Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism reports her well-connected, wealthy friends are getting twitchy about what they see coming. She doesn’t necessarily agree that major upheaval is coming but found it instructive that some NYC elites are now speaking in these terms.
The conversation turned to whether the US was going towards revolution or fascism. One argued for the a continuation of trends underway: that the continuing weakness of the Obama Administration (and the discrediting of other members of the elite) meant there was a power vacuum. The obvious group to exploit it is the most strident, uncompromising opportunists, an area where the extreme right has a monopoly. The other, who has ben reading up on the French Revolutions. took issue with the conventional idea that a revolution is impossible in America: “In France, the trigger was that people were hungry. We are close to that point than most think.” He stressed the desensitization to violence (video games, more and more violence) plus widespread gun ownership. And he pointed to rising and underreported crime in the city, for instance, assaults of cab drivers.
He also noted that he believed that there were a lot of people (and he meant in the upper income strata) who were barely holding on, keeping up appearances, and hoping something would break their way. Some might get lucky, but most will hit the wall financially.
Contrary to the quaint tenets of Marxism, the leadership of uprisings generally comes from the upper middle class and above. When factions of such classes get disenchanted, then the possibility for change becomes more probable. They know how the system works, and have resources and connections the working class can only dream of.
This was an engaging and lively conversation, but it you stepped back, the content was grim. Another thread was the decay in values, that there has been two generations of parents not setting boundaries for their children. One lives next to one of the elite private schools and likes children, but called those in his ‘hood as “monsters,” describing how a boy was beating up on his nanny and he had to intercede.
If a gang kid beat up an adult, he’d be arrested, right? But not the children of elites. Hey, their parents don’t get arrested either when they loot the economy.
These data points don’t converge neatly, but they suggest a deep-rooted anxiety that economic and social structures are near a breaking point, and whatever comes next is not likely to be pretty.
There could not be a better time for organizing on the left, yet liberals and progressives too often are still waiting for Obama to do the right thing (good luck with that) while much of the hard left continues its usual circular firing squads and determined and obstinate quest for irrelevancy.
(In the case of the NYC little monsters, they didn’t drop out but rather act the role of overly-entitled thugs who think the law can’t touch them. Besides, it’s a great song.)