Thomas Neuburger: At This Place, In This Time, All Mankind Is Us

By Thomas Neuburger, who writes regularly at God’s Spies

This is my pitch for your contribution to the Naked Capitalism tip jar, my personal strongest argument. If today is the day you’ve decided to read less words, congratulations — just click the link and contribute, then spend the next ten minutes on the article you really want to get to.

If you doubt the importance of your contribution, however, or if you simply want to see what “my personal strongest argument” turns out to be, read on, and if you’re convinced, then please contribute.

At This Place, In This Time, All Mankind Is Us

Let us not waste our time in idle discourse! Let us do something, while we have the chance….at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it before it is too late! Let us represent worthily for once the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us! What do you say?

We see it with our eyes. It’s in front of our faces. The twin demons we knew were approaching — the on-the-ground fact of climate change; the chaotic national rebellion against national asset stripping — have approached at last. And America still is trying to avert its eyes, partly from fear, partly from disbelief, and partly because their thoughts are drowned by media that’s averted their own eyes, slave as they are to the asset strippers themselves.

We, people like us, have been forced to the front of a fight none of us wanted to be in charge of. If you’re like me, you wanted others to lead this war, with your support. You wanted those more capable, those better positioned, those whose job it is to protect the nation and its people, to take the lead in protecting the nation and its people. You wanted to fight beside them — you sure as hell didn’t want to find yourself leaderless at the front, with no real battle plan and not much army to enact it with.

If you’re like me, you wanted the next Lincoln to lead the charge, the next Teddy Roosevelt to bust the balls of the billionaires taking us down. Instead we watch as the billionaires bust their own balls to put themselves into space, or otherwise spend their “control fraud”–accumulated wealth to paint themselves as seers, people who deserve to lead our species to the glorious appropriated future of their design. They bust each of their own balls daily to keep us from seeing who they truly are — rapists and plunderers, butchers and thieves, pirates who stole our past-created wealth and plot to steal more.

If you’re like me, you waited and watched for someone to raise the banner you would gladly follow. I’ve personally waited since Reagan Days to see that banner. It has not appeared. The next Lincoln, sadly, has not emerged, at least not yet. The next FDR, the one who welcomes the hatred of America’s true enemies — and is positioned to defeat them — is nowhere to be found.

There have been pretenders (more on that elsewhere), but they either lied to us outright, knowing we wanted to like them; or fought to near the end, then laid down their sword to serve the god Comity Politics; or started strong, then settled for the role of ineffective bit-player foil to the real stars of the piece, the neoliberal masters of what used to be the people’s party.

Which means it’s finally us, standing alone, standing in the first battle rank of an army that doesn’t exist, waiting for the spark, the coalescing voice (Mario Savio is a good example) that makes a fist of the nation’s individual fingers of anger and pain.

Do we despair while we wait for the army that hasn’t shown up? Does Godot never come?

Perhaps. But as badly as we perceive the spotted past, the future is a spotless empty space on which anything at all could be written. Will we wake tomorrow? We think we know we will, but only because we woke up yesterday.

When we die, will we turn to angels or to dust? We think we know, at least a few of us do, but really, if you woke from death’s deep sleep and found you were a tree, or a blade of grass, would it surprise you more than if you didn’t wake at all, or woke to the sound of harps and eternal gates?

If we have no army (yet) to face what we know is coming, we still have ourselves and each other. If the world goes to actual hell in a climate-fueled dystopia, fine. But it hasn’t yet. If America becomes the world of Dover Beach, swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, where ignorant armies fight in a wealth-seeded war, an actual bloody battle against each other, let it be so when it’s so. It isn’t so yet.

All of this is to say, whatever we lack, we who watch as these devils make their approach, we have each other and that’s quite a lot. Whether we like it or not, as Becket said, at this place, in this time, all mankind is us. We breathe today. The eruption has yet to occur. We should celebrate, while we can, ourselves and the places we gather for ideas and comfort, visions and hopes and fears.

We should celebrate, in other words — and support — Naked Capitalism. One, because you’re already here, for reasons which I suspect I’ve just described. And two, because there are so few places to go to find this company.

And who knows? Just because Godot hasn’t arrived, doesn’t mean he won’t. America was blessed with three Godots so far. Who’s to say a fourth won’t raise his head? Besides, even if he doesn’t show up, each of us has shown up, and that’s worth celebrating too.

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  1. The Historian

    Thank you Thomas Neuburger. In a strange way you’ve restored some of my hope. Perhaps there will be another FDR in our future. Certainly there was nothing is his history before he was elected that gave anyone a clue he would turn out to be the force that bound us together.

