The inaugural as Rorschach test
"So many people are blind partisans, struggling through life and with each other with no imaginable end in view, victims of momentary slogans and ancient prejudices. Behind them are men with clear ideas and well-defined aims." – Kenneth Rexroth
Based on concerns about an “insider attack” during the Biden inauguration, the Associated Press reports that the FBI is vetting all 25,000 US military personnel mustered in Washington, DC for security during the event.
The enormous military presence for a US inauguration was already without historical precedent. The revelation that the assigned troops cannot necessarily be trusted to follow orders throws the anarchic state of the nation into even sharper relief.
Additionally, a January 11, 2021, headline at the New York Times reported that “The F.B.I. this week sent a warning to local law enforcement agencies about the potential for armed protests in all 50 states.”
This extraordinary tableau is playing out on the heels of the most expensive election in US history, a $14 billion virtual spectacle conducted throughout 2020 almost entirely via television, Zoom calls and social media. The $14 billion total is twice that of previous record spending in the 2016 election, yet still excludes huge amounts of uncountable dark money.
Civil stability appears to be in inverse proportion to the exponentially increasing cost and stage managed nature of Hollywood style US election blockbusters funded primarily by the wealthy. Morning Consult reports that while more than 50% of Republican voters accept the results, just 22% believe the 2020 election was “free and fair” and only 27% trust US elections in general. Among Democratic voters, 90% believe the election was free and fair and 79% trust US elections overall.
Here’s what that translates into per CNN.
On a typical Inauguration Day, hundreds of thousands of Americans flock to Washington, DC, to catch a glimpse of the new President being sworn in. Not this year. Government leaders and health officials are telling people to stay away. "Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually” said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
A virtual election, followed by a virtual inauguration is very much in keeping with the tenor of the Covid lockdown regime, wherein “2021 Begins with Expanded Coronavirus Restrictions” in every major US city.
Authentic political life has been essentially outlawed since March 2020, shutdown alongside the closure and massive reconfiguration of all economic and social life. With citizen driven politics under house arrest, more than $20 trillion in “stimulus” was pumped into the global corporate and financial sectors from March through August 2020, most of it in the US (At least $12 trillion currently known in the US with trillions more proposed.) to prevent an unprecedented economic collapse and with it, the end of a dollar denominated global economy. (See my Covidnomics series here.)
The Washington Post has been urging people since April 2020 to “Prepare for collateral damage as devastating as the virus,” then punctuated that warning with a December headline reporting that “The stock market is ending 2020 at record highs, even as the virus surges and millions go hungry.”
The “collateral damage” the Post refers to includes a global increase in untreated diabetes, millions of deferred cancer exams and treatments, up to 5.5 times more at-home cardiac deaths than before the pandemic, a 40% rise in untreated dementia, increased child depression, surging suicide, drug abuse and domestic violence.
Further, as the US enters the new year worried about an Inaugural putsch by its own troops, China is the only major world economy to report growth in 2020 (+2.3%) while the US experienced a decline of -4.3% and the Eurozone contracted by -7.4%.
China’s GDP is now 75% of US output, and on Saturday, January 16, 2021, a typical day, China had 109 new cases of Covid vs. 201,732 new cases in the US. China has spent a total of only $1.3 trillion on highly targeted Covid stimulus according to the IMF Stimulus Tracker.
This new Covid Zeitgeist is the embodiment of the “stark utopia” that Karl Polanyi so eloquently predicted in 1944 in his seminal economic tract, “The Great Transformation.”
Polanyi thought the idea of allowing markets to function in a socially detached realm outside the main currents of social and civil life in the expectation of balanced and equitable outcomes was “utopian,” and that it was doomed to end in stark dystopian collapse. His description of the consequences is worth quoting at length.
“To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment would result in the demolition of society. Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed…”
“The idea of a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia. Such an institution could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society; it would have physically destroyed man and transformed his surroundings into a wilderness.”
Remember, this was written in 1944. It is not melodrama. As I wrote in my Substack newsletters in June 2020:
“By the end of 2019, twin political and financial crises that had been developing for most of the past decade had accelerated in ways that were threatening the stability of the post Cold War world order at a foundational level.
The fraudulence, cruelty and moral vacuity of the doctrine of neoliberal inevitability were being exposed in real time, making the distractions of Brexit and Trump seem like a mere prelude to potentially seismic shifts in the social-political landscape.”
The economic, social and political destruction being wrought by official responses to the Covid pandemic, and the unhinged attempts to mount the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset” alongside the privatization of nature being pursued by front groups such as the Natural Capital Coalition are doomed to failure.
Keeping this kind of paternalist authoritarianism even marginally alive has required a global fear campaign built around the virus and the reduction of political life to virtual media spectacles. It is an agenda without the slightest semblance of popular support.
As the cumulative medical, social and economic effects of the manipulated global lockdown agenda build to a devastating crescendo of human suffering over the coming 12 to 18 months, the political impact will register like a sonic boom rippling across the political spectrum, and fear will give way to new forms of citizen-driven political action.
The January 6, 2021, riots in Washington, DC were a destructive, unhinged clown show with no discernible objective.
The coming tsunami of citizen driven rebellion worldwide against the anti-democratic, anti-humanist agenda of globalist elites will look very different. It is already beginning in nascent form in Europe, Asia and the Americas, an implacable rejection of economic and social tyranny driven by greed and the desire to prop up a failed global economic model under the guise of protecting public health.
This may not be the “end of history” but it will be the end of a globalized economic order built on massive environmental despoliation and top down political tyranny.