words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h

Urban Contemplation: 14 – The Industrial Revolution and its Deconstruction

The city series….

The forming of an industrial moment in time

The cities where the industrial revolution was founded….

I remember the period in our American history, when the industrial revolution was coming to an end. I was in my mid-twenties and working as a Process Engineer at the DuPont Company. If you were a young person in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s trying to believe in the American dream, a job with the DuPont Company was a great place to start.

Or so I thought. Little to my knowledge, things were about to get very difficult. Life was going to become very hard. The way in which our society ran and governed its social, civil, economic and political spheres were about to change.

The social agenda of the New Deal that sustained the dreams of many families and individuals would slowly be deconstructed until it (with the hopes of some) would be gone forever.

In the mid-seventies, early 1980’s and in 1991 we had economic recessions of various lengths. They were short, but a tell-tale sign of things to come. In 2001 we had another recession. These four recessions were not as severe as the present recession; however, the factors that led to these five occurrences over time are similar; deregulation, the creation of a “false paper economy” and an insidious construct to shift the wealth from the middle class to the wealthy.

And unfortunately it is working.

I was laid off from my job at DuPont after having worked there for four years. Still emerging from the perception that all you had to do was start at an entry level position with a good company; move up the ladder and retire 30 years later. Remember how your parents or grandparents followed this rule and uplifted themselves into the middle-class? It appears that in 2011, that route to the middle-class is long since gone and not returning any time soon. It is a global world now. It is now a have and have not world that is shattering the dreams of many. It is 146 million Americans in the United States living in poverty or near the poverty line. It is a health care system that is dysfunctional and over-wrought with cost. It is an education system that is mostly for profit (remember when the California State Schools were free). It is a manufacturing sector that barely exists.  And it is a corrupt body of government that wants to protect the rich, sustained the rich and become rich, at the expense of the poor.

And the attack is calculated and vicious to the core.

But I love America. With all its faults, it still has the potential to be a great nation. But we must learn from our past, and if possible turn back the hand of time just for a moment. And perhaps in that moment we can have a true political and social conversation, wherein we remember what we fought so hard for—a fair and equal society for all.

This post is in support of all those who participate in the Occupy Wall Street protests in America and around the world.

10 responses

  1. The root of our problem is slavery, but this time the slaves were in the 3rd world. A Chinese guy, manufacturing our goods, earning $1 for a 100 hour week is slavery. We all embraced this to our ruin.

    December 17, 2011 at 1:54 am

    • It is a difficult time for us all. Our society has a history of dehumanizing one another. And sadly that trend continues today.

      December 18, 2011 at 10:58 am

  2. Absolutely a wonderful post (and your art too). I remember when I came into the work force in the 90’s and you never had a job for more than two years, as companies were bought out, layoffs were next, etc. And these were high tech companies. And now, this country is in a horrible shape. I hope like you said, we can start having a real dialogue. And stop focusing on things that just don’t matter in a real sense.

    As someone who grew up around Washington, DC and lived and breathed history and politics since I was a young child, it just makes me ill where we are now. It’s been coming for decades though. And it just is so sad.

    I hope things change. I know so many people who are barely surviving and it is hard. I know my business has suffered tremendously since 2007, when the real estate and building industries crashed. And it hasn’t gotten any better.

    Great post, Walter!

    December 17, 2011 at 3:22 am

  3. Sheila Moore

    What a great rallying post and a beautiful work of photo art to go with. Enjoyed both. It’s sad what our country has become.

    December 17, 2011 at 6:16 am

  4. Nandini

    I really like the photo. Great post. 🙂

    December 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    • Thanks Nandini, This series (the city series) is taking me all over the place. Sometimes I can feel the weight of the political sphere on my relationship to my life in the city. Sometimes it is the recovery process, and other times it is the beauty of what cities have to offer i.e. music , art, dance fine cuisine etc. A city is place of exploring the undiscovered and the coming together of diverse culturals and perspectives.

      December 18, 2011 at 10:54 am

  5. Sad but true… these are challenging times for many of us… 😦

    December 19, 2011 at 2:44 am

    • The political sphere that envelops our society today brings to mind the negative machinations of the past.

      December 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm

  6. Reblogged this on Conceptual Art.

    December 20, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    • Thanks for reblogging my site. I checked out your blog and was quite impressed. I will subscribe and keep up with your project.

      December 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm

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