Well, its Super Bowl weekend in the sweet land of liberty where our valiant leaders narrowly averted the fiscal cliff by taking the fiscal off ramp and where most everyone is living a little less large. Whether its due to un(der)employment, foreclosed homes or unaffordable care acts, the cause is increasingly moot at this point as more and more Americans are breaking out their old patchouli oils and love beads and singing, “This is the dawning of the Age of Austerity©…”. It’s a tune that many citizens around the globe have already been belting out for years now. In America, the production is still in the rising action chapter but the stage is being set for the performance to reach its inevitable climax. Back in New Orleans, thank goodness there’s at least money for more than 70 Homeland Security agencies and even NORAD to attend the showdown between the gridiron gladiators and get their Hurricane on in the Quarter. It is fitting that football, particularly the brand of hyper aggressive athleticism practiced by the En Ef El is the marquis sporting event in America. For, just as on field acts of physical belligerence and pugnacity are esteemed by fans and sports commenters alike, there is a form of violence in the air in America that is just as hard hitting and devastating as a blindside hit from Ray Lewis. Best of all, this method of brutality can be implemented without a shot being fired (at least in the beginning). Naomi Klein has shown how economic warfare has been waged on citizens across the globe by using the pretext provided a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina or a manmade one such as the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa to implement brutal monetary policies while the population is still reeling from the events or upheaval they have experienced.
When the word violence is talked about or considered, the physical acting out of aggression or use of force by an individual or group towards another is typically what comes to mind, including the myriad forms of sexualized violence that take place around the globe. However, the ruling class has long known that a well placed economic policy can act like a surgical strike on an uninformed and unsuspecting populace and its tracks are easier to cover. Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco have documented the economic warfare being waged on Americans in their book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. They employed the term “sacrifice zones” to describe areas of the country such as Camden, NJ and Wlech, West Virginia, places whose workforce and environmental resources were extracted and liquidated by the modern day robber barons in our midst. For myself, the most striking chapter was when Hedges and Sacco chronicled the hardships of migrant workers in Florida and the efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to advocate on their behalf. Slavery is another hold over from an era once thought passed by in our country but the reality is it never left. Men, woman, and children of certain immigration statuses still face the whip of the boss man or crew leader. Here too, debt as economic bondage is the leverage used to control the workers in the tomato fields of Immokalee who find that paying off their tabs is like going through the revolving door at the company store. Just ask any scholar of organized crime whether money and violence go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Because the ruling class controls the levers of finance and dominates the marketplace, they are the ultimate purveyors of violence in American society. By pulling the strings of the politicians, seemingly trivial statutes and regulations are slipped through to codify economic policies that can lead millions into poverty with the stroke of a pen or banging of a gavel. In America, you are either an asset or a liability you cannot be an assability. Women have long been the targets of economic violence both world wide as well as in the United States (Bank) of America. Here, they have borne the brunt of Clinton era welfare reforms that has served to further stigmatize poor and single mothers rather than offer them the visible hand of a compassionate and concerned fellow citizen. No (Wealthy) Child Left Behind/Race To The Top (of Witch Mountain) and Yo Mama (Obama) Care were both economic Hellfire missiles aimed squarely at the poor, working and middle classes in America to pull the rug out of two public institutions, education and healthcare, that have traditionally served these two populations with varying degrees of effectiveness, until the invisible hand flicked its invisible finger to knock them down. And now that the goose has been genetically modified by Monsanto, the POTUS and his band of merry bankers and billionaires are going after the golden eggs, Medicare and Social Security. Then, there shall be a great cry throughout the land and the Age of Austerity© will finally reach its inexorable crest. There will be no intermissions or refunds for dissatisfied ticket holders and, if you really complain, let’s just say the hand will no longer be so invisible and you may find it wielding a baton and pepper spray. International sanctions are a powerful economic weapon in the first world arsenal that can have crippling effects on the people who are being punished for the alleged sins of their leaders. The outcomes, widespread poverty, hunger, sickness and suffering, can be as destructive as a full blown military assault on the population being targeted.
Few know that, in 1984, God spoke to His people through the sage Pat Morita, “Walk on road? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squish just like grape.” Truthfully, all I really need to know I learned from Mr. Miyagi. I learned how to wax a car, how to paint a fence and, best of all, how to do the crane kick. Like karate, either we do this thing called life “yes” or we do it “no” but we can no longer afford to do life “guess so”. Just as the incorrigible John Kreese and his Cobra Kai found out the hard way, the way of the fist is strong but Mr. Miyagi’s pimp hand is stronger. So too, the invisible pimp hand of the neofeudal corporatalist marketplace may seem unshakeable but our collective hands are strong enough to break the financial finger locks, however, it must take a struggle. In America, the arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice but, right now, its the backs of the American people that are hunched over. Whether the arc is long or short will depend on which side of the road we walk on. May we all do life yes and may we no longer be squished like grapes. Peace to all readers.