Wall Street & The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Our economic problems cannot be solved by economic solutions alone. We know that, on the global scale, simply putting things in order is not enough……there must be complete change that reaches down to the roots, change that also rises with fresh vitality from those hidden channels of fundamental sustainence that we call ‘our roots’……the protests emerging around the world against economic and political usury and subjugation are vitalised ‘grass-roots’ movements of the people that carry the full awareness of this need. The People want Change, We want it Now, and We will not stop until it is fully Realised!
The Wall Street protests, that are now seeding parallel movements of the people across the USA and around the globe, are picking up on the continuing collective realisation that, if the plutocrats, corporatocracy, politians and governments won’t engage with this imperative for radical corrective and healing of the pervasive disfunctions of power and its concomitant wounds, the People will.
At this time, the underlying dynamic is one of growing tension. We are seeing an emphasis on peaceful demonstration that is crucial, but, if there is no change, how long will the peace remain? Remember, for example, in the UK we saw mass demonstrations when 1 million people took to the streets protesting against the Iraq War – it was ignored. However, politicians would do well to pay attention and realise that the people do not forget and will not take accumulative rebuttal and denial of their will and perceptions without consequence. The so called ‘Arab Spring’ rumbles on. Soon enough, will it become the ‘Winter of our Discontent’. Ever more our governments resemble the very entities against which they claim to be fighting, as Shakespeare so clearly articulated with biting irony in Richard III…….
When governments ignore the voice of the people, over the years, the tension builds. It is a tension most clearly expressed now, on the one hand between the rigid opposition of the political and financial establishments to any form of change, that falls in line with public perceptions, and on the other hand with the open demonstration of public awareness and will that demands that change must happen. This is a dynamic that is expressing a shared sense of endemic dis-function that we cannot ignore. There are dangers here as well as opportunity…….we would do well to look deeply and unwaveringly into the eyes of danger if we are to continue finding our way to opportunity.
It may seem strange to begin an article on the Wall Street protests with this particular visionary poem, but, its message carries deep resonances within the midst of the great global changes that are now unfolding. W B Yeats poem “The Second Coming” was written in the wake of the Great War of 1914-18. Millions of lives were lost in the that war, an unprecedented scale of human violence within a single conflict in which ordinary people were used as cannon fodder, a sanctioned mass murder that ultimately did nothing but serve the ends of the ruling classes and politicians.The poem is loaded with imagery rising from this wounding of the collective soul, for that is what it unequivicably was, constellating millenia of destructive usury. The reverberations precipitated an awareness of the global nature of the human potential for destruction and usury, that has been growing in consciousness ever since. It was not enough to prevent a Second World War, infact the trauma, the deep psychological wound and its attendant disfunctions grew out of, were compounded in and carried forward through and beyond that time…….we all live in this collective shadow, none are exempt from the responsibility to face it.
The consciousness we lacked one hundred years ago is now, however, increasingly shared collectively. A tipping point has been reached in our collective consciousness; our destructive potential now stares us in the face, we cannot deny it. And yet we find the wound remains and has deepened, reaching into all areas of life. It is seated at a fundamental level, has spawned greed beyond imagination, and there are a small minority who would seek to maintain its death dealing vampirism within our world. Only, now, it and its perpetraitors are in the dock. I do not think that this is what Yeats had in mind when he spoke of ‘conviction’, any more than fundamentalism being pointed out through him saying that ‘the worst are full of passionate intensity’, but, a frisson of certainty is carried beneath the surface of his words which we all recognise. We, the 99%, know that this is, at a fundamental level, behind the focus we have now chosen to act upon. The roots of this protest are deeply ancestral……our passions run deep.
It is surely right to focus on the plutocrats at this time, especially with widening cracks showing in the global economic infra-structure over which they rule. However, if we want to see the change we are calling for truly come about, as true as our perception of abuse and usury is, it surely cannot be restricted to economics alone. And, we know that governments are ‘bought’ by the corporate plutocracy.
As Yeats had it in 1919, in the wake of the Great War, ‘the blood dimmed tide is loosened, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned’; western governments engage in war in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, always seeking to over-ride its destructive and violent nature by claiming the moral high-ground, and, it has ever been so. With the Great War, war itself became funded by mechanisation and became the provenance of industrial expansion. In a world dominated by industry and commerce it is no wonder that war has proliferated, that never a day goes by when there is not war being fought somewhere in the world. Yet, do the governments express the will of the people in this? The industrial complex feeds our culture while destroying our humanity and the world we live in. How culpable are the governments? Obviously their version of the morals and ethics that we are now bringing into question are of a quite different nature to those held by the vast majority.
