Picture the elm trees, alive on every
street corner and planted on every block. A monoculture spread
thickly across the nation everywhere you looked. Picture them
again, five years later, withered and dead, those still alive
rotting and decrepit.

Julie Pannuto

If George Bush was not president we would not have invaded Iraq.
If Bush was not president our nation would not verge on bankruptcy.
If Bush was not president, instead of Patriot Acts we would have
Kyoto Protocols.

But Bush isn’t the problem. Gore was not the solution.
Iraq isn’t the problem, nor are terrorists or taxes. How much
really would things differ under Gore or any of the politicians
currently in the running? They do not offer real different choices,
but just slight variations on the same themes.

The real problem is systemic. The real problem is not who is
temporarily in power, but that we are rapidly approaching a cliff.
Does anyone possibly think this is sustainable? Do you really see
this nation going on acting like this forever? What happens when we
run out of oil or when a real SARS-like epidemic quarantines this
nation? Remember SARS? A minor flu, it shut down China, closed
Toronto and cost the world billions in lost tourism and trade
dollars. A minor epidemic in this nation would bankrupt our system
and send it crashing down to depths unknown. People would lock
their doors and load their shotguns. A single mad cow and millions
of pounds of food go up in flames. What happens when a real food
scare hits this country? Another D.C. sniper and a city of millions
will cower at home. Do any of you realize how close to the cliff we
already are? A little push and we fall into barbarism.

Students sitting at home with their personal computers reached
out for access to entertainment and away from the hegemony of the
record industry and brought the Recording Industry Association of
America to its knees. A few stockbrokers and corrupt accountants
took down a series of the largest corporations in the world. A
single computer virus just flooded every mailbox in the world
— our interconnectivity spreads destruction far faster than
it spreads healing.

Our economy depends on constant and growing consumer spending.
After Sept. 11, we had to buy buy buy, because even one week
without increasing consumerism would send our nation down. With
society moving so fast, even the slightest slip will send us
reeling. Yes, the United States is the world’s greatest
superpower, the only hyper-power, but by God what a fragile trophy
this empire is.

But just as a fragile empire is susceptible to a violent fall, a
fragile empire is also prime ground for a revolution toward an
entirely new way of thinking — a new imaging after we all
thought that neoliberal free-trade capitalist democracy was the
only choice left. The rapidity of our changing world makes a
complete revolution of our current system not just a possibility
— it makes it nigh on inevitable.

We are the leaders of that revolution, whether we want it or
not.

They talk about planned obsolescence, trying to convince us to
buy new toasters, new washing machines, new and more stylish cars.
Well guess what? This whole system is about to become
obsolescent.

We are an incurable virus, set to infect the corporate behemoths
that sell to us and the politicians who rule us. As we consume
their products, as we buy their brands and their images, they in
turn consume us, even consuming our rebellion.

As they market back our protest, they cannot know they are
making their own fall inevitable. Corporations cannot think in the
long term. They rape forests for a quick profit. They don’t
use sustainable practices that would insure a steady return
forever, instead preferring the slash-and-burn practices that will
maximize short-term profit and boost their stock rating. In this
hyper-speed world, corporations with long-term thinking die, as
faster, short-term-thinking companies out-maneuver them and steal
their profit. And that is key to the coming revolution.

Unable to look past their next quarterly earnings reports, they
will market whatever we will buy. Soon, frustrated with it all,
frustrated with the utter vapidity of this corporate world, we will
begin to demand rebellion. And they, in their short-sightedness and
quest for a quick profit will give it to us. And one day it will
hit them like Dutch elm disease, and they will wither away. But
instead of barren streets, our streets will fill with a real
culture — a vibrant quilt far more beautiful than their
gray-suited world.

Piskor can be reached at
“mailto:jpiskor@umich.edu”>jpiskor@umich.edu.

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