Anger: Still 'In'


A little more than a year ago, I wrote an article about an apparent upswing in populist outrage.

'Anger is in,' I quoted from a NY Times opinion piece published at that time, in which the author detailed her (semi?-)tongue-in-check hatred of corrupt politicians, bankers and… well, virtually everything.

My discussion of anger's rise in popularity dovetailed with last year's Venus retrograde through the same early degrees of Aries where Jupiter and Uranus will soon conjoin—a parallel that earlier led me to declare the general period from, roughly, February through May 2009 as reeking from 'prophetic whiffs' of mid-2010, during which the conjoined Jupiter/Uranus will both oppose Saturn and square Pluto, a moment just now beginning to arrive center-stage. The Aries drive toward action over cheap talk, to blaze new trails rather than continue along the same tired path, to pose an assertive resistance to interpersonal foes or institutional obstructions, in defense of personal freedom… these themes came into fuller focus during that Venus-retrograde-in-Aries spring of '09, in the shape of a palpable 'populist outrage' more apparent than at any time in recent history.

It was then I first heard mention of a fledgling 'Tea Party' movement in the U.S., one which immediately piqued my curiosity and interest, even as mainstream commentators were quick to underplay its significance and mock the seeming miseducation of its followers. And it was precisely these early Tea Party activities on my mind when I was writing about a 'prophetic' surge of overt popular anger (though I suppose I missed an ego-boosting opportunity for 'accurate prediction' by not mentioning the Tea Partiers by name).

Now, more than a year later and as we head right into the eye of the mid-'10 cardinal-outer-planet-T-square storm, the Tea Party movement is bigger than ever. Pundits widely credit it, for instance, with the upset election of Republican Scott Brown to the late Ted Kennedy's position as Senator from the liberal bastion of Massachusetts. As I write this, candidates of varying right/libertarian persuasions are strategizing how best to ride this populist wave to victory… while simultaneously protecting their images from appearing too 'out there' (for even those politicos sympathetic to basic Tea Party ideals are aware the movement contains a renegade 'lunatic fringe'), which may be why Senator Brown isn't exactly wholly receptive to outright crediting his success to Tea Partiers.

The funny thing about movements fueled by genuine populism: Like a tornado, it's near-impossible to foresee in which direction it may suddenly shift, let alone to harness or control its ultimate effects.

It doesn't take an expert political commentator to taste the Tea Party anger… not to mention the barely-veiled violent undercurrents bubbling just under the more palatable rhetorical surfaces, which possess the very real potential to erupt outward at any turn, and not always by collective intent or conscious design. When we find ourselves angry, when we reach a personal breaking-point, seeking to take action and finding ourselves blocked or threatened, violent behavior is often seen as a necessary response. It certainly breaks the stalemate and 'moves things along'. Even the most rational among us could be driven to violence (since we are animals, after all) if confronted with the need to defend ourselves or our loved ones. It's just, what exactly constitutes such a justifiable defense is an altogether subjective judgment. And it only takes one single lit match to ignite a massive blaze.

Aries—not only as an influence on the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction, but taken as the sun-sign of the Tea Party movement, born on tax day (Apr 15) last year—is not the most thoughtful member of the zodiac, often sacrificing subtleties of expression or understanding in order to push the momentum onward. 'Act first, ask questions later' could be its rallying motto. As such, reasonable populist anger about a broken financial culture that fattens a select few while worsening everyone else's economic situation, corruption of our political system by corporate interests, and a broad visible decay of our national infrastructure (as well as ample non-specific fear about a society in dynamic demographic change and its corresponding false-nostalgia for rosier 'days gone by') easily shape-shifts into personal attacks on specific individuals in power, sweeping imprecise generalizations about entire sectors of the populace, scapegoating of ethnic and religious groups ('don't forget the gays!'), and, anachronistic indictments, such as accusations of President Obama being both a Fascist and a Marxist (typically seen as mutually incompatible ideologies) or criticisms of 'government-run health care' being lobbed by recipients of Medicare. This is a misleading, and dangerous, destabilization of the meaning behind this anger.

Speaking of Aries and health care, I couldn't help but notice the historic congressional vote on the reform bill and Obama's subsequent signing of it occurred March 21-23, right as the Sun had entered Aries, giving it a 'birthday' in the exact zodiac zone of early-cardinal-signs, where all the big astro-action is due to occur. Thus, health care reform in the U.S. was born with the Sun in early Aries confronting the same Saturn-opposition and Pluto-square that have now become all too familiar. Was the reform, then, a perfect blend of 'pioneering thrust forward' (Aries) and 'measured compromise through weighing options' (Saturn in Libra), all against a backdrop of 'transforming our governing structures' (Pluto in Capricorn)? Or was its true promise (a genuine public option, essential to justice for all) watered down? Will its enactment be blocked by states'-rights court cases? Knowing that both Jupiter and Uranus are due to conjoin the reform-bill's natal Sun over the coming months, this story is hardly over, despite the presidential signature.

As we enter the final stretch of this protracted prelude to this summer's pivotal 'cardinal climax', we must come to grips with how this volatile anger has infiltrated our collective consciousness… and how precarious our current social contract has therefore become. One errant spark could set everything off. If and when this happens, regardless of who lights the match, the responsibility to respond with the appropriate society-sustaining censure (as opposed to 'fanning the flames' or 'fighting fire with fire') falls on all the rest of us.

We should prepare ourselves, as best as possible, for unpredictable manifestations of this potent Aries energy once Uranus and Jupiter arrive (May 27 and June 5, respectively), with full knowledge that we may be called upon to react to startling surprises or abrupt changes with a degree of restraint… if, that is, we hope to couple this coming reinvention with some modicum of continuity and rational sense. The same anger that might stir us to pounce on the person(s) we deem accountable for our unsatisfactory circumstances could motivate us to instead turn altogether away from them and, channeling Aries's fearless independence, rouse us into creating our own radical alternatives.

Will we become embroiled in fighting against the entrenched tyrannies of a disappearing past, or will we be inspired to fight for a just-now-emerging future, channeling our creative hunger—the flipside of this anger—into realistic vessels for sustainable progress?

Again, I return to the tremendous promise for fruitful evolution that presently lies as a mostly-dormant seed at the heart of this oh-so-very-'in' populist anger that's now impossible to miss. This promise is perfectly summarized by a quote (from the Huffington Post article linked below) from an 'everyman' recipient-of-extended-unemployment-benefits-turned-entrepreneur: 'It's no longer a tradeoff between doing what you love and having stability. Stability is long gone, so you better do something you love!' (He's right, you know.)

Other writings on my mind as I was putting this article together:
Welcome to Confederate History Month (NY Times)
Shorting the Middle Class (Huffington Post)
Opinion: Arizona law should force action on immigration (SF Gate)