I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
—Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
(Swans - November 21, 2011) IT HAPPENED. It was not a matter of if but of when. Occupy encampments are being methodically and forcefully dismantled by over-weaponized police agencies in cities all over the country. From Portland, OR, to Atlanta, GA; from Salt Lake City, UT, to Denver, CO; from Oakland and Berkeley, CA, to St. Louis, MI and Burlington, VT, to New York City. In Berkeley, the spectacle was particularly violent. There, at Sproul Plaza, at the door of the university campus, the police armed with rifles viciously attacked a couple of hundred people who were protesting non-violently the almost doubling of tuition proposed by the university. A woman was pulled by her hair, thrown to the ground, and repeatedly beaten with a baton in her ribs. She is a university professor -- a woman, for heaven's sake. The person who ordered the raid in the name of law and order, health and safety, was no one else but the chancellor of the university, Robert J. Birgeneau, who makes over $500,000 a year (plus perks). In NYC, the decision to evict the Zuccotti Park protesters who were denouncing inequities, wealth disparities, Wall Street and corporate greed, unemployment, etc., was taken by the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, a multi-billionaire (he is ranked 12th on the Forbes 400 richest people list, with an estimated worth of close to $20 billion). All over the U.S. the 1% talked to each other, mayors, and policy makers, and decided that dissent would not be tolerated, freedom of assembly ignored, peaceful political protests crushed -- in less than two months.
WORSE STILL, the folks at Zuccotti Park had created a library filled with over 5,500 books, with daily public readings. The police unceremoniously threw all the books in a dumpster -- the height of cultural depravity. Two days later a large crowd assembled and demonstrated along the main artery of Wall Street that leads to the New York Stock Exchange. The police immediately broke up the demonstration. Over 200 arrests were made. Mayor Bloomberg said that the protesters had been heard. "Now," he added, "it's time to get back and build the economy and create the good paying jobs that people need." In other words: "Go home. Resistance is futile. We are the 1% and so it is. Learn to live with our diktat, you miserable hoi polloi."
AND YOU KNOW WHAT, they just pepper-sprayed nonviolent demonstrating students at UC Davis, and they destroyed Occupy San Francisco. Next, they'll start shooting. They will. They will not tolerate resistance because in their self-centered moneyed opinion, it is futile.
BUT IS IT FUTILE? In the streets of Athens, Madrid, London, Cairo, New York, and hundreds of other cities around the U.S. and the world, resistance is only beginning. People are tired of 40 years of greed, individualism, consumerism -- the iSomething society -- ecological destruction, inequalities, corruption of the so-called elites, bread and circus, demagogy, and fanaticism. Tired, tired, tired of being sodomized!
TALKING ABOUT SODOMY, for someone who once experienced it to his detriment, I was shocked to see the scandal surrounding Penn State University's focus on the alleged sodomite, former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, and the legendary football head coach Joe Paterno. Shocked but not surprised. Much has been said and written about Sandusky's "horseplay," Paterno's failure to act more decisively, and the university's blatant cover-up in order to not damage its relations with alumni and donors, but little about the victims.
THE VICTIMS, indelibly marked for the remaining of their lives, are never a part of the story, even though they should be front, back, and center of it. Victims of child or sexual abuse live in shame forever after -- some becoming abusers themselves in one way or another, emotionally, physically... -- and yet are never really believed for their ordeal. After all, you cannot prove it. No one wants to listen to you. You quickly become labeled with the tag "troublemaker," as indeed you become one, because, guess what?, you are indeed troubled. You are a child or a teen and you cry for help. Daddy did that to me. The coach did that to me. But no one wants to listen. "Shut up, child. This is how the world and life are," you are told. You are told to live with it, to repress your feelings, to bury the thoughts into the memory hole, and to just go on as though nothing had really happened. And, yes, you begin to doubt yourself. Did it really happen? You become confused and so becomes your life. Because YOU KNOW it DID happen, and no one was there to stop it from happening.
As Ryszard Kapuściński, the late Polish author and journalist, wrote in The Other (2006 -- English version, Verso 2008), "a bad childhood leaves its marks on the whole of a person's later life." It means that you are literally screwed on first base. I know that the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim once wrote that "the problems we have with others are our problems, not those of the others," but he failed to realize that the others created "our" problems in the first place. Perhaps it would be useful were Madison Avenue and the TV studios to exchange ads for the latest car, detergent, or medicine with short reminders flashed 10 times a day that it's not "cool" to abuse children. Perhaps we could change our depraved culture.
EUROZONE CRISIS: I've been racking my brain for weeks and still cannot figure out what's going on with this fabricated crisis. Aside from Greece, which is a basket case, no other country in the European Monetary Union is at risk of defaulting. Italy has no problem servicing her debt, which has remained constant for years; has private savings four times as much as the public debt, which is owned 57% by Italians. Italy has even a slight current account surplus. What's going on here? France is being threatened with losing her AAA rating, a country that has decreased her budget deficit in 2011 by 36% over 2010. German Chancellor Angela Merkel may be correct that the EU countries are spending too much, but she is incorrect to state that speculators are not to be blamed. Speculators and the financial markets -- these entities that are human-less and depend on traders, short-term profits, and big bonuses -- are after our livelihood. Leeches need blood to perdure. It makes no sense to me. People who want more money ever and ever are willing, for their short-term gains, to asphyxiate the whole. It's like sitting on a branch of a tree and slowly sawing the branch one is sitting on, behind one's ass. The higher the yield on sovereign bonds asked by investors the more difficult it becomes for countries to service their debts. The markets seem to be betting against the Euro as though they wanted a break-up of the Eurozone. This is pure madness.
GOVERNMENTS are falling by the wayside all over Europe: Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Italy, and now Spain. Unelected teams of technocrats led by bankers, like in Greece and Italy, are put in charge with the mission to implement drastic measures of austerity and to dismantle welfare. Both Mario Monti (Italy) and Lucas Papademos (Greece) are members of the Trilateral Commission. Monti is also a member of the Bilderberg Group and an adviser to Goldman Sachs. (Even Mario Draghi, the new president of the European Central Bank, is a former Goldman Sachs European managing director.) Talk about the foxes guarding the henhouse!
NO WONDER they feel threatened by the worldwide Occupy movement. Perhaps it is more than time to revive the age of Ozymandias.
. . . . .
C'est la vie...
And so it goes...
La vie, friends, is a cheap commodity, but worth maintaining when one can.the life line won't hurt you much, but it'll make a heck of a difference for Swans.
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