In a “fantastical” essay , circa 1940, American composer and sometime author; George Antheil describes a frightening scenario of social collapse, economic despair and human misery evolving from a unspecified military defeat. It works through the various stages and locales in city and country of acts of desperation and eventual poverty-driven decadence and crime, culminating in the rise of a authoritarian political philosophy led by power-mania and vengeance upon those opportunistically seen to be oppressing the nation. He implies that this nation could very well be America in another age, but concludes that it ; “…may be America. It was Germany; 1918 – 1934…So smells defeat.”
Some of the decadence described may or may not have been so visibly dramatic, but there are horrifying glimpses describing our society at this point in time..particularly those about the wealthy and their political stooges riding high on the corruption of their nation’s decayed social conditions. These types of parasites exist in every society since the beginnings of the trappings of organised governance, unfortunately they bloom most visibly in times of social and worker distress..in a time of economic uncertainty and lopsided wealth distribution…We are seeing it in these times with too many corporate personalities leaning to the right-wing of governance rubbing shoulders with favoured politicians, seeking taxpayer monies to fund infrastructure projects most beneficial to their speculative enterprises..while much needed education, communication and social programs get defunded..and the wages of those most needed to produce the wealth of the nation get cut or reduced to help grow the profits of individual or corporation.
There is a dangerous (to the working class) level of political “cross-pollination” between the vested interests most keen for govt’ lobby representation and the recruitment of the “retired” politician. This is unfortunately NOW a regular occurrence across all political parties. I don’t know if the attraction of a tidy little nest-egg above their even now quite generous retirement income and superannuation pool is the driving motive, or perhaps just the addiction of keeping one’s personality in the “game” of political action. Whatever the attraction, I would have hoped those “retirees” of the left could restrain themselves or at least to confine their extra-political employment to activities more in keeping to the political philosophies most embraced and most rewarding personally during their role of public representative!
Was watching the ABC “The Drum” (fuck knows why) and there was this ex-politician, the ex LNP , NSW state govt’ treasurer who informed us that he was now high up in the Industry Super Fund Administration…WTF!!??…ok so he may be qualified for the task, but I ask you ; Does he have the ticker and the loyalty for the fund?..or will he be playing a waiting-game for his political sympathisers, ready to drop the whole enterprise snugly into the waiting hands of Big Bank capital speculation and thereby putting the retirement prospects of many workers at risk?..it has to be asked..in all fairness, it has to be asked, as these same individuals may at some time been the biggest ideological opponents of the very funds they now represent.
And then we have Anna Blight doing something for some bastard speculative mob..oh yes ; the banking lobby.. and a number of other retired from politics people working for the “opposite side”, making hay while their sun still shines!..not to mention that bastard of bastards Marty Ferguson working for the fucking mining lobby!…I mean..: who do you trust?..and there are others whose unmemorable achievements I forget…there’s some one now employed as a consultant now for the gambling crowd and so on it goes…I expect a retiring cardinal that we are all familiar with soon to hang out his shingle as agent for a brothel or two!
With the election to Secretary of the ACTU , the workers representative body adopting a new attitude that has drawn a line under this right-wing methodology of using the lowest paid members of society to fund the tax-haven hoards of the wealthiest members and corporations..many of them foreign controlled and run, there is an imperative for us to declare our loyalty to the citizen union body and be prepared to defend our national interest from unrestrained plunder in every quarter by these opportunists and venture capitalists.
The Right-wing of the political parties of Australia must be confronted…it MUST be, as we always suspected it would have to be one day, as their modus operandi has through all time been one of an un-intelligent continuity of take-take-take until there is nothing more to grasp and then it’s onto the oppression until there is nothing more to oppress and then the killing starts…it’s not just some paranoia talking, you can read it it in even the most cursory glance over history..and if one doesn’t learn from history…The Right-wing has no grasp nor interest in social contracts for running either an economy or society..their method of seeking “the good life” through the “door of opportunity” is the use of blunt instruments…to ram the door down and shatter it to bits in the hope of the instant wealth they have convinced everyone is just there behind the door…not for them the precision of an economic scalpel, nor the social conciliation of all-embracing inclusion..no..it’s just a dumb smash and grab venture and the devil take the hindermost!
