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July7,2003

CH.I.ThePostColdWar
Condition

ImagineasceneinapossibleHitchcockFilm.
Atrainisgoingdeeperintoanaridmountain
region,butthepassengersstrangelyare
graduallybecomingmoreandmoreapprehensive.A
whileagoitwasonlyasenseofunease,thenit
becamenervousnessandnowitisbarely
controlledpanic.Inquicksuccessionaseriesof
incidentssuggestedthatthetrainseemstobe
runningwithoutanengineer,thatthereisnoone
atthecontrolsinthelocomotive,andthe
passengersalsodiscoveredthattheemergency
breaksdontfunction.Thetrainisrunning
downhillandbynowismovingfartooquicklyfor
anyonetojumpoff.Butonefurtherstillmore
terrifyingmatterhasbecomeclear:namely,it
seemsthateverylastoneofthedoorsand

July7,2003

equallyallthewindowshavebeenlockedandina
completelyfirmandindestructibleway
Theimageofthistrainisametaphorfora
beliefandasetofemotionsthatverymany
experienceinourculture.Wefeelincapacitated,
stuckinaprogressionofevents,trappedinthe
unfoldingofaninevitablestory.Itisominous
andbydegreesitbecomessteadilymore
frighteningWhatismostcharacteristicand
intenselyawfulisthatwehavenotevenashred
ofanidea,noteventhefaintestghostofa
notionofhowtheprogressioncouldbestopped,
orreversed,orevenjustredirectedintoan
improvedandmorehopefuldirection.Ofcourse
peoplerunbackwardsandforwardsthroughthe
wagonsandgesticulateorshout,buteveryone
aboardknowswithafrozen,ironcladconviction,
thatthisisonlyadistractingandupsetting
show,thatwhatisboundtohappen,ifnotsooner
thenlater,isbynowinescapableandclear.The
trainwilljumpofftherails,willhitawall,
orwillcareenoffabridgeandplungedowninto
ariver.
Themassofoftensharplydivergentgroups
whononethelessallsomehowfindthemselveson
thistrainisgenuinelyastounding.Themillions
whoconstruethecomingapocalypticdisasterin
ecologicaltermshaveimagesforthecalamities
whichweareapproachingwhicharemorevivid,
morehypnoticallycompellingthanthoseofany

July7,2003

otherallotherlargethrongofpeople.The
train,astheyenvisionit,runsdownhilltowards
thedepletionofresourcessuchascoaloroil,
butmoreluridthanthat,someseeusdescending
intoaworldofincreasingsalination,offertile
landsturningintodesertsanddust,ofcities
alongcoastlinescollapsingintotherisingsea,
andofeverlargerregionsofonceverdantland
coveredandsuffocatingunderlayersof
construction,tarandcement.
Other,bynowequallymassiveandwidely
dispersedhostsofpeopleseethemostimminent,
themostquicklyapproachingthreatinthe
deepeningandwideningbifurcationbetweenthe
richandthepoor.Manyofthemawokeonlyquite
recentlytothemindshakingfactthatthe80%of
theearthwhichwesofarselfdeludinglycalled
thedevelopingworldhaveactuallyfalleninto
adownwardspiral,andthatalreadyforapprox.
thelastfifteenyears.Thesightofwhatis
happeningwillsooneradicatethesmug
complacencyofthefantasythatthesecountries
arecatchingup.Aswecometofacetheform
oflifeintowhichtheyaredescendingwemay
havetoinventnewcategoriesandwords,for
termslikeanarchyorchaosaretooplacid,too
smooth,tooglibfromlongwear.Onlyinthe
rarest,mostexceptionalmomentdoweseea
photograph(asthatofthethreechildsoldiersa
fewdaysagoonthefrontpageoftheNYTimes)or

July7,2003

dowereadaparagraphinamagazine(asthatof
thethreeIndiansisterswhoallhanged
themselvesonthesameday,fromdespairofnot
findingwork)whichgiveusaglimpseofthat
possiblefuture.
Themanymillionswhoseeyesareincreasingly
focusedontheissueofpovertyhaveofcourse
longanticipatedthenightmareofalastand
finalwarinwhichtherichwillbearraignedin
battleagainstthepoor.Whatisatthispresent
moment(2003)slowlydawninginmanydifferent
mindsistherealizationthatwhatwenow,at
thisstagehavedecidedtocallterrorismmay
wellbedifferentlyunderstoodanddifferently
namedtenyearsfromnow.Itispossiblethatby
theyear2013itwillhavebecomequitepatent
thatwhatwenowlivethroughwasactuallyoneof
thefirststagesofthiswardifferentenough
fromwhatwarshadbeenlikebefore,thatyears
hadtopasstillwewerereadytoadmitthatthis
wasthenatureoftheconflictinwhichwein
factwereembroiled.
Stillotherthrongsassociatetheirsenseof
ridingdownhillinaweldedshuttrainwiththe
decline,thefall,thesteadydryingoutand
crumblingofwhatformerlywasourownupper
crustculture.Thepointisnotthatwetoo
suffer,andthatweshouldnotbecomeexclusively
absorbedinthehorrorspectaclesoftheThird
Word.Thepointistohaveatleastsomebasic

July7,2003

intuitiveoverallgraspofwhatishappeningin
thetimeinwhichwenowlive.Inthatspiritit
isentirelynecessaryandrighttoinsistthatin
additiontotheenvironmentandalsothehorrific
deepeningsplit,thelifeoftheprivileged,in
anycaseofthevastmajorityofthem,isalsoin
asteepandfearinspiringdecline.Thesepeople
reacttothecollapseofwhatwasformerlythe
qualityoftheirlives.Thatincludesthe
provisionsfortheirhealthcareandtheir
retirementsandreallythewholeofthesocial
safetynet,butitincludesalsolibrariesand
museumswhichfromlackoffundsreducetheir
openhours,andorchestrasandtheatersthatshow
theeffectsofbudgetcuts,andtothefactthat
onecouldwritearequiemforvirtuallyall
universitiesexceptforsomefewintheUnited
States,oragaintotheidiotificationof
Television,orthepitifulerosionofwhat
formerlyoncewasjournalism,oragainthe
descentofpoliticsintoforpayprostitution,or
ofcoursealsotothevulgarizationofour
personalrelationshipsandnotleasttothe
vastlyspreadingconsequencesofourubiquitous
lackoftime,oftheresultsofhasteandofthe
slowrelentlesscrescendoofstress.
Itisveryimportantforthepasthistorybut
alsoforthefutureprospectsofNewWorkin
particularforthecardinalissueofpower
thatthereareagoodnumberofmanagersfromthe

July7,2003

topechelonsofthemostrenownedcorporations
whotalkverymuchasiftheytooweretrappedin
thislockedtrain.Thereisadifference,though.
Amongworldclassmanagerstheimageryisnot
thatthetrainwillplungeoveracliff,orthat
itwillcollidewithamountainwall;the
prevalentfearismorethattheterrainwill
becomeeverflatterbutatthesametimealso
harsherandmoredifficult,andthattheclimate
willbecomemorearidandeverlessfertile.The
trainwillslowdownandeventuallygrindtoa
wheezinghalt.Amongthehighrollingelitethe
greatandonlypartlyhiddenfearisofachronic
slowingoftheeconomy,ofaprotracted
irreversibledecline,ofapermanent,not
cyclical,paralysis,ofastandstill,andafinal
stop.
Certainlywehaveallheardbynowthattop
managersfeelpressured,driven,frightened
,overworked,andexhausted.Whatismore,phrases
liketheyaretrappedinagoldencage,or
lockedintherevolvingcageofarat,mustbe
corrected.Theimageofthehamsterortheratin
itsrevolvingcageis,strictlyspeaking,quite
inaccurate.Thequintessenceofthatwheelis
thatitturnswhentheratmoves,andturns
fasterwhentheratrunsmorequickly.Butwhen
theratdecidestostopthenthatwheelcomesto
ahalt.Andpreciselythatisnottheexperience
ofoursuccessfulelite.

July7,2003

InthelasttwentyyearsIhaveclosely
known,andoftenpersonallycounseled,numerous
executiveswhowereproudoftheircorneroffices
andtheirthickcarpets.Butwithoutexception
theircomplaintwasthattheycouldnotstop,
thattherewasnosuchthingasrestand
stabilityandpermanence!Exactlythereverse:to
desist,toceasewastantamounttoslippingdown
andthenhurtlingintoemptyspace.Thetrue
imageisthereforenotacage,butagreasedand
slipperyslide,steepenoughsothatonecanstay
inplaceonlywiththeutmostexertion.The
ghastliestpartis,thattheslideisveryshort
andrightaboveanabyss.Ifonepausesoneis
firstdemotedandthen,soonafter,fired.The
abyssbelowtheslideisinotherwordsdeep,and
justasinfilmsitisfullofsnakes.
Itisperhapsevenmoresignificantthatthe
greasedslideovertheabyssdescribesbyno
meansonlytheindividual,personallivesof
thosewhoare(temporarily)atthetopandI,
ofcourse,meannotonlymanagers,butalso
physicians,engineers,professorsandattorneys.
Itdescribesverycloselythesituationofmany
ofthemostsuccessfulbusinesspeople,
financiersandentrepreneurswhoconceptualize
oursociety,oureconomicsystem,andevenour
cultureasawhole.InthelasttwentyyearsI
haveobservedmanytimes,thatnotjust
executivesintheautoindustrybutalsomanytop

July7,2003

managersinthecomputerindustryand
specificallyinthelegendarySiliconValley,
experiencetheentireeconomicstructureinwhich
wearenowlivingwithasenseofdesperation
thatcontrastssharplywiththesurfaceoptimism
theyareprofessionallyobligedtowearasa
mask.
Justasindividualsclingwiththeirhands
andrudderwiththeirfeetmerelysothatthey
willnotcareendownintoemptyspace,soour
economyandsocietytoomuststayinwhitehot
overdrivemerelytokeepafloat.Newproducts,
newinventions,newtechnologies,newindustries,
newmarketsmustbefedperpetuallyintothe
greatchute.Thequestionofhowlongwill
whateverisalreadyinthebigmachinekeepus
goingbeforewestarttosinksitsinmost
boardroomsinitsownchairrightnexttothe
table.Constantlythereisthesensethatweneed
anewidea,anothertwist,maybeanentirelynew
streamofproducts,orasonesays:thenextBig
Thing!Orelse?Exactly,theelseisthe
point.Ifnothingcomestoourrescue,then
declineanddeteriorationwillbeginand
stagnationbecomesomnipresent.Itiscrucially
importanttomakethispartofthepicture:In
ourtime,notonlythemiserableorwretchedsee
ustrappedonadownhillcourse.No,manyofthe
pamperedandprivilegedelitehavethatexactly
samepicture.Thisisafactofmomentous

July7,2003

significance,foritindicatesattheverystart
thatnotonlythepoorandinconsequentiallook
forthepossibilityofagreatchange,butthat
manyofthosewhoarenotfarfromtheleversof
powerdothesame.
Ofcourseitwouldbeeasytolistandto
describestillotherlargeconstituencieswhose
basicmindsetisalsothatofbeingtrappedina
cageliketrain.Someseethecomingcollapse
mainlyinsidethedomainofhealth,(thepandemic
ofAids,theexponentiallyrisingcosts)yet
othersformulateitasTheComingofAnarchism
andpointtofratricideintheBalkan,to
tribalisminAfrica,andtothedominantcontrol
thatinternationalcrimethemafiahasgained
inalonglistofcountries.Wecouldalladdon
tothislist,butthepoint,theforuscentral
andpivotalissueisadifferentquestion:
Whateverhappened?Whatwastheorigin,orwhat
weretheseparateandconvergingcausesthat
reducedustothisconditionofhelplessness,of
passivity,ofdumbfoundeddesperation?Doesnot
thesketchedenumerationwhichwejustreviewed,
underscorehowveryextraordinaryandweirdthis
paralysisis.Doesnotthesheernumberofthose
whofeelaltogetherthattheyarecaughtina
giantmachinecontributetotheweirdnessofit?
Ifcollectivelyournumberistrulyimmensethen
whycantwemusterenoughenergytoalterthe
directionofthisdescendingcourse?Doesnotthe

