I wonder how long it will be before raging crowds take to the streets in America, smashing store windows and burning cars the way they did back in the Sixties? They’re doing it in England now (photo above), and they’ve been doing it in Ireland, France and Greece. The reasons given in the media are different – higher college tuition in England, a higher retirement age in France, austerity measures brought on by Ireland’s economic bailout and so on.
But the underlying cause is the same. The global economic system has failed.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the United States. Despite the Fed’s flood of new money, the economy is sluggish and jobs remain stubbornly scarce. The gap between rich and poor is widening as a tiny sliver of American society gobbles up the available wealth. The middle class is vanishing.
Add to this the fact that the burden of unemployment is falling disproportionately on blacks and Hispanics and you have a recipe for the kind of racial violence that racked Watts, only more widespread.
There is so much to be angry about – a patently biased justice system, hostility towards immigrants, corruption in high places, persecution of sexual minorities, a vicious crusade against President Obama, built on bigotry and lies.
America recently lived through the fury of a white backlash against the nation’s first black president.
It has yet to experience the fury of a counter-backlash from the black and Hispanic minorities.
With the stores decked out for Christmas, Salvation Army kettles on the sidewalks and signs proclaiming that Jesus is the Reason for the Season, this should be a time of peace and good will.
But don’t bet on it.
If the president fails to convince his own party to accept his deal with the Republicans to extend tax cuts to the rich in exchange for continued unemployment benefits, there could be a violent and tragic reaction. No unemployment checks mean no food, and, as they say in Jamaica, a hungry man is an angry man.
Even if this crisis is averted by some kind of compromise, I bet some other crisis will be hard on its heels.
The underlying economic system that’s channeling the world’s wealth into the least productive hands cannot be sustained much longer. Drastic new revisions are needed.
Until then, violence will always be just a spark away.