The Meltdown Festival
I read with some degree of surprise, but to be honest, not that big a degree of surprise, Naomi Wolf's article on how close the Bush Administration were to declaring martial law in America if the bail-out bill had not passed. You can read it here
Naomi Wolf is not a wingnut. She is a lefty yes, but she definitely not your paranoid conspiracy freak. I'm not sure that I buy her diagnosis that the country has already undergone a coup d’état but I don't find it hard to imagine that if the wheels of the economy really had come to a screeching halt because the banks didn't get their ransom money there would have been rioting on the streets.
You are never as far away from martial law as you think you are. Take that as you will.
I am starting to sound like John Laurie in Dad's Army: "We're doomed, I tell ye!", but I do find it slightly amazing that most people are so complacent that they think everything will go back to being the same after all this dust settles.
Nothing is going to be the same. The political map has already been redrawn. The Republican Party, the champions of deregulation, are nationalizing banks faster than Fidel Castro. The Democrats can hardly believe their luck and all Barak Obama has to do now is avoid getting shot by some rightwing hate monger.
Iceland has gone from being rated #1 place in the world to live to national bankruptcy in the space of a year. The only reason America has not joined it is because it still holds some of the levers of the financial system. If the IMF and World Bank were primarily Chinese institutions we would already be finished. Unfortunately it seems we will be taking a lot of people with us.
I keep reading articles in the paper comparing this crash to the 1929 crash. I am scepticle as to how accurate these comparisons can be. In 1929 there was not internet, no instant trading of stocls, no globalized economy, none of the same strong connections that countries have now. This is going to be new.
My biggest hope for the whole mess is that things will get a little fairer for the poor of the world by the time this all settles down. The gap between rich and poor is as big now as it ever has been, its ironic that the gap will be narrowed by the rich being brought down a peg. Maybe it will breed some humility. One can only hope so.