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10

enormityofthenumberwhonowlivenotjustina
silentbutinasomnambulent,inacomatose
oppositionmakethisembarassingandinsultingto
ourremnantsofcommonsense?Tocallita
majoritywouldbeafatuousunderassessment.To
comeatallclosetoanaccuratesenseofthe
proportionsonewouldhavetoturnthetableand
ask:Not,whoallsharestheconvictionthatwe
asacultureareonanominous,illbodingcourse
but,wherearetheexceptions?Whostillbelieves
thatweasawhole,theentiremodern,white,
industrialsuperenterpriseisonsolidand
promisingtracks?Theanswerisofcourse,that
thisnumberispatheticallysmall.Whichraises
theinsistenceandtheurgencyofourquestion.
Why,giventhisfact,thistilted
proportionality,whyinspiteofitdoesthis
grandandencompassingmassactasifithadbeen
magicallybewitchedandwasincarceratedinthis
spookyfairytaletrain?Especially,sincein
somenominalsensewestillthinkofourselvesas
inademocracy?Whydowefeelsohelpless,so
incapacitated,soobviouslytrapped,sowithout
recourse.Whathasreducedustothiscondition?
Whatwasthesequenceofevents,whatwerethe
causesofthisweirdparalysis,thisstrangeand
specificimpotence?
Therearedeepreasons,reasonswithroots
thatgoveryfardownfew,simple,andyesthey
areoverpoweringBrutally,thefirstverylarge

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11

partofthis,weexistinaneconomicsystemand
thatcareensinthatdirectionwithincredible
powerandforceandwearehelplessbecausethere
existnoalternativestothiseconomicbehemoth.
Soseriouslyandultimatelynoalternativethat
alternativehasbecomeinconceivable.Tryaswe
mighttoevenvividlyimagineaneconomic
alternativethatwouldbemorepowerful,ormore
productivethanthesystemwecurrentlyhavewe
seemquiteunabletodothis.Itliesbeyondthe
boundariesofwhatwecanimagine.And,therefore
wedonotevenhaveanotionofthedirection,or
oftheballparkinwhichanalternativecould
lie.Wefeelutterlyhelpless,quitedumfounded
andthoroughlynonplussed.
Weallofcourseknowthatonceuponatime
aneconomicalternativedidnotjustexistbut
thatitineffectcoveredhalfoftheglobe.But
weofcoursealsoknowthefateofthatonce
mightyalternative:ititvanished,it
disintegrated,itcollapsed.

THEDEATHOFSOCIALISM

Aswithotherdeaths,moretimemaystill
havetoelapseuntilthefullrealityofthe
dyingofsocialismwillcomehometous.Fifteen
yearshavenotbeenenoughtograspit,inpart
becauseitwasasstrangeandunheardofasany
deaththateverstruck:itwasnotonly

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12

unexpectedandabrupt.Forgenerationsithad
beenthehopeofhumanityparexcellence!Halfof
mankindhadbelievedinit,andgenerationshad
struggled,hadsufferedandallowedthemselves
eventobetorturedinprisonsandcampsandthen
overnightitwasgone.Itdiedsoutterlyand
completelytherewasnoevenacorpsethat
remainedwhichonecouldhavemourned.
Socialismhadbeenacomplete,adetailed,
andacoherentalternative!Itwasnotonlya
columnhereandanarchoverthere;itwas
integratedandworkedoutandinsomesense
complete.Ithadevolvedintoafullyfurnished
counterworldinstarkjuxtapositiontotheworld
thatnowis.Therewashardlyastrut,ajoistor
abeamwherethetwocouldnotbecompared,where
onecouldnotsay,thisishowthatprecise
transactionoccurswithintheeconomywenow
have,andthereishowthistransactionshould
occurinstead,inthemoreperfectworldthatwe
togetherlabortocreate.
Thatanythingatoncesodetailedandso
vast,somethingthathadruledhalftheworld
couldturnintomistvirtuallyinonesingle
nightshouldhaveseemedlikeanutterly
ghoulish,amad,apreposterousnightmare.By
rights,halfoftheworld,shouldhavesung
dirgesandwornblackveilsforyears.But
nothinglikethatcametopass.Anuncountable
numberofpeopleshrugged,brushedthedustoff

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13

theirlapelsandwentonasifnothingmuchhad
occurred.
Weneverstopped.Weneverprobed.Wenever
thoughtpersistentlyanddeepdownintothe
ground,abouttheimplicationsandconsequences
whichthedeathofthatcolossuswaslikelyto
have?Eventhemostblatantandobviousofthese
wedidnotabsorb.Howcouldwenothave
anticipatedrightfromthefirstdaythatourown
systemsuddenlywithoutacounterweight,without
theforcewhichhithertohadkeptitincheck,
wouldinescapablylurchtowardsthemoreextreme,
towardstheunbalanced,thetilting,thebrutal,
thedangerous,andtheshrill?Theeffectinthe
regionsofpowerwasobviouslyenormous,butnot
onlythat.Italsoengenderedhugechangesinour
political,intellectual,andevenourspiritual
world.Onetalksofshiftintheintellectual
spectrum,ofamovementbyafewinches.Thiswas
deeplydifferent.Itwasnotashift.Amassive
portionofourintellectualgroundbrokeaway,as
inanearthquake.Thefundamentalpolaritywas
gone;ithadshrunkandshrivelledandbecome
infernallysmall:Whereformerlytherehadbeen
genuineissuesanddebates,therewasnowonly
haggling,aquibblingandsplittingofhair,an
essentiallyfutileropepullingbyinches.
Howtrulyamazingthatwedidnotreact,that
theshockdidnotsendusreeling?Perhapsif
thereindeedhadbeenamonstrousfairytale

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14

giantdeadbody,immensesoitwouldhavecovered
halftheplainsoftheUkraine,possiblythat
wouldhavehelped?Forasitinfactoccurred,
therewasbarelyamuffledsob,inspiteofthe
millionsofauthentichumancorpses,andthe
countlesslivesthathadburntinsacrificial
hopewithenoughfaithandenergytoproducethe
lightofasmallstar.Thatwesimplyturnedand
wentonisanincredibleperformance,unequalled
inhistory.Neroatleastplayedthefiddlewhen
Romewasburning.Wecarefullypeeledasalami,
andcarefullyputthinslicesofitonournext
bread!

2.THEOTHERCULTURE
Thattherewefindourselveswithoutany
alternativeisonemainreasonforoursenseof
paralysis,forthementalityofthelockedtrain.
Wearedraggedalongbyagiantmachinethat
possessessuchindescribableforcethatthereis
noquestionofchangingitscourse.Butoursense
ofimpossibility,ofbeinglockedinstocksasin
themiddleagesisnonethelessstrangeand
puzzlingandmaybedownrightbizarre.Forwedo
notliveinoneuniform,homogeneous,goose
steppingworld.Wearemilesfromthat,andone
couldsay,wedonothavethatexcuse.Infact
eventhoughthereveryclearlyisnoeconomic,no
systemicalternative,thereoddlyenoughdoexist

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15

twoquitedistinctandinmostwaysevenopposed
separatecultures.
Inasuperficialwaymosteveryoneis
naturallyawareofthis,andinaslipshod,
cursoryfashionmosteveryonecouldalsodescribe
thetwo.Thefingerpaintedclichsattachedto
theofficial,conventional,straightand
squareculturearepowersuitsforbothwomen
andmenandtheaccoutrementsthatmatchthem.
Nextwouldcomethatthisofficialculturegives
obeisance,preeminenceanddeferencetothe
globalcorporationsandthatitthereforenot
onlywants,butrequires,asanecessitytohave
growth.Whichmeansthatitneedsfreetrade
andgoodinvestmentandgoodbusinessclimates,
whichveryofteninturnamounttolowwagesand
ifpossiblenolaborunions.Thatentailsfurther
acertainsetofsocialpolicies,andofcoursea
certainrelationshiptothemilitaryandbeyond
thatthewebofinternationalpowerpolitics.No
onewouldhavedifficultymentioning
representative,truetotypeexamplesofthis
culture.BillGatesmightbeone,andGeorgeW.
Bushanother.Bushissoperfectlytypecastin
thisrole,thatheperformsagenuineservice.
Withhimforamascot,ithasbecomeeasierto
graspandtoconceptualizetheofficialculture.
Heissographicandpicturesque:hislimited
speechandeventhewoodencutofhisfacehelp

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16

onetoimaginehimsittingonthelapofoneof
thegreatventriloquistcorporations.
Manypeopleassociatetheotherculturein
thesamefingerpaintedclichfashionwith
certainkindsofmusicandofcoursebands,with
awhollydifferentapproachtoclothsandto
foods,quiteoftenwithsomeoftheideasofNew
AgeandperhapsalsoofBuddhism,almost
certainlywithamorecasualattitudetowards
sex,andconsiderableresistancetohierarchyand
authorityandalsosomerelationshiptothe
legendaryandmuchmisunderstoodsixties.The
differencesbetweenthetwoculturesextendalso
toquiteopposedattitudestowardsorder,
discipline,monotonyandboredom,butalsotoa
greatextentandmoreseriouslytoissuesofwar
andpeace.
Mosteveryonewouldprobablyagreethatthe
secondcultureisenormouslyvariegatedand
manifold.Whichatoncebringstolightoneof
itsmostintriguingfeatures.Eventhoughitis
extraordinarilydispersedanddiffuse,andcannot
pointtocommoninsignia,structuresor
institutions,andeventhoughtherearecountless
separateformationscongregatingarounddistinct
andseparateissues,oneusuallyrecognizesitin
thefirstinstance.Itdoesnotmatterwhether
oneencountersitinthestreetsofBeijing,or
inTokyo,orinNorthorSouthAfrica,orin
CentralAsiaorintheUkraine.Nomatterwhere,

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17

itassertsitsparadoxicalquality,itsinstantly
identifiablepresence,eventhoughitcostumes
itselfinacarnivalofdifferentdisguises,and
usesasmanymodesofspeech.Oftenasingle
reaction,oneglance,onesmirkisquiteenough,
oneknowsonwhichsideofthegreatdivide
betweenthetwoculturesonenowis.
Needlesstosay,intermsofsheernumbersit
isimmense.Theremaynotbeasinglecountryon
theearthwhereonecannotfindcafs,evenrural
cafs,andofcourseothershopsandboutiques,
whichcatertotheclienteleofthisother
culture.Thatofcourseisnotthemosthelpful
measurement.Yetthedifficultymaybegenuine.
Toattemptanythinglikeanenumerationwouldnot
justbecometedious,itwouldfail.Thenumbers
thatbelongtoit,thesheersizeofit,has
growntoolargeforthis.Halfinjestonecould
proposethatitwouldbemoreappropriate,amore
practical,feasibleprocedure,ifoneturned
aroundandasked:whoreallyisgenuinely
comfortableintheofficialculture?Whofeelsat
homeinit,whoidentifieswithit,believesin
it,andexperiencesitwithexhuberance?Asin
thecaseofthetrain,theanswerwouldbethat
thosearepreciousandfew.
Oneindicationofhowverydeepandwidethe
canyonisthatseparatesthesetwoculturesis
thefrequencywithwhichcommunicationbetween
thembreaksdown.Infact,thedivisionisdeep

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18

tothepointofspeechlessness.Quitecommonly
thereisfrustrationandthencapitulation,and
thesimilaritytoaphrasemuchquotedby
feministsisstriking.Yousimplydontgetit
occursasmuchbetweenthesetwoculturesas
betweenmenandwomen.Thesamecravassdivides
alsoparentsfromchildren,andveryoftentwo
bedroomsundersameroofexistnonethelessin
thesetwowidelyseparatecultures.Thatboth
sidesgiveupisbynomeansamatterof
language.Wordsbecomeuseless,onenolonger
knowswhattosay,becauseonehasreached
bottom.Thereareplentyofdisagreementsabout
noendofsurfacemattersandvaluesbutinthe
endonefinallyhitsontherockfloortwo
differentconceptionsofhowtolive,ofwhat
lifeisforandthenthereisnomoretosay.
Onthesurfacetheothercultureiscertainly
disparate.Subculturesofitgroupthemselves
muchofthetimearoundonesingleissueandare
notrarelyevenateachothersthroats.
Nonetheless,verylargepartsofthisother
secondculturehaverootsthatgoveryfardown,
thatasamatteroffactaresolidlyembedded
backinthesoiloftheenlightenment.Which
meansthatnotonlytheofficialandpublic
culturederivesfromthosefoundations,butthat
thereactuallyweretwosharplyopposedsetsof
premises,twowhollydistinct,juxtaposedsetsof
viewsfromwhichtheenlightenmentsprang.

