Sunday, January 24, 2010

City of dogs

I watched the movie 'City of God'. Then I watched a documentary about Brazil. Then my friend, Toxic Tom called me up to ask what I was doing. I told him about the movies and he said, "Oh, yeah. Just like back in Cleveland."

Tom knows what he is talking about.


ib said...

That is a seriously outstanding film. I couldn't get it out of my head for quite some time, either.

Life is not pretty in the favelas.

Cleveland must be much like Glasgow. A vicarious window on the world.

kass said...

I remember my stomach being in a knot when I left that film.

I just read a piece comparing the collapse of the USSR to the coming collapse of the US. It describes some of the things that happen when the shit finally hits the fan.

Thinking about it, one is what's so vivid in the film... how when you're outside of the larger culture and the law, you create your own culture and law, but it's a closer to home thing.

Per the article, Russia was much more prepared than we are. By comparison, Americans are really in for it. For starters there is very little sense of community left. We think we're better off 'cause we have stuff. Right.

It's an interesting analysis and a good read. Here's the link if anyone wants to check it out:

Jon said...

Damn Kass, I just checked the date. That was written in 2006, before our current economic disaster got underway. Interesting that some of what he says is stuff that I've been saying for years. Some of it stuff that I've been afraid to think about.

ib said...

Oh, come on. Entire societies have co-existed with pockets of radical breakdown for thousands of years. It is nothing new.

In one sense, its the primary factor in why so many 'third world' societies have had such an issue with the west; the US in particular. That casual disbelief and unshakable faith in consumerism.

On the other hand, I'll concede the west is in for an increasingly bad ride.

Look further east for the envoys of Armageddon. When one global economy collapses and China steps in to bankroll the death throes as it prepares its own take on 'Lebensraum'. Of course, those in the financial sector will continue to award themselves bonuses.

And the rest of us will still be waxing the 4x4 in the drive while the kids play on the Wii.

kass said...

I don't see this as being about radical pockets of breakdown. No one would be worried if it was; as you say, that's been around a long time. To me it's about the pervasive breakdown of the entire country.

We are heading fast to third world status, a banana republic run by oligarchs. (Actually, the way I see it, "our favelas" - Cleveland, Detroit, etc. - will be better positioned than most areas of the US to adapt.)

I have to agree with Paul Craig Roberts... that America is essentially a failed state. But we're still too busy with the 4 X 4 and wii to have noticed (that's why we're allowed to keep those things while more essential things, like civil liberties and justice get taken away bit by bit). It's like Wylie Coyote who has run off the cliff and is still suspended. We haven't looked down yet.

Jon said...

Ib, good point. Rio continues to function although the residents of the Favelas are mostly excluded. Cleveland continues to function even though Tom's former associates operate outside the system. I can't see any real future for urban sprawl, imported food or the fake, suburban rugged individualism that characterizes present day America. Here in the Bay Area the hot spots for real estate development are the formerly abandoned urban centers. In twenty years American cities will probably look a lot more like France with ghettoized and excluded populations forced out into the suburbs. I'd imagine life in future suburbia will be ugly.

Jon said...

Kass, I couldn't help but wonder if the recent Bush presidency wasn't much more successful than many of us realized. We imagined that everyone, including the administration, essentially wanted the same thing: a peaceful, prosperous, healthy and well educated democratic society. After eight years I began to suspect that the administration wanted to recreate America on the model of third world oligarchies like Brazil.

The documentary I watched on Brazil included a lot of commentary by Rio's former chief of police. He was completely candid about the fact that Brazil is a society that does not pretend to believe in social equality. Some people are deliberately excluded from society and his job was to keep those people down. To protect "The affluent minority from the leveling tendencies of the majority" as Thomas Jefferson once said.

Put it this way, I am much more afraid of deliberate social destruction by the elite than I am of accidental social collapse fueled by the desperation of the majority.

ib said...

Absolutely. The favelas are nothing more than an ongoing exercise in containment. They've been operating state sanctioned death squads in central and south America with impunity for decades now.

Not for nothing did so many Nazis opt to relocate there rather than linger in Europe.

And because social ostracism operates in practice very much on a par with ethnic separation, the soldiers of the state become as dehumanized as those they are paid to contain.

The favelas are like a living metaphor of the Warsaw ghetto.

So far as the state stops short of embracing its own final solution - on an index which cannot be avoided - every co-existing state is content to look the other way.

And quietly applaud its success.

kass said...

Jon, I would have to agree. The Bush administration fulfilled its agenda to a T and O is well on his way to doing the same (it's easy now for him to talk of bank reform, a year too late and after the Treasury has essentially been looted by the oligarchy).

My view is the deliberate destruction and bankrupting of the US, at least in its blatant form, began as far back as Reagan. And most likely it goes even further back if Thomas Jefferson is anything to go by:

“Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing a people to slavery."

I suppose, thinking about it, that the difference between the bankruptcies of USSR and US may be that the western elite appear to have fueled the USSR's bankruptcy (ending the so-called cold war), and now have orchestrated the west's as well. Tho' who knows how high up it goes or what the real factions are.

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