We of the educated working classes must step up to take a more leading role in the governance of the nation. We can no longer trust an indolent private-school educated middle-class to “manage” our society..they have neither the “outrage of injustice” we witness against our fellow citizens, nor the experience of a “humiliation of poverty” to motivate them to strike or stage “physical protest” to protect our families and way of life.. For too long have the working class deffered to those seen as “more qualified” to speak on our behalf, to represent our needs and aspirations..when all the while, in many cases as written above, they were always only interested in the part of the negotiations that stopped at the gross net income more in keeping for the life they have become accustomed to!
I will leave the last words to George Antheil to describe what could possibly await those who do not subscribe to community ideals and ethics..to those who are more inclined to forgo the collective bargaining tools for individual opportunity..:
“…But a new type of crime will spring into being, it will be the crime of desperation, inhibition and inability to cope with the new life dictated by national defeat and the consequent new economic conditions. Their crimes will be the crimes of those who were never intended to be criminals, they will be stupid, ridiculous and terribly ineffectual crimes…” ……George Antheil .
So smells defeat.
7 thoughts on “So Smells Defeat.”
You’re right onto it Jaycee. The bankers, brokers and all their corporate buddies got control during the Reagan-Thatcher “deregulation” era of the late 70s and early 80s. We got stuck with the ‘greed is good’ mentality of Hayek and Friedman theories all of which were based on misreadings of Adam Smith and the mythical ‘benefits’ brought to us by the Robber Barons in the late 19th century. They were part of the boom expansion but only in a catalyst way.
The real wealth creation came from agricultural science innovation, and inventions in engineering and transportation/storage (the flow-through from the Age of Enlightenment started by Newton). But the Robber Barons took all the headlines, just as the Bonds did a century later.
Democracy is possibly a bit abstract to the average working person. They perhaps see things more in terms of security in jobs, health, education, housing and transport. A lot of these came through to them in the post-war boom through the New Deal, Keynesian policies, and centre-left governments. The era probably did not lead to true democratic rights for all but was about as good as you could get in a pluralistic society, having some concepts of fairness.
It was hated by the really wealthy and powerful and it was no surprise they jumped on the Hayek wagon when stagflation hit the world in the 1970s. The problem is that it tilted the balance far too heavily in favour of the wealthy and greedy. It destroyed the precarious quid pro quo of the Keynesian-New Deal age and we are no longer governed but ruled.
Trickle Down and Greed is Good had been utterly discredited by the early 1990s (a reason both Thatcher and Bush I got kicked out) and we got slightly less corrosive ‘3rd way’ macro strategies from Keating, Clinton and Blair. But it didn’t last when the greed reactionaries got in for another go and proceeded down the same reckless path. Here we are with the bakers, brokers and corporate chiefs still proceeding with the same rapacious and discredited policies of the 1980s.
Democracy is in deep trouble because the centre-left parties have had to bow too much to the vested interests and lobbies. I have a theory that the corporate control of our media has a lot to do with this. I worry that leaders who are showing some concern for how ordinary people are being ripped off, like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, are being sabotaged by their own centre-left colleagues who have all the money from the greed lobbies. The pity of it is that these ethical old-timers have actually captured the imagination of the young and disenfranchised.
Yes I agree with you that action will have to come from working people themselves. I think that community-based activity offers some hope (and produces some very good candidates, especially among females in the left politics and trade unions) but is not the whole answer. It needs an uprising. At least the madness of where the Right is taking us may well lead to that.
Bloody hell, Don!..THAT was some reply!..and by Christ a beauty!..yes..we are in one hell of a pickle all right..and the way out is slipping from our grasp too quickly..What I am calling for is a new approach from the “educated working class” ..that group of people either of the first generation of working families who have gone to university and further careers , but who are still connected through family or actual work to the blue-collar side of society and have the nous and the gumption and the knowledge to steer politics to a more equitable deal for the whole of society…but how THAT is going to pan out is anyone’s guess..But thanks for the reply..the best I have ever got!…It could be a post by itself..
I have to add, Don..that replies like yours give one a boost to keep pressing on with what can sometimes seem a hopeless cause..thanks for the time and thought.
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Also,despair is real,because no matter how often one shows the truth to the afflicted,can a shrug of nonchalance be the reward
I can show 3 quotes by Plato and they hold as much sway today as they did when he walked the Earth
1-Only the dead have seen the end of war.
2-Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.
3-Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
So we dance the dance of the afflicted which begun in Strasbourg,Alsace and continues on merrily because greed is not the wisest master
Hold your fire till you see the whites of their eyes!
As an afterthought, I’ll leave you with Strawbs Part of the Union, which became a solidarity rallying cry in the UK. In my opinion it ought to be sung at every meeting on working pay and conditions
Love that rousting song..