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19

(Originallyinmydissertation,theninOn
BeingFreeopeningsentenceourculturehasa
schizophrenicviewoffreedom,butalsoina
sequenceofapersonHegel
andNietzcheetc.)
Therewasofcoursethetraditiononwhich
allthefamiliarclassicaldocumentsofdemocracy
rest,andwhichweallknowintimatelyfromhigh
schoolandeverydaylife.Thatisrockbottom
worldviewwhichholdsthathumanbeingsare
inevitablyandinescapablycontrolledbytheir
selfinterest,bytheiregoism,bythedirection
oftheirowngreatestadvantage.Allofthose
phraseshavebeensmoothedfrommuchexcesswear,
andtheiroriginalintentmustberecaptured.If
yourecallthesinglemostfamoussentenceof
Hobbesthatlifeintheoriginalconditionwas
nasty,brutishandshortthenthisgenteel
middleclasslanguageisobviouslytoomild.The
fundamentalideawasmorenearlythatmanwas
rapaciousandwildverylikeoneimagined
animalsatthattimeandthataboveallhe
neededtobesocialized,anddeclawedandtamed!
Thatishowthemostfamiliarenlightenment
philosophersjustifiedmorality,thesocial
contractandthestate.(Kant,ineversomany
respectsattheoppositeendofthespectrumfrom
Hobbesnonethelessalsoinsistedthatthepurpose
ofmoralitywastoextinguishtheinterestsof
theself.)Unchecked,untamed,lefttoourown

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20

impulsesanddeviceswewouldnotbesafeona
bus.Thepersonnexttoussuddenlymightbite
offoneofourhands.
Inthisofficial,socializing,taming
traditionthecardinalpoliticalideaoffreedom
isinstantlyhedgedwithcautionandreservations
andaninsistent,yesbutbynomeanstoo
much.Theremustbefreedomwithresponsibility,
andofcoursenumerousotherrestraints.Inother
words,freedom,butonlyaslongastheleashis
strongandinplace.
Mostofusaresoentirelyhabituatedto
theseideasthattheyseemwhollyinevitableand
uncontroversiallytrue,thattheverysuggestion
thattherecouldbeasetoffoundationalaxioms
thatarediametricallyopposedtothesesounds
strangeandunreal.Still,theexactlyopposite
pictureofhumannatureisnotintheleast
outlandishbutveryplain.Itbeginsfromthe
convictionthatverymanyhumanbeingsareabove
allvulnerableandfrail.Theyareeasily
discouraged,andmuchofthetimedowncastand
verysubdued.Itisinfactalltooeasytocow
peopleandtointimidatethem.Greathostsof
themarereservedandshy.Thedifficultywith
legionsofthemisnotthattheyareobstreperous
andwillnotconform.Justthereverse.Surely,
fascismshouldhavepersuadedusofthat.Sothe
oppositionisby180degree:reachingthepoint
wherepeoplewillcush,stayquietandholdstill

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21

isnotthedifficulttask.Theymustervery
littleresistance,andsocietycanmoldthemlike
lukewarmwax.Itistheotherwayround.To
strengthenpeople,tobringthemtothepoint
wheretheywillnotliedownbutatlonglast
standupandresist,indeedthatishard.
Intheofficialstreamofthoughtinwhichwe
wereraisedthegreatdangeristoomuchwill,
toomuchwildnessandtoomuchrebelliousness.
Thetask,therefore,istotrim,tocutbackand
tosozialize.Thatpatentlyonthefaceofit
raisesthequestionofjusthowemancipatory,how
genuinelyfreeinganythingenactedinthatspirit
couldpossiblybe?Cananythingbasedonthe
premisesofthetraditioninwhichwewereraised
becomeaseriousrevolutionorwillitbe
mainly,likesomanyothereventsthatcall
themselvesthis,achangingofcostumes,asewing
ofnewbuttonsonthesameolduniforms.
Certainlytherecanbeanewadministration,a
newauthoritywhichassuresthattherewillbe
orderanddiscipline.Insteadofakingonecan
installaparliamentoracongress,andofcourse
thepeoplewillbeallowedeveryfewyearsto
vote.Still,thepurpose,theintentwillbe
basicallythesame.Thecardinalquestionwillbe
merelyunderwhatcircumstancesonewillbe
justifiedinkilling,orindeposingaking.But
thenewandofcoursedifferentlydressed
governingbodieswillstillseethecontrolling

July7,2003

22

ofpeopleasthemandateoftheirroles;
fundamentallytheywillthereforeusethewhole
panoplyofsocialinstitutionsandstructures,
fromthecourtstomoralitytothepolicetothe
schoolstothearmytoguaranteethatpeoplewill
notbreakoutoftheircages,tokeepitpeaceful
andquietinsideofthezoo.
Theothertraditionstartsfromthe
recognitionthathumanbeingsarevery
incomplete,verydependentwhentheyareborn.
Thisistheexactcontradictionofthefamous
firstsentenceofRousseauthatmanisborn
free.Onthisviewmanneedstobenurtured,and
strengthened.Hisindividualitymustbeenhanced
andencouragedandbroughtouttothesurface.
Thelastthingneededistosmooththat
individualityover,topolishittillithas
disappeared,tosinglullabiesandoffer
pacifiersontrays.Whatisneededisnottosing
peopletosleep,butonthecontrarytowakethem
up!
Nothingcouldbemorefatuousthanthe
presumptionthattheconventionalandtaming
traditionissomehowmoremainstreamorbetter
credentialledthanthearousingandenvigorating
streamofculture.Thepedigreeofthattradition
caneasilyholditsownforinitsancestryare
anynumberofnamesofthefirstrank.Onecould
listGoetheandMelvilleandWhitmanamongthem,
butalsoHoelderlin,RilkeandHesse,andagain

July7,2003

23

LawrenceandGide,andofcoursealso
philosopherslikeEmersonandThoreau,and
certainlynotleastbutinaspecialplaceHegel
andNietzsche.Ifonewantedonesentenceasan
emblem,asamottoforthisbroaddevelopment
thenonemightchooseWilliamBlakesEnergyis
eternaldelight,orJackLondonsIdonot
wanttoturnintodust,butintoashesinstead.
Therecanbenoquestionthatthehistoryof
theothertheindividualstrengtheningand
enhancingpointofviewismightyandhas
majesty.Inlargetermsonecouldsaythatithad
itsbeginningsprimarilyinliterature,
philosophyandartbutthatitbynowhashada
pervasiveandpungenteffectonhowavast
number,infactanoverwhelmingmajorityinour
currentculturethinkaboutmoralityandvalues
andbeyondthatabouthowlifeshouldbelived.
Itisrevealingandsignificantthatthe
kinshipbetweenthisotherbasicallylife
envigoratingmovementandfeminismis
particularlyclose.Anynumberofvivid
commonalitiesbetweenthesetwoleaptotheeye.
Asfundamentalasanyotherisheretheideathat
thecapacitytoassertoneselfmustnotbe
weakenedbuttheopposite,itmustbe
strengthenedandeventrainedlikeathleteswho
developmuscles.Thataspateofdifferent
seminarshasbeenofferedformanyyearsinwhich
thisistaughtandlearntshowshowintimatethe

July7,2003

24

relationshipbetweenfeminismandthealternative
foundationsoftheenlightenmentare.Butthisis
equallyevincedbytheemphasiswithinfeminism
ontheconceptionthatmanywomenaretoo
hesitantwhenitcomestothefulfillmentof
theirowndesires.Theysubordinatethemselves
tooeasilyandtoomuch,andtheyevenhave
troublewiththeacceptanceoftheirownsuccess.
Buttheculturethatwantstoarouseandto
wakeuphasalsobuiltitstentsinsomeofthe
territoriesofeducation.Ithasbynomeanswon
adecisivevictory,butindiscussionsofhowone
shouldrelateespeciallytochildren,butalso
moregenerallytotheyoungthemanydifferent
strandsoftheaffirmingversionoftheproject
ofmodernityareplayinganevermoreimportant
role.Arapidlyincreasingnumberofparentsare
comingtotheconclusionthattheywantnopart
inthediminishmentoftheirownchildren,inthe
weakeningandasoneusedtosayinthe
breakingoftheirwill.Thesamekindof
transformationhasalsobeenoccurringAvery
similarkindoftransformationhasalsooccurred
inmanyofthevariousapproachestocounseling
andtotherapy.Theoverallgeneralpictureis
surelythatmanyhavedistancedthemselvesfrom
rigidformulasandpreciselydefinedoften
pseudomedicaltechniques,andthatatleastin
manycasesonethinksmuchmoreintermsofa
pervasivesenseofdepression.Ultimatelythis

July7,2003

25

presentsitselfasaloweringofonescapacity
tofunctionandofoneslevelofenergy,and
themostbasicaiminmanytherapeuticsituations
is,therefore,therestaurationoftheclients
wellbeingandsenseofcompetence.Thissame
gradualshiftfromthetraditionalandolder
ideastothenewermorelifeaffirmingmindsetis
stillmorevividlynoticeableinthemannerin
whichoneapproachestheeffortstoassistthe
seriouslypoor.Thosewhointimatelyandovera
longtimehavedealtwiththatlargeandever
growingsegmentofthepopulationunderstandwith
evergreaterclaritythatthefearfulsenseof
radicaldiscouragement,offlatdespair,ofa
solidifiedconvictionoffutilityandofnihilism
isthesinglegreatestobstacletoanyeffortto
alleviateandhelp.Predictably,thismanifests
itselfinhowoneframestheentireenterpriseof
tryingtobeofsomeusetothesepeople.Ifa
frozen,monstrousindifferenceblockseveraccess
tothem,thenthefirstphasemustbeanattempt
tothawthroughtheiceofthatarmorandthat
againfallstypicallyintotheprovinceofthe
arousingandnotthetamingideaofculture.
Inspiteofthisaweinspiringfamilytree
andthedisplayoftheseaccomplishmentsthereis
onemissingelement;itislikeashocking,
startlingbirthdefectthatcatchesoneseyeand
takesonesbreathaway:majesticthoughthe
othercultureisinmanywaysitnevermanagedto

July7,2003

26

translateitselfintoasetofsocial
institutions!Thereisnosuchthingasa
seriouslydevelopedpoliticalprogram.Onelooks
invainevenforafirmlydelineated,clearly
definedconceptionofagoal,ofhowasociety
wouldhavetobestructuredandarrangedto
actuallyembodyandsupportthebasicimpulse,
whichistostrengthen,andtoenhanceandto
developindividuals.Thissurprisinglackisin
factsoflagrantlynottherethatwestill,to
thisdaythinkthatstructures,rulesand
institutionsmustinevitably,andsotosayby
definitioncurtailandlimitindividuality.Which
issimplyapreprogrammedpieceofintellectual
silliness,thoughitinspiteofthisplaysa
swaggeringroleesp.inAmericanpolitics.Inthe
USAonestillwavesthesloganthatlessstate
meansmorefreedomquiteparticularlyat
conservative,businessdominatedpartymeetings.
Wenowliveinatimewheretheexcuseforstill
believingsuchabsurditieshasmeltedunderour
feet.Thesedaysonecanvisitnumerousregions
wherethestateindeedhasdiedfromanemiaor
fromwitheringaway.Oneonlyhastopaya
visittotheBalkansortheCongoortoCentral
Asiatolearntheelementarylessonthatthe
absenceofthestateeasilymeanstheabsenceof
allfreedom,andthebeginningofmayhem.
Therefore,thatstructuresandinstitutionsare
abletoenhanceindividualityandtosupportit,

July7,2003

27

shouldgowithoutsaying.Astoundingisthefact
thattherehasbeenallalonganalternative
lifeenhancingplatform,aconfigurationofthe
requiredbasicmetaphors,butthisenormously
significantbeginningremainedtruncated,that
howitcouldbepoliticallyandsociallyrealized
wasomitted.Thatremainedablank.Ifonewould
comparethistoabirthdefectthennotjusttoa
missingtoe.Itismoreasifthelife
encouragingandlifeunfoldingtraditionwitha
ghastlytwistofironywasbornwithonlyhalfa
headandhalfachest.
Fromitsfirstinceptionithadawesome
powersinphilosophyandartanditisundeniable
thatinitshistorythesixtiesplayedarole.Up
tillthenithadbeensomewhatsecluded.Itlived
intheaters(thinkofStrindberg,ofONeillor
Buechner)inlibraries,inuniversities,in
studios,studiesandmuseumsbutnotinpolitical
assemblies,notinlegislatures,orunionhalls,
oranythingthatwecallthemarketplace.That
waswhollyandcompletelychangedinthat
notoriousdecade.Theothercultureswoopeddown
outofeverywindowofeveryivorytowerandit
wassuddenlyamassphenomenon.Ithadnotjust
anaffairwiththemedia.No,itmarriedthem.It
tookpossessionofpopularculture,turneditself
intotheculturalequivalentoffastfood,butat
thesametimevirtuallyusurpedalsoallthe
galleriesofhighart.Theaspirationsinall

