No Longer Normal

In reading Ancient Mysteries by Marvin W. Meyer, there came these sentences:

In sum, the Olympians began to fall from glory for several reasons. Their destiny was linked to that of the Greek polis, which was no longer the basic political unit in the world after Alexander’s time.

A connection between politics, economics, and war has a long and sordid history. It should be noted that these entwine religion and philosophy as support structures. This is not to say there are straight-line connections or a fated outcome in their confluence.

There is recent news of a significant statue of Robert E. Lee coming down, days of growing protest regarding police violence, and the naming of a portion of 16th Street NW in Washington, D.C., as Black Lives Matter Plaza. Questions arise regarding the economic system of Capitalism being repositioned by movements exterior to it, events as large as those that left the structure of a Greek polis behind. The limits of repression and resources upon which Capitalism has flourished are larger than its desire to continue as a perpetual normal.

A system tied to the limits of slavery—overt, championed by Lee, or covert, championed by union-busing Kochs, or both, embodied by imperial divide-and-conquer insults by Trump—and dependent on ever-larger swaths of environmental destruction and rape of resources, eventually runs out of room to breathe. Slaves and wage-slaves revolt. Technological advantages can only delay the consequences of used-up resources for so long before they are starved by the same lack.

Though we are no longer in a stable economic world, a shift to what is next will be generations in the making. Right now, we are too close to Capitalism’s internal contradiction of separating money from people to see beyond knee-jerk reactions to its displacement as an organizing principle. Currently, we can only project, based on past falls of empires, that politics, war, religion, and philosophy will also change. This change has already begun and will further evolve in decades and centuries to come.

This perspective suggests that what has been described as an American Empire has been an Empire of Capital. There may still be a bit of life for Democracy if it does not become a cloak for another idol interposing itself between people.

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