by Charles Marowitz
(Swans - December 15, 2008) 2008 was 1929.
Not only because the Recession brought frightening memories of the Great Depression, but also because the year demonstrated, yet again, that the ground of American-styled capitalism was perforated with quicksand pits that could suck us all in without warning.
All of us felt the pinch of hardships we had not foreseen -- although history was full of warning signs -- and when the shit hit the fan and the Wall Street culprits sank us into the mire, we were too fond and complicit with the "good times" to hold them responsible for the economic holocaust they ushered in. It was almost expected, as some inexplicit second sense kept telling us, that we could not be spending billions on an ill-fated war that we could neither win nor extricate ourselves from, without suffering grave consequences both materially and spiritually. We paid a steep price for having elected, and then re-elected, an administration that was as incompetent as it was immoral. The crimes committed in its name cried out for moral retribution and, by the end of the year, we were being punished for crimes that, though we had not committed, we had certainly abetted.
The elections, like the denouement of a Greek drama, promised us a catharsis of sorts. We would dispose of the villainy, and hopefully the purging of fear would bring pity, and pity salvation. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but even if it does, it will never banish the wretched crimes committed in 2008, the personal tragedies of hundreds of thousands of displaced American families, the mistakes we made and allowed others to make in our name.
It would be comforting to think that the new year, glistening with the promise of a new and unexpected presidency, will banish the memory of the dark days that have preceded, but even if marvels occur and the paradox of a bright, Afro-American president manages a salvation of sorts, we will not have learned from the bitter memories of the past. Capital will still rule and greed will flow through the arteries of political scoundrels and multinational corporations and the memory of a bitter and painful past will be enveloped in that makeshift optimism that keeps America chugging along from defeat to victory and then back to defeat again. We will continue to place our best hopes in charismatic leaders and the futile belief that the promises contained in the Constitution will one day be realized.
It is on the backs of future generations that we dump our sacks of cynicism and defeat. It is always "the future" that is advertised as the summum bonum and it is always expected to arrive after we are turned to dust; a promise that is always made and never kept.
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