Capitalism’s worst crisis in a generation has seen the personalizing of social problems proceed with a vengeance usually reserved for foreign leaders . While we have long had our collective consciousness shaped into despising individual alien monsters, like Hitler, Saddam, or Osama, the recent hit list of bad guys is composed mostly of Americans. There is always some hatred generated for whoever fronts for corporate capital and allegedly presides over the system, like Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and now Obama, but it hasn’t yet led to embargoes or bombing raids on the American people. That is reserved for the foreign bad guys and used as rationale for mass murder. But this economic crisis finds new home grown satanic villains , made to seem responsible for the near total demise of the financial system, if not capitalism itself.
Like the AIG execs whose bonuses led to manipulated public outcry, with congressional weasels – who normally bankroll wealth with the wages of workers – joining in expressions of shocked outrage. That these criminally overpaid hustlers were to receive bonuses which, in total, amounted to about .006% of what taxpayers had already tossed into the AIG investor class coffers mostly passed unnoticed, while the outrage at them has been programmed into a collective vein bursting rage, including idiotic death threats. We have taken 80% ownership of AIG, but with 0% control, under the direction of the same government hypocrites howling about what amounts to chump change by comparison. This is part of the program to serve the rich by robbing the public purse, and to further savage public consciousness in the process.
And in that trend, no demonized monster has incurred more anger and vindictive hatred than Bernard Madoff. He is the supposed king of Ponzi schemers, in a system that has been nothing more than a massive Ponzi scheme for years now. While an honest appraisal of what he is alleged to have done would guarantee him sainthood among the pantheon of charlatans who have helped build the imaginary foundation of modern capitalism, poor Bernie has become the daddy of all satanic creations.
First the unashamed public hand wringing about a jew who dared to take advantage of other jews, and then the sheepish discovery that he had taken even greater advantage of the majority non-jews. After this, a nonsectarian, more generally inclusive chorus of “how could he do this to us”, mostly coming from people so wealthy that they could afford their losses without any pain at all, but including some gullible enough to contradict the old axiom about not putting all your eggs in one basket. These people saw their individual fortunes vanish overnight, but those fortunes were really never there in the first place, and if Bernie had not become tired and worn by his hustle he might still be inducing greed mongers to jump on his bandwagon and make money by investing in themselves, while believing someone else was providing the loss for their profit.
As the nation spins through a cycle only the neanderthal right can call socialism, the public sinks into trillions more dollars in debt to bail out the system which has created our problems. But we are to think only about individual villains who are the supposed cause of all that has gone wrong, which is like blaming a meteorologist for a hurricane. Having an individual demon to despise keeps people from questioning the system which creates such negative icons, thereby making it safe for our rulers to continue ruling while the scapegoats they advertise for public consumption arouse the anger that should be directed at them.
As the new N word – nationalize – becomes more unspeakable than the other N word, taxpayers take majority ownership of financial institutions, but exercise absolutely no control over them, entrusting that to the same people who ran these billion dollar cathedrals for wealth worshippers into the financial fiascos they have become. Meanwhile, we are supposed to hate outrageously overpaid CEOs who have existed for nearly a generation now but who have escaped any scrutiny until this moment. This, while the slack jaws of the right screech about socialism, communism, and the end of free enterprise, which has never begun for most Americans, and what passes for the left shudders in fear that it will be judged extreme if it does anything more than shudder in fear.
Far worse then Bernie and the Scapegoats were the Enron swindlers, who literally stole their employee’s pension funds. Those people were left with nothing for their retirement, but now we are to grieve for fund losers who may not be able to visit the Bahamas as often as they used to, and have watched their dividends based on derivatives based on leveraging based on lies, vanish from the imaginary world of religious finance. While thousands of Americans lose homes, jobs and health care, the imaginary wealth generated and lost by a tiny minority at the top incurs manipulated majority wrath directed at their agents and servants, but without question for them, and the corrupt economy within which the entire criminal conspiracy operates.
In places like El Salvador and France, new governments are elected and millions march in the streets in protest, while here, we are moved to hate scapegoats while worshipping and financing their creators. A public divided into identity groups and relatively powerless unions becomes easy to work into a frenzy over individual villains while kept from noticing that the problem is the social institution and not its individual sales and accounting staff. Hopefully, and before it’s too late, we can learn from the example of other nations and social movements, which are demanding and getting radical social change, rather than accepting the status quo by their forced concentration on punishing individual celebrity villains.