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2 or 3 Things I Know About Late-Stage Capitalism

2 or 3 Things I Know About Late-Stage Capitalism

Phil Rockstroh

(With apologies to Jean-Luc Godard)


Welcome back Phil Rockstroh - welcome back !

“Empires are death cults, and death cults, on a subliminal bases, long for their own demise.” (Phil)

Yes sir - now I understand that line in “The Age of Stupid” - ‘or were we at some level of the belief that we just weren’t worth saving ?’ (can’t recall the exact words).

It’s why I climbed - “to get back into the light”.

But enough of that - I am so glad to see Phil here again, and your article is so good - so right on - obviously you have done a lot of living since last we saw you here.

I’ve been calling what I see in ‘civilization’ as a whole ‘moral injury’ - after reading an article expounding on this a couple of years ago.

But as always, your gift Phil, your way with words - your human insight - is a tremendous help in these times.

"A draining of the swamp of the collective mind cannot come to pass, for the swamp and citizenry are one. " (Phil)

Now that’s an observation - and helps to explain Arnold Toynbee’s observations about the end of civilizations, i.e., that nothing can avert collapse.

Rather than be depressed - let’s get ready - let’s move on ~

Ciao Phil & family (now in Munich) - from Calgary, Canada


Indeed, just because some one doesn’t want to climb the corporate ladder doesn’t mean they are lazy and stupid. Everyone is human and everyone deserves to be treated with respect and live a life with dignity even if all they do is mop the floor. The floor needs to be mopped by someone! Whoever mops the floor is important too! Managers are nothing without their staff.


Revolution is what the founders recommended for times like these.

Creation of a new and peaceful state that is designed to heal Earth might secure another few hundred years for life to exist.

Political parties have brought us to where we are so fixing the party is a diversion from the revolution proposed by the founders.


Can’t remember where I read it, but in reference to Narcissus, it was said that when he looked at his reflection on the surface of the water, he thought he was falling in love with someone else. I find this an interesting perspective on the mythos. It renders even more poignant the delusional aspect what we call narcissism as well as the psychological dynamics of ‘projection’. The latter, having become a central theme of political media and activity pretty much guarantees that when it can be recognized, it can be taken as a fore-warning of tragic consequences to come. Sometimes maybe the best thing to do is get out of harms way and regroup in integrity and simple basics of community.


I’ll second that. It was my first thought seeing his name for the first time in a long time.


Phil Rockstroh is back after a long absence. Why the hiatus?

I’m not always a big fan of his writing style, but I sure understand his description of the epiphany his suburban friends would feel when they would walk the vibrant streets of New York. I got the same epiphany when I moved to a somewhat smaller, but still big city after a life in suburbia. The thing that amazed me was the way I could walk about the same blocks in my lively ethnic neighborhood and the walk would be a different experience every time. Try that in a suburban neighborhood - or especially those suburban institutions called “shopping malls” utterly soul-destroying.

But alas “hyper gentrification” as Phil calls it has arrived - a product of late stage capitalism, destroying it all. All the realness of the old neighborhoods - the Italians, the Polish, the distinct regional accent and dialect, is all gone now, replaced with the most fake and plastic phenomena of late-stage capitalism…the “young professional”.


I can’t get over how accurately Phil sees things, and I will take this opportunity, i.e., your reply, to copy and paste this from Phil’s article. If I am reading it correctly it is something that has been bothering me for a long time. I’ll summarize - The Middle Class IS the problem!! Only here, where voting takes place - is there a swing vote - a possibility, however remote, for change. At the top - bad guys. The working class - hard for me to assess - where in the world is the 50 percent who just don’t vote period ?

Anyway - here is that Phil quote:

"Yet the great unspoken remains: The enabling of and submission to the degradation, exploitation and tyranny, and the lack of resistance thereof share a common and singular factor:

The careerism of all concerned."


Blown away, as usual, by Rockstroh’s brilliance.

I’ll add that thorough knowledge about the global ecosystem’s ongoing collapse greatly augments - even outstrips - anxieties about our social-political-cultural implosion. It’s something which constantly undercuts my joy in hearing the laughter of little children: what will their world be like when they’re my age?

It’s all of a piece: it seems like everything is falling apart at the same time. We can’t allow compassion to rule, now that the world’s falling apart, because we can’t allow compassion to rule. How do we escape the vicious death-spiral?

