We live in two different worlds – the rich and the rest of us – and those worlds are in conflict. The rich use their wealth and power to plunder the spoils of the earth, distracting the general population with illusory promises and tinsel dreams. But sometimes they become too greedy. They overreach. And like a drugged giant, the general population awakens – enraged.
I think we are witnessing such an awakening.
While America’s TV pundits are obsessed with the dross of the day – Herman Cain’s tawdry private life, for example – a massive war rages across the face of the earth.
The Arab world writhes in fury, European cities are engulfed by protests, and America’s disadvantaged are spilling into the streets, evoking an inappropriately savage response from “the authorities.”
The latest eruption is taking place in the United Kingdom, where public sector workers went on strike yesterday to protest austerity measures imposed by the government’s deficit-reduction plan (CNN photo above).
The New York Times reports:
Courts, schools, hospitals, airports and government offices could all be hit by the strike, which has come to be seen as an emblem of resistance to government plans to squeeze public-sector pensions and cut government spending to reduce debt.
Education authorities across Britain said thousands of schools had closed because teachers were on strike, and many parents had taken a day off from work to look after children.
The stoppage was billed as the most extensive in decades, mirroring the turmoil in the debt-plagued euro zone across the English Channel and offering a reminder of the potential social and political impact of the financial crisis seizing much of Europe.
Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures across America are relentlessly pursuing policies that cannot fail to provoke a response among public employees similar to the British strike. The fire has started and it is spreading.
As the Occupy Wall Street protesters astutely observed, the 99 percent are locked in mortal combat with the vastly over privileged one percent.
As a students of history, I look upon this upheaval with consternation. Similar manifestations in the past have had disastrous consequences. With very few exceptions, the American War of Independence being the most notable, populist uprisings have ushered in dictatorships. Consider the rise of Napoleon from the French Revolution, Lenin, and later Stalin, from the Bolsheviks, Castro in Cuba… and on and on.
Once again, “the people” are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any more. But where is the leadership to channel this rage? Who has the skill and resources to address its underlying cause? The people with power are the ones who sabotaged the system that made them rich. Don’t expect them to solve this crisis. They have killed the goose that laid the golden egg.
As Louis XIV said, apres moi le deluge. The flood is coming.