This past year has been hard on me, in that both of my parents passed away -- my father on April 3, my mother, November 1. Also, my wife's former husband passed away in September, necessitating an unplanned, 3 month trip by her to Taiwan. Thus, this has been a year of passings, transitions and adjustments. Both of my parents were elderly -- my father, 85 and my mother, 84 -- but their declines and deaths were surprising, given their healthy status only a few years ago. The passing of my parents has served to strengthen my own sense of mortality as well.

There have also been good developments this year as my life has evolved. My brothers and I have grown closer (for the most part) as we deal with the death of my parents. In the public sphere, I have helped grow a progressive community online (mainly on Facebook), and made initial steps toward helping to build a movement to educate people and allow them to live more loving, progressive lives. I have grown even closer to my best friend Ria (who also lost her mother and several other important people in her life this year), and made several close new friends as well, including Eloise, Jules, Sean and others. Facebook recently began promoting Ria's and my bloggers group (The Thom Hartmann Bloggers Group), so group membership has recently soared. Personally, I have become even more emotional than before, in a positive way. I have grown to be even more loving, compassionate and empathetic than I was before, even as I have continued to expand my knowledge base.

When I think about the larger world stage, I cannot help but wonder if eocnomic and political system changes sneak up on us in a similar fashion. I have written previously about Strauss and Howe's "The Fourth Turning," and how we are in the midst of a period of approximately 20 years which they predict to be revolutionary in the end. This period, if the pattern holds, would last from approximately 2005 to 2025. While nothing particularly revolutionary has happened in the world community this past year, I think it is a common perception to sense growing dissatisfaction with the way society has been heading, despite our ever-increasing store of scientific knowledge and technological innovations. It looks as though the majority of the world's people will never enjoy such knowledge or innovation anyway, unless big changes are in store for us.

I see many signs that people, including supporters of capitalism, are sensing its decline and potential demise, or at least, incorporation into a larger system which is not so dependent upon capitalism. Dissatisfaction with politics among the public is growing, and with it, distrust of capitalism. It was not so long ago, that political conservatives made inroads by telling people to put their faith in the "free market" and capitalism instead of government. But now, capitalists have insinuated themselves into a position of essentially controlling government, and the more that people understand this, the more they distrust the capitalist system.

Moreover, the decline in popularity of political conservatism, in the least, and its greatest political might, which is found in the Republican Party, is a further sign of capitalism's decline in the hearts and mnds of the public. The Occupy Movement has been the most visible sign perhaps, of rebellion against the capitalist economic system, but the spirit of OWS is transfusing into politics more directly, through voting patterns and public opinion. The changes we are seeing go beyond the economic, in fact. Perhaps the most historically significant foreign relations event of the year was the attack on Syria which never happened. Public pressure and calmer minds prevailed upon politicians and the Pentagon to find a more peaceful and successful strategy.

Perhaps the most telling signs of people feeling the mortality of capitalism, however, are the obstructionist and desperate actions of its strongest supporters among politicians. Conservatives tend to be more fear-motivated than liberals, anyway, but when they see the system they depend upon decaying, their defensiveness turns to desperation. Thus, Republicans have taken to attempts at blocking virtually everything that the Obama administration tries to do, ignoring and derogating science, and making incoherent arguments in favor of their world view. Such behavior is not altogether new, but it is intensifying as the situation worsens for those clinging to their ideology.

What do I expect in the coming year? I have no startling predictions to offer, but I do expect more of the same -- that is, a continuation of the processes we have been observing in the recent past. Sentiment against corporate interests is likely to continue rising, as well as sentiment against "politics as usual," and most of all, against political conservatives whether they be conventionally corporate types such as Boehner, Cantor and McConnell, or "Tea Party" types such as Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachman. I suppose it will be another warm and wild year, weather wise. But climate change deniers will continue to deny climate change -- until coastal communities find themselves underwater, most likely. I expect Democrats to gain some seats in the House of Representatives, but not necessarily regain the majority (tragically). I also expect more progressives, primarily Democrats since the 2 party system still has more or less a monopoly on politics in the U.S., to be elected, helping bring at least a little impetus for change.

