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Commentary Last Updated: Dec 31st, 2009 - 01:28:46

America�s first decade of the new millennium
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 31, 2009, 00:30

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As we bring down curtains on the initial 1 percent of the new millennium, while taking a summary look to see what we�re leaving behind, one feels compelled to give these past 10 years a name; one other than 00s or similar non-descriptive monikers that fail to depict what the period was about.

To some of us, this decade has been, at least in these United States, a decade of realization, a decade of recognition. Not realization for all Americans, or even the majority of them, but for enough of the emerging, civically active citizenry that could possibly effect major change in the near future; change not just for the betterment of this nation, but for the rest of the planet as well.

During this decade of chaos and turbulence, from the tail end of the Clinton years to the start of Obama�s �changes,� we have experienced wars of choice, genocide and an American government, first of Republicans and later of Democrats, obsessed with propping-up a collapsing predatory capitalist system, it, and its collection of fawningly nincompoops at the Fed, helped create. Most of these dire calamities were the result of decisions from a sordid White House run for eight years by the younger Bush, a true criminal fool, placed at the helm of the nation thanks to a corporate elite aided by the blinded support of a dedicated, but misguided, religious flock. A flock that saw ultra-right conservatism as both its political benefactor and a powerful ally, instead of what it really was: a vote-parasite serving a master that was neither Christian nor divine . . . and even more ironic, not even fiscally conservative!

After a devastating eight years of shameless lies, economic thievery, and international political amorality that shook the world, the United States has been given, if temporarily, a reprieve to get back on course and make necessary amends. Whether such a proper course is taken by Obama remains to be seen, for, to date, most indications show no significant changes in policies or direction from those of his predecessor�s other than a strong rhetoric and occasional bursts of hot air. Be that as it may, there are realizations that many concerned Americans have come to recognize during this past decade.

For starters, there has been a substantial increase in appreciation that we, the good old USA, may not quite be the country we�ve always claimed to be -- one with a divine grant of exceptionalism and a manifest destiny -- in either perception or reality.

That we are not at the front of the pack internationally when it comes to caring for the well-being of our own people, showing apprehension that we are indeed lagging behind most first-world nations in education, health care and opportunity for an improved, rewarding life and that instead of catching up to those nations, we are growing further and further apart from them. One could very well call it, the American dream in reverse!

That in the past, the United States has dealt with issues of global significance, such as nuclear disarmament and global warming, in a unilateral, self-serving way . . . such awareness finally taking root in an ever-increasing portion of the US population, and not just restricted to peaceniks and tree-huggers.

That there is a greater cognizance of our treatment of Palestine, or the US military presence in the Middle East and Afghanistan -- and the wars waged to establish that presence so as �to insure that American interests are protected.� Our comprehension is now starting to discover that such protection might be for the interests of �others� . . . and not the interests of the vast majority of citizens of the United States -- interests which are represented by powerful, unbreakable lobbies that place the desires of the State of Israel and Corporate America as supreme, and makes a mockery of our claim to having a government �of the people, by the people and for the people.�

That Americans are coming into consciousness in how they were politically swindled by Ronald Reagan, the two Bushes and Bill Clinton when told that America�s economic future resided in the blind acceptance of globalization, without looking at short- and medium-term implications to the social and economic makeup of the nation, the destruction of the industrial base -- and its in-place infrastructure -- without a substitute base to take over or even a well thought-out plan to get there, one minimizing social upheaval and pain.

Finally, many Americans are starting to grasp what laissez-faire predatory capitalism can do to democracy and social justice in both economic and human terms. In the past Americans have been poised (some might say poisoned) to treat other political systems, capitalistic and non-capitalistic alike, as inferior, unworthy of a second look -- misusing the quote by Winston Churchill that �Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.� As if our republic could be perceived to be representative of true democracy! Perhaps recognition of our corrupt, predatory capitalist system is best exemplified by United Steelworkers (USW) current efforts in exploring a better economic model than that provided by the US, as they tap into the five-decade experience of cooperative-capitalism of Spain�s Mondrag�n (a worker cooperative federation) that really expresses humanity at work with one person, one vote; and where CEOs usually are paid three to five times the wages of its lowliest worker, not hundreds or thousands of times, as it is the case in the United States.

This first decade of the millennium has been one of true realization, appreciation, apprehension, awareness, cognizance, comprehension, consciousness, grasp, perception, recognition and understanding that we are people just like any others on this earth; that we are neither unique nor more deserving of special grace than any others sharing this planet with us. More and more Americans are starting to think that way, to have common goals with their brethren elsewhere. Unfortunately, Americans continue to be captive of a system ruled by a corporate elite that enslaves and brainwashes them via a seemingly democratic two-party system that in essence is but one party.

As the decade comes to a close, we find ourselves well into our third year of an economic depression that too many economists, moneychangers and politicians took incredibly long to recognize and accept under its diminutive name: recession. Now, Americans are being given a false sense of economic stability with government intent in preserving this capitalist system where over 90 percent of the population is capital-less, pumping the perpetual credit well, refusing to acknowledge the well is dry, totally spent.

Perhaps the decade that follows will extend realizations of this past decade to most Americans, and a new freedom movement with a popular base replaces the grotesque, undemocratic system that now controls our fate.

� 2009 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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