Grassroots Movements, Global Elites and Political Economy in Times of Panic

What a week we have all had. I guess for those of us who make it to the weekend without a single scratch, it will be important to sit quietly in a corner making plans for the future. Obviously the time for tunnel vision and full faith in ‘somebody’ at the top having some mercy on us, must be quickly diffusing into an alternate form of thought. At least that is what I would hope for, because although the social inclination so far seems to be the blaming of a few rotten apples, based on my observations, I have no choice but to accept that the whole apple basket seems to be fairly rotten.

All I have heard on the streets over the last few days are words about the financial crisis. Everyone all of a sudden is concerned about their mortgage, their savings, their retirement, their stocks or more importantly, their jobs. Dismal economic data keeps propping up on every major newspaper and news channel and talk shows are packed with voices talking about the dire straits of this economic Armageddon. Yet, I can’t help ask myself if we are all simply asleep or we are too scared to face the truth.

Almost everyone whom over the last decade of economic arrogance and pedantic borrowing preached about the power of the western world and its economic might, has all of a sudden turned around and become a spoke person for panic itself. Yet for the layperson it doesn’t seem to matter. If it did, grassroots movements would be picking up traction and the global elites would be held accountable for their crimes. Too early for that, society is still not ready to come to terms with the fact that leaders are a reflection of the people they lead. I am inclined to believe that it will take a lot more pain, many more lies, and much larger panic before citizens stand up and react to this catastrophic social tsunami.

Yes, it is true that those at the top are enjoying the ride, or we could say were enjoying the ride — it now seems to be a little more bumpy. Yet the very fact that they haven’t been held accountable by the rest of us is a reflection of collective guilt, and all who cry today are doing so because of our past general indifference. So what can one do?

Perhaps the first thing we must all do is acknowledge that the financial panic we are facing is a lot deeper than what is presented through the media, and understand that the problem is systemic. The sooner we come to terms with this, the sooner we will be able to find real solutions. Developed countries are living way over their means and no matter how we try to prop it up, sooner or later the deck of cards is going to collapse. From my humble opinion, the sooner that happens the better, because with everyday that passes, the eventual landing gets much more painful.

The second point we are going to have to grapple with is the fact that the great majority of society has been too laissez-faire to predict what was heading our way and is today an apparent reality; the fact that our casino culture of gambling the world away was always a finite proposition which politicians and economists perpetuated to eternal existence, while the thirsty masses accepted it without question.

Thirdly, it will be incredibly important for those members of society who see themselves as belonging to the middle class and who have acquired that perceived status through debt, to accept their rank in the working class and unite again with their peers. This point is of particular importance because it has been the sole illusion of an imaginary middle class which has kept the bubble rising and when it bursts, millions of hypnotized believers will fall hard and will need to be picked up by the very group they left behind when they abandoned the class struggle.

Fourthly, we are all going to have to get used to the situation we have collectively generated, we are hostages to our own creation. The governments are there because we elected them and the banks are there because we trusted them without asking questions.

Despite all this, it remains crucial that we have a collective wakeup and begin to understand that as we strategize about our own personal situation, those who laid the foundations for this ugly mess we are faced with are still the global elite and they still hold the reigns of power. So, as we do our own accounting and plan for our own personal security, it will do us no harm and possibly a lot of good, to start looking at the world from a political economy perspective. We must understand that politics, economy and war are all intertwined variables of our current state of affairs. We must understand, that geopolitical events are all in some way linked to these three variables. I say this, because although we are no longer able to stop the deterioration of our financial systems and economies, we might be able through joint and organized collective action, to avoid worse events from unraveling.

The warning signs of economic deterioration begun a longtime ago, the majority chose to ignore them, and because of that we are all here today. Now the alarm bells of increased military confrontation are sounding loud and clear, I only hope we are all able to hear them and that our words speak louder than guns. One thing is certain, as President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia said today, the U.S. crisis shows that “the times when one economy and one country dominated are gone for good,” as he concluded, the world no longer needs a “”megaregulator”. Although I believe this statement to be true, I fear that the U.S. elites, together with the elites of allied countries, will not let go of their perceived upper hand, and might be warming up to more war.

