Riot police confront demonstration. Photo: looking4poetry/Flickr

In 2008 the Westworld economy crashed because for Wall Street moral hazard had become a board game. After blowing the biggest bubble ever enticing the guileless with mortgages they couldn’t afford, stockbrokers sliced these loans into derivatives that sold like packaged bologna to guileless pension funds, RRSPs, mutual funds, and 401Ks. European banks bought this toilet paper because, though everyone knew it was a casino bet, if it kept going up, you made money. Then the bubble burst and the bailout began. After one little casino was allowed to symbolically collapse, the American usury houses got a trillion-dollar bailout as the last Bush left the building.

There was the briefest period of defibrillation stimulus to shock the economy out of its death rattle. Then Canada’s proto-fascist prime minister turned Toronto into a police state for the 2010 G20 so he and his cronies could cook up some austerity. Yup, the reps for the rich decided poor people would backstop junk traders by surrendering pensions, public health programs, and public infrastructure. People heretofore encouraged to spend like sailors on shore leave got their markers called and downward mobility was the price of the binge at Goldman Sachs. Riot cops in shiny new gear always at the ready!

In the ensuing decade, surprisingly, the rich have gotten way richer, and the poor, strangely, way poorer. Inequality after the Great Recession is at levels unseen since right before the Great Depression. The kids are even flirting with socialism again, much to the chagrin of “opposition” parties like the American “Democrats” and the zombie remnants of “New Labour” in the U.K.

What to do, what to do?

Well, everything old is new again. Like Hollywood, when you are out of ideas, it’s time for a remake. Everybody dying to return to Devil’s Island in the new version of Papillon? Great. Because you are also going right back to the 1930s when it comes to somebody encouraging you to scapegoat minorities for your economic misfortune.

Extreme intolerance seems to be the 0.0001%’s new tack to ensure the energy of all the growing underclasses are not misdirected at them. This energy might be used for organizing against the root causes of the majority’s declining fortunes: the misappropriation of wealth by the super rich through their oligarchy states. Now these states actually encourage outright civil hate. Across Europe, nationalist parties are flogging refugee hate to galvanize xenophobia in the masses. The Brits voted to leave Europe so Poles would stop stealing jobs already offshored to China. Italian nationalists want the arms embargo lifted on Libya so local forces there can kill migrants before they can board boats. Trump hates on Mexicans while paying their army and police forces to keep out Honduran hordes fleeing state violence flowing from the CIA coup d’etat there in 2009. Homophobia makes Russian toxic masculinity state policy.

None of this is an accident. It’s a remake. And it’s way cheaper than guaranteed basic income!

Sure, 70 years without fascism was nice. The New Deal was great while it lasted. Multiculturalism, feminism, environmentalism, even a little socialism tempering the worst tendencies of capitalism made things better for a few for a little while. But for too long we thought the only way to go was up. We were told that a rising tide would lift all boats. It didn’t. We were told that with the internet we could all be our own bosses. We just Uberized the costs of our own exploitation. We were told that economic disruption was good. But Amazon is just Walmart on steroids. We were told wealth would trickle down. It didn’t. We were told that profit is supreme, the market never makes mistakes, the poor are the authors of their own misfortune.

Left to our own devices, the question might be: if Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, why are his employees relying on food stamps?

But we aren’t left to our own devices. We are left with Facebook asking why refugees get free health care and veterans don’t, why addicts get free needles but diabetics don’t, why “illegal” immigrants get housed when there are homeless veterans everywhere. We are left with a data-gathering machine asking whatever question that Russian attack hackers/Ontario Proud/Proud Boys/Canada First/NRA polarizing memes want you to ask (and share if you agree).

And after you ask their question, maybe you should just reach out locally, and hate somebody.

Just whatever you do, don’t ask who really made you poorer. Or the riot police will be called.

Photo: looking4poetry/Flickr

Like this article? Please chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Humberto DaSilva

Humberto DaSilva

Humberto da Silva was born and lives in Toronto. An early desire to conquer the English language resulted in literary pretensions and numerous short story publications. The inclusion of “Compassion...