Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Class War Has Begun--Frank Rich, New York Times Magazine, October 29, 2011 "Elections are supposed to resolve conflicts in a great democracy, but our next one will not. The elites will face off against the elites to a standoff, and the issues animating the class war in both parties won’t even be on the table. The structural crises in our economy, our government, and our culture defy any of the glib solutions proposed by current Democrats or Republicans; the quixotic third-party movements being hatched by well-heeled do-gooders are vanity productions. The two powerful forces that extricated America from the Great Depression—the courageous leadership and reformist zeal of Roosevelt, the mobilization for World War II—are not on offer this time. Our class war will rage on without winners indefinitely, with all sides stewing in their own juices, until—when? No one knows. The reckoning with capitalism’s failures over the past three decades, both in America and the globe beyond, may well be on hold until the top one percent becomes persuaded that its own economic fate is tied to the other 99 percent’s. Which is to say things may have to get worse before they get better."


  1. Or until the first RPG round is fired through a wall street window or an oil company CEO is felled by a sniper's bullet on the golf course and civil war ensues. That's the usual way this kind of stand off is resolved in a banana republic, Doug.

  2. The people are angry to say the least and it might turn out saving this country in one way or another. I hope its not full scale warfare like in those other countries...if that happens who will we call to help us out? Something has got to change and for the better...we have all suffered enough except of course the ceo's of the biggest corporations in this country. Look what whirlpool is doing now...laying off 5000 workers because he the owner of the company isnt making a big enough profit....27 odd million a year is just not enough...when will it end? the greed and coruption?

  3. Yes, you're right Stephen. There was a bombing on Wall Street around 1920 I believe.

    Needless to say, I'm hoping that things don't go that way.

  4. Me too, Marty.

    The disconnect that Frank Rich talks about here in the editorial between the public sphere and the Fortune 500 sphere is getting deeper and that has to be dealt with. I think we are just seeing the first Winter of Discontent if things don't improve. Jobless people--especially veterans of recent wars, and other young people who have skills and/or heavy college loans and good educations--do not just go away.
    The news out of Whirlpool is distressing. We have to have more civic responsibility on the part of these companies---some of the big chiefs think it doesn't matter now in a globalized economy. They will find otherwise unless they can figure out a way to take our speaking out and voting rights away.

  5. I can tell you when.

    When the people feel more pain in living than they will in storming the barricades put up by under/unpaid National Guard troops and police, then there'll be a change.

    The thing is, changes like that are iffy at best - the outcomes are uncertain, and it's a lead-pipe-cinch that whatever comes next won't be what we grew up with.

    That's why it's important to heed Kennedy's words - "Those who would make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

    History lesson: In the 18th century, there was a nation which government was kept in power by 1% of the population, which owned everything. That government had engaged in two very costly and nationally-irrelevant wars (one against one of its neighbors; the other to liberate a third nation from one of the first nation's traditional enemies). The currency gradually became worthless; the banking system ceased to function; large numbers of people were hungry and out of work, and the government itself actually mocked those who finally protested.

    The country? France; in the 1780's.

    The solution? The people, finally having had enough, beheaded anyone who owned anything of substance - along with the king, his wife, and most of their relatives.

    Lesson: Refer back to Kennedy.

  6. I think that's a very good and disturbing analogy. One of the reasons why this notion of "American Exceptional-ism" is fraught with peril, Will. It feeds into ignorance and self-congratulation.

    The USA had a lot of advantages coming out of WWII. We have lost almost all of that with the new economic convergences. Suddenly, the fate of a nation like Greece effects us because if the EU isn't strong, we go into a double-dip recession. This is not our parents' type of recession. Those pictures of people on the balconies looking down in occupy Wall Street protesters reminded me of the scene in the movie "Doctor Zhivago" where the fat-cat Russian upper crust ignored the peaceful demonstrators in the snowy streets of Petrograd--while the latter were cut down by the Czar's mounted sabre-wielding cavalry.

    I'm not saying we're there yet, but we aren't immune. Anybody who grew up in the Sixties can tell you American cities can burn. Just having a political system isn't always enough. Nations like Russia had a Parliamentary system to a degree after the Revolution of 1905, but it wasn't enough to stop the downward spiral.

    Anybody who has studied the Great Depression (or has a nodding acquaintance with it) knows things could have gone very badly.

    How Bad? Wiemar Republic Bad. Ancient Regime bad.

    We need leaders who heed the words of JFK. The days of policy band-aids and not looking beyond the next corner are over in Washington. It's not about November of 2012; it's about the deeper issue of the survival of democracy. In most cases--save one, the Civil War -- this nation has passed the test by grit or luck,or some combination therein. But we must heed those words.

  7. Remember. Many of the unemployed will be trained soldiers. As in the Civil war, there will be defections from the government side to the rebel side as well. While a war might start spontaneously here, it's supply lines will extend into another country. In any case, the war is likely to become like the one in the Middle East or like the resistance against the Nazis. I think there's a reason why that Middle Eastern General has been put in charge of the CIA. He would be my choice because he knows all about conflicts like the one the government would face here.

    It would take less if Americans worked together as the East Indians did under Gandhi and simply locked up the country. Never filling out 1040s. peaceful non compliance, shut down of all transportation ( it was the railroad system in India ).

  8. Could be that appointment of General Petraeus was a special "contingency" pick. Good point Stephen.

    We are not short of people with weapons training here--that's another reason to find some common ground before things get too wild and wooly.

  9. It is good to see mainstream US publications echoing themes I have been writing about for the past 40+ years. This class analysis essentially vindicates the marxist theory of history. I notice you mention the 1920 Wall Street bombing an unsolved crime which was pinned on the Italian anarchists without any hard proof. I have posted on that event myself in the past. It was all part of the red scare of 1920s America and we are fast approaching a repeat performance of that now I think

  10. There is a kind of "time-loop" to economic history, AA. I'm sure many thought that modern technology rendered any fear of global financial shock-waves outdated. "We have computers now!" or "We are so much more in control, thanks to global economics."

    You're quite right about the 1920 Wall Street bombing. Although no one was ever brought to trial in that case,, it's has been overshadowed in American history by the internationally famous Sacco and Venzetti trails that resulted from a bank robbery in Massachusetts few weeks before the bombing.

    I suppose there could be another "red scare". Or a Muslim scare. Or a "fill in the blank" scare.

  11. I'm working on the red, black and green scare that's what I call a colour revolution, I wonder if there are any funds available to pump-prime the project from the CIA or Starbucks?

  12. The National Security Apparatus and the National Caffeine-Addiction Consortium in these United States may indeed be operating at the same stand it appears, AA. ;-)