As Pluto (breakdown) continues to oppose the US Venus/Jupiter (beliefs about money), received wisdom is taking a beating in the USA. And as the economy implodes, Neptune (disillusion), Chiron (wounds) and Jupiter (make that big wounds) are hitting the US Moon (the public mood). Those Americans who have their eyes open are getting the sense that everything they were taught to believe about the American Dream was based on lies. Sort of like the Iraq War.
This poses a particular conundrum for people my age. Of which there are a lot; we Boomers are a hella populous generation. This means that the truisms we were taught when young and impressionable — assumptions that, in many cases, were never questioned, and which many taught their children in turn – make up a big chunk of consensus opinion here in the USA.
Children of the 1950s sucked up the Cold War mentality with the mother’s milk. You younger readers may have heard about our quaint custom of ducking under our desks for air raid drills. Why did we do this, you may ask? Well, we did it because the evil Russians could at any moment drop a nuclear bomb on Kishwaukee Elementary School.
So now we have this huge demographic harboring Eisenhower-era fantasies in a postmillennial world; a scenario which, though it’s as crazy as Dr Strangelove, adds up to a lot of votes. This fact is not lost on our esteemed Congressfolk; who, being old farts themselves, seem to half-believe in their own red-baiting, at the same time that they know it’s all hogwash but cynically exploit it because they want to keep their jobs.
This is why, decades after the Soviet Union bit the dust, American right-wingers can get away with using the word socialist as an epithet. Well they know that millions of their constituents shudder with fear and loathing when those damnable syllables are uttered.
When you break down the indoctrination we Boomers received, you get a very simple formula. To wit: patriotism was equated with democracy, and, though I don’t remember it ever being said out loud, clearly democracy was equated with capitalism. So by definition, no economic system except capitalism could be patriotic. Indeed, to suggest any alternative to capitalism – and in that simple-minded age, that meant only one thing: communism (a term used pretty much interchangeably with socialism) — was quite literally a form of treachery; as Joe McCarthy so eloquently declaimed.
I still haven’t figured out how this bit of nonsense equivalence — the zaniest piece of institutionalized illogic since the Immaculate Conception – made its way so deeply into the collective unconscious. All I know is it’s still working, as evidenced by the popularity of the likes of Rush Limbaugh. For many Americans, the biggest threat to civilization even now, in a globalized, post-Wall-Street-meltdown world, is believed to be “socialized medicine” and mass transit paid for with t-t-t-taxes.
In the chart of the USA, Neptune is in the 9th house, square Mars; a placement that bears witness to the irrational forces that drive the nation’s passionately held, utterly confused ideals, and the behavior that arises from them. It is these types of drives, certainly not pragmatism or reason, that lie behind the bizarre phenomenon of non-wealthy Americans voting against their own interests time and time again. Mind-bogglingly counter-intuitive though it may be, the pattern is borne out in every US election: a sizable chunk of the impoverished citizenry can be counted upon to cast their vote for the interests of the political-corporate system that is bleeding us all dry.
One would have thought that the ghastly casualties inflicted by American capitalism had made it undeniable, at this point, that there were problems with this particular economic model. The staggering income disparities that exist between CEOs and rank-and-file workers, forty years in the making, are now out of the closet. For months now, Middle America has been hearing the damning statistics on the TV news. And never has the sordid alliance between lobbyists and lawmakers been so widely discussed. According to an AP story from last week, companies that spent hundreds of millions lobbying successfully for a tax break enacted in 2004 got a 22,000-per cent return on that investment.
That’s the highest per cent figure I think I’ve ever heard in my life, about anything.
It is hard to imagine how any American anywhere could still be in doubt about the outrageous inequities of the so-called free market. The arrogance of the financial elite has become so glaring, its influence in executive decision-making so explicit, the sums involved so large. Consider the case of former Senate aide Mark Patterson, hired by Goldman Sachs as a lobbyist, like many another career politico who trades his public-service connections for a gig in the private sector. Lo and behold, when he became the Treasury Department’s chief of staff, suddenly the agency killed all those much-ballyhooed proposals to eliminate executive compensation at bailed-out banks.
What do those who rail against “socialism in the White House” make of this?
As far as the bank bailouts go, strange bedfellows have been made between opposite ends of the political spectrum. But the Right, despite their claims to populism and their appeal among working class reactionaries, are, as ever, in league with the Big Money when it comes to their support of the capitalist system. Because Sean Hannity’s blue-collar listeners seem to like their worldview nice and simple – good vs. evil; Christians vs. Satan; Democrats vs. Republicans – they follow their leaders’ bait, and interpret what’s going on as if it were just another scene in that great faux cultural drama, the Two Political Parties at War. Kept in the dark by the distortions of mass media pundits, many Americans are missing the most obvious exposure in American history of the way this plutocracy works.
David Sirota writes that Rahm Emanuel – the president’s right-hand man – was paid sixteen million dollars by the banking industry not long before he led the January campaign to release another $350 billion in bank bailout funds.
The Fox News guys don’t tend to comment on stunts like Emanuel’s. Instead they busy themselves with condemning “European-style” healthcare as socialism; going to show that the word has been finally stripped of all meaning in American public discourse.
Meanwhile it is still held as taboo, everywhere from Fox to NPR, to critique capitalism itself; which,for all who have eyes to see and brains to think with, is what Rahm Emanuel and all the other high-level kleptocrats have been personifying. This humongous thievery of public wealth is a function of capitalism at its most robust, chugging along the road to its inevitable end.