A Tacoma Clinic Defense volunteer displays her standard response – facial expression included – to harassment from male misogynists. However the vast majority of passers-by indicate their support of TCD workers. Clinic defense is one of the many ways we socialists serve the people, bypassing the oppressive power of the capitalist plutocracy. (Photo by Loren Bliss © 2016)
THE QUESTION ASKED by Thom Hartmann in “What Happens When Neither Political Party Answers to the Bottom 90%” is answered with almost eerie synchronicity by how a Democratic official seems to be vengefully withholding vital information from a small local newsletter called Community Chronicle that serves at least 50 elderly and disabled women and men in Tacoma, Washington.
Apparently the malicious withholding is in retaliation for publishing – though not in the newsletter – a number of pointed observations about the worsening failure of the USian experiment in representative democracy. As I have often stated here in OAN, the lies purposefully told by today's Democrats are clearly part of a greater strategy of disguised malevolence that enables them to collaborate with the Republicans in fulfilling Ruling Class orders to deliberately inflict genocidal harm on low-income people.
Such an analysis, precisely because it is an (obvious) interpretation of recent USian political history rather than document-supported fact, has never appeared in the Chronicle, the publication for which I sought the information that is now being withheld. Nor will it ever appear in the Chronicle as long as the analysis (1)-has no relevance to local events and (2)-lacks the irrefutable proof that would be provided by, say, exposure of a strategic document defining the genocidal destruction of government services as clandestine compliance with the elitist demands for population-reduction that have been part of the USian political dialogue at least since the 1960s.
More to the point, the people victimized by the Democratic official's withholding of information are not the politically motivated readers of OAN. They are instead the politically disempowered residents of the senior housing complex where I have dwelt for the past 13 years.
In other words, the elderly and disabled folk of a notably impoverished community are being punished for the activism associated with a sociologically different and geographically far-removed community. The Democratic official is thus apparently employing the same theory of misplaced vengeance we have tragically witnessed elsewhere, often with far more devastating consequences. It is noteworthy especially for how it suggests yet another dimension – a potentially malignant one – to the answer of Hartmann's oh-so-pointed question.
One of the functions of the Chronicle, as illustrated by the November 2015 cover shown below, is warning readers of impending cuts in government stipends and services. While this is a function that was formerly performed by so-called “mainstream media,” its publication of news specifically relevant to low-income people has been abandoned in compliance with the demands of its advertisers, who insist on excluding from readership those who lack enough discretionary income to buy the advertised products. Hence “news” – once defined as any
information of relevance to the public – has been redefined by advertisers as that which is of interest only to the advertisers' specific demographic targets. Hence too the Chronicle, which I started four years ago. A big part of my intent was – and is – helping my neighbors cope with the politics of deliberately inflicted trauma by closing the information gap that results from mainstream media's increasingly discriminatory definition of news.
(Though it is something of an aside, one of the more obvious reasons for the steeply declining readership of U.S. newspapers is the rapidly deteriorating standard of living that afflicts the entire USian proletariat – those of us the Occupy Movement named “the 99 Percent” and Hartmann with greater economic precision more correctly labels “the 90 Percent.” Based on the most recently revised census data, half the residents of the USian homeland are now officially “low income” – this as typified by a family of four living on $45,000 or less annually. [Note: fully two hours of Internet research could not unearth a comparably revised figure for one-person households.] Since low-income people no longer have the discretionary income that defines them as valuable to advertisers, and since much of the news that is specifically vital to low-income people is deliberately excluded from the newspapers, such an ignored [and thus effectively banished] population cancels its newspaper subscriptions and seeks information elsewhere, especially on the Internet.)
But only four of the Chronicle's 50 readers can afford the USian homeland's highest-on-the-planet costs of an Internet subscription, which means the other 46 persons are repeatedly denied vital information by the combination of their no-Internet poverty with mainstream media's redefinition of news. Worse, the information they are deprived includes facts that are essential for survival. That's because the ever-more-aggressive reductions in governmental stipends and services for low-income people – all such reductions due to the war against impoverished people both parties have been waging since the 1976 election of President Jimmy Carter marked the end of the New Deal era – have potentially fatal consequences, especially for elderly and disabled folks. Which provides yet another detail in answer to the pivotal question Hartmann has dared ask.
Because I know the cuts' perpetrators cannot possibly be ignorant of their potentially fatal consequences, when I am writing in OAN or on various Internet websites I have no hesitation labeling the cuts as intentionally genocidal. The cuts are clearly designed to serve the same function, albeit in slow motion (and therefore with far less controversy), as the Nazis' Zyklon B. That is, the cuts are intended to exterminate those of us the politicians' capitalist masters have banished from the workplace as no surplus human beings longer exploitable for profit and thereby condemned as no longer worthy of life. Nor is this – at least to those of us who are its victims – especially big news; I am merely verbalizing what most of us already recognize and not infrequently – usually with extreme anger or bitterness – also say aloud.