Most of all, I expect more signs of insecurity, if not downright desperation, among conservative politicians and their corporate tycoon benefactors, as they "circle the wagons" and "prepare for the attack" by the "natives" (i.e., the public's 99%) on the system which brought them so much wealth and power.

Just as my experiences this year have driven my personal growth and set the stage to participate in greater social progress, I think that the coming year and years, will set the stage for greater progress around the world. Thus, I see much larger, positive changes in the coming years despite the turmoil we may experience. These revolutionary changes are likely to be unlike anything in previous history; they should be more global in nature and at the same time less violent than in the past (hopefully altogether nonviolent), and thus, have a much better outcome than previous revolutions. But first, we must believe in such a revolution in order to make it happen -- so come and join us trend-setting, normal revolutionaries in creating the better future which we know we can achieve and we know we deserve. More and more people are coming around to our way of thinking and joining our cause every day!


Marion Delgado's picture
Marion Delgado 5 years 37 weeks ago

Not at all. The ideological Capitalism we and a lot of the world suffer under came along in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The US government, rich reactionary families and corporations, and brand-new or repurposed think tanks (like the Hoover Institute on War, Peace and Revolution at Stanford), all collaborated - there are documents from the time saying that the US govt, especially State, wanted to consciously create (mostly on the taxpayers' dime, but also with assistance from people like the Hunt family, the Koch family, the Welch family, etc.) a parallel ideology to Marxism, giving "objective" reasons why the rich were rich, etc. It's no coincidence that then the National Review, Young Americans for Freedom, the Libertarian Party USA, etc. started then. Or that the works of Ayn Rand were heavily promoted.

Assuming people turn away from ideological capitalism, something will replace it. Ideological capitalism was a way of making 1%-er society ideological again. In the long feudal and even hundreds of years of the pre-feudal era, something equivalent to the Divine Right of Kings ruled over the earth. If you questioned why those on top were on top it was because God/Allah/Yahweh/Christ/our collective karma/The Heavens etc. PUT THEM THERE. And as long as we were in harmony with them, our whole society would be in harmony with Heaven/Nature.

As the big family estates and their traditions were broken up, due mostly to technological change, eventually the Divine Right of Kings was inconvenient to the merchant class, and they had the economic power to do something about it. For a really long time the old feudal ideology, a new "captains of industry" sentiment, and some populism and democracy all battled it out. There are still monarchists out there - the so-called Tradictional Catholics sects are all monarchist, so was Anglican C. S. Lewis. It was only after the crisis of a world-wide depression, but still 30 years before the Powell Memo, that capitalism became a well-ordered ideology. It's comparatively recent and if conditions have changed, then what capitalism really represents (a rationalization of unequal power) will be represented by something else.

Look at the non-change that happened with the collapse of the Former Soviet Union and the ComIntern/Warsaw Pact. The Cold War against the Third World didn't miss a beat. Even after China embraced capitalism.

Ideological capitalism, like the divine right of kings, is a fill-in. The entire Old Testament is an ideological document, written by theocratic kings when Hebrew-speaking henotheistic Yahwehites had an enclave in Palestine under the authority and protection of the Babylonian empire, to promote the heaven-sent nature of 1%er power, for instance.

If you want to be adopted into the ruling class, you have to vigorously promote whatever is the dominant 1%er-justifying ideology. We're probably headed into an era where the new ideology will be sorting itself out, but not in my lifetime. I think capitalism will hold on for a long time. Feudalist DRoK ideology did.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 5 years 37 weeks ago

If one wrongly believes on the basis of an emtional bias that people on the whole are moving against certain trends and economic configurations and toward something else, that would tend to negate the message that Thom Hartmann closes his show with and sometimes has discussed, of getting involved with the political system, of taking action, because if change is occurring on its own, and everything is moving along in an agreeable, positive, desired manner, why worry, and why bother going out of one's way to take action?