July7,2003

28

ofmodernartbecameidenticalwiththe
aspirationsoftheotherculture:whetheritwas
afilmorpieceofsculptureorahappening:
Crucialwasthatitwasalive!Thatithad
force,andenergyandwasauthentic!Thatat
almostanyprice,andalsointheeffectuponthe
audience:Whatonestroveforevenbyhookand
crook,wastodisturbpeopleintheirslumber,to
wakethemup,ifinnootherwaythenthrough
unabashedandvitriolicshock.
Onecouldsuggestthattheghastlybirth
disfigurementofthismobilizationbecamethe
pitiful,thepatheticundoingofthesixties.Not
knownaboutthesixtiesisoftenthattheyhada
magnificentandgloriousstart,atanyratein
theUnitedStates.Oneshouldgobackandpay
attentiontothelanguagethatpeoplelikeRobert
MosesandStokleyCarmichaelusedduringthe
earlyfreedombusridesintoMississippi.Even
MartinLutherKingwasalreadyslackandpallid
incomparisontothem,.Theydidcarryfireto
themountainandtheywereevangelicalasmany
atthattimealreadyrecognized,andofcourse
notleastbecausetheyhadreadWaltWhitman,
Melville,ThoreauandBlake.Thecalamity
occurredwhenthesmallanddeeplyidealistic
civilrightsmovementbecamethemassmovement
againstthewarinVietnam.Suddenlyhoistedup
onanenormousstagewithTVlightsbearingdown
fromeverysidethedemandforapolitical

July7,2003

29

programbeyondtheendingoftheVietnamwar
becameloud.Butforthatonewaslamentably,
nakedlyunprepared.Andthatisacrucialpoint:
theother,lifeenhancinggreatstreamof
developmentshadnotaddressedthepoliticaland
social,theprogrammaticquestion.Butsuddenly
thestreetsandsquareswerefilledwithpeople
whowantedanswers.Whowantedtobetoldin
whichdirectiontheyshouldgo,andwhatwiththe
toweringenergiesthathadnowbeenloosenedthey
shouldbuild?Notjustwhattosmashorshut
downortakebutwhattoconstructandshape
andgivenewform?Anawfulsilencefell.Andthe
resteverybodyknowsandhasheardtoomany
times.Bittersectariansquabbleseruptedin
everycorner;splintergroupspackedtheirbags
andmarchedoffineveryconceivabledirection.
Buttheworstpartweretwoaberrations,both,in
retrospectnothardtounderstand.Onewasthe
descentintofutileviolence,(e.g.the
weathermen)theotherthedescentintomud
slingingrhetoricandmudbathingvulgarity.Both
happenedbecausewritingtoonescongressman,
boycotting,protesting(walkingincirclesaround
theWhiteHouse)oranyoftheothergenteel
formswereclearlynotenough.Werefutile
tokens,gesturespointlesswavingsofthehand.
Butonedidnotknowwhatelsetodo.Therewas
noalternative!Soonethrewbricksatthe

July7,2003

30

police,ortookoffonesclothesandwallowed
inthemud.
Predictablythependulumswungback.The
peacemovementproducedareactionwhosenamein
theU.S.wasReagan.Themostusualstoryversion
ofthecourseofeventsafterthattherecovery
fromthisreactionnevercame.Thesixtieshad
cometoapathetic,shamefulandrevoltingend
andeversincethenadisillusionmentwiththe
wholedomainofpoliticshasgraduallydeepened.
Indifference,apathy,cynicism,mereclowning
waxedandgrewlikeagrowingregionofquicksand
inwhichaneverlargernumberofpeoplesank
deeperveryinchbyinch.Everyoneagreesthat
thismoodwasintensifiedthroughthepressureon
mostpeoplesjobs,whichmeantthattheyhadto
focusontheirownsurvival,andonthefeeding
oftheirfamilies,andwerenolongerableto
affordthedistractionandtheluxuryof
participatinginthelarger,extradomestic
world.Thisalsomeantagreaterconcentrationon
materialsgoods,andhencethedevelopmentof
consumerism.Buttherealsoisanearconcensus
thatthespirallingdownintothedeepening
numbnessandthedeepeningcomawasdrivenbythe
palpabledeclineintotwoentirelydifferent
worlds:thatofthepoorandtheotherofthe
rich.
Therepatentlyistruthinthisnarration.
Butaperspectivethatcreatesanoverlapping

July7,2003

31

thoughinsomewaysdifferentgestaltshouldbe
added.Theturnawayfromthepoliticalandthe
moodofdespairandofparalysisthathascome
withithaspossiblyadifferentandmuchmore
fascinatingandintriguingcause.
Thesixtieswereaverybriefandsmellyfire
ofmerestrawinlargepartbecausetheywerethe
breakthrough,thecomingout,theshatteringits
wayouttothesurfaceofawholeotherculture
thathadlongexistedsidebesidewiththe
officialdiscipliningculture.Thenemesisof
thatwoefullittleepisodewasthattherewasno
formthatcouldhavegivenshapeandfleshand
substancetothatspirit.Andthereforethat
shortburstbefouleditselfandturnedintoa
besottencarnivalevenbeforeitreacheda
toddlersage.Buttheimpulsethathadbeen
therefrombeforetheabortiveFrenchand
AmericanRevolutionsofcourselivedonand
survivedthatpromisingandnonethelessgrotesque
debacle.Thatimpulsewasamuchmoreserious,a
farmoreaudaciousideaoffreedomthanthemere
substitutionofabigcommitteeforaking.The
desireandlongingvaguelyanticipatedinthat
ideagainedinpower,gainedinstrength,above
allitgainedenormouslyinthesheernumberof
thosethatitignitedandinspired.During
Vietnamperiodtheotherculturewasapaltryand
bedraggledgroupofstudents,forlorn
intellectualsandartists.Inthemeantimethe

July7,2003

32

otherculturehascircledroundtheglobeandyou
canfinditintheremotestvillagesofChinaand
ofMexico.Notonlythat.Inadditiontothe
realmsofeducationandoftherapyandartwhich
werealreadymentioned,takeonecloselookat
theentirerealmofthenewindustries,i.e.at
thepeoplewhoprimarilymake,butalsoatthose
whoinonewayoranotherworkwithcomputers.
Youcantellfromhowtheirhairstylesandfrom
theirdressandfromwhattheyeatandfromthe
coffeewhichtheydrinktowhichculturethey
belong.
Thecomputerpeopleareonlyoneofmany
samples,onecrosssectioncutatoneplace.The
reasonforsinglingthemoutisthattheyhave
beenthelocomotivetatpulledtheeconomyduring
thelasttenyears,andlocatingthemgivesone
animpressionofthepowerthatthestrengthening
cultureconceivablycouldinthefuturegain.A
verylargesegmentoftheyoungarealsoonthat
sideofthedeepcrevass,andsoareasurprising
numberofmanagersandengineers,especially
thosewhoworkinsmallandmediumsized
businessesasopposedtothegigantic
corporations.
Thepoliticalindifferencehastherefore
possiblyaverydifferentreason.Itmaynotbe
apathyordespairbutastanceveryfarfrom
that.Itmaybemoreapostponement,alyingin
waitandconservingoneselfforthepropertime.

July7,2003

33

Theissuesbetweenourpresentparties,slightly
cheaperdrugsfortheelderly,astillgreater
taxadvantageforthesuperrichhaveno
connectionstothedeepdifferencesbetweenthe
twocultures.Theyaresquabblesbetweentwo
relativesthatbothbelongtothesamecamp:that
ofthestraightanduptightandorderingand
discipliningculture.Thedifferenceismerely
thatonewantsathreeinchlongerleashforthe
poor,andtheotherwantsfiveextramilesfor
therich.ButneithertheRepublican,northe
Democratic,northeSocialDemocratic,northe
ChristianUnion,northeLaborortheToryparty
haveanynotionofwhatsortofprogramwould
createstrongerandmorevigorousindividuals,
thatindeedwouldbemoreselfpossessed,more
alive,moreauthenticandmorethemselves.In
fact,thatexactlyisthecrucialpoint:thisis
wherewefaceatoweringcementwall.Noneofus
seemstohaveevenaghostofanotionofwhat
sortofprogram,orwhatsortofinstitutions,
orwhatsocietycouldachievethisgoal.Butthat
istheimpasse.Thevastmajorityofpeoplealive
nowonthisglobecouldnotcarelessaboutthe
quibblesbetweenthebranchesofadyingculture
fromwhichtheyfreedthemselvesperhapsalready
yearsago.Theydoholdverystill,andtheyseem
strangelyquietbutnotfromnumbnessandnot
fromapathy.Theyholdstillbecausetheyare
waiting.Onecanevenpointafingerinthe

July7,2003

34

generaldirectionofwhattheyarewaitingfor.
Itwouldhavetobeafewfirstindicationsthat
theincompletedcultureinwhichtheynowlive
crampedanduncomfortablycouldyetberealized;
indicationsthatthisculturewillnotremainan
impulse,oratorsoorachildwithonlyhalfa
chestandhalfaheadforever.Somethingwould
havetosuggesttothemthattheremightbean
agenda,thattheremightbesteppingstones,that
therecouldbeanascendingstaircaseuptothe
culturewhichtheywant!Ifsignsofthat
appearedonthehorizon,thentheywouldmove!

3.THEJOBBUSINESSNEXUS

Inoptimisticmomentstheexistenceofthe
othercultureandquiteparticularlyits
phenomenalsizedogiveushope.Wearegrowing
byleapsandboundsandtheconventional,
subduing,taming,socializingcultureis
shrinkinganddryingup.Infiveyearstheworld
couldbewhollyandcompletelydifferentfromhow
itisnow.Except!Except!Yes,exceptfor
monsterfactorswhosegripholdsuslikeavice,
andwhoseemutterlydeterminedtorailroadall
ofusintoayawninggrandcanyonabyss.The
colossaldynamicinwhichwearetrappedisnot
primarilytheresultoftheabsenceofaviable
alternative,whetherthatisthedeparted

July7,2003

35

socialism,oranotherculturethatcouldperhaps
developintoanalternative,butthatsofarhas
nopower,andnoagenda,andnotevenanimageof
itsgoal.
Wearetrappedbyamechanismthatcommands
immenseandinestimableforcesandalltalkof
hopeandcomingchangesiswetandwasteddrivel
tillthatmechanismislucidlyandclearly
understood,andmorethanthat:untilitis
dismantledanddisarmed.
Fourcogwheelsdriveeachotherlikegearsin
atransmission,andeachofthesefourhasto
separatedoutandlookedatcoldlyonceitson
thetable.Thefirstoftheseis:
thefactthatjobsbecameouromnivalue.
ThereweresomeIndianTribes(whichthewhite
manexterminated)forwhomthebuffalowasbyno
meansonlymeat.Yes,theyatethepreythey
hunted,butfromtheskintheyalsomadetheir
tentsandclothsandevenmoccasins,andfromthe
sinewstheymadethestringsfortheirbows.
Therewasnopartofthebuffalotheydidnot
use,andthebuffalometthesumtotaloftheir
needs.ThatiswhatImeanbyomnivalue.For
us,inourtimejobsarewhatthebuffalowasfor
theseIndians.Jobsofcoursesupplyuswithour
income,buttheydoeversomuchmorethenthis.
Ourjobsarethesourceofoursocialstanding,
andmorethanthat.Theyalsogiveusaccessto
otherpeople.Thephonestoppedringingisone

