So here we are in the Spring of 2013, nearly five months after Barack Obama's re-election and the Senate added new liberal members, and not much has changed. And it doesn't look like anything major will change.
Wall Street once again is engaged in reckless financial games, the Congressional Republicans are still behaving like tantrum-prone children who can't get their way and are willing to take the economy and government down with them, the global climate is creating weather havoc everywhere while carbon emissions are essentially unchecked, the Israelis and Palestinians are locked in stasis, even the mildest gun regulation bills face little chance for success when pitted against the NRA, Europe continues to force "austerity" on the backs of the middle-class while the wealthy continue their essentially free ride, the GOP leadership's post-election "autopsy" urges a change in tone as they try to expand the base but Republican office-holders and candidates can't seem to stop themselves from continuing to behave like ignorant, arrogant louts. And so on, etc. etc. Rinse and repeat.
It seems an appropriate time for a good, old-fashioned sum-up of historical context and analysis as to how we got to this scary place and how things potentially could change. See what you think:
EARLIER "REVOLUTIONARY" FERMENT
Back in "The Sixties" (roughly the late-1950s to the early-1970s) we rebellious young activists shared a key belief: The foundations on which the ruling elites and institutions rested were so obviously rotten, corrupt and immoral that our "revolution" -- our worldwide revolution from Chicago to Prague to Mexico to Paris -- would topple the "Establishment" in favor of a more just, peaceful, equitable system of governance and economy and politics.
What we naive radicals hadn't factored-in to our ambitious vision was the tenacious reserve strength of the ongoing financial and political "system," and its willingness to use any means necessary to push back at the major changes taking place and being proposed -- including the use of force against those with the temerity to try to alter the "system" in major ways. These physical attacks included deadly force; see the Kent State and Chicago Black Panther slaughters.
Some major victories did come our way:
1) A key mainstay of that youth revolt was the immoral and badly-run war in Vietnam, born from neo-imperialist impulses and American ignorance of the complex geopolitical realities of Southeast Asia. It took many years, but finally the U.S. was forced to withdraw from Vietnam.
2) As for domestic politics, many of the radical proposals of "The Sixties" made their way into the mainstream body politic -- Medicare, Medicaid, Voting Rights Act, equal rights for women, etc. -- adding on to the populist breakthroughs of the New Deal reforms from the 1930s: Social Security and more regulation of the greedy forces of rapacious finance and corporate power.
THE RIGHTWING BACKLASH
But, in nation after nation in the 1970s and '80s, the well-financed plutocratic forces in control of the levers of power fomented a mighty backlash to stop "the revolution" (really little more than relatively mild reforms) from gaining any more political traction and social momentum. For an introduction to how corporate America planned to dominate and derail democratic reforms, see the famous rightwing "Lewis Powell Memo." (http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/polluterwatch/The-Lewis-Powell-Memo/)
In the U.S., corporate/media titans set about buying up newspapers, radio and TV networks, cable channels, think-tanks and the like, and used them to shape and influence public opinion, especially among the usual rightwing sectors: the less-educated, the fearful-of-rapid-change conservatives, the easily-led religious fundamentalists, the regional anti-federal government forces ensconced primarily in the South, Midwest and Mountain states.