For our grandparents, the Great War came as a terrible and deeply traumatic shock – a shock out of innocence. Their awareness was very different from our own in many ways. With the advent of global communications we can no longer claim innocence about the presence of war and violence. Equally, we are no longer innocent and unaware of the continued damage done in the name of power as an instrument of oppression, governance against the will of the majority and downright destructive exploitation. It is an energy of conflict, conflict of interests as well as conflict between the dominant human culture and the natural world.Yeats poem addresses this with visceral poetic perception. It is also an energy of dissociation. Have we become the Hawk? We now see the roots of this energy of conflict and dissociation being exposed – but, as well as the import that Yeats words carry for our times they also highlight the morals and ethics behind the question of “who are ‘the best’ and ‘the worst’”? This is a collective question that we must find a personal answer too.
The psychologist and astrologer Liz Green says in citing Jung, ‘if there is something wrong with society, then there is something wrong with the individual, and if there is something wrong with the individual then there is something wrong with me’(1). Many might take issue with this, but, the prerogative is to ask the question, and to not assume ones own immunity to the problem. In our own individuality we may find the answer to the question about ‘best and worst’. We have to be prepared to come clean with ourselves, our lifestyles and our own personal dark side. Any values we may hold may otherwise become distorted, and simply continue to feed the very thing we reject. And here, retaining ones own sense of values in the midst of collective action is key – a collective that is made up of awake and aware individuals who are commited to being the change they want to see has a very different dynamic to one that is responding to collective impulses rising from a herd mentality, below the horizon of personal consciousness, the realm of the shadow.
It is a sign of the intelligence innate to us at this time that two important factors are present within the current public uprisings against the plutocracy. The first is the call to simply gather in peaceful protest, the second, the emerging independance of each new protest, united by a common awareness of the reality experienced in each of our lives. The first, so long as peaceful protest prevails, is a defiant and charged refusal to engage with the destructive energies percieved to be the instrumental modus operandi of the ‘feudal’ power base; the second is a reflection of the strength of innate shared intelligence that each of us is motivated by, through self awareness as a part of the greater whole. One of our greatest safeguards at this time is that the emergent collective movement for global justice is based upon much more than a copycat reflex to unite in opportunistic anarchy – there have been exceptions, as was the case in the recent UK rioting and looting. We do need to learn from this.
While the outpouring of public unrest seen in those lootings may well share a common root with the current demonstrations, they manifested a totally different dynamic to the Wall Street protests. The key danger that we saw in the UK looting was exemplified in its cynical and yet indiscriminate destruction of individual business – many small businesses, the labours of individuals serving the community, built through hard work and determination, were destroyed. There was no intelligence in this – this was a collective act of individuals overcome with the very lack of conviction that Yeats talks of – the insidious wound of a sick society, a society lacking the cohesive glue of conviction towards upholding our collective well-being. For Yeats this was the picture of a broken dream belonging to the human spirit. For us, this is the picture of a community eating itself through ignorance and lack of fundamental sustainance. Justice flew out of the window as each shop window was smashed. Even if there is any sense of justice to be drawn from the UK insurrection, it will only become manifest once that lack is fully addressed and made the central tennet of a collective healing in which we are All involved, with awareness, honesty and insistance upon, central amongst other things, the complete redistribution of power amongst individuals, communities and nations. For this to happen, and this is perhaps also at the common root, economic inequalities must be transformed……democracy and economics within the living politic of the people embodying the equal sharing of power. Many economists argue that the ‘free-market’ offers equal opportunity to all, as if this enshrines the sharing of power, reality says otherwise. The lack of social cohesion is exacerbated by the absence of responsibility demonstrated by those who operate within the ethos of free-trade and nowhere is this more visible now than in the defered responsibility of the financial institutions in the wake of the 2008 market crash.