July7,2003

36

ofthemostfrequentlyheardcomplaintsamongthe
unemployedTheyalsoholdupourselfrespect.
Inthemomentinwhichwebecomeunemployedthe
senseofourowndignitycavesinlikeahouseof
cards.ManyoftheunemployedwithwhomIworked
hidthatfactevenfromtheirwivesandtheirown
children.Theytooktheirlunchboxinthemorning
andcamebackwithitintheeveningfromthe
publiclibrary.Withoutajoboneisdependent,
thereforenotafullperson.Oneissuperfluous,
anuisance,aburden.Oneisnotproperly
entitledeventoonesfood.Thisisdecisively
differentfromnumerous,possiblymostother
cultures,anditisnotfixed.Itisarapidly
advancingprocess.Everyyearweloadsomeof
whatusedtofurnishourlivesuntoacartand
burnitonthegreatstakeofourjobs.Inthe
villageintheAlpsinwhichIgrewupChristmas
wascelebratedforsixweeks,andthatmeant
carolingandcandlesandfeastsandmanyget
togethersandbynomeansonlychurch,and
wheneveranybodydiedthewholevillagewentto
thefuneral,andafterwardsdidnotsoberupfor
atleasttwodays.Bynowitismuchgrimmerand
closertoourskin.Wehavenotimeforfriends,
notmuchtimeforourchildren,andhavetomake
appointmentswhenwewanttosleepwithour
partner.Allthisisgone,butthereisnoempty
space.Theworkwedo,likewater,filledevery

July7,2003

37

nookandcranny.Thesecondgearinthismighty
mechanismis:
automation.Foryearsthemostmunificently
salariesexpertsontheFutureofWorkwholly
underestimatedtheseachangingeffectsthat
automationcaneasilyachieve.Noendof
supposedlylearnedarticleswerewritteninthe
earlyeightiesprovingthattheintroductionof
computerswouldonlypolishthequalityofwork
tosomedegree,buttheallimportantquantity
wouldstayintact.Noonebelievesthisany
longer,butmostpeoplestillresistthe
suggestionthatwearestillinthepreparatory
stages.Thatwhatwehaveseensofarislikethe
noisefromanorchestrawhenthemusicianstune
theirinstruments.Theconcerthasnotyetbegun.
Theconductorhasnotyetrappedhisbaton
againsthisstand.(Somethinganalogoustothat
mightsoonhappenintheinternet.)Thenthe
musicwillbegin.
Itisbesttoillustratethiswithafew
examples.Thereexistalreadyoneortwo
ultramodernfactoriesclosetotheborderin
Mexicothatofferstoitsclientstomanufacture
anythingwhateverondemand.Oneweektheymake
refrigerators,thenextweekTelevisionsets,the
weekafterthatDVDsandafewdayslaterX
boxesforMicrosoft.(Cf.Manufacturingis
HistoryinWired??).Itismostusefultothink
aboutthesefactoriesinsymbolicterms,andto

July7,2003

38

regardthemasametaphorforjusthowflexible,
andhowagilefactoriescanbecome.
Onlyafewyearsagoacuriousbeliefwas
frequentlydiscussed.Bynowithasdistinctly
fadedandsoonpeoplewilllookatitinthewax
museumofamazingcredulities.Imeanthe
desperateconvictionthatthegrowthofthe
servicesectorwillcompensatewithnewjobsall
ofthelossesinthemanufacturingdomain.Itis
nowcommonknowledgethatexactlythereversehas
startedtooccur.Servicejobsaremuchmore
easilyautomatedthenthosefocussedonmaking
things,andtheautomationofbanksand
insurancecompanies,andofcourseofservice
stationsandofthepurchasingofrailroadandof
airplaneticketswillsoonbefollowedbygreat
wavesofdismissalsintheprivateandthepublic
baurocracies.Thatnodoubtwillbeoneofthe
mostwidelywelcomedadvancesinthisfield.The
tediousfillingoutofformsforapplications,
forlicenses,forpermitsandvisas,forloans
andcreditcardsandcompensationsforsickness
andretirement:agreatsighofreliefwillrise
uptotheskywhenallofthisisputtorest,
andthegraveiscoveredwithsoftware.
Theclownish,pratfallcomicironyinthis
isofcoursehardtomiss.Firstweendowedjobs
witheveryvaluewecouldfind.Wenotonly
dressedthemsothattheywouldbesexyand
seductive,wemadethemindispensable.Life

July7,2003

39

becameimpossiblewithoutthem.Wemadeverysure
therewasnosubstitute,noreplacement,no
ersatz.Wepinnedeverymedalandencomiumon
themandthenplacedthemonahighandthrone
likechair.Havingdonethatweturnedaroundand
inventedfivehundredfiftywaystoabolishthem,
indeedtoburyandtoburnthemandtodrownthem
inthesea.So,withtheassistanceofnoendof
differentmachinesjobsbecamewildlyrareand
impossibletofind.Anyonecouldhavepredicted
thattherewouldbeamadandinsanerush,that
peoplewouldkickandbiteandtwisteachothers
noseandears.Thatwastobeexpected,butwe
stilladdedonesmalltwist:Itdealtwiththose
wholostout,whowerepushedasideinthegreat
scramble.Onewouldhavethoughtthatnot
receivingoneoftheseallvaluablecornucopia
basketswaspunishmentenough.Butthatwasnot
thecase.Rumorswerecirculatedaboutthosewho
couldnotgrabajob:storiestotheeffectthat
theyrottedgangrenelikefromsheerinertia,and
thattheirlimbsturnedintoanevilsmelling
slime.
Sofarwehaveamad,paradoxicalcollision.
Firstwehoistedjobsuphighanddeckedthemout
witheveryvalue,andthenweturnedandmade
themparsimoniouslyrare.Thatmighthavebeen
enough,butathirdgiantelementwasbrought
intothesituation.Thiswasnotintended.Nor
wasitanticipated.Itwasabyproductofother

July7,2003

40

developmentsthatcameasasurprise.Wemoved
forwardandperfectedseveraltechnologies.These
werenotarcaneorcontroversiallikethegenetic
manipulationoffoodsorlikemakingenginesout
ofindividualmolecules.Ifanythingtheywereon
thebanalside.Mainlytheyallhadtodowith
transportationandwithcoveringgreatdistances
inaminimumoftime.Morespecifically,crucial
werethedevelopmentoflargetranscontinental
planes,ofveryquickandinexpensivecargo
ships,oftrucksandtrainsandofcourseofone
ofthemostelementarycapacitiesofcomputers;
theirabilitytosendandtoreceiveemail.
Naturally,therealsowereamultitudeofother
causalfactors.Stillthesetechnologiesdidmuch
toproducethethirdingredient,thatof
Globalization.Theastoundingsurpriseeffect
wasachangeintheentireorderofourbasic
magnitudes:withoneleapvirtuallyeverything
lefttheeraofthelocal,andtheregional,and
eventhenationalbehind,andinanamazingly
shorttimewehadenteredtheneweraof
theglobal.
Oneoftheodditiesofthissudden
transformationisthatbusinessmenquite
generallytalkaboutitfromonlyoneandthe
mostnarrowmindedpossibleperspective.To
theirmindsthewordglobalsuggestsprimarilya
globalmarket,andontopofthattheir
imaginationislimitedtothesingleproduct

July7,2003

41

whichtheyhappentoproduce.Theautoindustry
thusseesthewholeofChinaasonewindfall
giantmarketinwhichmanymillionsofChevrolets
canbesold.Theabilitytothinkthiswayis
almostacrobatic:itisafeatinthemasteryof
theonesidedandtheasymmetrical.Almostlike
thefamousabilitytoclapwithjustonehand.
Howisitpossiblenottoseetheothersideof
thiscoin?Namely,thattheChinesewillnotonly
buy,butalsomanufacture,andpossiblycheaper
andwithbetterqualityliketheJapaneseof
coursehavedoneforyears.Perhapsitisstill
moreastoundingthattheverysameautomobile
industrymanagerswhospeakwithgleeofChina
chewtheirlipsinrageatthementionofJapan.
Butthetopicoftradeshouldnotmonopolize
theconversation.Unfortunately,thatisthe
establishedpatternwhentheprosandconsofthe
leapintotheglobalarediscussed.Neglectedis
thesidethathastodowithwork.Imaginethe
combinationofthreeactions:First,jobsare
raisedonhigh,thenthroughautomationtheyare
decimatedandreduced,andthird,onebringsnot
productsbutasmanypeopleasonecan.Whatif
thereexistedamarvelouslycurativemedication
(say,forAids)butunfortunatelythesupplyof
itwasinadequateintheextreme.Thinkofamass
ofpeoplealreadyrestive,standingintheheat
andwaiting.Andthenwithtrains,ships,busses,
cartsandcarsonebringsthousandsandfurther

July7,2003

42

thousandsofadditionalpatientstothatsame
place.
Takecarefulnote!Insaneasthiswouldbe,
thisisnotanaccurateportraitofwhatactually
happened.Thetruthisworse,anditisworseby
anentirelevelofthedastardlyandthe
horrific.Untilfarmorerecentlythanoneisapt
torealizetheoverwhelmingmajorityofpeopleon
theentireglobelivedinvillagesandmadetheir
livingbyfarmingtheirownorsomeoneelses
land.EvenintheUnitedStatesandEuropethe
percentageofpeoplelivingonthelandwasin
theneighborhoodofeightypercentasrecentlyas
ahundredandfiftyyearsago.Everybodyknows
thatfarmersreceivemightysubsidiesinthese
countries,butthatfarmersareintroubleeven
thoughtheyaregiventhissupport.Therefore
wholevillages,eveninEuropeandtheUnited
Statesareabandonedandturnintoghosttowns.
Thisismildandgentlecomparedtovirtually
theentirerestofthewholeearth.Inevery
countryofAfrica,AsiaandSouthAmericahuge
migrationsareinprogress.Theformerpeasants
leavethevillagesformanyreasons,butinpart
brutally,becausetheymust.Andthatfortwo
reasons:becauselargeagricorporationsbought
theirland,andbecausefoodstuffstheworld
overhavebecometoocheap.Onasmalllotone
cannotraiseeitherenoughcornorenoughrice
eventosubsist.Sothetruepictureisthat

July7,2003

43

thesepeopledonotjustcomeinbusses,ships
andtrains.Theyareforcedtocome!Theformof
lifeinwhichtheylivedlongerthananyoneis
abletoremember,hasquitesuddenlybeenpulled
awayundertheirfeet,andsotheywalklike
refugeesmillionsandmillionsofthemin
thedirectionofthecities.
Thisthenisthethirdcomponentthatmustbe
joinedtotheothertwo:jobsbecamethebuffalo
ofourculture,weutterlyreliedonthem,then
theywerekilledoffindrovesbyautomation,and
inadditionamassofpeoplethatiswithout
exaggerationinthehundredsofmillions(just
oneexample:Zimbabwehasofficially70%
unemploymentatthismoment)nowwanderoverland
insearchofjobs.
Wehavenowseenhowthepressurebearsdown
fromthreesides:jobsbecameallimportant,then
automationeliminatedreamsofthem,andthe
migrationsfromthevillagesandfarmsimmensely
escalatedtheneedforthem.Thenumberof
peopleinvolvedinthesemigrationsaresovery
large,thatthefiguresthatmeasureunemployment
inourgenteelworldarelaughableandpunyby
comparison.Ifonedoesnotincludethevirtual
eliminationofmosttraditionalfarminginones
picture,oneneverseesthetruemagnitudeofthe
jobscarcityweface.Thefourthstillneeded
cornerstonethatjoinstheissueandwithone

July7,2003

44

flashilluminatesagreatdealaboutour
situationis
d.)TheJobMonopoly.Theresultisvery
crassandplain:thinkofitsimplyasa
stupendous,overpoweringincreaseinpower.Whose
power?Thepowerofbusinessofcourse,for
businessbuildsnewplantsandtherebymakesnew
jobs,orbusinessalsoclosesplantsandthen
sendsthepeoplehome.Allthreeofthegiant
forceswehavejustdescribedarerelativelynew.
Allthreehavegrownlikeafirestormsince89.
Fifteenyearsagoworkdidnotfillasmuchspace
inourlivesanddidnothavethestatusithas
now;automationwasakittencomparedtothe
voracioustigeritisnow,andmillionswhonow
liveinslumsatthatpointwerestillontheir
farms.Sothepressuresarenotthesame.They
arevastlygreater,andthepowerofbusinesshas
growncommensurately.
We,thepeopletousethatgreatand
ringingphrasehavedescendeddownintothe
positionofpetitioners,ofbeggars,orof
supplicants.ThatistheessenceofthePostCold
Warcondition.Oneoftenhearsthattownor
regionsorevencountriesmakeaneffortto
seducebusinesscompaniestopleasesettledown
insidetheirterritory.Thatimageisnot
accurate:toleanbackinnothingbutblack
underwearonaredcouchrequiresconsiderable
confidence.Onehastofeeldesirableand

