The U.S. economy -- and, by extension, the entire global
capitalist system -- is doing a slippery-footed balancing act on the high precipice
of absolute disaster.
Nothing like what we�re seeing has happened before.
Decades of compounding contradictions, all arising from the
illegitimate belief that private profit should take precedence over human need,
have come home to roost.
Spreading indebtedness, both institutional and personal, is
sending �payment due� notices to varied yet interdependent sectors of society,
but recipients plainly don�t have the means to make good.
Many seem baffled by what�s occurred, and have that
deer-in-the-headlights stare. They�re in a daze, waiting for the other shoe to
drop, as it certainly will.
However, there�s no real mystery to this startling turn of
Today�s economic breakdown is the result of our woefully
misled country having long been run (and run into the ground) by a
political/financial elite that judges this nation�s health only by its own
prosperity, never mind the deplorable status of the overwhelming, wage-earning
Public welfare and the common good are forced to take a backseat
to an irresponsible minority�s abysmal greed. The quality of life in Everytown,
USA, is cruelly being sacrificed so that the super rich luxuriating in their
exclusive, gated communities can party on, paid for by both our tax money and
their ill-gotten, expropriated wealth.
That�s more than just an ethical travesty. It�s a crime
against America, ironically perpetrated by those who�ve often prattled most
about patriotism, and who are fully deserving of the solution expressed on a
protest placard at a recent Wall Street demonstration: �Don�t bail them, jail
But the damage has already been done. It does little good to
close the corral gate after the escaped horse has galloped away and disappeared
behind a distant hill.
The consequences will be lasting, and brutal. Very hard
times are coming, bringing pain not experienced since the Great Depression to
many millions of our fellow citizens, and to our own fearful families.
It�s imperative, therefore, that we prepare for the worst
Community activists, and all fair-minded folks with
dedication to social service, should begin studying the populist organizing
techniques and instruments from that grim era, namely militant councils of the
unemployed, coordinated hunger marches conducted from coast to coast, and �penny
auctions� in which members of battered neighborhoods would jointly purchase
cheaply sold, foreclosed homes, and then turn them over to their original
owners. A mass push for public works also needs to immediately begin.
Plus accelerated union organizing.
Not to mention a call for thorough nationalization (under
popular, democratic control) of all monopoly entities carrying out rapacious
exploitation of the working class.
During the harrowing trials and tribulations of the desperate
1930s, it was the American people themselves, guided by progressive leadership,
that brought necessary change. Everything from Social Security to unemployment
insurance and school lunch programs emerged from that period of titanic
struggle, as did federal insurance for ordinary citizens� bank savings
FDR enacted the New Deal not so much out of personal belief
in its worth or virtue, but to prevent a revolution if government didn�t act.
In the months ahead, we�ll have to replicate that populist
pressure to save ourselves.
At no time in U.S. history did ordinary men and women
decisively show that ours is a nation of, by, and for the people -- not
capitalist thieves -- as they did in the Rebel �30s.
That decade (together with the Turbulent �60s) provides a
model for rising from below, to win broadly beneficial advances for all.
The lessons learned, and the tactics employed back then,
definitely must be repeated now.
Dennis Rahkonen of Superior, Wisconsin, has been
writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets
since the �60s.