Ted Rall says the end of world as we know it is near. According to his vision, the economy will continue to deteriorate, the government will disintegrate, and the United States will either break apart into mini-fiefdoms or be ruled by a neo-fascist junta.
Rall is not a fortune teller. He doesn't claim to have any unique insight into Armageddon from the New Testament's Book of Revelations or any other religious texts, and he isn't receiving prophecies from God. Rall is a writer and a political cartoonist whose controversial illustrations and columns have been published in newspapers such as the L.A. Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
He is also a self-described Marxist who blames global free market capitalism for causing global warming and oppressing most of the human race. In recent years, Rall has advocated for the overthrow of the government, both on his blog and in his latest book, published in 2010, titled The Anti-American Manifesto. His main argument for a revolution: Better to replace a decaying system before it implodes on its own. Otherwise, left-wing activists should be prepared to organize when society starts to buckle.
"Things are happening very fast," Rall said last night at his event at Sweat Records. "I think the
system is headed toward collapse anyway."
But before that happens, Rall wants to get the participants of
the Occupy Wall Street movement, which the 48-year-old cartoonist called
the most "important political movements of my lifetime," to decide whether they want to reform the system, or replace it -- before OWS fizzles out
completely. "I don't have another 40 years to wait for something else
this cool to pop up," Rall said of Occupy. "And I don't think the planet
Rall journeyed from Long Island to explain his views on reform versus
revolution at the invitation of Stephanie McMillan, a fellow cartoonist
affiliated with One Struggle, a leftist South Florida-based group that
describes itself as "an anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist initiative." He spoke to modest crowds Tuesday near the Occupy Miami and Occupy
Fort Lauderdale encampments. Then, last night, Rall
lectured at Sweat Records to more than a dozen frustrated liberals and
radicals, where he compared the American form of government, as
enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, to an old, deteriorating car.
Reformers, he said, want to invest more money fixing the car.
Revolutionaries want a brand new car.
But since getting that new car via revolution means replacing one ruling
class with another, such an action tends to be very, very messy, Rall
admitted. "There are big negatives [to revolution]," he said. "A lot of
stuff gets broke; people get killed. It is brutal, violent, and usually
That's why, Rall said, he was once content with trying to reform the system
as a liberal Democrat. "I worked for Democratic presidential candidates
like Mondale and Dukakis," he said. But as the economy worsened, Rall
became more radical. In April of 2009, Rall was laid off from his editor
job at United Media, a comic strip syndication service. The final straw
was when President-elect Barack Obama failed to name even a "token
liberal" to his economic council in December 2008. It was then that Rall
said he realized that the system has deteriorated beyond repair.
"They can't save themselves," he said of America's corporations and
the uber-wealthy. "That is why they are in trouble. It would be so easy to
talk their way out or pass a few laws, but they have painted themselves
into a corner.... They know it is coming. At this point, they are in the
looting phase. It is like Hitler in the bunker. They know."
What's coming, however, isn't necessarily revolution, but system failure
where institutions can no longer function, said Rall. When that
happens, Rall predicts a descent into warlord-ism, where portions of the
country are ruled by strongmen. Another likely possibility is a
"We don't have much of a chance," Rall admitted to the Leftist audience.
"The Right has been prepared for this for a long time. If anyone senses
a power vacuum, it will be them.... They are paranoid, crazy, and armed to
But if reformers and radicals organize, it is possible that a new and
improved society will return. "It is going to be so fluid," Rall said.
"If we are smarter we are going to win. If not, they are going to win."
But what should replace our current system of representative democracy?
Rall holds out hope for a true communist system that guarantees the
equality of everyone, but says whatever arises should be up to the
masses. "It is not about Ted Rall, it is about all of us. We're going to
fight it out, argue it out," he said.
And that is what is neat about the Occupy Wall Street movement, Rall
argued. Besides liberals and radicals, there are also Ron Paul
supporters, libertarians and even some Tea Party activists. In fact,
Rall believes that the Left should reach out to the Tea Party.
"Personally, I think there is a lot of common ground with some people on
the right. The Tea Party knows it is harder to make a living, for some
people to work hard and make their fair share," Rall said. "There is a
vague sense of injustice in their analysis."
Unfortunately, Tea Partiers are also quick to blame the poor and illegal
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immigrants, he said. "They are blaming the 99 percent or the lower 99
percent," Rall surmised. "And they should be blaming the one percent."