July7,2003

45

attractive.Forthemostpartthatisnothow
citiesorcountriesfeelwhentheydealwith
corporations.Theyaremuchhumbler.Theyoffer
bribesandblandishments,greatsumsin
subsidiesandtaxabatements,butbeyondthat
theyveryoftendownrightplead.Inrelationto
thebusinesssectorwethepeoplearenotlikea
seductivewoman.Farfromit.Wearemorelike
thefamoussculptureofRodins:TheCitizensof
Calais.Wecomebarefootandinsackcloth.We
waitinthelobbies,andthekeystoourcities
hangaroundournecks.Thatpostureandthat
encounteristhefoundationalbuildingblock,the
archtypicalmoduleoutofwhichtheeconomyand
politicallifewasbuiltintheeraafterthe
coldwar.
Itmaybepatheticandinfuriating,andyet
nonethelesstruethatasinglecrudeandham
fistedwrestlersholdhasgiventhatmuchpower
toanevershrinkinggroup.Butholdthat
primitivetogglemechanismup,forexample,
againstthesuccessofReaganscampaign,orfor
thatmatterupagainstthecareersofClinton,or
Blair,orSchroederorBush,oroncemoreup
againstwhathashappenedtotheLaborUnions,or
morebroadlytoLiberalismintheUnitedStates
orspecificallytotheDemocraticParty.Isit
noteasytoseehowdominantlypowerfulthisJob
NexusMechanismhasbeen?Itiscentrally
importanttoseeclearlyhowthisgriphas

July7,2003

46

managedtoimmobilizeus.Howwewereparalyzed
byit.Howitheldourmindsandaboveallour
politicalimaginationlikeinmedievalstocks.
Ithardlycouldhavebeenstillsimpler,still
morebanal:Jobsareouromnivalueandthetwin
forcesofautomationandoftheunificationof
theentireglobeassuredthattheywere
permanentlyandincreasinglyindesperatelyshort
supply.Tothatharrowingfaminewehadonlyone
response.Thatwastoraise,toelevate,andto
coddlebusiness;tobecomeevermoresubservient,
andsubjugatedtoit.Webelievedthattherewas
nothingelsetodo.Wethoughtthatwereina
trainthatwaslockedandweldedshut.

4THEDEMISEOFTHELEFT

Ithasnotbeenbyanymeansonlythetrue
andcentralcoreofsocialismthatwaskilled
off.Notonlythefortressorthecastleofit
fell,buttheentirecountryside,allofthe
landarounditwasalsooccupied.Since89also
theattenuationsofit,themilder,diluted,
watereddownversionsmanyofwhichhadflorished
onthissideoftheironcurtainbecametepidand
lame.Eventheshadingsofitthatwerebarely
left,thatwerecertainlynotredbutonlythe
palestshadeofpink,therespectablesocial
democratic,liberal,genteel,bourgeois,labor

July7,2003

47

partieseventheygrewweakandwearyandlost
theirpurposeandtheiridentity.
Whydidthatoccur?Onemajorfactorwasthat
theyweretainted!Taintedbyassociation.They
hadaresemblance,akinshiptoasystemthathad
pitifullyfallen.Therefore,theysmackedof
failureanddefeat.Whichmadeitfareasierto
denigrateandtodismissthemthanthishadbeen
before.
Oneothermajorfactorwasthattheyhadbeen
deracinated;theyhadbeencutofffromtheir
roots.Wehadnottroubledourselvestodetermine
thedeepandseriouscausesfromwhichsocialism
died.Weblabberedaboutinefficienciesand
corruptionandpartybosses,andtheresultwas
awfulandcouldhavebeenpredicted.With
socialismdeadandnocorpseanywheretobeseen,
peoplerifledthroughthemementosandtrinkets
theycouldfind.Whatformerlyhadbeena
coherentforwardthrust,(misguided,yes,but
stillcoherent)wasnowgone,andoutofthe
remnantsoffoundfurnitureonenowheapedup
pitifuldefensivebarricades.Thisbecamethe
hallmarkoftheleftinpolitics,butthe
ineffectualdefensiverearguardactionsbecame
characteristicevenoftheLaborUnionswhose
keywordbecamelimits:limitsonthespeedof
theassemblyline,limitsonthenumberofhours,
limitsonthedegreetowhichwewillbe
exploited.Thesamespiritwaftedacrossmuchof

July7,2003

48

therestofwhatpreviouslyhadbeentheleft
culture.Regardlessofwhichgrouporenclaveor
camponevisited,itwasthedefenseofjobs,or
wages,orthebarrieragainstdrillingoilina
region,oragainstatechnology,or(biological)
researchofacertainkind,ortheprotectionof
thisspeciesorofthatrainforest;thosewere
theslogansandthebattlecries.Thiswas,sadly
enough,reactiveanddefensiveandtherefore
foreverclosetoamoodofretreat;andonecould
sayinsummary:thehistoryoftheleftsince89
isthestoryofalongishlineofrearguard
actions.
Inthelargerpictureathirdanddifferent
factorfarovershadowsthetwoIhavejust
mentioned.That,unsurprisingly,isofcoursethe
BusinessJobNexus.Inanutshell:thepowerof
thebusinesssectorincreasedupwardsinan
exponentialfashionandtheleftwashopelessly
outmatched.Thepoliticsoftheleftbasically
turnedintoeffortstocontrolthewaxingpower
ofbusiness,andforthatveryreasonthey
failed.TheJobBusinessNexusconstitutedsuch
anincredibleboostinpower,thatbusinesscould
nolongerbecontrolled.Inearlier,more
favorabletimes,themoreliberal,leftleaning
partieswerelikeabundleofstrungtogether
ropes.InthePostColdWarEradifferentstrings
andthreadsandlesserwireswereseparatedfrom
thisonegiantropeandwereappliedinsoftened

July7,2003

49

andattenuatedwaysinnoendofdifferent
situations.Everyoneoftheseattemptswasin
truthsomemildoralsonotsomildconstrainton
thearbitrarinessoftheforcesofbusiness.And
inthatexactlylaytherub.Forateveryturn
onecouldraiseagainstthemthefear,the
spectrumthattheyrepresentedanemploymentaxe.
Whatevertheymighthavebeen,whethertheywere
anefforttoraiseminimumwages,ortoincrease
healthbenefits,ortotightentherulesthat
allowedacompanytofirepeople,oranyofa
greatvarietyoftaxes,ornaturallytheeffort
toorganizetheworkersinaplantinthefirst
placeinregardtooneandalloftheseone
couldinvariablyandforeverraisethecry:this
willbringaboutadiminishmentofjobs!This
willgivethecompanytheexcusetopullupits
stakesandmoveelsewhere!!Thiswillheminthe
expansionofoneoranotherofthesecorporations
andfewerjobcallswillbetheresult.
Oftenenough,togiveadifferentexample,
groupsdidcometogetherandevengrewtoa
considerablestrengthinthenameoftheir
supportofpeace.Thereweresignsonthedoors,
andwhitepigeonsevencircledroundtheroofs.
Butthenbychance,inawhollyunrelatedway,
thelocalmilitarybase,orthemunitionsfactory
downtheroadspreadthewordthattheymight
leave,andthatwiththemthejobsonwhichthe
towndependswillofcoursebegone.Itisdeeply

July7,2003

50

significantthatbeforelongmanyofthe
peacenikswoulddriftawayandwouldnowpaint
signsdifferentfromthosetheycarriedthrough
thestreetsbefore.Nowtheywantthebaseorthe
factorytostay,andthereisofcourseonlyone
waytoaccomplishthis:Thetownmustmakeitself
stillmoreattractive.Itmustwoothebusiness
interestsinstillmorealluring,moreseductive
ways.Withwhat?Withtaxabatements?Withlarger
subsidies?Withlaborcontractsstillmore
favorabletothecompanyside?
Onceweunderstandthedynamicandthelogic
oftheBusinessJobNexuswealsogetafar
sharperunderstandingoftheprogressive
deteriorationofourownculture.Whatis
happeningiffarfromamerecrumbling,far
frompiecesdroppingofffromweariness,orold
age.Itismoreademolition,adeliberateand
willeddestructioninwhichweplayanactive
part.Theneedforthecreationofmorejobs
clamorsoneveryside,andthatdemandis
ultimateandnotnegotiable.Atthesametimewe
knowonlyoneresponse:toelevate,toboostto
enlargethebenefitsthatflowtobusiness.Sowe
takefromthesocialandculturalinstitutionand
giveenmassetobusiness.Thebusinesssector
receivesmorespacewhilethesocialandcultural
institutionshuddleineversmallercornersunder
theimpactoftheirbudgetcuts.Thelargesse
handedtothepharmaceuticalcorporationsandthe

July7,2003

51

biginsurancecompaniesaspartofthefunding
forthenewhomesecuritydepartmentisonlyone
ofthelatestandmostshamelessofthesemassive
transferpayments.
Butwearenotonlytakingawayfrom
cultureinthenarrow,ethereal,andeffete
bourgeoissense.Theeconomyislikeanenormous
Goldbergcontraptionthatweexpectto
manufacture,toproducejobs.Sincejobsare
constantlyeliminated(throughautomationif
nothingelse),newjobsmustcontinuouslypour
outofthegreatchuteofthismachine.Yetthe
engineisvoracious.Tokeepitssteamupatthe
highestpressurewegrabwhateveristohandand
tossitintothefurnacefire.Andthatsthe
point:Metaphoricallyspeaking,weburnold
familypictures,preciousfurnitureandevenour
violins.Notmetaphorical,butincrassliteral
fact::Thedemandsofourjobshavesoencroached
ontherestofourlivesthatwehavesacrificed
muchoftherelationshipstoourchildren,large
partsofourfamilylives,andeventhefrequency
ofsex.Itsbecomecommonthatwemustleaf
aboutinoursmallblackbooktofindanopen
spotwherewecanmeetwithourmate.This
franticburningofourviolinshasbynow
reachedthepointwhereanevergreaternumberof
harriedpeoplesumuptheirgreatcomplaintinto
theonemuchrepeatedsentencethattheyno
longerhavealife!

July7,2003

52

Thepressurecausedbythetwingiant
factorsofthespreadofautomationandof
globalizationlowersnotonlythelevelonwhich
theworkingclasslives.No,theforceofthat
pressurehasalsoreshapede.g.theprofessional
lifeofphysiciansrememberthathospitalsand
muchoftherestofmedicinewasturnedintoa
forprofitenterpriseandnaturallyalsothat
oftheotherprofessions.Infactthatisvery
muchwhattheincreasingdominanceofbusiness
means:realmsthatformerlywerenotwholly
subjecttocalculationsofmoneywereconquered
andbecamepartofthebusinessempire.
Similarily,thatsamepressurealsoexertedits
downwardforceontheterritoryoftheservice
sector.Socialworkers,topickoneexample,
sufferfromaperfectlyoldfashionedspeed
upmorecases,inlesstime.Theyarealso
subjectedtoagreatincreaseinregimentation.
Theupshot?Thedistinctivevaluewhichthiswork
formerlypossessed,whichwasinseparablefrom
personalattention,andpersonalinvolvementhas
largelybeeneviscerated:thepressurehas
dessicatedwhattheydo,hasrenderedit
bureaucraticandclosetomeaningless.
Onceagain,ponecanunderstandthehistory
oftherecentsetbacksoftheecological
movementasaconsequenceofthesamedynamic:
Theconnectionbetweenthemultiplicityof
ecologicalapprehensionsandtheBusinessJob

July7,2003

53

Nexusbecomesapparentassoonasonestrings
wordslikeblackmail,extortion,ultimatum
andjawbonetogether.Thatinourworldisone
ofthemostpatent,flagrantpatterns.
Irrespectiveofwhattheparticularcausemaybe,
whetheritisthequalityofair,orofwater,or
thepreservationofthebeautiesofavalleyor
ofastretchofbeach:soonerorlaterallof
thesecampaignscollidewiththeinterestsofa
partofthebusinesssystemandthenthe
either/orcomessharpandquick:Fine,insiston
yourwateroryourair.Ifyoudowewillsimply
relocateouroperationswherelaborischeaper,
totheUkraineorBrazil.Asthedemandforjobs
becomesevermoreintensetheforceofthat
threatnaturallygrows.Thatisonereason(tomy
mindonlyoneofmany)forthelonglineof
defeatsandwithdrawalswhichtheecological
movementinthelastfewyearshassuffered.
Clearly,thisisthemonotonousrepetitionof
oneandthesamepattern.Infactthispattern
hasbeenrepeatedsoconsistentlythatthebasic
qualityofpoliticshaschangedastheyears
passed.Politiciansofcoursepromises,thatis
inthenatureoftheirtrade:theywillimprove
thelotofthegreatmajoritythathaslost
ground,theywillreversethewellknowntrends
towardsevergreaterinequality,towardsmore
workforlesspay,towardsAndinvariably
thesepromisesraisehopesandafollowingcomes