Nevertheless, in the Chronicle – because I recognize my readers are already traumatized by constant, life-shortening economic anxiety and are therefore physically and emotionally fragile, I am careful to avoid expression of such hideous truths unless they are quotes, whether direct or indirect, and even then only when they are so essential to a given narrative they cannot be sidestepped. Otherwise there is nothing to be served by berating the powerless with the real-world purpose and consequences of the Ayn Rand/social-Darwinist savagery that is now the defining characteristic of U.S. economic policy – the maliciously imposed wretchedness we already know entirely too well.
Nor is the Democratic official likely to be unaware of the enormous editorial differences between OAN and the newsletter. One, as noted, is in the identity of readership itself. Another, already implied, is in content; the Chronicle is written only for local readers, while OAN is written for readers slightly more than half of whom are overseas, mostly in Europe, a few in Asia and Africa. Also, OAN is unabashedly opinionated. But in writing, photographing, editing and producing the Chronicle, I make a point of observing the traditional practices of so-called “objective” journalism. Lastly, OAN is strictly on-line, while the Chronicle serves a readership so impoverished – and therefore so computer-deprived – it is entirely an on-paper publication.
Moreover, though in the Chronicle I make no secret of my bias in favor of elderly and disabled persons (note again the edition illustrated here), I also go out of my way to be fair to all parties involved whenever the subject so requires, as in the ongoing coverage of the procedures by which the Republican and Democratic parties will indicate their respective choices of candidates in this year's presidential election.
In contrast, OAN claims neither fairness nor objectivity. It is – and always has been – the on-line equivalent of an editorial opinion column, the uncensored variant of an award-winning and often controversial editorial column I wrote for a local newspaper from 1977 to 1981, with all of the characteristic op-ed strengths and weaknesses.
But the Democratic official in this story – the identity of whom I am deliberately withholding – is either indifferent to the night-and-day distinction between OAN and the Chronicle or hopes the obviously punitive discrimination against the the latter's readership will silence the emphatically anti-capitalist resistance of the former.
The reason I am not now identifying this Democratic official nor even the office this Democrat holds is my hope the information embargo will soon voluntarily end – or better yet, that I misunderstood these circumstances and the embargo turns out to have been as unreal or unintentional as it was undeniably apparent. If not – that is, if my pleas to end it are refused or ignored – then full details will be forthcoming, complete with all supportive correspondence.
Meanwhile my strongest suspicion is this particular Democratic official has never before dealt with a real journalist; that is, has never interacted with someone who – unlike the craven propagandists now hired to serve mainstream media (which after all is the for-profit propaganda machine owned by the same obscenely wealthy One Percenters who own most U.S. politicians and therefore all USian governments at every level) – will aggressively ask relevant questions and equally aggressively expose those who refuse to answer.
Which, finally, brings us to the money grafs of Hartmann's essay:
Both parties right now face a great crisis of ideology as well as a great opportunity for reinvention, and whichever party first reinvents itself successfully will begin winning elections the way the Democrats did in the 1932-1968 era.
If neither does, our nation faces a massive crisis provoked by the loss of democratic representation of the majority of the American electorate.
The root cause of this crisis is the fact is that neither party today does much of anything for the bottom 90% of Americans.
Here too is my comment-thread response, not italicized as I have revised it for publication here:
This the best, most informative, most compelling essay I have yet seen under Hartmann's byline.
It is most assuredly also – assuming We the People somehow triumph, and “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” – an essay truly for the history books.
Indeed I have only one contrary comment: it is not merely the “emerging generation of Millennials” who have become what Hartmann labels “radical cynics.”
The same is true of many elderly people like myself, who have been painfully awakened to the deadly malevolence of the forces arrayed against us – especially as manifest in the genocidal policies of the One Percent and their Ruling Class vassals toward any of us old enough to remember how much better life was under the New Deal.
Awakening to the true magnitude of the Evil that threatens us, we are also awakening to the fact that only Marxism – and only Marxism in its Leninist/Maoist variant – offers the ideological discipline essential to overthrow those tyrants who would either reduce us all to slavery or exterminate us all by the slow-motion genocide of "austerity."
We realize that the One Percenters – and their wholly owned Ruling Class of politicians, bureaucrats, academics, military officers and police commanders – now regard our memories of radically better times as definitively subversive. That is one of the reasons they are trying to kills us by slashing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and any other governmental stipends and services upon which capitalism forces us to depend for survival.
The other reason for their murderous intent – and it cannot be said too often or too harshly that is precisely what it is – is greed: they want for themselves the money and resources that now (barely) keep us alive.
Literally, our lives – and the lives of every member of the Working Class – are therefore at stake.
Moreover, with the omnipotent secret police apparatus the One Percent has already built – total surveillance and federally militarized law enforcement – we need only look to our species' broader history to see, particularly in the example of Nazi Germany, the irrefutable evidence that conventional USian politics are woefully inadequate.
