Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as long-standing professor and member of the French Socialist Party, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was considered until last Saturday (May 14) the strongest potential opponent of President Nicolas Sarkozy at next year’s presidential elections in France. Who would imagine that this prospect would be destroyed in the course of just one day? Following accusations of attempted rape, sex abuse and forcible touching against a hotel maid, Strauss-Kahn is currently detained in a New York City prison without the right to be bailed out until his trial. The sex scandal has left the whole world reeling, not to mention the repercussions for French politics and the IMF itself.
Nevertheless, this is only the latest scandal in a series of financial or sex scandals, where politicians, high authority figures or business corporations have been involved in the last three years. As I will explain further below, these scandals are related to Pluto’s transit through the sign of Capricorn and they could further be harbingers of events that could mark the end of capitalism as we know it… Pluto, the darkest and most distant planet from the Sun, entered the sign of Capricorn in January 2008 and, because of its very slow orbit around the Sun, it will remain in the same sign for the next 13 years or so before moving into Aquarius in 2024. So, what kind of processes will Pluto reflect while transitting the sign of Capricorn?
It would be helpful to note at this point some of the meanings associated with Pluto and Capricorn. In astrology, Pluto represents our urge to destroy and regenerate, to purge and eliminate, to transform through periodic crises that lead to catharsis and permanent change; it thus represents the cycle of death and re-birth. Pluto is further associated with sexual attraction, deep passion, violation, power and control, as well as with buried material, secrets, scandals, taboos, corruption, and shared financial resources (e.g., debts and loans) and those who handle these resources (e.g., banks, insurance firms). Its association with passion and everything that is deeply buried explains Pluto’s relationship with oil, lava and volcanoes, while Pluto also calls for experiencing things to their very core, hence its physical association with the cellular nucleus and nuclear power. The sign of Capricorn, on the other hand, is associated with authority, mastery, fear, restriction, failure, austerity, hierarchy, status and structure. It is also the sign most associated with career, business and our public life. On a mundane level, Capricorn is further associated with the system, authority figures, governments, states, the higher echelons of society and, in general, anyone who is at the top of any kind of hierarchy.
If we now put the associations of Pluto and Capricorn together, what do we get? Here are some ideas: crisis and corruption in business and public life, as well as in the higher ranks of society and at the top of any kind of hierarchy; state and governmental debts and loans; failing banks and insurance firms; austerity measures in finances; nuclear fears and fears of bankruptcy; scandals about authority figures and people in managerial positions; death or elimination of leaders and other high-status individuals; systemic destruction and regeneration. This is not an exhaustive list, as one can think of many other ways in which the Plutonian and Capricornian energies could combine, but I believe that most of you will see in this list an abbreviated picture of what we have been going through for the past three years. Let us give some concrete examples to illustrate all of the above manifestations of Pluto in Capricorn.
The entrance of Pluto in Capricorn in 2008 heralded what the IMF dubbed “the deepest (Pluto) post-World War II recession (Capricorn) by far”; a recession that started with failing (Capricorn) banks (Pluto) and governmental (Capricorn) bailouts (Pluto), and continued with indebted (Pluto) states (Capricorn) and financial (Pluto) cuts (Capricorn). Beginning with massive losses at several U.S. mortgage banks at the end of 2007, right when Pluto was about to enter Capricorn, the crisis peaked in September 2008 following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the multi-billion dollar rescue of Merill Lynch and the giant insurance firm AIG.
Soon after that, on October 3rd, 2008, the U.S. Congress approved a $700 billion bailout, which constituted the biggest financial rescue in U.S. history. Ever since then, such bankruptcy-rescue packages have also been extended to hugely indebted states that have had to announce many austerity measures to cope with the terms of these packages. First on the list were Iceland and Greece, with Ireland and Portugal joining later, while other European states, such as Spain and Italy, are currently living in the fear of having to resort to financial aid in order to deal with their own increasing debts.
Pluto in Capricorn has brought further crisis (Pluto) in business (Capricorn). This can already be seen in countries, such as Greece, where many shops and companies have had to close down, while more closures are in line. Moreover, examples of crisis (Pluto) at the top of any kind of hierarchy (Capricorn) can be found in the case of BP, one of the most important oil companies in the world, as well as in the case of airlines, that is, companies at the top of the transportation hierarchy whose vehicles move quite literally ‘on top of the world’! Specifically, on April 20th 2010, an explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico caused a huge oil spill that temporarily wiped out half the company’s value; the total cost of the disaster amounted to $40 billion.
A month earlier than the oil spill, a volcanic ash cloud that ensued from the eruption of an Icelandic volcano caused flight chaos and forced temporary airspace closures across Northern Europe; at its height, the crisis hit almost a third of global flights, while the flight disruptions cost airlines around $2 billion. It is worth noting that both oil and volcanoes are associated with Pluto, a planet further associated with nuclear power: it is probably not a coincidence that the recent earthquake in Japan, one of the greatest in human history, and the concomitant release of nuclear energy from the Fukushima power plant re-awoke nuclear (Pluto) fears (Capricorn) around the world.
Furthermore, Pluto in Capricorn has signified corruption (Pluto) in business (Capricorn), as well as scandals (Pluto) that involve authority figures (Capricorn). For instance, French President Nicolas Sarkozy was involved last year in a scandal with the L’Oréal billionaire heiress, France’s wealthiest woman, for having allegedly received illegal campaign contribution. Italian Prime-Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been involved in several sex and prostitution scandals in the last two years, the latest one being about the ‘donation’ of $60,000 to an underage exotic dancer. Moreover, the previous British Parliament, elected in 2005 and dismissed in 2010 following the last elections, was dubbed ‘the Rotten (Pluto) Parliament (Capricorn)’, because of a series of allegedly misused expense claims; this political scandal resulted in a number of resignations, prosecutions and imprisonment sentences. Also Siemens, one of the most important German business corporations, and the Greek state have been involved in a series of political and financial scandals that have not been fully investigated yet.
In addition to the above manifestations of Pluto in Capricorn, death or elimination (Pluto) of leaders and other high-status individuals (Capricorn) form also part of the Pluto transit through the sign of Capricorn. Examples of the above include Osama bin Laden’s elimination earlier this month, as well as the Polish Air Force crash last year in April, an accident that led to the death of many Polish authority figures, including the Polish President and his wife, the President of the National Bank of Poland, government officials, members of the Polish Parliament and senior members of the Polish army and clergy.
As mentioned above, Pluto in Capricorn also brings systemic destruction and regeneration; in other words, transformation and catharsis of corrupt regimes around the world by means of crisis; elimination of old and rotten political structures that have outlived their purpose, so that new and healthier structures can be established. The recent Middle East risings constitute an excellent example of this process. Corrupt regimes across the Arab world are collapsing one after the other. Tunisians and Egyptians were the first to get rid of their dictatorships, while Libyans and people in Yemen, Syria and other Arab countries are still trying to throw off the yoke of repression and fear.
If, however, Pluto in Capricorn signifies systemic destruction and regeneration, could it also be the harbinger of the end of capitalism? We definitely cannot make any specific predictions, but it becomes all the more evident that the system is rotten and that we need to change it. Sex and financial scandals where government figures and business corporations are involved, as well as austerity measures and financial cuts due to increasing debts that were created by corrupt politicians to start with, are taking their toll on most of us who feel that are not responsible for this financial mess. Politicians are losing face, public outrage is growing across the world and the Middle East risings seem to show the way. However, let us not forget that Pluto in Capricorn can also signify ‘power to those who are already in power’. Consequently, the system and those who defend it are not yet ready to die; Libya’s ruler, Colonel Gaddafi, is just one example. The system is dying alright, but politicians and capitalists are still pretty much in control.
One thing is for sure: by the end of Pluto’s transit though Capricorn many political transformations will have taken place. Rotten political structures will have been eliminated and replaced with new and healthier ones. Given that these transformations affect those already in power, let us not be surprised if the crisis hits even harder those at the top of the global hierarchy, that is, the USA, the European Union and Japan. The USA were the first to be hit following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the housing bubble that led millions of Americans to lose their homes, jobs or both. The European Union and the Eurozone are also teetering on the brink of an uncontrollable debt crisis, the repercussions of which we cannot even start to imagine. Japan is going through its own drama following one of the greatest earthquakes in human history… And we probably still haven’t seen anything, given that Pluto will remain in Capricorn for the next 13 years or so.
The system, however, will probably not change completely until the entrance of Pluto in Aquarius around 2024. Pluto will remain in Aquarius until 2045 and it will help us seize our collective (Aquarius) power (Pluto) in order to dispense with old ideologies and to perform revolutionary (Aquarius) transformations (Pluto). It is worth remembering that both the American and French Revolutions took place during Pluto’s previous transit through Aquarius. For many historians, the French Revolution marked the dawn of the modern era, an era characterised by growth of republics and liberal democracies, development of modern ideologies and spread of secularism. Therefore, it is highly likely that Pluto’s next transit through Aquarius will also mark the beginning of a new era, the so-called ‘Age of Aquarius’, about which I will write in one of my next posts. So, stay tuned!