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador in Kabul already believes the war in Afghanistan is as good as lost, and the war in Iraq seems to be on the same destructive path. Yet, as Russia prepares to fly its supersonic Tu-160 nuclear bombers as part of its largest air force exercises since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the whole concept of war that westerners are used to could be escalating towards a more vivid reality. I hope the citizens of the west can understand this, and for once before it is too late, we can unplug our brains from the corporate propaganda system, which our elites have so carefully instituted, and we can do something about it. As for the Russians, Afghans, Iraqis, North Koreans, Chinese and others, let them stand up to their own governments, and once we are all doing that, let us neutralize their actions by holding hands and shouting “Stop!”

Pablo Ouziel is an activist and a freelance writer based in Spain. His work has appeared in many progressive media including ZNet, Palestine Chronicle, Thomas Paine’s Corner, and Atlantic Free Press. Read other articles by Pablo.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 3rd, 2008 at 9:54am #

    the following explains everything on interpersonal level:
    nature experiments. it makes all kinds of people. it tried to make good people but cldn’t do it. so it gave up.
    hope it changes its mind and tries once again.
    but whether the nature succeds or not in making lotsof good people, one thing is sure, our eventual evanescence is an ergodic event; ie, has zero chance of not occuring.

  2. John Hatch said on October 3rd, 2008 at 12:51pm #

    In the debate with Joe Biden, Sarah Palin said ‘We are a nation of exceptionalists’. Indeed. Exceptionally greedy. Exceptionally arrogant. Exceptionally self-deluded. Exceptionally violent. Exceptionally infantile. Exceptionally down the toilet.

  3. Lute said on October 3rd, 2008 at 3:54pm #

    Everywhere there is the call to Action; yet the great mass does not move. It seems frozen in place. Waiting. The crisis, if upon us, seems hollow, distant. When will it come we say, looking at the darkening sky. though we know it to be so, and feel it in our bones we will not believe that it is so; do The Nobles not play at dice before their crackling fire? The wheels appear to turn. Here and there an odd man reads the paper unconcerned by its deceits, the scores are true, and who has murdered whom, the name of the stars might change but they are still luminous, the pipers play a happy tune.

    Some might see the shadow of a Man, he has his own name, but he has gone by many in the past, when the fires descend, when there is ruin, more often then not, some say, he leaves death in his wake.–No-one listens to dreamers, do they? Not in this day and age when we have surpassed all that our fathers ever dreamed of…

    Prophets are a dime a dozen, poets even cheaper, it’s too easy to string together words, to make dire thoughts. I have lived in a cold clime, and the warmer weather suits me just fine, I have no need to worry about old men in fine suits who walk under sunny skies discussing the weather…as yet I do not see the smoke from distant fires, but the merchants are wringing their hands and moping about.–

    How is it they have become bedfellows with the politicians? Surely this was not always so? Something is amiss in the cosmos. The world moves too slowly, bodies are ground to a fine powder and sold as fertilizer, grease for the wheels, they say, mumbling of their poverty; yet all is well as they will have saved us once again, some say, by selling the beggared children into slavery for the glory of our bright tomorrows. We will be well and prosper–though the dreamers, and prophets and the poets would not have it so; tinkering with our madness as if all we know is just an illusion, or a bit of paper emblazoned with cartoon saints stabbing themselves.

    Still! there is that need, deep down, that something wants to be done, and still the great Machine groans on raping the stripped earth. We die quietly in its path hugging our hoarded wealth; though always in the end we are left with nothing more than our bloated skin.

  4. Max Shields said on October 5th, 2008 at 10:58am #

    The “call to action” is problematic. A war in Afghanistan? What war, no bombs dropping here. A war in Iraq? What war, no one’s gotten hit in my neighborhood; how about yours? Wall Street melt down? What meltdown, the Giants are still playing, the lights work, the cars are going passed my house, the sun is out, and I’m headed to see a film.

    The pain is subtle and it is as James Howard Kunstler
    Kunstler put it in his aptly named titled book: The Long Emergency.

    Such an “emergency” is like putting a frog in water on the stove and very gradually raising the tempature. By the time the frog senses the heat it’s too late.

    The question is: will humans/Americans react before it is absolutely too late or will there be changes and then what kind of changes to meet the “emergency”?