We Are the Neutered Bourgeois

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September 29, 2008

The other day I went down to downtown Manhattan to check out a demonstration against Bush's $700 billion economic bailout plan. It was a fairly quiet and subdued affair; no fire, no élan. I saw plenty of placards advocating Communism as "a new way", clever signs berating Bush and Cheney as socialists, pro-Obama buttons, etc. -- but not one trashing fiat money, imperial warfare or central banking (which would've stricken closer to the root of the problem). As I walked around, I saw folks fiddling with their new iPods and iPhones, dressed to impress, clutching their oh-so-clever handmade anti-Bush signs. A half-dozen tour buses slogged by and a precious few tourists were oh-so-kind enough to applaud the demonstration. About eight cops suddenly pulled up in their cute little motor scooters and a number of, um, "well fed" office workers drifted in and out of my way as they hurried back from their lunch/coffee/smoke breaks.

A wave of futility splashed me. Nothing would come of today's rally. If Congress and the White House intend to do their socialist corporate bailout, strings or no strings attached, it will happen. If Treasury Secretary Paulson convinces enough officials to let him set up his dictatorial command-economy regime in some form, it will happen. And I'll tell you this: the demonstrators would be pissed, I would be pissed, you would be pissed, and not anyone would rise up to do a thing.

Especially not you.

Heavens no...you've too much to lose by daring to really struggle against this insanity.  You're too eager to keep your precarious position in the precarious social, political, and economic pecking order. Why, I too would hardly get off the couch unless I see that The People will rise up with me (strength and solidarity in numbers!). And so the band-aid is applied, the Monopoly money flies off the Treasury presses, the pigs-in-suits in our dual capital cities of D.C. and Wall Street snort with glee, and you and me and our children go into political debt slavery. But no matter, as long as you have your nice houses and nice cars and your all-inclusive vacation packages and your nice gadgets and your Whole Foods and your reasonable gas prices and your darling Wal-Mart trinkets and your bottled (tap) water, and so on...you're in good shape no matter what the price.

And if you feel some pious, passive-aggressive moral indignation once in a while, it's even better; you're a model middle class citizen!

Witness the specimen of the well-fed, well-behaved lunch-break protester texting his bunk buddy on his new iPhone, sporting the cute $45 American Apparel blazer and a copy of the New York Times (all the news that's fit to print, eh?), his bike parked nearby so that he can save the Earth from abnormally warm weather, hoping a little piece of paper called a ballot will change the world. Here we have the exact reason why the ruling classes have nothing to fear and can act with impunity!

We have evolved into that pathetic creature, the neutered 21st Century Bourgeois -- perfectly passive prey for them.

Revolutions happen because people become sick and tired and fed-up with the current social, economic, and/or political situation, and like a rubber band that is stretched too much, they snap. They're conscious of being victimized in some way and they can't stand any more. Snap! Widespread poverty, misery, hunger, disease, secret police, mass murders, blatant and repeated acts of political violence, and a pervasive sense of desperation are all common historical revolution starters.

But we are all bourgeois now in 21st Century America. There is no hunger, no misery, no rage, no desperation. We can't even comprehend these things. We certainly don't feel, act, or live like victims of economic terrorism; it would hurt us too much psychologically to admit that status. We have too much invested in the political and financial system that spawned this crisis -- hopes, dreams, beliefs, actions -- and we feel cozy and safe in our familiar rut even if we're occasionally unsatisfied with it. It's the fraudulent feeling that we shall never fall from our Olympus. It's the ultimate luxury, and you don't want to lose it by revolting against this corrupt System. Don't even think about educating yourself on it!

For instance, regarding the Iraq War, Rob Rossmeissl writes, "Perhaps the apathy of young people today regarding U.S. policy is due to the world we live in rather than a diminished social conscience. It is easy to romanticize about Vietnam-era political activism as the result of a generation full of concerned moralists, but in reality, a much more selfish cause -- the threat of conscription -- caused that generation to enter politics."

That's why I've come to sincerely hope for an economic panic, as well as more extreme developments. Yes indeed, I'm brash enough to say, "let the house of cards tumble". A proverbial kick to the rear to the neutered bourgeois -- that's the only thing that will force us, to really see and feel, in a tangible and personal way, just how badly we've been screwed.

This economic situation is not akin to a worn-out car transmission that you can fix easy as you please; it's more like a series of bloated tumors enveloping the body, corrupting the organs, and sucking the life out of the patient. Sometimes it's better to just euthanize the patient -- a financial/economic system built on statist privilege, war profiteering, fractional-reserve banking, fiat money and economic manipulation on the part of the Fed, bankers and brokers gambling with people's futures and passing the risks and costs to you.

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Marcel Votlucka's picture
Columns on STR: 29

 Marcel Votlucka writes from Brooklyn NY.  His work focuses on the connections between psychology, culture, and anti-politics.  Visit his new website at http://marcelvotlucka.wordpress.com/