There is an issue with any system There is an issue with any system commentary that it is far easier to recall it, condemn it, invoke any number of vitriol against it than it is to envision an alternative to that system whether it be capitalism or communism or the traditional “isms” that have engaged many an academic and lined countless coffers in and outside of the university system.
There is, and has been in my lifetime a lack of alternative ideas that don’t pick up some old way of addressing the system and propping up this with a new face. “Neo” as a term, may capture the new forms of thought and pile them into one ball since in time all these solutions become a blur of spectrum disorders. The right and left of old fight on in new clothes and we ride this cheep carnival not wondering that we need to step off the ride completely rather than attempt to salvage the “best of both worlds” – which seem to both beat up badly on the environment and create their own police states. Communism and Capitalism (the market of a mechanized society not some free market of farmers) and their variants appear to be fast becoming relics of the centuries past and we cling on to the belief that one triumphed over the other and not that one fell prior to the other. The rise since the fall of the wall of Neo ideologies appear as retro clothing on the streets of New York – or again for the fourth time in one’s life having to live through the 80s. Americapitalism (perhaps the authors… I mean, my term only), consumerism (yes, this differs from Americapitalism), globalization, and other conditions and expressions of our contemporary world have manifested and led to reactions – freeganism, environmentalism, and sundry other “counter-culture” movements or fads – that have not altered the old “right” left” discourse. This is perhaps where the gloom and doom crowd – the “end of….s,” the peak oil, the collapsniks, and various other “we’re all going to dieists” come in. Not with a new discource, but a symptom of our age, the current disease with the crop of political, economic, and social orders that are archaic and offer up no comtemporary ideology or alternative that holds on to our new situation – the position at the edge of the night.
Blog after blog (this one not exempt) rail, rant, and spit at the issues, the systems, the many ways this version of Free Market is screwing us over and how we cannot afford to fall back on historic communism, socialism, or freeganism (a ragged barnical socialist movement), or turn to the religions that lay in a state of total disrepair. The corpse of ideeology has revealed all its secrets, and there is no solution to the crises, no framework or new ideology, isn’t it human nature to expect the end of the world follows? So, the wall has fallen and now I have lived my adult life, “keeping on rocking in the free world” so to speak.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This is an important date to me personally as I was there…. well, here, on earth….
When the wall fell, I was almost able to work legally. I was splitting my time between helping an old dying man on the egg route he had driven since 1957 and working at the best paying job in town for a person of my age… as a dishwasher in an industrial kitchen. As I worked over the loud machine that would dominate the next four years of my life. In the steam, and noise, the wall fell far far away from my daily life. Radio reports said that history was ending. World War II was ending. The Cold war was ending. Freedom and capitalism was coming, and we need not fear socialism, communism, or collective action any longer. The report were frantic. The wall was ending and from the reporting of the crowds at the checkpoints it gradually went to the speculation reportage that would endure to today, with the 24 hour news cycle. Would a unified Germany take over the world? Would history come to an end? It did not seem to matter at the time in the actual world… the one that I lived in. What seemed at hand, was that we still lived in the SOVIETSAREGOINGTOKILL you world in 1989. This was true twenty years ago, and it took years for this to come undone. What did happen was that people thought that “we” had won. The wall coming down was the central focus for what was happening in Europe. Day after day. History unfolded as the dishes passed through the water, the chemicals, the heat, and the kitchen turned out meals for hundreds of people lined up and hour after hour the world was changing. This world was all I had known. To fear. To fear the communists at home, the people who lived in the cities, to fear the SOVIET UNION and the bomb. Yes, it seemed that the 1989 at least but to rest some aspect of THEBOMB we were raised to fear. That bomb. The nukulure one. With the fall of the wall some of the pressure was off, but it did not matter to daily life. What did happen, happened over time. In our country. When I started the job, I got had a pathetic job. One that paid more than minimum wage. I had healthcare. Yes, that is right. Healthcare. For a dishwasher. With dental, and eye care. I also would get further benefits, such as contributions to retirement. This was the old American system. The one that feared communism. With the end of history, the fall of the SOVIET UNION, I was the last dishwasher to get these benefits. With the free food, benefits, proximity to my house so close I always walked, my comparable income looked like 40 – 60K a year. As I listened to NPR the next few years, the world changed and the United States got more confident that Capitalism had won and we, with capitalism at our helm, we could only go forward into a glorious future. The next few people were not given any benefits, and as close to minimum wage as possible. A consultant was brought in to renovate the building. The consultant was expansive, had a ponytail holdover from the 1980s, and wasted money as much as possible. What followed was a slow progression to outsourcing every service and further and further pushing the institution until there was no service so small it could not be done by a team of people who were brought in from far away, did work very hard, but received no benefits and were in no way connected to the community. This was perhaps not a direct line to the hammers chipping away at the wall, but these years since, the world has become hyper capitalism all the time – and the formerly communist countries show that we can have capitalism without democracy, as a matter of fact, we can have fascism and capitalism. In the years since, I was pushed out of my crappy – what turned out to be comparatively high paid – job. Now, it was good to try to get a higher standard of living, and getting to travel the world was fun, however, the years since saw a decline in income and a raise in prices. Food prices have increased ten times, housing ten times, healthcare ten times, but income has risen only fifty percent. Our capitalist society went consultant crazy, the new boom of internet free agents has created an impoverished middle class who still hold on to the hope that they can all become millionaires.
Today, we look back on the wall. And today our workers paradise? Seventeen percent unemployment. Bankers who made off with our economy. Farmland burned by petro chemicals if they had not been turned into parking lots or overpriced housing. And the workers. Without the fear of the communists, we need not worry about giving what we thought they offered. Healthcare (don’t be fooled, this new healthcare act is an Americapitalist boondoggle), connection to community (jobs in the places we live not miles away or constantly running for jobs across the land), security in old age, and long-term employment. With commies gone, we need not worry about the… use the word of free market, competition. What do we know for now? The wall came down. Regulations, worker rights, and who knows what else to follow.
The wall has been down twenty years. How are we doing? Look at the situation of the free market. The environment. We have no new ideology to replace the old ones since, like the guards at Checkpoint Charlie November 9 1989, we don’t have any orders, know nothing about the world to come, and can have no idea as to the scope of the collapse – even if this collapse is long in the making and unlike our commrads over the pond so many years ago. Unfettered by communism, capitalism has show it can be both facist in control and nihilist in ensuring constant choice and unfettered options designed by puppetmasters. We need a new vision. How can this come to be? Perhaps we need not have the “End of History” but forget history entirely. Or, will this add yet another “ism.”