The Democratic Party continues its triumphant march to
oblivion. John McCain can probably nap between now and 4 November
and still wake up on the morning of 5 November as the President-elect.
What we're seeing I think is a phenomenon characteristic of monopoly
“capitalism”, something that might be called morbid inertia.
institutions which are accustomed to monopoly power in some arena
cannot change, even when they are marching towards the edge of a cliff.
So the recording industry, faced with widespread consumer revolt
against the shoddiness and overpricing of its products, made possible
by a virtual monopoly over distribution, will not change its products
or its marketing methods when a new system of distribution
emerges. It tries instead to enforce the old distribution system
by legal (and illegal) actions which have no logic and no hope of
success. It sues soccer moms for downloading a few songs, it
introduces the concept that consumers don't own the songs they buy, or
even the machines which play the songs they buy.
So the television networks, losing market share steadily, year after year,
refuse to adapt to new conditions and keep doing the same old
things over and over again — going for the last cash they can squeeze
out of a paradigm which even a child can see is doomed.
So Hollywood refuses to make films for large segments of the public and
concentrates instead on the one segment it thinks it knows best, young
males, and fails to satisfy even them on a regular basis. The
market, reacting in kind to this contempt for consumers, resorts to
casual piracy, which Hollywood then identifies as the source of all its woes.
So the establishment of the Democratic Party, faced in Barack Obama with the almost unimaginable gift of a
transformative candidate who is swelling its ranks with new, young
voters, the Democrats of the future, and building a new and virtually
inexhaustible fund-raising base of millions of small-time donors,
clings to its old ways and tries to muscle an establishment, machine-anointed candidate
into the White House against the will of the majority of voters.
The larger issue underlying all this is a general atmosphere of greed
and despair, a philosophy of “get it while you can before the whole
thing blows up in your face.”
The great institutions of our culture believe in nothing these days
except oblivion and grabbing a little more short-term power or
short-term cash before the apocalypse. The catchphrase of our time
is “The fierce urgency of me.” It's utterly irrational of
course. What good will power and money be after the apocalypse?
[Images by the redoubtable Fluharty.]