Ship of Fools

Sean-Paul Kelly and others have been spreading the news of a grand new plan to privatize space exploration. You know, it never ends up being cheaper. There are always more losers than winners. And it never ends well. All this neo-liberalism will kill us, just as surely as it’s killed everything else it has ever touched.

When i went to Russia in the late 90’s, it much of it felt like inner-city Detroit. Not the skin pigmentation and not the same sort of violence, but the Khrushchevnikis reminded me of housing projects and the air often had that smell of the downtrodden just trying to get along. It’s something that doesn’t come through in economic statistics. They can define and explain it but not capture it.

This is headed towards that.

The late 90’s in Russia were what the sharp end of neo-liberalism looks like. And i felt it a lot then, just a feeling, or a vision that i’d see my mother or grandmother out selling plastic bags for pennies on bitter winter night. I don’t know why, but i got the visions all the time; a Russian scene would be transported to America in my mind.

When Obama put Larry Summers in charge of the economy i got physically sick to my stomach. All those visions came flooding back, and they still do…stronger than ever in fact. If you’ve never seen the sharp end of neo-liberalism without its Madison Avenue gloss i guess i can understand how it might not be frightening. It’s been a slow burn here in the States, but it won’t be long until my friends, family and neighbors might finally understand what i’ve been talking about.

I only wish that we might handle it as gracefully as the Russians did, but i don’t really have much hope for that. For now it all reminds me of the Grateful Dead song “Ship of Fools”:

Went to see the captain, strangest I could find,
Laid my proposition down, laid it on the line.
I won’t slave for beggar’s pay, likewise gold and jewels,
But I would slave to learn the way to sink your ship of fools.

Ship of fools on a cruel sea, ship of fools sail away from me.
It was later than I thought when I first believed you,
Now I cannot share your laughter, ship of fools.

Saw your first ship sink and drown, from rockin’ of the boat,
And all that could not sink or swim was just left there to float.
I won’t leave you drifting down, but woh it makes me wild,
With thirty years upon my head to have you call me child.

Ship of fools on a cruel sea, ship of fools sail away from me.
It was later than I thought when I first believed you,
Now I cannot share your laughter, ship of fools.

The bottles stand as empty, as they were filled before.
Time there was and plenty, but from that cup no more.
Though I could not caution all, I still might warn a few:
Don’t lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools.

Ship of fools on a cruel sea, ship of fools sail away from me.
It was later than I thought, when I first believed you,
Now I cannot share your laughter, ship of fools.

It was later than I thought when I first believed you,
Now I cannot share your laughter, ship of fools.


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~ by Lex on January 25, 2010.

2 Responses to “Ship of Fools”

  1. Yeah, because Russia was just so much better under the heel of communist tyranny. Bite me.

  2. Who said Russia was better under communism? I merely pointed out that the neo-liberal free-marketeers of the Rubin/Summers clique pillaged the country; same as they’ve been (and continue to) pillage this country.

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