Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Empire falls

Who knows? Maybe we will go out with a bang.

I always thought it would be more likely that global capitalism would expire in a long, extended whimper, as the foundation slowly crumbled to the point where the whole thing would collapse of its own weight. But when the Dow Jones average falls more points than any other single day in its history, as it did yesterday, we enter a new neighborhood in Wonderland.

Capitalism has always been something of a Ponzi scheme, depending as it does on continuing “growth.” Kevin Philips, one of America’s most astute political prophets, has an excellent analysis of the crapshoot capitalism has always been historically in his 2002 book, “Wealth and Democracy,” which traces imperial economic bubbles through the ages (his most recent book takes a bead on our current crisis). Uncontrolled (or unregulated) systemic growth has more in common with negative phenomena like cancer or disease epidemics than with the organic, rhythmic seasonal process you see in the growth of a tree, for example.

Like many environmentalists, I prefer the idea of the “steady state” economy laid out by E.F. Schumacher in his influential book, “Small is Beautiful,” where systemic waste is used as a fertilizer, rather than collected in a cesspool. Under the current system, pollution is seen as a positive good, either as an asset to the corporate bottom line (because costs are “externalized” when somebody else has to clean up the mess), or as a boost to GDP when somebody is paid to do the cleanup. This is a system that deserves to fail.

As a revolutionary, I enjoy watching the adolescent discomfort of our dysfunctional and now-despised king, Alfred E. Bushman, as he tries to reassure his fellow first-class passengers on the economic Titanic (his “base,” as he once joked to a roomful of tuxedo-clad swells) and the corrupt Congressful of headless Chicken Littles, feathers flying, anxiously running around in partisan circles, frantic to rescue their biggest campaign contributors.

But where do you run, when the sky is falling?


Perhaps someone can unlock a mystery for me.

As I confessed recently, I’m kind of a Luddite when it comes to computers. The other day, I tried to load some site-tracking software, to monitor how my marketing campaign is going. As usually happens when I try something new on the computer, I got a prompt asking something like “Wxq bthuzg hrofm? Click yes or no.” So I flipped a coin and clicked something, and got the response, “Nice try, asshole, but your cookies are soggy and your javascript is melting. Go back to the end of the line.”

In my usual panic about these things, I abandoned the project until I could get some help. But I’m wondering if I caused some sort of disturbance in the Force, because none of the three search engines I’ve tried (Google, Yahoo, and Ask.com) will bring up this blog, even though the Obunny post has been reprinted at several other websites, where it’s received hundreds of hits, at least. It’s of course interesting to see what all my alter egos are doing (I’m proud to say that most Michael Hastys are productive community members, including a lot of doctors, dentists and police officers—though we do also have a bank robber and kidnapper in our midst), but even googling “Michael Hasty Radical Pantheist” won’t produce this blog in the search.

How come? Computer gurus are welcome to reply.

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