Class: The Little Word The Elites Want You To Forget

| Educate!

Above Photo: Mr. Fish / Truthdig

Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith and Karl Marx grounded their philosophies in the understanding that there is a natural antagonism between the rich and the rest of us. The interests of the rich are not our interests. The truths of the rich are not our truths. The lives of the rich are not our lives. Great wealth not only breeds contempt for those who do not have it but it empowers oligarchs to pay armies of lawyers, publicists, politicians, judges, academics and journalists to censure and control public debate and stifle dissent. Neoliberalism, deindustrialization, the destruction of labor unions, slashing and even eliminating the taxes of the rich and corporations, free trade, globalization, the surveillance state, endless war and austerity — the ideologies or tools used by the oligarchs to further their own interests — are presented to the public as natural law, the mechanisms for social and economic progress, even as the oligarchs dynamite the foundations of a liberal democracy and exacerbate a climate crisis that threatens to extinguish human life.

The oligarchs are happy to talk about race. They are happy to talk about sexual identity and gender. They are happy to talk about patriotism. They are happy to talk about religion. They are happy to talk about immigration. They are happy to talk about abortion. They are happy to talk about gun control. They are happy to talk about cultural degeneracy or cultural freedom. They are not happy to talk about class. Race, gender, religion, abortion, immigration, gun control, culture and patriotism are issues used to divide the public, to turn neighbor against neighbor, to fuel virulent hatreds and antagonisms. The culture wars give the oligarchs, both Democrats and Republicans, the cover to continue the pillage. There are few substantial differences between the two ruling political parties in the United States. This is why oligarchs like Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg can switch effortlessly from one party to the other. Once oligarchs seize power, Aristotle wrote, a society must either accept tyranny or choose revolution.

The United States stood on the cusp of revolution — a fact President Franklin Roosevelt acknowledged in his private correspondence — amid the breakdown of capitalism in the 1930s. Roosevelt responded by aggressively curbing the power of the oligarchs. The federal government dealt with massive unemployment by creating 12 million jobs through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), making the government the largest employer in the country. It legalized unions, many of which had been outlawed, and through the National Labor Relations Act empowered organizing. It approved banking regulations, including the Emergency Banking Act, the Banking Act and the Securities Act, all in 1933, to prevent another stock market crash. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration provided the equivalent in today’s money of $9.88 billion for relief operations in cities and states. The Democratic president heavily taxed the rich and corporations. (The Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s was still taxing the highest earners at 91%.) Roosevelt’s administration instituted programs such as Social Security and a public pension program. It provided financial assistance to tenant farmers and migrant workers. It funded arts and culture. It created the United States Housing Authority and instituted the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established the minimum wage and set a limit on mandatory work hours. This heavy government intervention lifted the country out of the Great Depression. It also made Roosevelt, who was elected to an unprecedented fourth term, and the Democratic Party wildly popular among working and middle-class families. The Democratic Party, should it resurrect such policies, would win every election in a landslide.

  • pajarito

    As of primaries yesterday, oligarchs are again steeling the election with divide and conquer against workers, women and minorities. The banter about “moderates” has taken hold to confuse. But climate justice looms over the lies of Biden and Bloomberg and are exposing their con games with Bernie. Climate and pollution strip the cover from wealth and greed; Earth herself is at stake now. Capitalist fossil fuel development must end now and socialist renewable/regenerative development must accelerate; our lives are at risk – everyone and everything. Take to the streets!!

  • rgaura

    They have been stealing elections via machines designed to be rigged, scrubbed voter rolls, and various types of theft for a long time. Not just PR and media spin. Now, it has become blatant. In our faces. We need to call for international monitors, and electoral reforms. There are solutions to every con, they need to be implemented.

  • Infarction

    The US empire reached its pinnacle as the world’s rogue state after it dropped two nuclear bombs on an already defeated Japan. Soon, the Democrats began their counterrevolution against FDR’s liberalism when they dumped progressive Henry Wallace for the reactionary Harry Truman.

    Since then, it has been a snowball gathering momentum down the snowy mountain toward the present. Former President Bill Clinton, aided by the likes of Senators Joseph Biden, Phil Gramm, et al, added heft to US descent into oligarchy when he signed numerous corporate-friendly legislation into law.

  • chetdude

    The timing was that in 1944, the oligarch wing of the dem party forced a seriously ill FDR to abandon Henry Wallace, the Progressive he fought for in 1940 and install the compliant Truman instead — who THEN incinerated a couple hundred non-combatants with 2 bombs in the following year to demonstrate to Joe Stalin who was going to run the world after the war was over…

  • cityspeak

    Please remember the “flurry of bullets” in Dallas in November 1963 that also sealed the door of having anyone in the oval office that wasn’t captured by the whims of the .01%.

  • Nicarag

    The easy solution is to empower all the people, therefore no grievances can divide..the hard part is getting someone into the WH that understands and has the balls to help the people!