Psychologists say “hurt people hurt people.” Love is the only antidote - but the zero-sum mindset suffusing our consciousness makes it seem in very short supply - as if we need to be very careful not to use up too much love on those in other categories: other backgrounds, other ages, other species.


This article is so good! Too many excellent quotes to list here,but the following quote pretty much sums it up for me: " In short, it is insanity to be expected to adapt to socially acceptable insanity."


Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism by V. I. Lenin. Throw you invective my way; I don’t care. Read it first. Break his arguments, if you can. I haven’t been able to, and I’m one arrogant and cocky SOB. Good luck.


I am so very glad to see Phil Rockstroh on this site again! Just a few days ago, I wondered why we haven’t heard from him in quite a while. Always one of my favorites, I find his thoughts to be profound, and his articulation of those thoughts to be strikingly beautiful. This article is deep and richly textured. It contains much worth pondering. It opens the blinds to let the essential light of consciousness and understanding shine into our confused and troubled psyches.

Thank you, Phil!


Well put, Moss! I have a saying that I came up with to reply to those who look down their noses at “menial” work (their term, not mine).

“If your Congressman doesn’t show up for work for a whole month, you probably won’t miss him/her.
You may not even notice,
But, if your garbage collector doesn’t show up for a month, you will miss that person very quickly.”



Many, like you, have thought and described this over the years. Thanks for putting it so simply.

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VOTE? Voting is pointless when the candidates are hand picked by the ESTABLISHMENT! The old Soviet Union was criticized because although the people voted they only had one candidate for which to cast their vote; our system “gives us two candidates”, both of which serve basically the same master, greed and power. The Empire is crumbling before our eyes. Will we the people be able to pick up the pieces? That is the real question.


haha. Phil, in the event you slum in here to read these comments, congratulations are in order for sneaking into liberal land…:slight_smile:

For anyone who likes reading Rockstroh’s thoughts, suggest following him on FB where he holds court on a more regular basis. Along with, incidentally, half the stable of CounterPunch contributors.


This is the picture of the collapse of a species; when adults throw their children under the bus all the while frozen in its headlights doing nothing.

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Phil Rockstroh is a genius with a pen. Like a true artist before a canvass it flows across his medium with magical realism that demands our attention from not only his message but his brilliance in the way he says it.


I must disagree.

Though I am Canadian, I remember that there were four parties running in your election, one of which was Jill Stein’s Green Party. I read the Green Party platform - it sounded reasonable and progressive, unlike the other three. In addition, Jill Stein offered Bernie Sanders the leadership of the Green Party - and he declined, for which I have never forgiven him. More than that, the Green Party was not brand new, having run in the previous election, and in the last one, doubled their vote.

Perhaps AlephNull or nighthawk or theoldgoat could step in and tell me if I am mistaken in these assertions, as I believe all three are Americans ?

You also seem to have missed the part Phil describes below:

"A draining of the swamp of the collective mind cannot come to pass, for the swamp and citizenry are one. " (Phil)

This is a condemnation of the citizenry as a whole - very much in keeping with Alexis de Touqueville’s assertion that ‘in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.’

Democracy means rule by the people - either it exists, or it does not. I really do not know who the half who do not vote - would vote for - should they exercise their right to do so, but it is almost unbelievable that they do not, even given the class structure, moral injury, endless war, inequality, and on and on. It is beyond my understanding.

Let every NFL player quit - right now - and every professional athlete. Sell your suburban home and get real, sell your investments, withdraw your money from the big banks, I could go on for hours.

We do all the work, pay all the bills, and each and every one of us has the vote, and there are few billionaires in the military, as CCR and “Fortunate Son” pointed out a long time ago.

We do have the means to be a democracy - but we are not a democracy in any meaningful sense.

We prefer, in the words of a favorite mountaineer of mine, Bill Tilman,

“to assume a virtue, though we have it not.”

AlephNull is correct - the environmental catastrophe now underway will soon eclipse all other insults.

It is long past time to put the spin and delusion away - and to assume the responsibilities of being - human beings.


I was struck by that line too.

"A draining of the swamp of the collective mind cannot come to pass, for the swamp and citizenry are one. " (Phil)

I took it to mean that people cannot heal themselves anymore, or dispense with karma due to the nature of the environment. In a word. change enough to make a difference.

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