Saturday, 3 March 2007

Shaming the Victim

‘History has the cruel reality of a nightmare, and the grandeur of humanity consists in it making beautiful and lasting works out of the real substance of that nightmare. Or, to put it another way, it consists in transforming that nightmare into vision; in freeing ourselves from the shapeless horror of reality - if only for an instant - by means of creation.’

- Octavio Paz [1950]. The Labyrinth of Solitude

Given the breadth and depth of the inhumanity being perpetrated across the world, it is always surprising to me that it is practically impossible to experience sympathy fatigue. The more I discover about how the globalized economy is working to make virtual serfs of basically everyone [as Barbara Ehrenreich visualized it, the 'Brazilianization' of global society - a teeming underclass living in absolute poverty, a transparently thin middle class, and an even smaller ruling class], I'm still appalled, astonished and outraged by how the lower and middle classes are used against each other. The middle-class, such as it is in America, has been manipulated by fear and greed to despise the poor. Worse than this, by keeping the middle class in a state of perpetual fear and parinoia, they become unable to gain a fuller understanding of the state of the world and where it is going.

I have to admit a certain fondness for material goods but the time will soon arrive when we will be forced to make a decision regarding the continued viability of the planet and our place on it. Concern must be directed towards the burgeoning population across the world which, according to the latest United Nations study, is predicted to peak at an estimated total of 10 billion by the year 2050. [Of these, over fifty percent will live in urban/peri-urban areas and all population growth will occur in urban areas]. Scenes like those documented below will become increasingly common as the urban population expands and the world economy continues to be mercilessly right-sized by the irrational logic of capitalism.

Umoja Village [Liberty City] [7:14]
This documentary examines the situation faced by the squatters in Miami, Florida. Following a number of broken promises by the local government and corrupt practices by business developers, conflict erupts as a group of poverty activists take matters into their own hands.

For more information, please go to Take Back the Land.

St. Petersburg [Florida] P.D. Destroy Tent City [2:15]
St. Petersburg P.D. use box cutters to shred a tent city as the residents watch in shock. One homeless advocacy group described St. Petersburg as being the 'meanest city in the nation.' [Given the general ideological shift to the right since the 1980s, that must have been a real challenge][Video by Tina May]

For more information, please go to St. Pete for Peace

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