30 March 2010

Hegel Got It! Why Don't You? (Revolution in America - Part One)

Part One:  The sixties, seventies and eighties (Revolution & Counter-Revolution)

One could argue very successfully, I think, that we are in the beginning stages of yet another period defined by the Hegelian dialectic.  This time it is a revolution of the misguided, misinformed, and misbehaving proletariat right, aided and abetted by their masters the stateless corporations served by Wall-Street bankers and financiers.

Hegel's dialectic, roughly stated, posits (1) Thesis, (2) Antithesis (3) Synthesis; and for the purposes of this brief argument: (1) Revolution (2) Counter-Revolution  (3) Slavery or Freedom.  And, while some would quibble with me that these words have no relevancy in a post-industrial world, I would suggest very strongly, as we watch the destruction of the middle-class and dissolution of the strength (financial, social, & political) of the unions, that the dialectic has historic relevance to the here and now.

Consider first, the entire decade of the sixties and seventies in which the intelligentsia and students led protests and demonstrations from which grew a powerful movement against an immoral war in Southeast Asia, repressive attitudes toward human sexuality, the role of women as chattel, and the denial of basic human and civil rights of (the term then used) Negroes.  These were revolutionary times. Fundamental change was happening. Families were torn apart. Cities burned!

However, the proletariat (wage-earners) and petite bourgeoisie (small business operators) failed to join in and stood by as a counter-revolution, initiated by President Richard Nixon, in which we watched as students demonstrating on campus were gunned down by the military, protesters were brutally beaten in the streets, and the revolution's leaders were brought before us in show trials or else fled the country.

Then we entered a brief period of  synthesis during the administrations of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.  Disco reigned supreme and blocks long gas-pump lines  formed in small towns and large cities across the nation.  Revolution became the property of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as it deposed the CIA supported Shah and took over our embassy and held hostage our state department staff.  America looked outward rather than within.  We were in a state of synthesis, neither revolution nor counter-revolution

The eighties and nineties brought us the Reagan Revolution.  Union busting became a federal enterprise, the NLRB became the Washington field office of the National Association of Manufacturers, and a wholesale attempt at dismantling the Roosevelt era New deal commenced as Chicago School of Economics disciples of Milton Friedman took charge of the federal bureaucracy and began exporting their right-wing monetarist beliefs to other countries with catastrophic and disastrous results costing the lives of tens of thousands of innocents .

Tomorrow: Part Two - Clinton and Bush the Second.

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