In the Wall Street protests we see intelligence awareness of this lack and the accompanying need for fundamental change becoming the incontravertable expression of a shared truth amongst humanity – we want our inalienable rights returned to us, to be free of serfdom, such that those responsible are held to account – we see over and again the flag of ‘Democracy’ being raised. “Democracy implies that (humans) must take the responsibility for choosing (their) rulers and representatives, and for the maintenance of (their) own ‘rights’ against the possible and probable encroachments of the government which (they have) sanctioned to act for (them) in public matters.” [Ezra Pound, “ABC of Economics,” 1933] Democracy must equal and be equal within Truth.
It has been said that ‘the Truth shall set you free’, however, it is the passion with which it is carried forward and sustained that will ensure the democratic freedom we all seek now……but, raw passion by itself is not enough. ’Intelligent activism’ is the obvious means, and, however it manifests it must, but must, be based upon and always have Peace at its core. The uncompromising ‘plutocratic power bases’ against which the protests are aimed are entrenched so deeply within a vampiristic hegemony of usury within our world that the chips may seem stacked against this imperative. If we see no change, in time, the alternative is an unthinkable escalation in the ‘blood-dimmed tide’ and a following confrontational clampdown that will require more than ‘mere anarchy’ to overcome……..our passion too must be intelligent and aware, and all the more charged with certainty for it. This speaks to the raising of our collective consciousness, not as an ideal, but, as a pragmatic manifestation of the will of the people.
If the raising of our collective consciousness to an higher level of realisation is to become manifest we must be able to bear witness to our own home truths, reaching down to the very roots of power within each of our lives – Yeats might well be right in implying that, whether secular or spiritual, nothing short of ‘Revelation’ will carry us through.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
Yeats ‘vast image’ emerges from the Spirit of the Earth, and here too, the prophetic vision carries the trauma of the global turmoil and destructive fury of the Great War to a new level of meaning for us. For us, as we are all too well aware, while the human war has never ceased the concomitant war on Nature has become the crucial expression of the fundamental nature of the wound. Would a ‘second coming’ be peaceful anyway in our current world? The rampant fundamentalism and dogma of terror belongs to a world at war with itself.Yet, no matter which form War takes, how innured have we become against its furies and psychoses as a result. How horrified would Yeats be, what rhetoric of the visionary poetic spirit would do justice to the wound. But, it were never the more so that the roots of conflict out of which his vision arose hold sway….and his vision holds true.
Amongst the culture of war’s greatest perpetrators, and present to a sickening level, cultural integration of the reality of war is also now reduced to a virtual fantasy, literally – this is, in plain speak, culturally endorsed conditioning. It serves the western hegemony well. We all know the devious misrepresentation of reality that the Media disseminates, and how it innoculates us against the visceral impact while feeding our emotional bodies with fear and disquiet – but, especially amongst the young, the game is being played at a much more damaging level. Online war games, for example, provide conflict as ‘entertainment’ and, unless we are unfortunate enough to be caught within the violence and conflict in the ‘real world’, this symptom of collective illness remains a virtual reality, projected into fantasies that lack the visceral lessons of War itself. We give ourselves the message, the reality of our condition, while keeping the reality of its effects at arms length – it is a form of denial, but, as with all the neurotic dynamics of denial, it does nevertheless have very real effects. For any child for whom this neurosis is the norm, who knows no better, we now are also called to hold ourselves responsible for their future, and this goes far beyond war and its concomitant traumas alone. Earth is reflecting the trauma of violence and destruction back to us in every moment…through our culture of consumerism and personal profit we have been and continue to engage in destroying Life with an equal lack of conviction towards our collective well-being. Again, is this a true reflection of the public will, our ethics and most heartfelt desires? If we are to be truthfull, ‘Wall Street’ is an expression of this collective realisation too and, we hold the plutocrats responsible for wanton destruction of our environment as much as we do the indiscriminate erosion of our freedoms. When will the corporatocracy be held to account for their environmental impact – when will their pact with government be broken? Let us remind ourselves of the relationship, as played out through two infamous events that betrayed the ineffective and superficial lip-service which our governments pay towards this responsibility……
The Copenhagen Environmental Summit of 2009 produced a document that simply put stated that ‘action should be taken to keep (global) temperature increases to below 2ºC’ – there are no provisions for limiting CO2 production. Period. That was all. The document is not legally binding. It was ‘taken note of’, but not adopted by any of the participating countries, every one a UN member State.
Now, remember September 2008, the Global Stock Market Crash – almost immediately international differences were forgotten, within days world leaders had rallied and achieved a sense of unanimity, and the call that went out was to ‘save the banks’……..
