Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Life in an Age of Looting: "Some Will Rob You with a Sixgun and Some with a Fountain Pen"

Phil Rockstroh

As the poor of Britain rise in a fury of inchoate rage and stock exchanges worldwide experience manic upswings and panicked swoons, the financial elite (and their political operatives) are arrayed in a defensive posture, even as they continue their global-wide, full-spectrum offensive vis-à-vie The Shock Doctrine. Concurrently, corporate mass media types fret over the reversal of fortune and trumpet the triumphs of the self-serving agendas of Wall Street and corporate swindlers…even as they term a feller, in ill-gotten possession of a flat screen television, fleeing through the streets of North London, a mindless thug.

According to the through-the-looking-glass cosmology of mass media elitists, when a poor person commits a crime of opportunity, his actions are a threat to all we hold dear and sacred, but, when the hyper-wealthy of the entrenched looter class abscond with billions, those criminals are referred to as our financial leaders.

Work Harder You Worthless Debt Slave

Regardless of the propaganda of "free market" fantasists, the great unspeakable in regard to capitalism is its wealth, by and large, is generated for a ruthless, privileged few by the creation of bubbles, and, when those bubbles burst, the resultant economic catastrophe inflicts a vastly disproportionate amount of harm upon those -- the laboring and middle classes -- who generate grossly inequitable amounts of capital for the elitist of the fraudster class...by having the life force drained from them by the vampiric set-up of the gamed system.

Woody Guthrie summed up the situation in these two (unfortunately) ageless stanzas:

"Yes, as through this world I've wandered

I've seen lots of funny men;

Some will rob you with a sixgun,

And some with a fountain pen.

"And as through your life you travel,

Yes, as through your life you roam,

You won't never see an outlaw

Drive a family from their home."

--excerpt from Pretty Boy Floyd.

Although, at present, U.S. bank vaults contain little tangible loot for a Pretty Boy Floyd-type outlaw to boost. How would it be possible for an old school bank robber such as Floyd to make-off with a haul of funneling electrons?

Here's the lowdown: The Wall Street fraudsters of the swindler class want to refill their coffers and line their pockets (that is, offshore accounts) with Social Security and Medicare funds. That's the nature of the unfolding scam, folks. Oligarchic rule has always been a system defined by legalized looting that leaves a wasteland of want, deprivation, and unfocused rage in its wake.

Consequently, in the U.K. (and beyond): When poor people's hopes dry up, cities become a tinderbox of dead dreams, and we should not be stricken with shock and consternation when these degraded places are set aflame, nor should we be surprised when the bribed, debt-beholden and commercial media propaganda-bamboozled middle class (who helped create the wasteland with their arid complicity) cry out (predictably) for police state tactics to quell the fiery insurrection.

There have been incidents in which a fire has smoldered for years in an abandoned, sealed-off mineshaft, and then the fire, traveling through the tunnels of the mine, and up the roots of dead, dried trees have caused a dying forest to bloom into flames. The rage that sparks a riot can proceed in a similar manner -- and the insular, sealed-off nature of a nation's elite and the willful ignorance of its middle class will only make the explosion of pent-up rage more powerful when it reaches the surface.

We exist in a culture that, day after day, inundates its have-nots with consumerist propaganda, and then, when the social order breaks down, its wealthy and bourgeoisie alike express outrage when the poor steal consumer goods -- as opposed to going out and looting an education and a good job.

Under Disaster Capitalism, the underclass have had economic violence inflicted upon them since birth, yet the corporate state mass media doesn't seem to notice the situation, until young men burn down the night. Then media elitists wax indignant, carrying on as if these desperate acts are devoid of cultural context.

A mindset has been instilled in these young men and boys that they are nothing sans the accoutrements of consumerism. Yet when they loot an i-Phone, as opposed to creating economy-shredding derivative scams, we're prompted by the corporate media to become indignant.

When the slow motion, elitist-manipulated mob action known as our faux democratic/consumerist culture deprives people of their basic human rights and personal dignity -- then, in turn, we should not be shocked when a mob of the underclass fails to bestow those virtues upon others.

The commercial mass media's narrative of narrowed context (emotional, anecdotal and unreflective in nature) serves as a form of corporate state propaganda, promulgated to ensure the general population continues to rage against the symptoms rather than the disease of neoliberalism. The false framing of opposing opinions -- of those who state the deprivations of neoliberalism factor into the causes of uprisings, insurrections and riots as being apologists for violence and destruction is as preposterous as claiming one is an apologist for dry rot when he points out structural damage to a house due to a leaking roof.

Because of the elements of inverted totalitarianism, inherent within the structure of corporate state capitalism, and internalized within the general population by constant, commercial media re-enforcement, one should not be surprised when a sizable portion of the general populace is inclined to support police state tactics to quell social unrest among the disadvantaged of the population.

Keep in mind: When watching the BBC or the corporate media, one is receiving a limited narrative (tacitly) approved by the global power elite, created by informal arrangements among a careerist cartel comprised of business, governmental and media personality types who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, even if, in doing so, they serve as operatives of a burgeoning police state.

Accordingly, you can't debate fascist thinking with reason nor empathetic imagination e.g., the self-righteous (and self-serving) pronouncements of mass media representatives nor the attendant outrage of the denizens of the corporate state in their audience -- their umbrage engineered by the emotionally laden images with which they have been relentlessly pummeled and plied -- because their responses will be borne of (conveniently) lazy generalizations, given impetus by fear-based animus.

Through it all, veiled by disorienting media distractions and political legerdemain, we find ourselves buffeted and bound by the predicament of paradigm lost…that constitutes the onset of the unraveling of the present order.

"The kings of the world are growing old,

and they shall have no inheritors.

Their sons died while they were boys,

and their neurasthenic daughters abandoned

the sick crown to the mob."

--Rainer Maria Rilke, excerpt from The Kings of the World"

Yet, while there is proliferate evidence that, even as people worldwide are rising up against inequity and exploitation, the economic elite have little inclination to do so much as glimpse the plight of those from whose life blood their immense riches have been wrung, nor hear the admonition of the downtrodden…that they are weary of life on their knees and are awakening to the reality that the con of freedom of choice under corporate state oligarchy is, in fact, a life shackled to the consumerism-addicted/debt-indenturement that comprises the structure of the neoliberal, global company store.

"The rotten masks that divide one man

From another, one man from himself

They crumble

For one enormous moment and we glimpse

The unity that we lost, the desolation

...Of being man, and all its glories

Sharing bread and sun and death

The forgotten astonishment of being alive"

--Octavio Paz, excerpt from "Sunstone"

Accordingly, the most profound act of selfless devotion (commonly called love) in relationship to a society gripped by a sociopathic mode of being is creative resistance. Submission is madness. Sanity entails subversion. The heart insists on it; otherwise, life is only a slog to the graveyard; mouth, full of ashes; heart, a receptacle for dust.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Phil Rockstroh

Phil Rockstroh

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living, now, in Munich, Germany. Visit him at FaceBook.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·


PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Hold My Pearls': Debbie Dingell Lets Marjorie Taylor Green Have It Over Abortion Rights

The Michigan Democrat engaged in a verbal altercation with the far-right Republican lawmaker from Georgia on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Jon Queally ·


Dems Who Opposed Pentagon Cuts Received Nearly 4x More Donations From Weapons Makers

The latest passage of the NDAA "is particularly strong evidence that Pentagon contractors' interests easily take precedence over national security and the public interest for too many members of Congress," said one critic.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo