Sunday, May 13, 2012

Economic Division and the Rise of the Outlaw Class

There may be a disquieting parallel between the current lead story on the BBC World Service Television news report and yesterday’s reflections on the BBC News report about the Pirate Party conference in Germany. The headline for the former, as it currently appears on the BBC News Web site is:
Scores of mutilated bodies dumped on Mexico highway
I would like to hypothesize that both of these stories are about the rise of an “outlaw class” in reaction to the increasing size of the gap that separates the wealth of the 1% from that of the 99%.

I say this not to suggest that the Pirate Party has anything in common with any of the Mexican drug cartels. Rather it has to do with the extent to which those cartels are now fighting each other, often with collateral damage to a general public just trying to keep its collective head down and avoid any of those cartels. What was clear from the BBC report is that government cannot play any role other than cleaning up the casualties from the various battlefields. Even “rounding up the usual suspects” is beyond the capabilities of the government, whether at the federal or the state level. I cannot think of a better example of how an ostensibly representative government is failing its electorate, which is precisely the situation that the Pirate Party is trying to remedy.

There was a time when we could romanticize our outlaws. Whether or not he really existed, the stories of Robin Hood are basically about a man who organized his own private militia towards the all-but-futile goal of leveling the economic playing field. Clearly, no drug cartel, regardless of “home turf” is run by a Robin Hood leading a “band of merry men.” What is more important is that, in a social context in which the very context of law has become increasingly arbitrary and the mechanisms of enforcement decreasingly effective, outlaw behavior is inevitable. The only question is whether or not it becomes prevalent or never gets beyond “outlier” status.

Both the Pirate Party and the Occupy movements believe that the current defects of government can be corrected through the mechanisms of government itself. Outlaws do not (which is just a matter of the semantics of “outlaw”). Thus, the 1% who exercise authority over the workings of government have a choice regarding those seeking change. They can sit down at the table with those who protest and work seriously towards an equitable solution, or they can go on doing what they are doing and hope that they will be able to buy personal safety as the number of outlaws continues to increase.

1 comment:

jones said...

The drug war in Mexico is our doing.

Here are some related threads to pull on (presented in reverse chronological order). Please see for yourself where they lead...