Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday, 14 May 2010


photo: Eboni Knox USAF

Chris Hedges, "No One Cares":

"The roots of mass apathy are found in the profound divide between liberals, who are mostly white and well educated, and our disenfranchised working class, whose sons and daughters, because they cannot get decent jobs with benefits, have few options besides the military. Liberals, whose children are more often to be found in elite colleges than the Marine Corps, did not fight the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 and the dismantling of our manufacturing base. They did nothing when the Democrats gutted welfare two years later and stood by as our banks were turned over to Wall Street speculators.

They signed on, by supporting the Clinton and Obama Democrats, for the corporate rape carried out in the name of globalization and endless war, and they ignored the plight of the poor. And for this reason the poor have little interest in the moral protestations of liberals. We have lost all credibility. We are justly hated for our tacit complicity in the corporate assault on workers and their families.

Our passivity has resulted, however, in much more than imperial adventurism and a permanent underclass. A slow-motion coup by a corporate state has cemented into place a neofeudalism in which there are only masters and serfs. And the process is one that cannot be reversed through the traditional mechanisms of electoral politics."


and Michael Hudson, "Euro-Bankers Demand of Greece: the wealthy won’t pay their taxes, so labor must do so":

Riddle: How are the Greek rioters like America’s Tea Party movement?
Answer: Both reject government being taken over by the financial oligarchy to shift the tax burden onto labor.

The difference is that the Tea Partiers have lost faith in government. This is just what the financial oligarchy wants, of course. Giving up hope of gaining electoral control to pursue a fair fiscal agenda, the Tea Partiers have abandoned the centuries-long fight for reform to make governments better by giving them the power to check predatory finance and wealth. Sliding to the right wing of the political spectrum and acting mainly out of frustration, they have succumbed to a utopian desire simply to shrink a government that they see acting adversely to their interests.

Financial lobbyists are using the Greek crisis as an object lesson to warn about the need to cut back public spending on Social Security and Medicare. This is the opposite of what the Greek demonstrators are demanding: to reverse the global tax shift off property and finance onto labor, and to give labor’s financial claims for retirement pensions priority over claims by the banks to get fully paid on hundreds of billions of dollars of recklessly bad loans recently reduced to junk status.

Bank lobbyists know that the financial game is over. They are playing for the short run. The financial sector’s aim is to take as much bailout money as it can and run, with large enough annual bonuses to lord it over the rest of society after the Clean Slate finally arrives. Less public spending on social programs will leave more bailout money to pay the banks for their exponentially rising bad debts that cannot possibly be paid in the end. It is inevitable that loans and bonds will default in the usual convulsion of bankruptcy.


via Xymphora and Ella2007k.

I don't entirely agree with Michael Hudson's assessment of the Tea-partiers having given up on government, although their demands on government are incoherent. Reduce taxes and pay down the deficit? And they're mostly middle-class whites, hence able to afford gated communities, at least for now.

For the next three weeks or so I have non-Horse things to attend to, but I will put up the expanded blogroll in the first week in June. In the meantime be nice to Rob n' Mimi n' Micah n' Bob, cause they're swell.

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9 Comments:

At May 14, 2010 4:12 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

I’m not sure I agree with Chris Hedges on the part about people having no choice but to join the military. I take that back, I’m sure I don’t agree with him on that point.

Also it gets a bit confusing who Hedges is talking about, I mean how does he define liberals and the working class, liberals don’t work? I mean I get his main point that people have been apathetic but then that isn’t just the liberals and since when is the working class pure as the driven snow? Most of the working class are their own worst enemy if you ask me and they are as apathetic as anyone else. And who is the working class? People who dig ditches and do construction? Or does that include anyone who has a job including say engineers? Are engineers liberal? If they have a job are they part of the working class? I think Hedges last statement in the quote is right on the money regarding masters and serfs. For myself I define anyone who has to work as working class. Sure some might aspire to an upscale house and all that garbage but in the end none of us has any say in the machinations of government for that is the realm of the super wealthy.

This issue really has a lot to do with Obama’s heart rending admission of “responsibility” regarding civilian deaths that Micah wrote about. To the ruling class the bugs below are just that, bugs. If a few get squished along the path to glory well then, who cares?

 
At May 14, 2010 7:01 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Rob, one of the problems I have with a lot of essays, both those of others I encounter in the blogosphere and often my own efforts, is the need for a clearly delineated theme that often battles with the messy reality you're trying to describe.

In this case, I think Hedges fails to note the ways Obama represents a departure from the Bill Clinton days, when our military adventures overseas were comparatively small-scale. The Bill Clinton model of empire is preferable to the Bush Junior/Obama model, something some lefty purists may hate to acknowledge. It may even be the only one possible for a US president working within the system.

Likewise, I think it's necessary to recognize that the post-2000 Bill Clinton has been a lot more right-wing in his rhetoric, which further muddies the narrative.

And I agree with you, people don't have to join the military.

 
At May 14, 2010 7:50 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

Jonathan,

You hit on a point that I rarely, if ever, talk about which is I don’t expect the world to rearrange itself to my own personal Nirvana but what I firmly, firmly believe is that with some minor tweaking things would be, could be, an awful lot better. For everyone. The way I see it is that with each passing year the ruling class tries to get away with more and more power grabs as if they are testing the waters to see what people will put up with, how far they can go before people become upset. And it seems to me that people will put up with just about anything as long as the perception remains that things like the Terror Wars won’t really affect them. Just recently I read that in poll something like 70 percent of Americans think the Arizona law regarding ID is a great idea. How the hell can you work with idiots like that, you can’t. Here is the big brave Americans dropping their pants, bending over, and waiting for the cattle prod, and they like it. You know Americans are real brave when they have the big guns and all the technology on their side, other than that I’m not so sure.

On Clinton policy, another aspect to consider is that his policy helped lead to Bush policy which in turn has led to Obama policy all of which is being escalated, that is to say the policies have been one of intervention but the interventions keep getting bigger. I mean, wow, we’re a hair’s breadth away from another overt war this time in Pakistan and there’s no end in sight.

 
At May 14, 2010 9:02 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Rob, supposedly the approval drops to the 45% range for Arizona's legislation when you just talk about respondents under age 30, if I'm thinking of the same poll.(By that same token my impression is that very few tea-partiers are under 30.)

 
At May 15, 2010 6:49 AM, Blogger Mimi said...

Jon and Rob, I read this post and your comments with great interest. You both circled around what I believe is one of the major obstacles to a united front against the predator class: the generation gap. MOST of the people I know are prime candidates for tea-partyhood. They feel robbed of the fruits of their years of work, even though many have healthy pensions, plus social security and comfortable life styles. They think government is letting the lower class on the one hand and the robber barons on the other, steal them blind. They deplore what they see as lazy, immoral youth (usually excepting their own grandchildren)and are horrified at the acceptance of what they see as deviant sexual behavior. The women tend overwhelmingly to be good little wifies, who follow their husbands' lead and wouldn't dream of expecting their men to share in the housework. A surprising number are against the current wars, but proudly "support "our troops" otherwise. They are religious in the old-fashioned, lockstep way; they don't examine their beliefs very closely. It would never occur to them to oppose the two party system. It seems to be fasionable lately to paint liberals as snooty airheads who look down on those who work with their hands. Unfortunately, there's a fair amount of truth in that, and many of those I know feel it and resent it mightily. I'm afraid it's a divide that's going to persist for years to come, to the delight of the rightists.

 
At May 15, 2010 10:42 AM, Blogger JM said...

I'm sorry, but why do you keep linking to the actual anti-semetic Xymphora guy? I mean, honestly, there are quite a few Jewish people who oppose Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

 
At May 15, 2010 10:52 AM, Blogger rob payne said...

Mimi,
I tend to agree that upper class liberals do tend to be snooty if not ridiculous. But then all of humanity is fairly ridiculous. Just look at all the ridiculous things people believe which I suspect is just avoidance of a reality that doesn’t bear close inspection. If you believe in UFOs, it can be oh so exciting, government conspiracies to keep us from finding out and best of all space aliens are interested in us, personally. That’s pretty self congratulatory. Or people who take the bible literally, parting the red sea, Christ rising from the dead etc. makes a mundane life ever so much more interesting. The wonderful thing of it is since monetary systems create different classes there is never a lack of another group of people to blame for our own problems.

 
At May 15, 2010 11:04 AM, Blogger Bob In Pacifica said...

I read the original article and find the criticisms here pretty on point.

Rob nails it. I find Hedges somehow bifurcating "liberal" from "working class" unnecessary and confusing. After all, politics don't necessarily divide along economic lines.

There is certainly a group of politicians who are crowned as "liberal" but who eventually make economic decisions and push legislation that favor the wealthy over the great unwashed. But if these people and the class of wealthy they actually represent are making decisions against the majority of Americans, are they even liberal. Bill Clinton might as well have been a Republican for all his decisions and sign-offs, although he did feel our pain.

I wrote an op-ed for my union paper back in 1992 right after Clinton won. I suggested that people shouldn't be too overjoyed and should pay attention to what happens, based a lot on how both major parties supported NAFTA. Of course, plenty of pro-corporatist legislation (a lot, as I recall, with large Republican voting blocs and conservative Dems, and Clinton signing off; essentially the same dynamics we are seeing under Obama).

Jonathan, while I agree the current warfare is more stomach-churning than what was going on in the Clinton years, I wouldn't gloss over the U.S. blockade of Iraq wherein lots of people (children) died, albeit quietly. Or U.S. covert intervention and manipulation in Afghanistan, and what was going on in Yugoslavia back then. I go with the theory that the western powers, the U.S. and Germany, were following through with the dismantling of the former Soviet Union and its satellites, and while it was easy to insert politicians into some countries, Yugoslavia was actually too big and too socialist to not divide and conquer. The financing of independence movements, etc.

Finally, Mimi, while it's true that older people have been more exposed to propaganda for longer and hold on to old untruths generally, and one can recognize differences between age groups with many of these social distortions, I think that the divisions can be overstated. Education, religious beliefs, etc., can all be used as dividing lines. But how much of this is because of who they are or who they've been cultivated? After all, before Yugoslavia disintegrated there were plenty of Serbs, Bosnians and Croatians who lived and loved together, married and weren't particularly dogmatic in their ethnic identities or religion. But they were divided and conquered, just like Americans.

 
At May 17, 2010 3:07 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

JM, I understand your objection to Xymphora and partly share it, but I generally link to people when I came across a link through their sites, hence the Hedges article was "via" Xymphora. You are obviously correct that many Israelis object to their government's behavior.

Bob, I don't "gloss over" the 90s trade embargo, nor the bombing of Kosovo. Maybe it's your impression is I forgot about them.

Actually I have family in Iraq as my mother's family is from Iraq, and I spent part of my childhood there; somehow I was under the impression you knew this.

At any rate, while I'm not going to suggest my biographical background impugns my view from criticism, I believe that even if the embargo had continued to this day, with the oil-for-food program that was instituted under Clinton's 2nd term still in place, this would have been better for Iraq's people than the invasion, the diaspora of millions, thousands of attacks on the general population, and the subsequent civil war.

Yes, Bush 2 lowered the bar, but the embargo was preferable, even if it was only "politically necessary."

 

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