Progressives have to declare class war as a central strategy. Otherwise we will all be sitting at the dinner table basking in our glorious diversity with nothing to eat.
For many good reasons identity and diversity have dominated our politics for decades. Progressives celebrate its expansion and Republicans and their brethren on the right pretty universally engage in either dog whistle or outright racist politics.
Simultaneously the rich and corporations have been fighting a class war. They have succeeded beyond belief. As is well known, for 90% of the population real incomes have been flat for the past 40 yrs. Meanwhile, the rich and corporations have gotten fabulously rich. Richer than at any time in history. And, to make things worse they have done this while hiding behind free-market (neoliberal) ideology that has impoverished the government and the public sphere of our lives. Our infrastructure is crumbling, education is outrageously expensive, sending many students to decades of indebtedness. Our health system costs more than twice any of our developed country cohort and delivers third world results.
Progressives, time to fight back. Diversity and identity without a fair share of the pie is not going to make you happy.
James Baldwin pointed out repeatedly that racism is a white issue. In the US, only white people can end the 400 years of racism against black people. To that end there has been talk of coming to grips with white privilege. This would be an important first step for white people to engage in, to recognize their privileged state This can then lead to concrete efforts to undue the embedded racist structures in our society.
Recently I ran across a 1990 article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh.
“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group”
Though some of the privileges she lists are the obvious ones, like to having to worry about DWB. I found it enlightening about some dimensions of my own privilege.
As someone who is on the homeowners gravy train I was stuck by this part of the article:
“The utterly ridiculous tax expenditures directed toward the disproportionately affluent class of people called homeowners—mortgage interest deduction, property tax deduction, exclusion of capital gains on residences—by themselves sum to $115.3 billion in 2012.”
Of course we live in a society that knows that poor people are poor because they are shiftless, drug addled and lazy. We certainly can’t reward those people with any help. Meanwhile the rich and corporations are worthy recipients of government handouts without fear that we will be corrupting them.
I’ve often thought it would be a salutary exercise if we handed out these tax breaks at a universal government payout office. Here, everyone receiving funds from the government would line up. As they received their check a big sign above the window would flash out the amount of their check. I think people on SSI would be outraged at how their measly few hundred dollars a month compared to the payouts to the rich and corporations.
So much of this is a question of what and whose priorities are being met by government action/inaction. Presently we don’t have a political system even vaguely responsive to the vast majority of Americans. In fact it is serving the rich and corporations quite admirably.
Ever since Trump came into my view as a candidate for President I have thought that his speech is strange. Choppy, half thoughts, repetitions of words and phrases, very few polysyllabic words, in short lacking in fluidity and continuity.
Is this the way Trump has always spoken. Or, Is it just his lifelong speech pattern ?
Being Trump and always casting himself into the public eye there is quite a bit of tape of him speaking from 30 and more years ago. Listen to one or all of these snippets. Forget about the content. Just listen to his speech. It is fluid, normal, conversational speech. Is our Trump at age 70 showing signs of his age?? Early indications of dementia or some other plague of old age?
Dollars and Sense has been around since the 1970s. Always a source of well researched critiques of capitalism. I recently, after a more than 30 year hiatus, re-upped a subscription
Dear Dollars & Sense,
Your new issue showed up the other day with the word “neoliberalism” in bold type on the cover. The continuing use of this term is not helpful. When I first saw this word a few years ago I wondered how the word “liberal” and “neoliberal” are connected? Then, I remembered the little I can recall about 19th century European political philosophy. Oh, its that liberalism that is new!
Really, outside of academic circles no one knows what this word means. Most in my circle find it off-putting, obscure and boring.
Free Market Religion
I prefer to refer to this ideology as “free market religion”. “Free market” is a widely used term as in “free market capitalism”. And “religion” gets across the fact that this is a counter-factual pile of BS.
If you don’t like my term, come up with something better. Please stop using “neoliberalism”.
Today I received an email from Congressman Faso’s campaign committee. It read in part:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) today released a memo claiming Democrats are “starting the 2018 election cycle on offense.” This is an alarming statement on many levels. For one, they really do see the future of our nation as nothing more than a political game. They are also choosing to completely ignore the American people by not acknowledging the sweeping Republican victories from just two months ago.
The most worrisome item in the memo is that the DCCC listed my seat as a “Round One Target.” I was sworn in less than a month ago and already the Washington Establishment is targeting my district as one to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into in order to install the liberal candidate of their choice.
The email then went on asking me to donate to his re-election campaign!
President Reagan was not the originator of this central trope of free-market (neo-liberal) politics, but he famously said in his first Inaugural Address in 1981, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” President Clinton, a Democrat, continued this theme during his terms culminating the the deregulation of the financial industry in 1999 setting the table for the collapse of 2008 and the Long Recession. Listening to almost any discussion by Republicans and Democrats you can find this theme, “If just get government out of the way, free markets will solve our problems.”
This ideology is ahistorical, counter-factual nonsense. It is asserted without any basis in fact. It is rhetorical cover for policies that have led to the vast enrichment of the wealthy and corporations and the impoverishment of everything public. Continue reading →
There is much ongoing discussion about steps needed to turn the enormous one day action of the global Women’s March in to a sustained movement to achieve better outcomes for the vast majority of Americans.1 To focus on just one strategic element, the movement needs to move beyond identity politics to embrace class warfare. The rich and corporations have carried out a sustained and successful class war for more than 40 years. They control the government and the economy. Donald Trump is just a symptom of the underlying issues. We need to break this hammerlock and shift the rules of politics and the economy back towards us, the 90% who are living off the remainders, the scraps from their feast. Continue reading →
The energy of this action is illustrated locally by the fact that over a 1,000 people marched in Hudson NY, a town of 7,000 in a county of 68,000. Video here of this event [↩]
“There” is our current situation in which our government has been bought by the rich and corporations, over 80% of the population has not had a pay raise in 40 years and the public sphere, schools, parks, our infrastructure, really anything not behind the gated walls of private wealth, is being starved in the name of free market ideology. The American promise that hard work, pluck and a bit of luck can bring success to anyone, regardless of their rank at birth, is an empty myth. If you are born poor you will die poor. Even if you are middle-class, there is a significant chance that you will sink and at any rate you will always struggle just to keep that middle-class status.
The rich and corporations have waged a 40 year class war. At this point they have won all of the battles and continue to take home the spoils. Continue reading →
A quick run down the screen on your smartphone reveals the range of activities at the Hudson Area Library. We won’t mention here all of the other groups using the Community Room for their meetings and events. Then take a look at the January ’17 E-Newsletter at the bottom.