Today’s the day

Have you always wondered what it would be like to serve in a war? To dutifully face an uncertain future moment by moment as shells fall around you, not knowing if you’d come out alive or would walk away maimed? If drafted, would you go without flinching?

Some people think we’re on the verge of a new Depression. But we are getting ahead of ourselves; this is the wrong historical lesson to remember. What Bush’s irresponsible, fear-mongering speech last night was about, and what our elected leaders’ and presidential candidates’ expected acquiescence today is about, is really the declaration of a new “War to End All Wars”: an economic calamity into which an entire lost generation of youth will be shoveled, just as entire generation of North American and European youth were shoveled into the trenches of the Western Front. In order to maintain the obscene financial advantages of a small Wall Street aristocracy, to prop a once-proud order already fading, an entire generation will be financially sacrificed.

But the old world will disappear, as it must. Later will come the new isms, and everything that they bring with them. Just as before, but different; rhyming, not quite repeating.

The venerable old field marshals, some of whom who led the nation so gallantly in the distant past, are calling you to service today! In the name of our country, you and especially your children will be expected to face the failures of your businesses, the depletion of your savings, and the duty of unending debt, so that the glory of America – “too big to fail” – might endure. Today’s the day you are being drafted. Now you will know war. Will you be a good soldier?

5 Replies to “Today’s the day”

  1. Maybe the worst part is that if I listen closely enough, the politicians might actually be telling half-truths (their statements regarding this are about as half more truthful than usual)…in that they’re saying is:

    “we need credit so that the American people can continue to consume at the same level and pace that we’ve been accustomed”

    Awesome post, NYCO. Change will destroy this Old World, shifting us into a new alternate reality. It’s about When, not If. We’re only hitting fictional economic boundaries. Imagine what happens when the impending natural limits start emerging…

  2. Thanks… I hope I am wrong though. Unfortunately I think the two parties are just playing a self-centered game with this in the final hours. They are already determined to go along with it, particularly the Democrats. They’re just jockeying for political position, even the GOP conservatives who are digging in their heels.

    Jon Stewart said something similar on the Daily Show last night, that this is the “economic equivalent of the Iraq War.”

    It is interesting to think of what Europe was like in 1914 on the eve of the Great War; the rich may not have had the technological advantages we do, but the scale of the sumptuousness they lived in was so much greater – and the gap between rich and poor was so great as well, just like
    today. No one would have thought those magnificent old estates with hundreds of servants would ever be deserted, and I think in 90 years, people will also look back on the early 21st century American lifestyle and marvel at what was and how much it took to maintain it. They may look back with romantic nostalgia, but may also see today’s people as mostly backward and naive in their thinking.

  3. at some point – i’d argue in the early 1970s – american life, and the american economy, turned into a kind of giant pyramid scheme. generations that had learned to live within their means, which often meant simply realizing there were things you could not have, vacations you could not take, cars you could not drive … and had been content, if wistful, within those limitations … began reaching beyond their means, with the help of insistent urging from corporate america that was everywhere. we bagn maxing out our plastic, and then the urging became something worse, as when george bush I urged people to spend their savings at christmas … it became the insistent idea that somehow it was unpatriotic to save, to live reasonably, because the only way to fuel this steroid-like buildup was to keep spending … what would happen to detroit, for God’s sake, if everyone stopped juggling car payments and continually buying new cars? so it was if we were crossing the bridge as the bridge collapsed behind us and our leaders urged us: forge on! don’t look back! most amazing, of course, is how few people actually seemed happier, even with huge houses, multiple cars, and stuff up to their ears.

    the moment where there was a real opportunity to speak of all of this – to reflect on what it really meant to be american, and on some greater mission – was during the traumatic days after 9/11, when fear and sorrow had opened us to actually listening. but it wasn’t discussed. the message was that somehow we could fight vast, uncertain wars and nothing would change, that we should simply spend and spend some more at home. we were called to nothing higher, not even to reflection, and now – the bridge collapsing – they say ‘don’t worry’ once again as they ask us to bail out the ones who’d be positioned on the best part of the bridge.


  4. It seems to me the borrow-and-spend lifestyle became worse every time we “won” a war, particularly when we “won” the Cold War. People have ‘moved’ from place to place, but haven’t they just been swimming in a sea of sameness? Or more like an aquarium of consumption…

    We have all been thinking, writing and talking about this for years now to little avail. But now it seems as if others want to talk about it when their ability to consume is being threatened.

    The debate last night was pretty disappointing.

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