The American Way—2021

The evidence surrounds most of us, no matter where we live—city, suburb or country. Europe, Asia and the Americas. The concept we understood to be the USA is unraveling in a manner many might never have considered. I’ve always been a bit of a pessimist despite a reasonably cheery disposition. The fact of an economy based solely on the pursuit of profit and a governing process whose primary reason to exist is to further that pursuit makes this demise fairly predictable. Add to that the greed built into such a system and an almost complete lack of will among the most powerful to do anything but continue the chase for profit and the power their billions provide and…we are probably screwed.

Refugees from wars and nature’s revenge populate places while they await a future based on the whim of those who fear and even hate them. Other refugees, victims of capitalist upheaval and the neuroses even psychoses such an economy spawns live out their lives under bridges, in aqueducts bled dry, on city streets and in jails. Much of the world truly believes it is the unhoused poor’s fault they have no home except a tent and no medicine except a drink. The wealthy and their media encourage this perception while they squirrel away the cash they haven’t spent, their own psychosis portrayed as a virtue; to have more wealth than anyone can ever spend in a hundred lifetimes. Politicians of almost every stripe wager with our children’s futures for another few years of their benefactors’ profits, unwilling to acknowledge the Faustian nature of their dealing or in many cases not caring.

Parallel universes exist side by side as if they are in different dimensions. Capitalism’s casualties eat breakfasts scrounged from unfinished meals of the citizens—some who are but a few thousand dollars away from a similar, shared fate. In the belly of the beast, the whores of capitalism posturing as politicians contemplate destroying the shell game they call the economy for reasons composed of spite, hatred, and greed. Their blindness and stupidity doesn’t seem to provide them with the obvious: the destruction of the economy will not leave them untouched. Perhaps their goal is to create a Pinochet-style economy and regime. Or maybe an echo of the Russian debacle under Yeltsin; the one the capitalist press called a miracle. Potential profits made on the destruction of lives too numerous to count. It’s a great system when you’re near the soulless top of it.

Death planes spewing trails of fossil fuel waste fly over my house daily in rehearsals for a war they hope to fight in someone else’s land. The noise is deafening but the bombs they hope to drop elsewhere are deadly. Veterans of their wars cheer on those planes from their sleeping bags under the bridge while they share a meal of beer and beans from a can. It’s a great country, ain’t it? When you bring up the war that put them in the street too many say they would do it again. The solidarity of the killers in a contest to the death, where everything comes down to the will to survive. I ask them why and wonder at the power of illusion. They don’t know why. They just do what they know. The alcohol dims their memories and trauma until it doesn’t. It’s as if the whole freaking thing was designed for some emperor’s entertainment. It’s a known fact that it’s designed for a particular class’s profits.

The fear of equality drives certain white folks to madness. The fear of a Black planet is what drives them to insanity. Imagine what they would do if true Black liberation came to be. Uniformed patrols rove the streets enforcing an economy that considers them as pawns to be manipulated and misused. Every day the powerful prove the veracity of the words of their ancestor Jay Gould: I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half. The dogs fight in the pit while the owners collect wagers dependent on the viciousness of those whose lives they are destroying.

Friends tell me it’s too frustrating to care. The world is heading towards a disaster beyond any other disaster. Not a bang and not a whimper, but a slowly crescendoing and probably even at one time preventable series of events. I’m not as pessimistic but wonder at my optimism when I read that private equity funds are investing in those things that are the most likely culprits in this slow-motion apocalypse. According to a group calling itself the Private Equity Shareholder Project, these unaccountable finaglers of financial holdings are “propelling the energy crisis” and simultaneously resisting the move towards renewable energy resources. The reason is simple. The quick and fast money is to be made in buying and selling fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas. Renewables require patience and renewables require accountability. Private equity funds want neither.. Many people may not be able to afford to heat their homes this winter, but a tidy profit will be made from those who can. These private funds want the quick money and they don’t want to have to tell anyone how they made their ill-gotten gains. The top ten crooks in this manipulative game are most of the usual suspects: The Carlyle Group/NGP Energy, Capital 16, Brookfield Asset Management,/Oaktree Capital Management, KKR, The Blackstone Group, Warburg Pincus, Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, Ares Management, Apollo Global Management, TPG Capital and CVC Capital. In capitalist America, these names represent pinnacles of success. For those of us with a broader view, they represent earthly members of Satan’s legions. Driven by greed and pride, they lust after gold. I don’t go to church, but I know evil when it appears in front of me. The books of the Abrahamaic god decry these sins while many of those who claim to worship that god bow in adoration to those who commit them.

Bob Dylan said it this way. “Power and greed and corruptible seed seem to be all that there is.”

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: