When I saw President Obama's speech before congress last night I was reminded of this film. Everyone seemed to be having such a great time (except for the Republicans of course) and our president was literally beaming with confidence. However, as is becoming increasingly evident, the barrier confronting them is not one that can be climbed over, tunneled under or smashed through. Like the door of the dinner party or the Zen koan, it is a gateless gate. The wealthy, privileged and spoiled partyers of Bunuel's film start the evening happy and carefree, but as the film progresses, food and water become increasingly scarce and the social order disintegrates.The film I was referring to was Luis Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel, one of the most powerful and disturbing films I've ever seen. It begins with a lavish dinner party. The host and guests indulge themselves with great relish, but when it's time to leave they can't. The door is unlocked but for some mysterious reason they are unable to pass through it. This is an example of the Mumonkan, or Gateless Gate, the name of a famous anthology of Zen koans. For me, the parallel between this party and the exuberance of the Democrats just after Obama's election was too good to resist. Because, after all, I am not only an "economist" but also: a poet.
And now, it seems, the prophecy is coming true. The party is over, there is no escape. But the denizens of this dinner party are not only the Democrats, but the Republicans -- and the Tea Partiers -- as well. There is no way out, because the economy has already collapsed, as I've been arguing all along. You'll read endlessly in article after article, book after book, about all the things that went wrong, but when you read about how to fix it, the remedies are unconvincing. There is no way out. The economy has already collapsed and we are now living in the interlude between the collapse and the acceptance of that collapse. Meanwhile, everyone is in a state of denial, proposing this remedy or that, austerity, deficit spending, quantitative easing, stronger currency, weaker currency, more inflation, less inflation, more lending, less lending, more regulation, more deregulation, more government intervention, less government intervention, no government at all, etc., etc.
If it weren't so terrible it would actually, like Bunuel's film, be very amusing. For example, the ultra-conservative "Tea Partiers" demanding an end to government control are actually advocating the most radical of all leftist positions: anarchism! Meanwhile, pseudo-leftist "Truthers" have become convinced that the 9-11 attacks were a plot engineered by Bush and Cheney, and the Twin Towers collapse was caused by a pre-planned implosion! (Yee Gods where do they get this stuff?) And pseudo-fascist pinheads like Limbaugh and Beck are screaming that Obama's pathetic efforts to preserve free market capitalism at all costs are examples of socialist extremism. You couldn't make this stuff up. What a laugh! In other words, the situation has become so dire that no one understands anymore how or what to think.
If the Democrats had refused to go along with the TARP bailout from the beginning, and simply allowed the financial system to collapse, then the power of the oligarchs now spending billions to defeat them would have been broken, and we might now be in a position to once again develop a truly democratic system of government. Instead, the oligarchs have recovered very nicely, thank you, and are ready to resume their efforts to completely take over our economy, our government, our country. They won't, however, because: there is NO way out. Sooner or later it will all come crashing down on their heads and we will, at last, be free.
Only don't hold your breath. VOTE DEMOCRAT!!!!!