What will 2022 be like? Let’s do some time travel to see how the intersection of future and past events will shape us. It’s now the year 2142 and the original MAGA banner has a new spelling: MaEGA. Using an imperfect 40-year cycle, the MaEGAts (as the followers are known) look at 2022 by tracing their origins back two centuries to the 1880s.
The MaEGA followers possess a dark humor born out of the many imperfections they often deny. Their manifestos and guidelines were written with disappearing ink, because they knew their ideas would not last. They were most often united in chuckling quietly at their own serious intent. They relied on distracting others with their racist rants and misogynist jokes. Turns out, their roots go back much farther in US history.
From 1880 to 1900 (a smaller 20-year mini-cycle) there was much tumult in the western mind, centered primarily in Europe, America and Africa. Then it was based on the “Scramble for Africa,” in the words of the neo-imperialist author, Thomas Pakenham. He defined it historically as the period from 1881 to 1914 when 90% of Africa came under the control of the European invaders. The conflicts grew as rival nations secretly plotted against each other for greater control. This would spill over into tides, rushing toward World War I.
Rapid technical and medical advances helped these frail white Europeans move in from the coastal areas. Steamships and railways and telegraphs enhanced coordination for extracting goods and natural resources from the continent. Britain, Germany, and France would develop a trade surplus. An insatiable appetite for ivory, rubber, palm oil, cocoa, diamonds, tea, and tin turned everyday adventurers into millionaires, and the term robber barons was born in America.
The new unelected rulers of American life learned and mastered the arts of exerting control over natural resources, influencing high levels of government,
paying only subsistence wages, squashing competition by acquiring their competitors, and then creating monopolies. They rewarded themselves by raising prices, leading to record profits. The term robber baron blended the aspiration of the criminal and aristocratic sensibilities of the original plutocrats running the USA government as their personal profit center. Following this, a
great word-confusion arose where terms like fair and equitable were turned on their heads by the reborn robber barons of the contemporary MAGA movement.
Forty years after 1880 we arrive at 1920, a moment that symbolizes the rebirth of a dark dream. It was led by people who had given up on the American dream of an abundant prosperity for ALL. The economic moguls replaced the popular democratic myth with the notion that inequality is somehow a blessing. Big business owners planned and secretly plotted with other plutocrats in their private clubs to distort language to favor their outlook. Later the MAGA movement would continue, but using the opposite style of the posturing and bragging in public.
Another 40-year cycle later and we arrive at the 1960s. It was an innovative time for art, culture and politics. The poet Alan Ginsberg began it with his poem, Howl. Pop art mocked the consumerization of American values just as the civil rights and anti-war movements took root. As society stumbled toward the year 2000, the human liberation movements skipped a beat, sliding into the 2020s before the next resistance would begin again.
A darkening horizon promised little in the way of human liberation and equality in 2000. The world was now ruled by terror, beginning with the backward glance of George W. Bush in America and his evil allies, like the snarling Dick Cheney. Al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center, which was followed by a global Anthrax scare. A newly formed uber-CIA Department of Homeland Security would try to cover up the priest pedophilia rings at home while engaging in systematic acts of torture abroad at Abu Ghraib.
In the decade following the year 2000, the weather let loose with tsunamis in Asia and Hurricane Katrina in the USA. The fads of 2000 centered on the Xbox, iPod touch, razor scooters, and Crocs (plastic clogs). The ever-lovin’ hamster robots known as Zhu Zhus could offer empty “advice,” which simply made them an updated Magic 8-Ball. Kids singing the SpongeBob SquarePants song would drive the adults to one more cocktail, and the age of mixology was born shortly thereafter.
Just as no historical pattern perfectly repeats, the 40-year cycle of protest and rebirth skipped ahead to the year 2011 when the Occupy movement began in New York’s Zuccotti Park as a protest against economic inequality. With irony, it sprung to life in the heart of the capitalist beast in the Wall Street district. Occupy spoke for the vast majority with their slogan, “We are the 99%,” in contrast to the new robber barons hoarding their wealth at the top 1%. The rising income inequality was manifested in bankruptcies, mortgage failures, loss of homes, and an economy riddled with unemployment.
In addition to targeting corporate headquarters and banks, the Occupy movement spread outwards to occupy public spaces in colleges, parks, and suburban neighborhoods. And though the notoriously corrupt FBI found it to be a peaceful movement, they continued to surveil and harass the leaders of the popular uprising. Occupy raged like a wildfire across America. In fact, Time magazine selected “The Protestor” as the person of the year in 2011. The Occupy movement also inspired a number of strikes and the fight for a $15 minimum wage.
But let us not forget that many of our modern resistance and labor movements first owed a debt to the industrial worker movement known as the International Workers of the World (IWW) or Wobblies. This radically militant labor movement was born in 1905 and possessed no more fiery icon than Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, known as the Rebel Girl. Later, she used The Rebel Girl as the title to her autobiography.
It would take illegal jailing by Rockefeller-sponsored troops and mob lynching to slow the successes of Flynn her IWW comrades. Then the world went to war and all democratic protest was suddenly illegal, as blind patriotism dominated the landscape. The seeds Flynn and the IWW planted would resurface in the mid-2020s in a newly emerging political reawakening that replaced the crass and corrupt oligarch Donald Trump with the humanist Joe Biden. It was a quiet and enduring revolt.
Today, many people and organizations are saddled with the recently coined term disruption. It shows up in supply chain entanglements and our persistent pandemic. The office and many other workplaces have moved out of industrial centers and into the spare room back home. We have learned how to Zoom our classes, religious gatherings, and New Year’s Eve parties. We now work, play, and romance remotely. Since office managers don’t work in your home, they may become an endangered species. Uniquely, this supports my sense of an emerging hopefulness that power is now finally coming to the people.
Or, as the astrologist Tatiana Borsch would say, Jupiter and Neptune will dominate the year 2022. She predicts a favorable time in the first half of the year followed by troubles in the second half. In other words, 2022 is a crap shoot . . . like so many years before it. Roll the Dice!
- Footprints In Time: Generation Reflections – by Martin Kimeldorf - February 6, 2023
- Vincent Van Gogh and the Art of Longevity – by Martin Kimeldorf - May 4, 2022
- Roll the Dice in 2022 with the MaEGAts – by Martin Kimeldorf - January 2, 2022