Sunday, May 13, 2012

Recognizing Class War

After a generation of subtle class war by the rich, a new pattern is emerging in the West: popular anger.

Which is more violenta man who riots because he is starving and is being ignored by the authorities or a bank that sends in armed private thugs to evict a homeowner from a house the bank wants to foreclose on?

Which is more radicalforcing workers into unemployment or nationalizing the bank responsible for that wave of unemployment?

It is time for the West to wake up to socio-economic realities before the class war being provoked by the lust of the superrich returns us all to the grim battle between the extreme left and fascism. Bad as it has become, overall the last 75 years have been far better for Westerners than the bloody 1914-1945 war years. A rising class of educated, comfortable workers, both blue- and white-collar, is the goose that lays the rich banker’s golden eggs, and now these bankers are smashing those eggs out of pure spite – if they can’t have everything, they prefer to destroy society. That is what I call extremism. The total defeat and disappearance of the extreme left after the moderate tide of the New Deal compromise began lifting all boats contained a built-in poison: nothing inherent in that compromise actually prevented the super-rich from taking over, and the complacence of the increasingly comfortable and complacent middle class has permitted exactly that: the moderate middle moderately allowed the extreme right to continue to exist and now it is taking control.

The super-rich have many weapons, from wealth to the revolving door that enables them to control public policy and warp the system to their private advantage, but perhaps the most powerful weapon of the rich is linguistic: the rich define words, and both the complacent middle class and the increasingly angry but confused poor accept those definitions. As long as the 99% use the definitions of the super-rich, they will fail to see what is being done to them.

"Radical" is defined as anything that threatens the privileges of the rich. "Violence" is applied only to violence by the poor, never to violence by the rich. As for moderation, that would be an approach designed to preserve the livelihood that our society is accustomed to, would it not? Is it not self-evident that policies supporting the lives of all are moderate, while policies that steal from society for the benefit of some small group are...extremist?

Once our definitions are made logical, we can begin defending our values. How? Send Jamie Dimon to Hollywood to play the bad guy in a cops-and-robbers flic. Consummate actor that he is, he’d be a star. Then, appoint Elizabeth Warren to dismantle that great casino called J.P. Morgan and replace it with a thousand small-town banks that…do banking.

A pattern is emerging in the West as the class war of the rich slowly slaps people awake. The S&L crisis, today remembered only by William Black, was “unique,” so no lessons needed to be learned. Mexico was just Mexican; we quickly bailed out the Wall St. banks. The Asian Financial Crisis was just “Asian,” even though it exploded into Russia and Brazil, so what did that have to do with “us?” The crisis was amusing. No one was ever guilty, and even if they were, they were foreigners or nerds. Then came 2007 and a few million foreclosures. “Change” put a closet conservative who refused to jail billionaires into the White House, provoking the Occupy Movement; then France returned the Socialists to power; then Greeks said, “Enough!” And now Ireland will have a May 31 referendum on, essentially, the EEC policy of austerity for the poor and a pass for the rich. In the background looms Spain, with 20% unemployment, and over there, the Spanish Civil War is not forgotten.

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