Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (with those two, little horizontal dots over her the U in her middle name), in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying,” named the five stages of dying as: Denial; Anger; Bargaining; Depression, and Acceptance. Las Fall, while the economy drove off a cliff, we saw plenty of Denial as our investment portfolios melted like the proverbial cake left out in the rain (with apologies to Richard Harris’ ‘MacArthur Park’ song).

This Spring, Denial is moving into the Anger stage, big time. What is dying is our old economy; what may be being born, I hope, is our new 21st Century economy, offering sustainable, real growth instead the Masters of the Universe on Wall St. pumping up what looked like growth by taking wild, risky, largely unregulated bets that have now all failed so spectacularly. Can Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance be far behind?

Financial Anger now pervades the American scene. We are Angry that we are in this mess; we are Angry that some of us think we need to spend, spend, spend to get out of this mess; we are Angry that others of us don’t understand that we need to spend and who are Angry about laying the ground work for too much the inflation and a big hit to the dollar which will surely occur down the road after all this spending. The poor, unemployed and have-nots are Angry at the rich and the those same Masters of the Universe who drove us off the road to prosperity that we had gotten used to and rather enjoyed, and into the forest where we are lost with no trails back out and much to fear.

We are laying the groundwork for really nasty class war in this country. Sometimes I wonder what the coming long, hot Summer will bring, recalling other hot summers of riots, civil unrest, and the terror of watching cities erupt right there on my TV in other decades, and whether we are in for some of that later this year as this Anger wells up like a living thing being born right there in our Media and on our streets. There is only so much Media pounding that people who are down and out can or will take and we have already seen that Anger rises up out of that and that those who identify with the downtrodden do not need much urging to express themselves at this point.

In France right now, workers Angry about economic woes are holding their plant manager hostage; we saw it in Chicago last Fall when workers who were laid off from a factory whose credit line was pinched by B of A, refused to leave and sat in until B of A renewed, or agreed to review, that credit line for the factory owner. We all watched the AIG Anti-Bonus protests last week. A trial lawyer who is about to start a jury trial defending large corporate interests against a small Mom & Pop business who is suing and alleging they were wronged now has to weigh a new set of criteria for whether or not that societal Anger being expressed will infect the jury pool and the jurors about to be selected and turn the trial into an Eat the Rich exercise in something other than justice.

In fact, we all, in each of our walks of life, businesses, professions and jobs, must now consider what the effect of this Anger will be as this tough economic year wears on and we all become weary of being told over and over that this ‘downturn,’ ‘recession,’ or other way of not calling it a Depression (which, is what it is already), will take a long time, maybe years, to work itself through our land and before prosperity will be here again, if, indeed, prosperity has any plans to return, now or later, or at all.

This kind of class war has brought down governments, monarchies and other systems of how people rule themselves and run their affairs – France in the 1790’s, all of Europe in the mid-19th Century, Russia in the 19-teens and twenties, China after WWII, and on and on, are but a few examples of class warfare that went all the way and transformed not only those countries but also their unlucky neighbors and, indeed, whole areas of the globe.

Let’s get this thing straight – we, here in the United States, are not immune to class warfare – we have been blessed with keeping it closely under wraps and limited to certain times and places, but, class warfare is no stranger to the American life and we will shortly see more of these protests and marches and sit-ins and even organized marches on Washington, and we should be ready for the Media blitz that will accompany these things as the weather gets friendlier across the country this Spring and Summer.

And “Conservadems” are fighting with the rest of the Democrats and Republicans are tearing their (and each other’s) guts out looking for leadership, with some taking positions they will surely regret later and others calling for a less doctrinaire, more issue-oriented and rational discourse. In times like these, nobody has the answers. Nobody has a lock on the truth or all the solutions to all of our problems, if there are, indeed, solutions other than weathering this storm which may well last for years and leave this country a different place when it is finally over. We would all be well to recognize this Anger, address ways to manage it, and do what we can to be responsible voices of reason instead of voices feeding a growing class war.