Have you noticed that every time you think the culture wars couldn’t possibly get any wackier, they get wackier?
Saturn, the planet that is supposed to keep us sane and grounded, is under stress. For the past two years it has been slapped around by Uranus and Pluto, and it’s now opposed by Jupiter (exact on May 22nd and Aug 16th, 2010, and on March 28th, 2011). Jupiter represents our beliefs, and Saturn is our reality structures. The battle between them is particularly obvious in the USA, whose group soul is entering its Saturn Return (described in Soul-Sick Nation, chapter 12).
It’s as if ideology (Jupiter) were vying for prominence with documented fact (Saturn). To paraphrase cartoonist Tom Tomorrow: The American media is rife with denials of reality (e.g. global warming is a hoax), distortions of reality (the country is going socialist) and wholesale rewritings of reality (Obama isn’t a citizen, and the Founding Fathers never intended to separate church and state).
The Cardinal Cross of which this opposition is a part became enflamed when Uranus went into Aries (anger, activism) in June 2010, and was joined there by Jupiter (exaggeration). Anger was hot and high among the masses, towards whatever agents of authority (Saturn) they imagined to be responsible for their troubles. On the face of things, this rage falls into two camps: the Left who blame corporations and the Right who blame Obama. At least, so goes the conventional narrative.
But America’s factional showdown isn’t quite that pat. The truth is that both “conservative” and “liberal” Americans were blasted awake in large numbers by the Wall Street meltdown and subsequent bail-outs that took place under Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn two years ago. In one fell swoop, the US populace realized, pretty much en masse, that their government was in bed with moneyed elites. It was at this moment that we saw the rise of the tea bags: a group of self-described patriots who considered themselves not “conservative” but thoroughly anti-establishment.
Those volatile months of 2008-9 constituted a critical moment in American history. The natives were restless: appalled, furious, and — most dangerous of all, from the point of view of the powers-that-be — fueled with a spirit of independence. The ruling class must have been quaking in their Guccis. They knew the public’s rage could have crested into a full-fledged attack on the entire system, and that the only way to forestall that danger was to corral people’s ire into the narrow confines of party politics. That is, into an attack on the Democrats.
Thinking quickly, the big-money think tanks swooped in and started funding teabag rallies. Then Fox News started choreographing them. In the elections that followed, reactionary candidates wooed their votes. Before you could say “Patrick Henry,” the erstwhile revolution had been declawed and neutered. Its colorful working- and middle-class adherents were recast as safe, anti-incumbent conservatives.
For the moment, the danger to the status quo has past. The old Right-vs-Left trope has re-established itself, with everybody obediently dividing themselves down into two teams, thereby to vent their spleen against each other instead of at the tiny clique of fat cats at the top. But the public mood is still deeply unsettled – especially with Neptune and Chiron about to conjoin on the country’s Moon again in November – and the transits to the country’s Sun are just getting started.
In 2022 the country will reach its exact Pluto Return, in the house of money. Between now and then it will become more and more obvious that the USA is not a democracy but a plutocracy. (An astonishing report on CitiBank’s website actually discusses the international economy in these very terms, baldly stating, “The World is dividing into two blocs – the Plutonomy and the rest”.) The Cardinal Cross is a call for us to get real about the whole rigged game.
In this context, it’s clear that the tea party phenomenon has a meaning that reaches beyond the ignorance and fear of many of its proponents. Granted, these folks have a long way to go before they can be taken seriously as proponents of positive change. For that, they’d need to expand their notions of personal freedom to a rather more all-inclusive portion of humanity (to the uninsured, let’s say; not to mention immigrants, nonwhites, non-Christians, and anybody else who doesn’t look like them and live the way they do). And to show a modicum of discretion as regards the idiot ideologues they follow (e.g. Glen Beck and his “I-have-a-better-dream-than-Martin-Luther-King-Jr” rally). And to lose the silly hats. But those of us who seek to understand what these transits are up to need to remember that any form of protest (Uranus) against a bloated (Jupiter), corrupt (Pluto) government (Saturn) is an authentic expression of the zeitgeist.
I say let’s bring our own crumpets and crash this tea party.