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The Death of The General

ar-logo1The world will not end when General Motors Corporation breathes its last as the once great, preeminent, American capitalist conglomerate. Like a dying grandparent, we all know it is coming, many wishing it would simply all be over, the dying worse than the death. Tears will be shed, hands will be wrung, and wails will be sent towards the unforgiving heavens. The undertakers will return to their daily toil, and the rest of us will shuffle back towards the stark reality of a new world, heads bowed low and sullen to the sudden shock of national mortality.

Thousands will lose their jobs of course. Grimy autoworkers, skilled at nothing more than the simple complexity of assembly. Cubicle dwellers trained at passing paper in the paperless age. Managers, with no control over anything at all. Ten thousand Vice Presidents of nothing. All will be released from the protective cocoon of capitalism, dumped on the streets after a lifetime as the backbone of the American Dream. Many more will continue as before, – assembling, passing, and managing.

The real damage done with the death of “The General” will be much deeper than the freedom of pay slaves or the decomposition of rotting industrial bodies. The death of GM – marked solemnly by judges stamps and law clerks endless filings – will be a tipping point reached and crested, with nothing but a yawning chasm waiting for us all. The death of confidence in capitalism and American democracy is our real reward for a lifetime wasted on nothing more than ideology.

Essentially, the American auto was always more than a simple consumer good, it was a product of – and a symbol for – the American Dream as it emerged from WWII. The automobile gave the freedom to the road to the average American family, and is directly responsible for the suburban phenomenon that became US consumerism. No cars, no suburbs, no malls, no retail, no consumers. America embraced the auto unlike any other culture, the auto itself becoming America for many decades in the latter half of the 20th century.

Hyper consumerism was always un-supporting, but eventually the myth of constant and uninterrupted growth replaced the auto as the new American Dream. More, better, faster, quicker…now and right now and forever. It was always against the laws of “economic nature”, economics being natural forces like winds and tides.

The crisis of global financial liquidity – directly a result of unrealistic and unsustainable American socioeconomic policy – is the foremost fundamental issue we all face today. However, the voting American consumer (who votes with his wallet) can’t get his head around the complexity of the issue. We see the struggle everyday in the piddling arguments’ over CEO pay rates and the price of waste paper baskets. Americans are confused, and confusion breeds panic.

General Motors Corporation, and the very real and visceral products that each and every American can directly connect with, touch, feel, and understand is another matter. When Americans cannot buy a Tahoe, can’t get parts for the Malibu, and watch the dealership on main street close for ever – all confusion will be removed. That will be the point where the financial crisis finally hits home for America, crystal clear and in living colour.

America has to accept the new order of things, that the world it once knew and understood so well is gone forever. No progress for the future can be made while we are all blindly swinging at the past.

The death of the General will provide that tipping point in a way no bank collapse ever will.

The system does not work. Not just broken, but all wrong from the get go. Building a civilization against the laws of economic nature, no matter how hard we have all tried to justify it, was and is now proved to be, lunacy. And nothing symbolized the onward march of idiocy more than the American automobile. From urban sprawl to factory skylines, to big box parking lots and angry, hostile unions, NASCAR, James Dean, and holiday gridlock and mortality. The automobile is America. Was America. Worn with pride for generations, the badges of America – Chevy, Camaro, and Cadillac – all tarnished and turned to buttons on a mothballed coat from a different age.

Parked deep in rows of dusty metal on dealer lots and portside piers, stacked high on rudderless container ships and rented land, bumper-to-bumper, mirror-to-mirror, engine to trunk. No longer the freedom of the road, but the icons of debt and sorrow. Like daily reminders of monthly payments, America’s automobiles sit idle in driveways and garages and back alleys, waiting for another air-conditioned ride to Big Lots or Wal Mart, cars in America having become nothing more than simple transportation. A means to get from here to there, the only name plate that matters inside the filler cap at the back of the car. No longer the heartbeat of America but a shoe, a glove, a piece of tape. A utilitarian product in a new, utilitarian age.

The American automobile, and the demise of its ubiquitous General, will signal another end to history, and a final collapse of confidence in the American Dream. A Death from which will flow the birth of a new economy, a new democracy, and a new era for America writ large. Better things will come, a more solid society built on common equity in a nation amongst equals. A global system of finance and economy, a more peaceful world finally rid of empire and ideology. When General Motors Corporation breathes its last in a courtroom deep in the heart of America, the world will change forever.

If only the old bugger would just do it and be done.

Main Site: ScreamBucket.com




1. The BoBo Carnival of Politics - March 16, 2009 Edition | The BoBo Files - March 17, 2009

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