Signs of a Failing Empire
August 29, 2013
OPINION By JIM GRIFFIN
If you study history, there are certain clear signs that a society, a socio-economic and political system, is reaching the limits of its progressive power, potential, potency, and legitimacy. I’m sure there are others, but here are some of the major ones:
* The main economic institutions are no longer willing or able to provide opportunities for the majority of individuals, families and communities to achieve a decent living, with long term unemployment, homelessness and poverty increasing exponentially. Massive cynical and criminal financial and commercial manipulations and speculations are allowed to happen and to continue.
* Economic and political power becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and moved ever upwards. Already limited openings for popular participation in decision making are steadily closed off and hemmed in.
* Social mobility becomes frozen, and sharp class divisions are deeply ingrained.
* Ruling upper strata increasingly fear and develop increasing contempt and hatred toward the poor, the unemployed, marginalized minorities, and even everyday working people, pushing for lower levels of pay and more difficult work loads and longer work periods.
* Divisions among the lower strata are exacerbated and encouraged by the upper classes on the basis of race, nationality, gender, sexual identity, age, employment status and all kinds of other false and exaggerated “differences”.
* Organizations of mutual support, solidarity and fight back among the lower social classes are attacked, weakened, destroyed, bought off and made impotent. Intensified competition among unorganized workers and functionaries for dwindling opportunities becomes rampant.
* Military and police forces are increased in size (this varies) and armed with ever more deadly weaponry. Wars become more common and ongoing, as ruling strata hunger for dwindling resources, markets, and the power to counter their rivals around the world — and to suppress periodic rebellions within their “colonies”, and increasingly within their own countries, partially through police spies, surveillance, informers, provocateurs, and agents.
* This all leads to inevitable overreach and over extension, as well as the financial strains of maintaining, replacing and constantly revolutionizing military, intelligence and police technology and forces.
* Military personnel and veterans are increasingly abused and cut off from support and their promised rights. Mass unemployment assures a constant flow of replacements — fresh blood.
* Mass arrests, convictions, and incarcerations become the order of the day. A huge prison industry further saps the falling resources of the society.
* Educational systems, opportunities for learning, social and public services, and the basic physical infrastructure are allowed to crumble and decay, and are not maintained. Access to quality health care and health maintenance possibilities become compromised, even in the midst of programs and facilities periodically implemented and provided.
* A general fraying of social and community cohesiveness sets in, and alienation increases between people.
* The physical environment is constantly and increasingly violated and trashed in the never ending quest of the ruling strata to exploit and ravish the resources of the planet — at any cost.
Does any of this sound familiar or ring a bell ? Allowing for exceptions and occasional islands of hope and glimmers of positiveness, can anyone truly doubt that the above litany of horrors pretty much describes our current state of affairs in this country and this world ? The question, of course, at least among those of us who understand the unfortunate reality of these facts, is: What can be done ? What needs to be done ? What are the possible ways forward and out of this vortex of destruction and calamity ?
I’d like to hear from you. What are your thoughts and conclusions ? I’ll get into mine at a later time, but soon. Take care.
Jim Griffin has lived in San Luis Obispo for five years. The son of a career Air Force officer, Jim lived in many varied places growing up (Born in California but moving to Alaska at 2 1/2, back to California, to Illinois, back to Alaska, to Canada, and ending up in the Detroit area, Michigan, when he was twelve) having moved six times before the age of thirteen. Jim lived most of his life in Michigan. Jim has been a progressive political activist since his mid teens, taking part in anti-war movements, the civil rights movement, labor union struggles, and other movements for human, civil, and democratic rights. He aims to be a successful writer and author and to work in some capacity as a social service professional if possible. Jim is single but “looking.”