July7,2003

54

togetherinsupport.Yetagainandagainthishas
turnedouttobemereshow,merelyaspectacle,a
theaternomore.Oncetheconflictisjoined,
oncethebattletakesonform,afterthestageof
mereposturingandrhetoricisover,oncemore
thewellwornsequenceofevents.Itbecomes
clearthatthehopedforpromisedchangesfor
keepingitwouldimperilthefurthergrowthof
jobs.Atthatjuncturetwothingshappenatthe
sametime.Forone,thepoliticiansbecometoned
down,theybackpaddle,theirstancebecomesfar
moreconciliatory,softer,gentler.Butatthe
sametimealsowe,weourselvesbecomeuncertain,
wewaver,muchofthetimeweturnanddisavow
andreversecourse.
Thismeansthatnogenuineconflictis
permittedtoarise.Therearenolongergenuine
negotiation,oraseriousmeetinginthemiddle,
acompromise,inwhichthedifferentpartiesare
honestlyrepresented.Noneofthat.Instead,for
shorttimethegrowingapprehensionsareallayed,
alittlecalmandcomfortspreads,vaguesignsof
hope,alittlecheerfulness.
Togobacktoourpictureofthetrain:by
nowpainfullylearntthatnomatterwhatour
politicianssay,thereisnoquestion,oftheir
changingthecourseofthetrain.Indeedwehave
nowreachedalater,moreadvanced,stillmore
upsettingstage.Bynowthepoliticiansnolonger
speakaboutthetrain,oraboutwhereitis

July7,2003

55

going,orwhatanyonecoulddotostopitorto
slowitdown.Theynolongeraddressthe
encroachingsituation.Theydonotmentionwitha
singlewordthefundamentalfact,namelythat
formerlytherewerealternatives,butthatthese
havedisappeared.Theyareashelplessasthe
restofus.Therefore,wehavebeguntoseethem
differently.Wehaveassignedtothemadifferent
role,theynolongerperformtheirprevious
function.theyhavebeendemoted,degradedinto
porters.Theyknockonthecompartmentsandoffer
pillows,somered,someblack,somegreen.A
littlecomfortsothatwecancatnapforaspell,
abitofsweettalkforthisorthatespecially
offendedgroup,somesoothingwordssothatall
onthetrainwillstayreasonablyquiet.Thatis
allthatisleft.Nomore.

InmanyPunchandJudyshowsthatIsawasa
child,thelargeandverytoothycrocodilewould
foreverlurkbehindPunchsback.Allthe
childrensawthehugecrocodileclearasday,
onlyPunchforsomestrangereason,wastotally
unawareofit.Nomatterhowloudthechildren
screamed,nomatterhowrepeatedlytheyexplained
thatitsmouthwasterriblywideopen,andonly
fourmorefeetaway,Punchlookedmerelybaffled,
andwasconstantlydistractedbynoendof
happenstanceevents.Thatourpoliticiansare
likePunchandwelikethechildrendoesnotneed

July7,2003

56

spellingout.Itistheoutcomethatcontainsthe
lesson:thechildrenalwaysstayedtothevery
endoftheperformance.Butmanyofusleftthis
puppettheaterlongago;itwastiresomeandwe
grewbored.(Foroneindicationofhowbored,
glancequicklyatthepercentageofparticipation
inelectionsintheU.S.A.)

THEMAYHEMSPREADS

ThefilmTheCityofGoddepictsthelife
ofyoungstreetchildreninoneofthefavelasof
Brazil.Inonescenethefourteenyearold
leaderofagangtellsaneightyearoldwhowant
tojointhathemustproveofwhatstuffheis
madebeforehewillbereceived.Thetest
assignedtotheboyisthathemustshootat
closerangeoneofthetwootheralsowaiting
children.Afterhesitatingforsomemomentsthe
shotringsout.
***
HowdoestheJobBusinessNexusfunctionin
theThirdWorld?Whataretheeffectsthatthe
enormousincreaseinthepowerofthebusiness
sectorhasinthesetwo/thirdsoftheglobe?The
comparisonisnotjustgrim.Itisrevealingly
instructive.Itisimpossibletoreally
understandthenatureoftheforcesthatinthese
decadeschangeandreshapetheworld,ifone
observesthingsonlyfromtheprotectedvantage

July7,2003

57

pointofourworld.Agreatdealthatweseehere
onlythroughafog,asshadows,assuggestions,
becomesunmistakableandstarkinanyoneof
thesesoverydifferentcountries.
Itisofcoursevastly,incomparably,
monstrouslyworse!Andthereasonsforthishit
usintheface.Forone,becauseunemploymentis
fiveoreightortentimeshigherthanwithus.
Ifwewearsackclothandwearthekeystoour
citiesaroundournecksbecausewearedesperate
forjobs,whatdoyousupposethepeopleof
AfricaorofIndiaorofanyotherfiftyrandom
countriesarepreparedtodo?Comenakedandwalk
ontheirknees?Theyofcoursecompeteagainst
us,andoneshouldaddthistothemomentsin
whichthenewandgreaterpowerofthebusiness
sectorbecomesmanifest.Withverylittletalent
fortheateronecaneasilyfantasizeascenein
whichtworepresentatives,onefromapleasant
spotsomewhereinOhio,andtheotherfromaslum
inwhicheightyearoldboyskilltogetintoa
gang,pleadtheircaseinfrontofaonlyhalf
listeningbusinessman.Whatinfrastructuredo
youhavetooffer?Howskilledandtrainedare
thepeoplewhosleeponnewspapersinthestreet?
Howmanyyearsofschoolingdomostofthemhave?
Howfamiliararetheywiththelatestversionof
wordorof

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58

windows.Andlastbutbynomeansleast:
(Youthere,youfromGhana)howmuchcanyoupay
usifwedodecidetocome?
Andyet,andyetandthatistrulymind
shakinglyimportantallofthegovernmentsof
everyoneofthesecountriesnonethelessdoes
preciselythis.Theyhavemassesofpeoplethat
areunemployedandliveinslumsandtheybegand
pleadbusinessestopleasecomeandsettlein
theirterritory,justaswedothisbetween
Michigan,IndianaandOhio,orforthatmatter
MichiganandGermany.Iatthispointknowa
goodmanypeopleinthegovernmentsofsomeof
theThirdWorldcountries,andIknowthatmany
ofthemarecorrupt.Inonethelesscannotimagine
thatthereisasingleonewhodoesnotinhis
heartofheartsknowthatthispeculiarcontest
isuttermadnessandafullfledgedmonstrosity.
Butthepointisofcourse,thattheyinspiteof
allthatdoit,andofcourseforthevery,very
best,andthemostoverpoweringofreasons.
Becausethereisnoalternative.Becausethereis
nothingelsetodo.Becausedevelopmentmeans
creatingjobs,andassuredlyandwithoutany
doubt:jobsdocomefrombusinessandfrom
nowhereelse.
Speakingofridinginathoroughlylocked
trainIsuspectthesegovernmentpeopleknow
exactlywhatImean.

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59

TakeSouthAfricaasoneexample.Foryears
theSouthAfricanpeoplecarriedonarevolution
thatmostoftheworldwatchedwithbreathless
excitement.Itwasanextraordinarilyleft
revolution,eventhoughmanypeopleintheStates
prefernottoknowhowclosethetiesbetween
Mandellaandcommunisminthoseyearswere.It
wasalsofullyandcompletelyablackrevolution.
And,aboveallitwasvictorious.Andinspiteof
allthat,whatisthepaththattheblack
governmentsince94hasfollowed.Everybody
knows:aftersomeinitialresistanceitistothe
letterthepaththatwillinviteandpleaseand
hopefullyattractandbindBigBusiness.
Itisabittercrashingironythatprecisely
theconditionoftheblackpopulationhasinmany
respectsworsenedsincethevictoryofthe
revolutionandtheelectionofalargelyblack
government.Unemploymenthasrisensharplyand
togetherwithitnaturallyviolenceandcrime.
Theutilitieshavebecomemoreexpensiveandthe
socialservicesgavedeclined.Itisnotatall
unusualforablacktaxidrivertosaythathe
preferredthetimeofapartheid.Inthisrespect
SouthAfricaisentirelyinstepwiththegreat
majorityofThirdWorldcountries.Itmaysound
shockingtoourears,butmanypeoplewholivein
theterritoryoftheformerSovietUnionreferto
thetimeofBreshnyevasthegoodoldtime.

July7,2003

60

Why?Becausethenthereweresausagesinthe
butcherwindows,andeverybodyworked.
Thefearfuldescentthathasoccurredin2/3
oftheworldinroughlythelastfifteenyears
teachesacruciallesson.Ofcoursethepolicies
adoptedbythesecountries,areatfault.In
everyoneofthesecountriestheyhaveaggravated
thedivisionbetweentherichandthepoor.And
sincethepoorwerenumerousandquitepoor
beforethisdeclinestarted,theirconditionis
nowcalamitous.Andoncemorethereliesan
ironictwistinthis.ManyblametheWorldBank
andtheIMFforaspectsofthisdeterioration.
AnddoubtlesstheIMFhasactedperemtorilyin
numeroussituations,andhasbrowbeaten
governmentsintoeconomicpoliciesthatareto
Washingtonsliking.Equally,theWorldBankhas
actedlikeanunscrupulousloanshark.Ifsleazy
pawnbrokersinthepoorinnercitydistrictsof
AmericahadpracticedwhattheWorldBankhas
manytimes,theywouldhavegonetojail.With
allthatgrantedoneshoouldnotimaginethatthe
WorldBankortheIMFareresponsibleforthe
disasterwhichhasnowarrived.Itisuselessto
blamethem,exceptofcourseforsomeofthe
timingandthesheerdogmatismwithwhich
privatizationwasfoisteduntoseveral
countriesperhapsmostespeciallytheformer
SovietUnion.Therealresponsibilityandthe
realblamelieelsewhere.Namely,intheabsence

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61

ofanyconceivablealternative.Withorwithout
theIMFandtheWorldBankallofthesecountries
weretrappedintheJobBusinessNexus.Withor
withouttheaddedproddingfromtheIMFandthe
WorldBanktheywerealldesperatelytryingto
findthefertilizerthatwouldgrowbumpercrops
ofjobs.Thatwasthebigcoercivereasonforthe
policiesthattheyadopted.Thatiswhythey
cowtowedtoBigBusineswhichveryoftenwas
expensiveandusedupthefundsthatcouldhave
helpedthepoor.
Ihaveinsistedinapermutationofseveral
waysthatthemostmassiveandallelse
overshadowingcharacteristicofoursystemis
thefactthatitdragsusdownintothe
bifurcationandthepolarizationbetweentheever
fewerthataregrowingeverricherandtheever
morethatarebecomingevermoredestituteand
poor.Thesumtotalofthosealreadystuckin
slumsandparticularlythenumberofthosenow
migratingintoslumsfromvirtuallyeveryrural
areaintheThirdWorldhasbecomeunfathomable.
Probablyonlyaverysmallminorityhasanatall
accurateconceptionofwhatthenumericalcount
ofslumdwellerswouldcumulativelycomebe.But
onemindbogglingnumbermightinanycasebeno
morethanyetonemoreemptycipherthatfloats
pastusinthenight.Conceivably,thesimple
factthateveryThirdWorldcity,whetheritis
KievorMoscow,orCalcuttaorBombayor