Since then the perpetrators of the crash as well as the culpable governments have gotten off scot-free – until now.
Obviously, the defence of capital (the new god) is of much greater concern than the bio-sphere to our governments. Money, and its reward of power, is more important than Nature. A true rebalancing of our relationship with Nature is no small thing, could easily be put on a par with a ‘Second Coming’ – but, surely, unless our Earth says otherwise, we cannot reverse our culture – it has to evolve as well, beyond the mechanistic age. It could be said that behind this is the notion that science will provide the solution to the results of our environmental vandalism. For this to be the case, again, a thorough transformation of the ethical and moral use of Science must come about. Science in itself is benign, but, the power with which it invests the corporatocracy, governments and ‘sanctioned’ violence of warfare is immense – and it funds the subjugation of our freedoms as much as it facilitates them. The internet and communications systems we now enjoy are crucially empowering to us.
And yet, regardless the fact of how much Big Pharma contributes to the global market, the drug market is flooded with pharmaceuticals that are designed to treat the symptoms and continue to bypass the root causes of our illnesses, are often withdrawn having been found to be ‘dangerous’ to humans and the whole industry, for that is what it is, is driven by blind irresponsible economic profit – the Hippocratic Oath? Forget it!
And, regardless of the fact that many significant contributions in cutting edge scientific advances are made in service to the ‘military/industrial complex’, we usually don’t get the benefits at the public level until some years after their application within the war/space ‘programme’, if at all, and well beyond the point at which they have become integrated within the power base.
It could be argued from this standpoint that the free-trade market ethos, its enshrinement of ‘freedom’, as applied within its cultural, political and economic context, is the very thing that has been and is destroying our bio-sphere. The message is obvious. We should first be seeking to dismantle such a destructive system. Perhaps Natural Law is irreversably doing this for us, but, at what cost if, after the dust has settled, we only seek to find a new form for the same old problem? As said, our economic problems cannot be solved through economics alone…….Yeats desert vision is all too familiar, haunted by the harpies and carrion birds of our culture. The creeping spectre of genetic modification and the image of a savage humanity that he envisaged, its ‘gaze blank and pitiless as the sun’, are one and the same.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
And, if the plutocrats were to remain untouched into which nightmare would we be rocked….we should be under no illusions…..
….it is early days yet, the protests we are seeing now are a foretaste, the opening salvos of a conflict in which ultimately we are either all victors or all losers……there will be no compromises. The choice is obvious, only the heartless and truly insane and will see it otherwise……Yeats vision was the stark unflinching call of a poetic heart that was fully capable of embracing visceral beauty, and, in the wake of so much destruction and insanity perhaps for him the moment of choice had taken on an ominous import in this respect – he was addressing both the wound and its effect upon our ability to rebuild the world out of the wreckage of human carnage, power crazed confrontation and usury…..is it any different for us now?
I do not wish to end on a note of pessimism; the signs are that We the People are increasingly rallying to the call for Change, and this can only be good. Pragmatism says we must change, that this must happen across all scales, from the individual outwards, and that we must be prepared to go to any lengths and use any means to achieve this, but, only so long as those means do not go counter to the spirit of Equality, Justice, Co-operation and awakening Peace at the heart of our human affairs. It is the Peace of being at one with Life, with our Earth, with each other and our truths that we have thirsted for over so many millenia…….each of us have this within us, at the most fundamental level of the goodness that is the truth of our human heart and destiny – now is our time to bring the Truth to bear. Be of good heart……each of us is capable of realising that destiny and each small step we take towards it builds the change that we want to see, that we are.
Don’t be daunted by the scale of the task, it speaks volumes, and nothing but all out peaceful persistance will prevail. We hold responsibility to set the example by keeping the peace, to not be goaded into confrontation. We are abundant with resources great and small – remember collective silences? supporting small scale local producers? mini strikes? flash occupations? community currencies? barter or swap? remember giving plastic packaging back to the supermarkets? remember LETS? community co-operatives? remember random acts of kindness? etc etc – think of all the small as well as great means by which we can undermine the plutocratic hegemony while the public movement of the People continues, everything and everyone counts…….from the small to the great, we build the power of change.
(1) Liz Greene – ‘The Outer Planets & Their Cycles’ : CRCS Publications 1983