What world do you want? I know what I want and expect. And it’s not what we have.
In the August 1/8, 2011 issue of The Nation, Eric Alterman talks about “The Twighlight of Social Democracy.” Alterman quotes British historian Tony Judt:
“For much of the second half of the 20th century, it was widely accepted that the modern state could – and therefore should – perform the providential role; ideally without intruding excessively upon the liberties of its subjects, but where intrusion was unavoidable, then in exchange for social benefits that could not otherwise be made universally available.” That’s my orientation. That’s the world I want and expect.
But later in the 20th century, Judt notes, there was significant change. Now it is “increasingly commonplace to treat the state not as the natural benefactor of first resort but as a source of economic inefficiency and social intrusion best excluded from citizens’ affairs whenever possible.” How appalling – that government is the enemy instead of the helpmate.
Judt goes on to say: “When combined with the fall of Communism, and the accompanying discrediting of the socialist project in all its forms, this discounting of the state has become the default condition of public discourse in much of the developed world.”
So that’s our world. A world where might means right. A world where excessive capitalism – fundamentalist capitalism – creates and continually reinforces an income gap that perpetually reinforces itself. Fundamentalists of the capitalist and religious sort that proselytize and persecute and triumph far too often.
Today I’m tired and immensely sad. And enormously angry. And the U.S. debt ceiling crisis and my government’s response epitomizes much of what I feel.
P.S. Today is December 18, 2012. More than one year since I wrote this blog about the debt ceiling crisis and my government’s response. How amusing. (I mean that snidely and sarcastically.) Because here we are, with another “crisis” and “cliff.”