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62

JohannesburgorCairoisbothacityanda
slum,andthattheslumpartgrowingaroundeach
ofthemcoversmanymiles,milesonwhichpeople
livelikerefugees,huddledtogether,crammed,
withonlypiecesofplasticsheetsforroofs,and
oftenonlythebarestminimumofwater,and
toiletsthatIwillnotdescribeperhapsthat
sentencecomesalittleclosertoshakingusby
theshoulder,andwakingustothismassiveand
foundationalfactaboutourage.Possiblyno
sentence,orevenpoemwrittenbyanyonecould
comeclosetodoingsuchathing.Theremaybeno
substituteforspendingalongerperiodoftime,
notjustthreedayswithatouristguide,ina
slum,andtolivethereineveryrespectexactly
liketheslumdwellersdo.
There,nonetheless,maybeonepurposethat
quotingoneselectstatisticcouldwellserve.
Someexpertshaveestimatedthatroughlytwo
billionpeoplelivenowinurbansettings,and
thatapproximately2/3ofthesetwobillionsare
seriouslypoor.Guestimatesofthissortareof
coursenotoriouslyandfabulouslyproblematic,
butthisdoesnotthwarttheonethingIhavein
mind:Regardlessofwhetherthisnumberis
fartherorclosertothetruth,virtuallynoone
inthefaceofitbelievesthattheonetunnel
strategythatwehavebeenpursuingcould
eradicatethiscondition.Nomatterhowobeisant
ourbowsbeforetheLordsofBusinessbecome,no

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matterwhatheapedupsacrificesweburnonthe
altarsoftheirboardrooms,nogrowthof
businessesorofjobswillbeelicitedthatcould
evermatchtheorderofthat
magnitude.
Ifsomeinklingofthesizewehavebeen
tryingtosuggesthascomeacross,thenwecan
imaginethenextfewstepsinthedevelopmentof
whatwesofarlabelterrorism.Thequestion
thatmustbeposedfocusesontherelationship
betweenthesetwo:Giventhatterrorismisnowa
fact,thatitsexistenceisagiven,howwill
thesetwoworldencirclingphenomenainteract?
Morespelledout:howwillterrorismeffectthe
furtherdevelopmentofpovertyandoftheslums,
andviceversa:inwhatwayswillthefestering
andspreadingslumsinfluencethenextphasesin
theevolutionofterrorism?Almostanyonewho
knowslifeinthethirdworldslumsfromdirect
experiencecannothelpbutbeamazedathow
placid,howpatientandtrulylongsufferingthis
greatmassofhumankindhassofarbeen.For
thosewhoknowthisfirsthand,itishardnotto
seeinterrorism,aperhapsoverduefirstoutcry
ofreaction,alongdelayed,maddened,furious
flailingthatobeysnorules,andmostcertainly
nottherulesofwar.povertywillcontinueto
deepenandtoengulfmorenotinevitably,not
becauseofsheerfated,preordainedultimate

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64

necessity,butbecausethatistheallelse
overwhelmingdriveoftheJobBusinessNexus
Thewideningofterrorismisatrockbottoma
matterofcontagion,ofproximatelocation,of
geography.Asthefrequencyandtheubiquityof
terroristattacksincreasesandintensifiesany
numberofthemwillobviouslybelaunchedinthe
vicinityofslums.Inescapablythiswillbringin
itstrainthatmeasuresofprotectionand
defense,alsoofrepressionwillbetakenagainst
allthoseintheneighborhood,guiltyand
innocentalike.SinceSeptemberof01wehave
seenthispatternenactedalltoomanytimes.
Soonerorlaterthisofcoursemultipliesthe
numberofpotentialterrorists.Theghastly
historyofthecombatbetweenIsraeland
Palestineislikeadidactictextbook
illustrationofthisupwardsspiralinglogic
whichbeforelongwewillbeobservinginhosts
ofotherplaces.Partofthisisplain,
understandabletitfortatreaction.Theawesome,
deeplydepressed,nearcatatonicpassivityofthe
typicalslumdwellersisnotbottomless.Enough
violenceandsteadfastrepressioneventually
pushesthemfarenoughdowntoproducea
reaction.Thatreactionhasbynowbeenmodeled,
demonstratedandrehearsed.Ithasbeenanalyzed
andexplainedcountlesstimesinthenewspapers
andonTV.Everyoneatthispointknowsindetail

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65

whattodo,andwithsufficientprovocationwill
ofcourseeventuallydoit.
Anotherelementisasoldasthepsychology
ofsin.IfIambeingtreatedasifIhadalready
committedthetransgressionwhileIamactually
stillinnocent,thenIamadoltishfoolifI
dontplowahead.Iamalreadypaying,soImight
aswellsinforwhatitsworthorinother
words:whynotbecomeaterroristiftheyhave
beguntotreatusasifthatiswhatwewere?

Ifterrorismwillindeedspreadinthisway,
ifgraduallymoreandmorewarlikeactswill
originateinareasthatareslums(andtoalarge
extentthatofcourseisthecasealready)then,
naturally,AlQuadaandallothercircumscribed,
specificconspiratorialgroupswillfadeand
blendintothebackground.IntheUnitedStates
thiswillerodeaverybasicandfoundational
perception.Foralonglineofreasons,the
dominantemotionalpostureisstillthat
clean,surgicalstrikeswillbeallthatis
necessary;thatessentiallythisentireconflict
willbekeptatadistancefromus,andwillthus
belikeotherrecentwarshavebeenforthe
UnitedStates.
Wewilllookbackuponthismadconceita
fewyearsfromnowasahighwatermark,asone
tellingmeasureofjusthowcalamitouslyand

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66

madlydeludedwewere.Thiswillchangevery
graduallyasthroughaslowpersistentgrinding.
Morethanlikelytherewillbemanyactsof
terrorisminmanydifferentplaces,andgradually
theywillbecomesoubiquitousandsopersistent
thatwewillrealizethatwehavenoeffective
defenseagainstthem.Slowlyourlifewillbecome
morelikelifeisinIsraelalready.Noonewill
feelquitesafewhentheyshop.Parentswillhave
anguishintheireyeswhentheysendtheir
childrenofftoschool.Onewillstarttowalk
acrossasquareandnotmakeittotheother
side.
InslowdegreeswewilldiscoverthatIraq
wasbutaminorskirmish,andreluctantlywewill
piecebypieceadmit,whoourenemyinthis
struggleactuallyis,andhowhugethenumbers
thathavecometohateus,reallyis.Piece,by
smallpieceourpictureofthewholegestaltwill
undergoatransformation,untilwefacethefact
thatweareintheearlyphasesofthelong
overduegreatwar,thefirstgenuineWorldWar,
thewaroftheutterlydesperatefour/fifthof
humanitywhoaredownandlowagainstthe
uselesslyandabsurdlyrich.
Tofillinthispicturewithafewfurther
touches:mostofushaveseenfilmsandread
booksinwhichtheterritoryintowhichthe
lockedtrainismovingisdescribedindetail.If
wecontinueinthedirectioninwhichwearenow

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67

goingthenthecanyonthatseparatesthepoor
fromtherichwillhavebecomemuchdeeperand
muchwider.Possiblyintenorfifteenyearsmost
oftherichmightliveinprotectedcommunities
insomestatesandcountries,these,ofcourse
existalready.Theywillbealotlike
fortresses.Highconcretewallswithspiralsof
electricallychargedbarbedwireontopofthem;
surveillancecamerasturningintheirsocketsin
unsuspectedplaces;childrenwhoaredrivento
schoolinarmoredcars,andwaveattheirparents
throughglassthatisbulletproof.Theeveryday
lifeoftherich,ofnecessity,willbe
disciplinedandguardedinmanywaysamilitary
life.Lifeinbarracksbutwithjaccuzis.
Theotherside,tooispredictable.Forit,
too,modelsexistalreadynow.Povertywillbe
stilldeeper,andthenumberofthepoorwillbe
vastlygreaterthanitisevennow.Ifthe
downwardspressureonallsocialservicesand
safetynetscontinuesthentheslums,orcamps,
orbarriosorshantytownsofthepoorwillof
coursebeenormous.Theywillsprawlacrossmiles
andmiles.Veryfewpeoplewillstillliveinthe
ruralcountryandtherichwillhavesegregated
themselvesfromtheareasofthepoor.How
everydaylifeinshantytownsroilson,manyofus
havealreadyseen.Soitiseasytoimagine
differentsnapshots.Someareasmightbevery
likelepercoloniesintheMiddleAges,others

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68

mightlooklikethecampsofguerillafighters,
notsoverydifferentfromwhatwerecallfrom
Vietnam,orwitnessnowinIraq,inEastTimor,
inAfghanistan,andPalestine.
Thedivisionthatwesofaronlymorally
lament,thebifurcatedculturethatwesofar
regardonlyasamoralscandalwillhavebecome
somethingelse:small,fortifiedenclaves
surroundedbyahostileroilingseaoflast
resort,lastditch,fightersuntodeath.Life
willhavebecomeahystericalstrugglefor
survivalalsofortherichandboththedown
andlowandtherichwillbelostinalandscape
ofgreatslaughterhouses.
Yes,thetrainisheadedforJerusalem.Not
whatJerusalemoncewas,butwhatJerusalemin
thelasttwentyyearshasgraduallybecome.In
retrospectwewillunderstandthatJerusalemdid
playapropheticrole:thatlifeasitisthere
nowwithbombsexplodingindiscosandin
cafeteriaswastheforewarningofthelifethat
wastocome.Thelockedtraininwhichweimagine
ourselvestoberidingmaynotcrashintoa
mountainwall,orcareendownintoariver:the
trainmaystopandtheconductorswillbe
shouting:LastStop!Thistrainendshere!
Jerusalem!
Thequestionis:Mustthishappen?Arewe
boundtocontinueinthedirectioninwhichwe

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69

havebeengoing?Or,isthereanalternative,is
thereanotherway?

Westartedfromtheideathatalotofpeople
experiencetheconditionofourcultureonthe
analogyofalockedtrain.Thatthereisonlyone
path,onetrajectory,oneend.Iwouldlikenow
tosuggestadifferentpicture.Inthispicture,
weineffecthavebeenmovingthroughabroadand
longfork,hugeliketheMississippidelta.There
isnotonemomentofdecision,onequickfinal
either/or.Instead,ourcultureismakingitsway
inthetensionbetweentwopoles,two
alternatives.Ithasbeendoingthisforsome
time,andthiswillcontinueforseveralmore
years.Betweenthetwopathsexistsafieldof
forces.Wecrossthroughcurrentsthatpullus
firstinonethenintheoppositedirection.The
outcome,alongwhichofthesetwopathsour
culturewilleventuallydevelop,isstillwide
open.Botharepossible.Muchdependsonthe
decisionsandtheactionswewilltake.
Weknowthatspreadingforeverbiggerand
reddercarpetsforthemogulsofBigBusiness
willnotwork.Wehavenowknownthisforsome
time.ThatexactlyistheheartofthePostCold
WarCondition:Ofcourseweknow,certainlyby
now,thattheentirefranticefforttocoddleand
assuagethemistonoavail,thatitisa
useless,selfdestructivestrategy.Whydowe

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nonethelesscontinueandpersist?Ultimatelyfor
onlyone,butthatanutterlyfinalanddoor
closingreason:ThereisnoAlternative!Wedo
nothavetheghostofashadowofanotionof
whatelsetodo!Wearehypnotizedandbelieve
ourselvestobeinalockedandweldedshut
train.Inonesentence:thisisthepurposeof
NEWWORK.Toshowthatthereisanelse,that
thereisanalternative,andtomakethatother
wayasvisibleasagreatstreakoflight.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

PtI:whatcouldbehappeninginthenext6
12years.
PtII:ButIthinkitactuallywont.Inthe
meantimethingswillhappenfromtheotherside.
WhydoIthinkthat?Formanyreasons.But
Afrika,andothercountyriesandGovernmentsand
Visibilityandallofthat.Andnetwork.NONOwe
arefar,butBynomeansonlyon.lyus.Checkout
moveon.com.Idothinkwehaveacontributionto
make.Ofcoursenoteveryoneagreesthatitmust
bethatnewdemocratsjustwanttogetbackon
theirfeetthepointitnolongermatterswhom

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71

weelectorwhetherthereisarevolution
theyallintheenddomoreorlessthesame.
IthinksomeresistnacewillbefutileI
believethatisanimportantpointbutnotall.
AndIbetterthinkaboutthis.
Willnotexplainitindetail:butthismuch:
!1.Theotherculturelikelythatitwill
translateitself.Itwillformulateanagenda.
Itisclose.Andsecond:itwillbeawayof
breakingofoftheBusinessJobNexus:Otherwise
nogood.Andthatswaymorepossiblethanmost
ofusimagine.Hint:otherwaystopay
Stiftungen:StipenieninGermany.THAT;sgood.
Theother:Verycareul,veryhesitant:buttruly
dramaticchanges.Computermakingthings.