    I was under no illusions what Biden was – I knew he had no spine and would ‘go along to get along’ rather than doing anything transformative (although what he did with Afghansitan DID surprise me!) but I thought that without all the chaos, the progressives might have a chance to do something – and I was right! They did have their chance. But what did they do? They flubbed it spectacularly. Does anyone in their right mind think the Progressive Caucus will get another chance – or even matter anymore? So I’ve lost hope in voting – it seems to me to be a hollow gesture to keep people believing they still live in some sort of democracy and can still make a difference.

    But perhaps someone will come along who can unite us and lead us into a more humane direction – someone who isn’t beholden to the 1%, even though they may be a member of that class, but has the pragmatism to see that if they want to succeed in the future, then the whole country has to succeed. What FDR did was to save capitalism. When he saved the country, he saved his class as well.

    In this age where propaganda is piped directly into our homes (as opposed to the past where you had to go out and get a newspaper and then read it) I come to Naked Capitalism because of posts like yours (otherwise I would have no hope at all) and because there are so many people here who still can clearly see and point out what is wrong and where the changes (that still can be done to save us) need to be – I don’t feel so alone or think what I see and think is somehow completely odd or crazy.

  2. Tom Pfotzer

    Great essay.

    The Godots are already here. There are millions of us. Take a look in the mirror, and behold!

    I believe in beginnings. Let’s pick an action today that digs a scoopful of dirt from the levee. Next week, pick another place to widen that trench.

    How many scoops does it take to cut a channel into the side of a levee?

    Depends upon how high the water is, right? How high is that water?

    And…I contributed to NC, and thereby indirectly to each of you… for all your good works.

    Pretty decent scoopful.

  3. lance ringquist

    bill clinton created the bomb, lit the fuse, and exploded the bomb that would engulf the world in a economic fire storm in 2008.

    keynes politely called them dupes: progressives for free trade: Globalism is the creation of a set of property rights that, precisely because they span multiple sovereighnties, cannot be touched by one government without inviting conflict with another.

    Organizing property and production across borders—whether through free trade, protections for foreign investment, currency unions or other devices—does more than limit the power of governments. It also serves, “to dissolve the small, discrete collective of mutual identification—which means a country.”

    Own up to NAFTA Democrats: Trump is right that the terrible trade pact was Bill Clinton’s baby

    If the Democrats want to reclaim a progressive identity, they must own up to the dreadful mistakes of the past

    Acknowledging past mistakes is the only way to learn from them. When it comes to terrible trade deals, we need to learn fast.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      In hindsight, it’s hard to respect folks who still act as if Bill Clinton was a successful POTUS.

      The real challenge is to spot the new Clintons before they can usurp our power and defer another generation’s hopes to the slop house of profit-taking over problem solving/world saving/healthcare for all.

      My nominees for the next Big Dog are:

      Amy Klobuchar
      Pete Buttigieg
      Kamala Harris
      Hakeem Jefferson
      Michael Bennet

      I googled to make sure I spelled Buttigieg right and saw a suggested list of candidates from the summer of 2020 when the National Interest’s Rachel Bucchino still had Andrew Cuomo on her list!

      Only sure thing is that no matter who the Democrats run (and my money’s on a name not on that list or on anyone’s lips), it will be someone average Democrats despise, or will learn to despise.

      1. lance ringquist

        just say no to democrats period. they are incapable of self reflection. they are feverish believers. as such, they are very dangerous.

        sooner or later the nafta democrats are going to have to come clean on what nafta billy clinton and empty suit hollowman obama did, and that was to sell out america to wall street and the chinese communist party.

        i said that years ago, i was wrong. they will never come clean.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        He was successful at achieving his real agenda. We need to reject Clinton in order to reject the policies he successfully pursued.

  4. Tom Bradford

    I have little hope the revolution will happen, in a controlled way anyway. Most people will not give up what they have or risk losing it until they have nothing left to lose, and by then it will be far too late.

    I suspect mine will have been the luckiest generation in history. For the parents of those like me, born in the 1950’s – at least those in Europe, the UK and large swathes of the Far East – losing all they had had been a very real risk, if not actual reality for many. As a result they created a world for us with that reality in mind. And we accepted that world, of security, of plenty, of egalitarian opportunity not as the gift it was but as the natural order. And the generations we birthed took our acceptance of the better world our shocked parents had created for us – flawed as it was – and saw it as their right like spoiled children demanding ever more expensive toys.

    Spoiled children will not change except in response to a very nasty shock, and the change is often not an improvement. Yes, a Messiah figure might be able to appeal to many. Might even be able to mitigate the slide. But false Messiahs are the norm, ultimate failure if not actual betrayal has been the usual outcome and cynicism of hope has become the zeitgeist.

    Alas I have little hope for the future for mankind in its current manifestation but as one of the luckiest generation I’m now 70 and ‘the future’ for me is a matter of a few years rather than decades or even centuries, while the biggest decision I face is whether to wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

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