We're very obviosuly at a pivotal moment in the history of our country. Being that I have a bit of a background in 19th and 20th century history, I think it'd be useful to investgiate the characteristics of this malaise, and why the ideological shackles bound to our aristocracy will prevent any reform and guarantee something greater.
Our first task is to define the three major avenues that tension is taking right now. Those are:
- the public health crisis
- the economic crisis
- the socioeconomic crisis
This dive should hopefully elucidate each of these crises and why they're all connected, and exactly why our aristocracy cannot abide any reform.
The Plague, or Public Health Crisis
Depending on what statistics you're looking at and which state governments you believe, the United States thus far has suffered over one hundred and ten thousand deaths due to the novel coronavirus, covid19. While there is some interesting discusison to be had around the virus itself, I'm far more concerned with the response to that virus.
Most obviously, the undercounting and manipulating of death statistics. All that's needed to see this is to compare five year averages of pneumonia deaths to year to date 'pneumonia' deaths in 2020: nearly every state is blowing past the yearly average of pneumonia deaths, with several at multiples beyond doubling.
It can be no clearer that the message from our governments – local, state, federal – to the people of this country who are not privleged enough to work from home (or indeed, to work only when they choose to do so) is that 'We must roll the dice with your lives and comfort, because we to stop the economic machine would be more dangerous than a million corpses in our streets'.
This message, obviously, is provacative, and has played a not-insubstantial role in the tenacity of the protest movement in America. Covid19 is decimiating poor communities throughout America, people who are rapidly losing any hope they may have had for their futures. The only recourse, the only vent, is to be in the street.
The Economic Crisis
The depth and breadth of the economic crisis precipitating from the U.S. financial sector outward is breathtaking. Most unique, though, is the rapditiy of the crisis: less than 4 months ago, the US unemployment rate was reasonably about 6% (the oft-used U3 measurement is not 'unemployment' as people understand it and is no more than propaganda). Today, that same measure is north of 30%.
The United States has entered a severity of unemployment that is untenable, clear as can be. No democratic country has seen an /increase/ of unemployment to that degree and maintained its governing legitimacy. Moreover, the current structures that hold together our economic mode of production are so brittle, so ill maintained, that any minor reformation would have serious repercussions throughout finance and the larger economy.
We have a uniquely (for America, anyway) paralyzed and sclerotic aristocracy, one that is at once stupid, lazy, and terribly indecisive. When our leaders do act, it is inevitably tone deaf, weak, and immediately questioned by a more and more suspicious population.
The Socioeconomic Crisis
And of course, we have the protests sweeping the country. Every state and every major metropole has seen near constant protesting for weeks now, with millions across the country taking part in the purest expression of disdain and social action
The flashpoint for these protests was all too common for American life: a man was brutally executed by police. The application of force by the capitalist state has been incoherent and haphazard for decades in America, and the culmination of the above two crises provided enough fuel for these protests to grow beyond any sort of previous critical mass.
It's difficult to tell, really, where these interlocking and reifying crises propel us. I think that we can remove 1968 from the possibilities, however: that was a response to return to a status quo, a reform to head off a revolution. Reform is untenable for both sides now, what comes next will resemble what came before in name only, if that.
I consider 1848 or 1905 to be the most likely outcomes. Table-setters for something larger, a government falls or finally capitulates and buys itself a brief respite from the public anger and spleen.