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 5 years 37 weeks ago

Perhaps you are correct, Marion, but I prefer to be hopeful.

It seems to me that capitalism has existed for a long time in one form or another, but it has become more ideological in recent decades as you point out, as well as expanding and becoming more global. At the same time, the citizens of the world are more connected, and human society is changing at a more rapid pace than ever it appears. Physical evolution, let alone cultural evolution, is even occuring faster than before, according to geneticist Spencer Wells.

Thus, I expect changes to occur faster than in past times when people's lives were much more restricted and people were much more ignorant. In that perspective, the time frame of the current capitalist regime seems more likely to be on the short side, but who knows?

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 5 years 37 weeks ago

I would say that people going out of their way to attempt change is a predictable part of the cultural evolution, Robindell.

Changes won't happen on their own -- there must be people to imagine it, to advocate it and to implement it -- but we can be sure that it will happen. If Newton had not discovered his laws of motion, somebody else would have, for instance, and if Einstein had not discovered the theory of relativity, someone else would have discovered that, too.

We need to be agents of the change that we seek.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 5 years 37 weeks ago

That cannot occur when people are focused on something else that by definition does not pertain to such change.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 5 years 37 weeks ago

I agree with that, Robindell. I think that most people are distracted from politics by entertainment, their addictions, work and various pressures placed upon them.

At the same time, I think it would be possible for most people to be politically active, instead of spending their spare time being a spectator or engaging in superficial or even pathological social activities.

Robindell's picture
Robindell 5 years 36 weeks ago

I have a feeling that most of the people who are signed up to be members of Thom's Web site seldom or never post any comments on any section of the site. Some of the conservatives will make one comment, and then never been heard from again. If you have the time, I would suggest getting some books on the sociology and cultural anthropology of the family. In the history of the world, and even today in countries which have native tribal people, the nuclear family is not the predominate form of the family. The family in one form or another has been found in all societies that have ever been studied. But you would have more than one generation living in the same household in many cases. I don't think that is too common in the U.S. and in other Western countries, although it does occur. There are families in this country where the grandparents are extensively involved with child care, especially if the parents or parent cannot afford professional day care and pre-K classes. Some states have mandated that pre-K be made available through the educational system, if only as a voucher to pay for it at a private, recognized facility Many conservative-minded individuals eother don't know or are not willing to admit that the socioeconomic background and corresponding level of educational completion of the parents is the single most reliable predictor of how far the kids will go in school and how much they will earn when they grow up. I think whether it is a single-parent versus a dual-parent household is also somewhat of a predictive factor, but working class people I have heard have a higher divorce rate than do middle class, professional couples, so in a way, it reverts back to social class standing and status. I have also heard that there are now more college graduates who are unemployed or underemployed than has been the case in years past, when good-paying jobs were somewhat more plentiful, and the unempoloyment rate was lower. In a more tribal society, there are community leaders and shared values and activities that are missing in our insular, nuclear family-based society.

Natural Lefty's picture
Natural Lefty 5 years 36 weeks ago

Hello Robindell. I agree with all of your points. I have studied different cultures quite a bit, and also have personal familiarity with some other cultures, as I think you know.

It is definitely the case that most cultures have multigenerational families, and also, that such arrangements seem to lend themselves to having more collectivistically oriented societies. Capitalism is essentially an individualistic pursuit -- the idea of 'private ownership," that is.

Thus, we could speculate that if we were to go to a more multigenerational family arrangement in the U.S., or anything that encourages collectivistic thinking, for that matter, the drive for private ownership and capitalistic pursuits would diminish. Socialization and social structure influence everything that happens in society.

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