The Great American Hairshirt
-Rush Hudson Limbaugh III
A while back at my local grocery store I noticed that there was a big sign with red letters taped to the front of the service desk that emphatically stated: WE NO LONGER ACCEPT ROLLED CHANGE. Sad to think that things are now so bad inflation wise that people are having to pay for food using scavenged rolls of pennies but some enterprising genius is going around down here in Florida putting in machines that convert such coinage to an easy to debit card – for a fee of course. Of course the official government line is that inflation is not a problem but most lies are of course comprised of half-truths mixed with outright lies and and one of the great lies is that core inflation doesn’t include either food or energy costs, it’s right up there with capitalism and democracy being interchangable.
Howard W. Campbell Jr. from Kurt Vonnegut’s classic Slaughterhouse Five:
And just who are our national role models and heroes? Who is there that Americans should hold in the highest of esteem? Brittney and Lindsay and Tomkat and the Donald and Paris don’t do it. Our history has been scrubbed and sanitized by the economic royalists and the fascists to eliminate any mention of true heroes of the working class and of a real democratic society. The vast majority of those compliant little consumers that have for too long been churned out by a starved for funds and battered into submission school public school system that has been turned into a nationwide network of drone factories (one of the only things that we mass produce in America anymore) have never heard of those who sacrificed for those things that came to be taken to granted to the point where they are now being taken away.
Where is there any mention given of Eugene Debs or of Joe Hill or of Saul Alinsky or of Mother Jones? What about General Smedley D . Butler who called out the blood barters with his tract War Is A Racket and his exposure of the Business Plot where wealthy traitors schemed about a coup against FDR? What is taught about Huey Long? I mean other than the widely accepted narrative of a power mad, corrupt tyrant instead of the man who scared the living shit out of the elitist establishment with his “share our wealth” program that ade the New Deal look like Reaganomics. Long stood up to entrenched interests and the moral rottenness of looter capitalism, he built roads, bridges, hospitals and schools as well as provided free textbooks and he even dared to take on the almighty Rockefellers and Standard Oil. Long railed against institutionalized corruption with his “every man a king” type of populism and he was making dangerous noises about running for president. The ending of the Huey Long story is all too predictable and familiar: he was of course assassinated.
America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American journalist Kin Hubbard “It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.” It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand glued to a lollipop stick and flying fom the cash register.
Americans, like human beings everywhere believe that many things are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and therefore those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleanic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
And there are others, there are many others who risked all to end child labor, to fight for equality and the forty-hour work week and unemployment protection and workers rights, workplace safety and a right to basic human decency but they go largely unheard of. A good and easy to read book about the working class American labor movements that I recommend is Sharon Smith’s Subterranean Fire because let’s face it, it is a hell of a rock that has to be rolled up that hill and education is necessary in order for the necessary deprogramming to occur. Official history is always written by the victors rather than the vanquished and because most of lying is through omission the banishment of American progressives from our history is a calculated and cynical effort to distort and distract until the final goal of a massive redistribution of wealth upwards and offshore has been completed and the country has been bankrupted and beggared by the economic royalists. Then the looters will either retreat behind the walls of their gated communities, hire private security firms for protection from the unwashed masses or flee this goddamned husk of a once great economic power altogether, their loyalty has always been to green and gold rather than red, white and blue.
AMY GOODMAN: Paul Krugman, can you talk — I mean, in your book, The Conscience of a Liberal, you’re talking about the growth of the whole neoconservative movement over the years. Give us some historical context here and in parallel with the growth of the economic disparity between rich and poor.
PAUL KRUGMAN: Yeah. A big discovery I made in doing the research for Conscience of a Liberal is that politics has actually led the economics. It’s not that we evolved into a new Gilded Age and we developed a right wing to support that. It’s that we developed a right wing that wanted a new Gilded Age, and they got it. Really, you know, a lot of this goes back — there was always a back — there were always people who hated FDR, who hated the New Deal, hated Social Security, but in the ’50s, they couldn’t get anywhere. Eisenhower once wrote a letter to his brother saying that this is a tiny minority and they are stupid.
But in the ’60s, they found their feet. Goldwater is actually less of a — I mean, he seized the Republican nomination, but much more important is first Reagan is the first central figure, because he found a way to exploit, found a rhetoric to exploit the white backlash against civil rights without actually being explicitly racist. So he talked about welfare queens driving Cadillacs. He talked about welfare cheats. He talked about — but he became governor of California largely by campaigning against the fair housing law. Nixon found the tactics. Nixon — you know, the dirty tricks, and it’s amazing how many, not just the sort of legacy, but actually the people of the Bush administration are coming from the Nixon years. I mean, Roger Ailes of Fox News was Nixon’s media adviser, right? They found these tactics. They found the moneyed interests wanted — supported the takeover of the Republican Party by people who really wanted to roll back as much of the New Deal as they could, but they were able to win elections by exploiting other issues, primarily race. And they were able to achieve about twenty-five years of political dominance in this country, largely by flipping the South and, to a certain extent, winning over, you know, the sort of Reagan Democrats in the North who were really upset about what amounts to the backlash against the Civil Rights Movement. It’s an extraordinary story.
And they were able to transform the way — look, my favorite example is just how much politics has mattered. We think of the decline of the union movement, which has all kinds of consequences, as being something — well, you know, the world economy changed and unions just didn’t have a place anymore. But that’s actually not true. Every place else in the advanced world, unions are still a powerful force. In the 1960s, Canada and the United States had the same rate of unionization. Canada still has about the same rate of unionization that it had in the 1960s. In the United States, the movement has been — you know, is a shadow of its former self, and that’s because of union busting, which was made possible by a permissive political environment, Ronal Reagan firing the air traffic controllers. The National Labor Relations Board turning hostile toward union organizers creates the possibility for massive union busting, and that, not the global economy, is why we are what we are.
A Time For Heroes
But heroes aren’t limited to only those who achieved or paid the most, they include all who took a stand against injustice. They are largely anonymous but they numbered in the thousands if not millions. Their mettle is lacking in an America gone fascist and populated by fearful sheeple and hateful lemmings. While the economic diaspora of the looting spree and the ravages of globalization number in the millions there is no unity, no organization and until there is quite frankly there is little hope. It is up to us all to be heroes even if as David Bowie once sang “just for one day” and to educate, inform, prop up and instill some self-esteem in others. We must all work together in order to cast off the hairshirt and to take back that which has been stolen from us.
What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.
But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.
Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.
It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.
Posted on 2007/10/22, in American Fascism, American Greed, American Labor Movement, Economic Royalists, Looter Capitalism, Rotting Capitalism, Wall Street Looters. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.