Thursday, February 24, 2011

Part One: An American Implosion

"His thoughts were hemmed in. One can only draw curved lines on the terrestrial sphere which, as they extend, forever meet with themselves. At such intersections we always encounter what we have already seen."
— Raymond Queneau

 In an age where the United States rightfully decry s "the shooting of peaceful protesters" we turn to another form of warfare that has everything to do with tribal and organic resources as well as suppression, economics and the accumulation of wealth by a minority of individuals at the expense of many. 
This is the hidden history of a smoldering dynamic that may catch afire when the democracy of inexpensive transportation grinds to a halt. Call it class warfare when we could perhaps call democracy, equally, a form of "collective bargaining". 
The growth of the American Empire in the continual search for increased profitability at the diminished requirements of labor in the fantasy of a democratic  transition to a economy of information, workless work while moving onto the greener fields of China leaves Strange Angels in the form of Ghosts..that taunt a increasing division between survivability and the accumulation of wealth. 

Myths as a story as old as the ruins of Summeria or Egypt.. of a monarcial universe ruled from the top down.

Who really owns the saddle for this horse? Ghosts perhaps.... that never left. The goose that laid the golden eggs..a fable for adult children perhaps.

A playing field that has been historically fueled by suppression, inexpensive labor and equally inexpensive energy that upholds the temporal arches of cultural myths now meets the other of increasing "have nots" in suburbia.......while the inner cities are rife as they have been since time immemorial with drug addiction, the unemployed the selling of flesh and a medieval system of drug lords that would rival the Opium Kings of Afghanistan whom we pay off in a theocracy of  bribes as a utility..  Democracy as defined by it's vested interest is perhaps positioning legislation  in advance of a future world of a mobility implosion, a whimper followed by a big bang we can hear like a  train rumbling toward us miles away and yet gathering steam.  Fantasies fall like dominoes, rhetoric becomes bullets when the haves... have not whether it was the Khybers of Cambodia or the Sun Kings of France who are possessive  inventions in a fairy tale. But then there's the irony of a Kurt Vonnegut who saw the dead child in a heaven surrounded by balloons and firetruck rides in a land of plenty that wrests a sardonic tear hidden by sarcasm, when history personal or otherwise comes home to roost, as a ghost that refuses to leave..My lost son Matthew sits behind my shoulder as I write this as the gist of this is an unfinished discussion left suspended in the air like a lazily floating cloud of dust covering me I cannot brush off, even more so now.....the sobriety of a child's rubric clothed in a suit and tie leads back to an elementary school of history, of armed revolts carving up new franchises, brand names, and the paranormality of the prosaic remains like a thick film obscuring vital details....depressing.

Transportation as a metaphor for personal freedom. Dreams and fantasies as a form of collective bargaining between the employed and the employer, whether it is technology that is employed or the rhetoric that fertilizes the propaganda of certainty. The dream as a nightmare gone unrecognized in the comfort of sleep. 

"The lamentable expression: 'But it was only a dream", the increasing use of which - among others in the domain of the cinema - has contributed not a little to encourage such hypocrisy, has for a long while ceased to merit discussion."
— AndrĂ© Breton

Energy, mobility and the economic engines of corporatism smolder as record numbers of dolphins die off in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of a certain explosion. Hardly noticed in the corporate media. Call it a perfect storm or avoidable. Your choice whether it is in Libya or Ohio, or is it? Here they come...on the tensioned dynamics of the fuel that drives democratic mobility as a choice, an artifice of "economic engines"..that may prove a ironic prison.

The photograph at the top of this post is the aftermath of what became known as the Ludlow Massacre  during an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado on April 20, 1914. The 19 deaths occurred after a day-long fight between strikers and the Guard. Two women and eleven children were asphyxiated and burned to death. Three union leaders and two strikers were killed by gunfire, along with one child, one passer-by, and one National Guardsman. In response, the miners armed themselves and attacked dozens of mines, destroying property and engaging in several skirmishes with the Colorado National Guard. Warfare in all of it's forms between corporate interests and the  impetus that led to the Wagner Act that that established minimum wages, shortened workdays, and improved working conditions for those who labored in the mines, or worked for the Pullman interests in the era of the unprecedented accumulation of wealth by what were termed a relatively small group of individuals termed "robber barons" in what was called The Gilded Age, the arising of a economic class system in the U.S. This is the context of the social warfare, rebellions and violent battles that has been swept under the rug when singing the praises of the economic superiority of the capitalist democracy..Here is a political cartoon of that era and note that the synchronicity between then and now is not a paranormal anomaly in terms of economic warfare but to those of us who actually read history, the writing remains on the wall.Humpty Dumpty.