Given our dawning recognition that capitalism demands the embrace of limitless, mercilessly selfish, relentlessly greedy moral imbecility as its core principle, we also question the effectiveness of any political ideology that does not as a first premise acknowledge capitalism as the most devastating, most potentially terminal affliction humanity has ever thrust upon itself.
Hence the “political revolution” Hartmann describes has indeed already begun.
One hopes, as I surely do, it will be accomplished via the ballot box. The alternative – our nation reduced to the ruin that now characterizes most of the Middle East – is too fearful to contemplate.
But knowing the murderous arrogance of the One Percent – demonstrated not just by such horrors as the Pinochet Regime in Chile but also by the emergence of death-squad police tactics here in our own homeland – it is tragically probable our smug and obscenely powerful overlords will reject a democratic solution here just as they rejected it in Iran in 1953 and in so many other places since then.
Significantly, the secret-police/militarized-police apparatus already in place proves the Ruling Class intends in the near future to behave toward the rest of us exactly as it already behaves toward the African-American, Hispanic and First Nations population. That is proven by analysis of what in the military is called “enemy capabilities” (as demonstrated against Occupy and Black Lives Matter) and of “enemy intentions” (as demonstrated against Occupy and Black Lives Matter, and in killings at Ferguson, Baltimore, New York City etc.).
Those who question the appropriateness of my correct use of military terminology should note the U.S. military has already designated political protesters as “enemy forces.”
Thus the only question for those of us likely to be on the receiving end of the handgun rounds and rifle volleys is when the killing of innocents will become the national norm at any protest against capitalist or racist savagery.
My estimate, based on a lifetime of 76 years and a near-lifetime as both a journalist and a student of history, is that the obvious, no-longer-deniable death of U.S. representative democracy will be declared by the emergence of zero-tolerance, kill-all-resistance plutocracy soon after the 2016 elections, no matter whether the victor is Hillary Clinton nor the far more likely Donald Trump.
In this sense, there is no significant difference between Hillary and Trump: each is an unabashed fascist (although in deference to Trump it is worth noting he pledges to protect the very Social Security and Medicare programs Hillary wants to destroy) – and because each is an unabashed fascist, neither has any intention of preserving the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
Hence the difference between the United States and fascist nations of the past will soon become more a matter of euphemisms and the identity of human targets than anything else.
In this context, history shows only the most disciplined resistance has any chance of achieving liberation. History also shows that only Marxism embodies that discipline. Thus, for example, were the opponents of Diem's viciously anti-Buddhist Roman Catholic (Christofascist) theocracy in South Vietnam compelled to adopt (and adapt) Marxism: no other ideology possessed the requisite discipline.
Remember too that Marxism failed in Russia not because of Marxism but because of the dark undertow of Russian history – the fact Russia had no democratic or even libertarian traditions to sustain its people's quest for liberation against opportunists like Stalin.
Marxism in the United States – with its virtually ageless background of First Nations democratic traditions, British Common Law, 241 years of constitutional governance and its ideology of representative democracy (no matter how the inherent principles have been nullified since 22 November 1963 by capitalism and its economic mandates for domestic enslavement and global conquest) – would prove to be a very different story.
Indeed it may be our only possibility of salvation – whether as an oppressed people or a species on the brink of environmental extinction.
Curiously – again with the subtle hint of near-eerieness that so often characterizes synchronicity – the response Hartmann's essay evoked from me seems, in retrospect, almost an elaboration on the response he engendered by an especially damning exposé last week entitled “Businesses Exploit The Poor For a Buck”:
This sort of exploitation, the human equivalent of Exxon Valdez or Deepwater Horizon, is another example of why capitalism is the most malignant evil our species has ever inflicted on itself.
Indeed capitalism is so evil, its malevolence can only be described in religious terms. Capitalism is, in fact, the elevation of infinite greed to absolute virtue. In other words, just as religion exalts faith and piety above all other values, so does capitalism exalt selfishness and greed above other values. As holiness is to religion, so greed is to capitalism.
What this means in practice is the deliberate rejection of every humanitarian value our species has ever articulated. Which, in turn, mandates the deliberate cultivation and imposition of moral imbecility – the psychological state that defines serial killers.
Thus capitalism is the mentality of a Ted Bundy or an Elizabeth Bathory deliberately and with malice aforethought applied not just to economics, but to governance and indeed to every other aspect of human experience.
No greater evil than capitalism has humanity ever knowingly inflicted on itself, and no greater evil has ever more relentlessly threatened human survival.
*** *** ***
TO FEND OFF the darkness that now ever more relentlessly encroaches upon all our lives, and therefore in keeping with my pledge to try to end these blog posts with some form of positive input, here is a nursery rhyme – perhaps more suitable for adults than children – by the unabashedly pagan singer S. J. Tucker, whose voice in this performance is like a caress.
LB/22 March 2016