The Raincrow Report: Why?

In the relative innocence of my childhood and  adolescent school days—the United States of the 1950s and early 1960s—I learned  that my country was the greatest nation on earth, probably the greatest in history.  There was plenty of evidence to  back up that claim.  Everybody knew that we had very recently whipped the Germans and the Japanese.  Most kids’ parents had decent jobs.  Life for me, as a member of a well-established (since the 1850s) and hard-working land-owning and farming family in oil-rich east Texas, was exceptionally good.

It wasn’t until the late Sixties, when I went away to college in Austin, that I was exposed to a different sort of story  about the United States, one that used words like “colonialism,” “imperialism” and “exploitation.”  The more I learned, the more uneasy and wary I became about what I came to view as misguided American institutions which were causing appallingly great damage, both here and abroad.  The claims concerning my country’s greatness were revealed as—at least in part—cynical propaganda.  Those feelings stayed with me, but they didn’t stop me from pursuing an education, struggling through jobs in two separate public sector fields, and becoming a householder, husband, and father.

After decades of cautiously continuing to check out how my  country works—likewise, the world—those feelings are still with me today, continuing to motivate observation and thought about my surroundings for the  purpose of surviving in what has proven to be a hostile economic environment.

I’m still trying to observe the right things and to arrange  those observations strategically.  Now  retired, I have more time to look, think critically, and put those observations and thoughts into writing that attempts analysis of the broader world beyond the household and  family.  What I see today is cause for  great optimism but also intense anger at the greed, deception, and waste demonstrated daily in human activity.

As a lover of learning who enjoyed his last academic experience (as he neared, then cleared, the age fifty mark) but who never has been financially  dependent on academia, I have no problem mixing information from different disciplines into my rhetorical concoctions and letting the informed reader make judgments about validity.  After all, enjoyment might be foremost among the various reasons I answer the siren call of books and the computer keyboard!  This introductory essay will, therefore, use a little psychology to introduce quite a bit of history—as employed in the subsequent article—in the service of what I hope will be for you, dear reader, an enjoyable and thought-provoking commentary on the current  state of our world.  I invite you to make comments, supporting or objecting, about any ideas or views expressed in the articles published here, and to make suggestions about issues you want to see addressed.

—————-

My experience of the world has led me to the belief that people throughout history can generally be grouped into two categories: (1) those who believe that people are inherently bad and (2) those who believe that  people have the capacity for doing either evil acts or good deeds, the choice of which depending to a great extent on how well individuals’ needs are met.  If you believe that people are generally selfish and ready to harm others to save themselves, it’s easy to justify a private, competitive, individualistic, survival-of-the-fittest point of view by which government is seen as an enemy.  If  you believe that most people will do what is right and good if they’re treated with common decency and fairness, you probably want to see cooperation,  community, and mutual interests acknowledged in the area of public policy.

I’m using this obvious over-simplification to illustrate how I believe we’ve sunk into our currently highly-polarized national condition.  Through his Jungian analysis of our national psyche, Paul Levy asserts that seeing ourselves as separate from others, blaming others, and failing to accept one’s part in the responsibility for our common condition—as well as for the development of solutions to our common problems—is, at best, a recipe for remaining mired in denial, self-deception, despair, and failure, but risks, at worst, our being drawn into psychosis and the violent criminal behavior that characterizes extreme cases of this real personality disorder. [1]  Levy calls on us to accept the reality of our connection to other people and to the natural world, both of which only seem to be “out there,” are actually “in here” and part of each of us, and are being created moment by moment through the common participation of ourselves and our fellow life-forms. [2]

Seeing ourselves as separate from other people and the world may lead to further feelings of disconnection in every aspect of life, including public life.

If Levy’s analysis holds up, it may contain clues about too many among the most materially powerful people, who do seem to have been driven to become so through seeing themselves as separate—ultimately alone—in a world populated by a teeming mass of threatening, predatory animals, which others of us would call  our fellow human beings.

In the current economic environment, it’s not difficult to visualize powerful people, motivated by their feelings of disconnectedness, desire for upward class mobility, and consequent fear of lowered class identity, engaged in the intense and desperate pursuit of superficial refuge in their gated communities and high-rise offices, away from poverty and the crowds of common laborers.   Following Levy’s analysis lends credence to the idea of people seeking even greater separation from others by the accumulation of wealth—which buys them the ability to live and move “above” the mass of ordinary people—and political power—which, over centuries, has transformed the desires of the powerful for economic and social separateness into social institutions, in place for so long now and so thoroughly supported by many forms of propaganda that they are accepted as custom, beyond question or criticism.  “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.” —Thomas Paine, “Common Sense,” 1776 [3]

It’s unfortunate for the rest of us that these institutions, primarily, corporate finance and business, which—when grouped together with political and cultural institutions affected by our economy—are generally referred to as “capitalism,” are in the process of doing what any other parasite does when it grows beyond reasonable limits for symbiotic success: it begins to kill the host.  In this case, the host is the working people of the United States and most of the other industrialized nations.  This is the second such major incident of host-killing in the U.S., the first being the Great Depression.  Occupy Wall Street is the natural expression of people who have reached the limit of their collective ability to suspend judgment about the threat posed by unfettered capitalism.

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement represents the strategy having the greatest likelihood for success thus far for the host’s mobilizing itself against the parasite.  OWS represents the host’s recognition that previous parasite-approved strategies (election of a president from the money-corrupted Democratic party, working through money-corrupted congressional representatives, and all the other actions associated with the party politics system), while appearing to cause movement in the body of the parasite, have left the parasite’s connection to the host’s body firmly in place.

Several questions remain: Can the working people of the U.S. finally develop a full awareness of the parasitic nature of our current system?  Can this awareness generate enough force to enable the host to break the parasite’s grip?  If awareness allows the parasitism to be corrected, can the memory of
the parasite’s destructiveness and some form of permanent control of the parasite by the host be institutionalized?

Certainly, these are the major obstacles to achieving long-term relief from the death-grip which finance capital and corporations have maintained on our government and our economy, but each question must be addressed in order for us to begin repairing our country while simultaneously developing a healthy replacement for capitalism, one which first provides adequately for our human needs as a nation and for our physical infrastructure, which interferes with worker-owned and –operated small and medium-size businesses as little as possible, but which ensures that public planning of our national economy and
public coordination of democratically reorganized corporate workplaces prevent any financial institution or corporate business enterprise from growing so large that it becomes a threat to the rest of us.

The sooner that U.S. citizens develop an awareness of the false values and distorted narrative that have allowed our current problems to develop, the sooner the political will can develop for taking the necessary corrective actions.  The Raincrow Report represents an effort, through discussion of alternatives to our current economic, political, and cultural institutions, toward countering those values and that narrative and toward assisting in encouraging the restoration of the values of cooperation, balance, harmony, and fairness as essential to and pre-eminent in public life in the U.S. .

The first topic to be addressed concerns one of the pillars most critical to keeping the financial and corporate parasite firmly lodged  within our body politic: the U.S. two-party system.  In the following article, this system will be examined through a summary of its history and its role in creating conditions so intolerable that the rise of Occupy Wall Street or its equivalent became as certain as the physical laws of the universe.

1. Levy, Paul, The Madness of George  W. Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis, AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana, 2006, p. 68.

2. Ibid., p. 181.

3. Nichols, John, TheSWord, Verso, New York, 2011, p. 37.

Advertisements


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s