Daily Kos: The Days of Death and the Wings of Victory

Brilliant and scary but that's Stirling Newberry for you -- law

The Days of Death and the Wings of Victory
by Stirling Newberry

The days of death have arrived, like a black tide, they sweep and cover all that is in their path. Let us realize the truth, the task of this age is to bury the last. They are upon us in New Orleans, where it is already clear that its poor survivors are to be scattered to the winds - "Internally Displaced Persons" the UN would call them anywhere else but America. They are upon us in Iraq, where the rebels have put a price on the head of the Prime Minister.

They are upon us because the old order is losing control over its life blood: diesel and gasoline. It is dying because a corrupt executive and corrupt legislature are losing the ability to govern.

The waste of that century has killed New Orleans. It is not the flooding, but the toxic wastes of decades that makes it uneconomical to rebuild the shattered streets of the Crescent City. It is not colonialism, but oil that drew us into Iraq. And we need not point out that Saddam came to power because of the Cold War realpolitick. But it is ours to bury the past, not to blame it. There are those who refuse to deal with reality, and think that simply distancing themselves from what was is enough - and there are many millions more who simply do not understand that the era of extraction, the era of oil and the era of a small closed affluent world surrounded by an ocean of dictatorships, deprivation and destitution is over.

George Bush has declared two wars, and is losing all three. He said he would defend the homeland, and like Canute, could not hold back the tide. He said he would defeat Al Qaeda, and can no more catch bin Laden than the US Army could catch Geronimo. He said he would bring democracy to Iraq, and instead has restored chaos. But he came to power because he represented one choice of accomplishing what the vast general consent was to accomplish: protect the past from the present.

We are indeed locked in a mortal struggle, on a old ship that has stuck a reef, and is coming apart at the seams. The ship has only just begun to list, and it will take a long time to go down. The people in steerage are dying first, drowning in desperation below the water.

More will come, as inflation eats away at what people earn, ignorance eats away at what they may learn, and the raging fires of the rapturites begin to consume the rights for which we and our forebearers have fought so long to attain.

The next year will be a time of trial. Political paralysis will grip a Europe whose leaders are adrift and who decry Bush with one hand, and props him up with the other.

But the longer term puts forward even greater challenges. The world has three great waves of crisis coming: the first is the crisis of extraction, first oil, then water, and finally land near the oceans. The second is the aging of the industrial interior, as its post-war boom finally leaves the stage. The third will be the century of a hot house planet, with monster storms and disruptions in agriculture and population, of which New Orleans is only the foretaste. In each of these the prodigal stripmine and squander tactics of the modern age will haunt us. We are the tomorrow that yesterday sent the bill to.

It can seem overwhelming. And it is so overwhelming that many on the left despair, while many more on the right simply deny. But neither response will lead us up and out.


In such a struggle the path that spirals downward into ever more catastrophic misfortune beckons. And despair crowds at windows and on the streets. We fear the darkness that does not end at dawn, and our voices rasp from having screamed so much, so loudly for so long. Hope for victory has failed, when even mere survival sometimes seems in doubt. The the spirit of fear stalks the land.

But without victory there is no survival. Not victory over some foreign foe, nor even over a web of criminal violence and terror - but victory over the demons of the previous age. The poisons that seethe beneath our cities, the enslavement to extraction, the culture of corruption. It is these enemies that threat our existence, even though, from time to time, we may identify them with a human face.

Before there can be victory there must be vision. Vision that both looks out and forward to the far future, and vision that can look down to the details of the present. We will have victory when we have an Open America. It must come from a politics of principle.

It will be a year before American votes, and while it is rejecting the past it has not yet heard from the future. It beckons from ahead, a distant bugle call.

The coming weeks will strain the faith of those who have watched and waited so long. It will seem that so little of what needs to be done will be done. It will seem that the ponderous waith of putainous politics, and apathetic public opinion, will lumber only slowly in the direction of change. But the end is coming, and it will come with that shocking swiftness that the first wave of rain in a thunderstorm.

We should expect over the course of the next year, not a decline, but a crescendo of the corruption and cronyism that has marked this era and marred its politics. The thieves will be intent on throwing the last bags of loot before the robbery is over. Expect that the billions spent on Katrina's aftermath will leave Haliburton above the water, and hundreds of thousands below the poverty line. Piratization is the ethos of these last days of untrammelled and unchecked power.

And it is this that will overthrow them. The naked greed will shock a jaded public, one that will turn elsewhere, any where, for leadership and vision. They will recall in previous, even darker, hours, how the nation came together, and in that unity found achievement. They will ask why this time there was such a failure. They will not blame themselves - for in the minds of the public, they did what they were asked. Instead, they will blame the leadership to whom power was given.

Now, today, this instant, it is time to answer the call to arms. Some will protest, but more important is to contest. In 14 months time America will have a new revolution. Do not waste another minute, lest you be forced to admit that you were not there. The relief effort needs aid and comfort now. Candidates across the country need volunteers now. These two projects - to relieve the suffering and then to end it - must occupy every spare moment and ounce of energy. For it is the will of the people, that drives the wings to victory. And from victory to vindication of that which we have so long believed: that an America reborn, is an America redeemed.

Daily Kos: The Days of Death and the Wings of Victory


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