game is being played. We played the game in 1968. It goes like this. You get people to turn out in the streets. The idea is to promote the right of public assembly as much as to make any particular point. (In fact, banners advocating all sorts of gripes appear.) Eventually, you get a lot of people in the streets. Feelings of happy anarchy sweep the crowd, a feeling that something special is underway, that the usual rules of everyday conduct have been suspended, in a good way. The crowd basks in the sunny glow of its own mass, happy solidarity. Everybody is behaving splendidly - more to feel good about.
After a while that gets boring, especially for young males with a lot of testosterone surging from loin to brain. They want to do more than bask in the radiance of their own righteous wonderfulness. They want to engage their large muscles, even if in the service of an idea, for instance the idea that they have been swindled. It is at first a vague idea, but large. But pretty soon it coheres emergently: swindled out of our future! Yes, it is so. Thousands of demon-like beings upstairs in the curtain-wall towers around Zuccotti Park, people wearing neckties and cultured pearls in warm offices with cappuccino machines down the hall, are at this very moment setting loose trading algorithms that will swindle us out of our future! You can see them up there at their evil, glowing screens!
That's when the yoga acrobatics and the hat crocheting are put aside and the street people - their ranks swollen into a horde-like meta-organism - start to express things beyond the right of public assembly. Something unseen goes through them, perhaps like the pheromone that transforms a field full of grasshoppers into a ravening swarm of locusts. Being people, they cannot take wing. But they can press forward and up against things, and they can surely break the glass in those sleek curtain-wall buildings (so much for "transparency") beyond which the bankers sit cringing in their expensive clothing.
Surely we are heading toward a moment like that. The bank employees upstairs must be getting a little nervous, anyway, just glancing out the windows at the moiling mob below. This is apart from the tensions internally roiling the banks themselves, not to mention the entire networked system of global banking, with all its fissures and cracks, as the merry-go-round of debt flies apart under the centrifugal force of insolvency. Come to think of it, these events could not have correlated more perfectly. Just as a horrific accident in finance is about to happen, a ready-made revolutionary mob is conveniently parked outside the pilot-houses of the world's great money vessels, so as to receive the crews directly into their open arms after the smash up.
President Obama could have changed the outcome if he had actually believed in change. He could have told his attorney general to enforce the securities law. He could have replaced the zombies at the SEC and told the new ones to apply all existing regulations. Before last year's election, he could have used his legislative majorities to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and reinstate the Glass-Steagall act. He could have initiated the process of deconstructing the giant banks back into their separate functions - so that banking once again worked as a utility rather than a launching pad for colossal frauds and swindles. Not only did he fail to do any of these things, he didn't even talk about it, or try.
Obama has a lot of nerve claiming to support the Occupy Wall Street movement. He should be one of the objects of its ire. I'm not even sure Obama will get to finish out his term of office. 2012 looks like a complete horror show in the making. The way world money matters are lining up this fall, some kind of debacle seems unavoidable, much worse than the 2008 fiasco. The normal political channels are clogged and sclerotic. Our institutions are failing us. The cast of "candidate" characters across the political spectrum convinces nobody that they can manage this republic.
The weather may determine the mood of the OWS crowd. If they don't go apeshit in the next two weeks, my guess is that the nation will hunker down into a dire, melancholy holiday season followed by a desperate winter leading to a raucous spring of political transformation - not necessarily of the best kind.
For the moment, we seem to be waiting for the proverbial first broken window
For a complete list of books by James Howard Kunstler and purchase links, click here.