Then there was the Battle of Matewan, West Virginia. In Matewan was the monopoly of the coal companies. Instead of being a capitalistic system, the coal companies dominated the town and every aspect of the miners' lives. Miners wanted to emancipate themselves from the monopoly of the coal companies and joined the union. Miners joined the union with the risk of losing their homes and jobs. The companies responded by using Baldwin-Felts detectives to evict miners and their families from the company-owned homes. The Baldwin-Felts detectives arrived on May 19, 1920 and evicted six families and stacked their belongings outside the homes. Many people heard about the evictions and became furious. They rushed into town with guns to confront the detectives. The mayor, Cabel Testerman, and police chief, Sid Hatfield, sided with the miners. Hatfield attempted to arrest Al Felts for evicting miners without Matewan authority. The miners and detectives faced each other. It is unknown who fired the first shot, but someone started firing and then the melee broke out. There were several deaths; seven detectives were killed, including Al and Lee Felts and two miners were killed in the battle. Also, Matewan’s mayor Cabel Testerman got shot and was dying. Angry miners followed the Battle of Matewan with events such as the march to Logan County. Hatfield eventually died 15 months later when the Baldwin-Felts detectives killed him at the McDowell county courthouse. In August 1921, approximately 5,000 miners, still angry, gathered for a protest march to Logan County. Between 1,200 and 1,300 state police, deputy sheriffs, armed guards, and others stopped the marchers at Blair Mountain, near the Boone-Logan county line. A battle went on for four days. At Governor Ephraim Morgan's request, 2,100 federal troops to Blair Mountain to stop the event. A group of planes flew over to survey the event. To be prepared, reinforcement of Federal forces came back including a chemical warfare unit and a bomber and fighter planes. The miners eventually surrendered. About 543 people were indicted on charges, including murder, treason, and carrying guns. Union membership plummeted after 1921.
The Battle of Matewan led to the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933, which established the right to bargain collectively. The NIRA was eventually replaced by the Wagner Act that established minimum wages, shortened workdays, and improved working conditions.The reality was that the forest fire was suppressed but the tinder smoldered beneath the surface in an era of inexpensive oil, which replaced coal as the economic engine of industrial technology. However a trap no one had envisioned occurred, as tall a barrier of imprisonment as concertina wire,that predated the arrival of what were once called and remain, the working poor. A maze of pavements, a locking of mobility into a economic class system of mobility, based on resources that are privately owned outside of the purview of democracy.The smoldering burned underneath the green lawns and rotating sprinklers of suburbia, while the inner cities like Detroit became virtual economic prison camps. 

"There are fairy stories to be written for adults. Stories that are still in a green state."
— AndrĂ© Breton (Manifestoes of Surrealism)

Next in the dynamics of history in regard to current events is another lost history swept under the rug in the Age of (allegedly inexpensive)Oil, which is The Interurban Era and the lost opportunities that occurred in electrification of transport, that later was lost in the arrival of the automobile, the age of Standard Oil, the age of government funding in the paving of America,  which has been replaced by Exxon and the Achilles Heel of a U.S Empire.

The smoldering dynamic of class distinctions, mobility and the rule of law under corporate, (read government) control led by a president whose tactical strategy is political compromise is reflected in an unrest that is viral whether it is in Libya, or Madison Wisconsin,economic warfare, the tokens at the casino of game theory ends when one player opts out of his or her assigned role piles on the table as the rule of law becomes the playing of odds. Or thousands, perhaps millions opting out, moving out of place when there is nothing left on the table to lose. Thousands waiting at a bus stop for a box of Cheerios.

Transportation as a right or is it a privilege? Further, who is controlling this right or privilege? Exxon or George Pullman?
During the economic panic of 1893, the Pullman Palace Car Company cut wages as demands for their train cars plummeted and the company's revenue dropped. A delegation of workers complained of the low wages and twelve-hour workdays, and that the corporation that operated the town of Pullman didn't decrease rents, but company owner George Pullman "loftily declined to talk with them." Wages and the economics of private ownership of resources are interesting to view in the light of not when things are " roses, roses, roses" but when the chips at the casino are down. Whose rights have been historically defended?
The strike was broken up by United States Marshals and some 12,000 United States Army troops, commanded by Nelson Miles, sent in by President Grover Cleveland on the premise that the strike interfered with the delivery of U.S. Mail, ignored a federal injunction and represented a threat to public safety. The arrival of the military and subsequent deaths of workers led to further outbreaks of violence. During the course of the strike, 13 strikers were killed and 57 were wounded. An estimated 6,000 rail workers did $340,000 worth of property damage (about $8,818,000 in 2010 dollars). Strange Angels..of history armed with a sword and plowshares... "here they come, here they come..."

A strange sunrise follows the ruminations upon the follies of the night, the tossing and turning driven by unseen phantoms that wrest from polite dialog in this American Empire, a history that was an imprinted fate long before the Romans the Vikings, perhaps even when the native people's memory fails when a history is rebooted to begin again."I can't remember the details of the dream." Perhaps history has a afterlife and we are the past seeking a new opportunity to resurrect old demons that pursued us beyond the grave. Where we once looked for the divine reconciliation in the whispers of a breeze through a lace curtain, we await naive extraterrestrials in ironclads or flying saucers to deliver us. Strange Angels indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I stumbled over this looking for over watered lawns. Beautifully written and illustrated commentary on the collapse of the American empire under the weight of its own greed and ignorance.