Hitting Society With A Sledgehammer

normal”>Q: We are going to start with something we did not plan, we just got word about a tragedy in Connecticut. The Superintendent of Schools for the State of Connecticut just robo-called me to tell me, as a parent, that there has been a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. 18 to 22 children killed. There were apparently two shooters, two teenagers, and one of the shooters is dead. The school has 600 students.

normal”>Q: This is the latest. We don’t have much information.

normal”>Q: No. Nothing. So, does this say something about the society we live in?

  That’s another form of indication of collapse of the society.

In fact it’s kind of interesting to look at the non-voters. Overwhelmingly they’re Democratic when they’re asked what they are, which means if they had voted it’d be a Democratic landslide. But they don’t bother, because what they want nobody pays any attention to anyhow, which happens to be correct.

One of the interesting results of the election was that there’s an almost linear relationship between income and party vote so as you go down the income level the vote for Democrats becomes higher. Below the median the Democrats would’ve won by a landslide. Above the median the Republicans would’ve won by a landslide. It’s not 100%—there’s all kind of other factors entering into it—but that correlation is pretty striking. And if you had added in those who didn’t vote, it’s even more dramatic. It’s not that the Democrats do anything for anyone beyond a token, but they do something. If you look over the years, people have made out somewhat better under Democratic administrations than Republican ones, not huge but somewhat, and it’s enough to recognize something.

A lot of rights are just being undermined and destroyed. The forms of social solidarity that allow people to combat this in a constructive way, normal”>benefits of a union contract—and there are benefits—that’s why most workers want to join unions—there are real benefits: wages, working conditions, safety, pensions, all kinds of stuff—if you want to get those benefits and not pay for it, that’s what the so-called “right to work” laws are for. It’s really “right to scrounge” laws, but the propaganda is so strong that I haven’t seen a word in the press about this. It’s all “right to work.” And that sounds nice—that’s why I say it is right out of Orwell. You know, why shouldn’t people have a right to work? Should they have a right to scrounge? No, they shouldn’t have a right to scrounge. But that’s what these laws are about. And it’s been effective. There’s no doubt that it’s been effective. I mean, the union leadership has contributed to it as well in many ways. But nevertheless, it’s very effective propaganda and it’s led to blow after blow against working people and solidarity.

It’s happened before. Go back a little over a century. There were huge popular movements in the United States. It was late 19th century. It was mostly an agricultural country still. The Farmers’ Alliance, you know, the radical farmers groups were a huge movement, very radical incidentally, and none of this nonsense about “We’re out for ourselves.” They weren’t. They were working together. They wanted to have their own banks, their own marketing systems, all kinds of things, and they wanted to link up with the Knights of Labor—a huge working-class organization that was also quite radical if you look at their programs. I mean, these are the biggest popular democratic movements in modern history, certainly in American history, and they were really strong. They were finally broken up, in part by violence; it’s a very violent country. It’s related to what you just saw; there is a long history of violence in the country, and a very violent labor history in particular. [They were broken up] in part by violence but in part by something that’s being used very effectively now: racial strategies…trying to turn people against each other on the basis of race or ethnicity, and so on. That is the kind of thing that can be done. Reagan was the master of it.

Reagan was an extreme racist. He simply launched a war against African Americans. It is called the “drug war.”  It is a war against African Americans. That is the way the “drug war” is formulated and shaped, and the execution of it from police discretion on through sentencing, and everything else. He combined it with an attack on poor people, which means mostly black people because of the race/class correlation. His favorite anecdote was this fantasy about the “welfare queens,” a rich black woman gets driven in her limousine to one of the dozen welfare offices she goes to, to pick up your hard earned money. OK, so everybody is against welfare, of course. I mean, who is in favor of that?  I’m not in favor of that either. So, with a straight resort to racism, which is never very far below the surface in the United States, they were able, particular through Reagan, but then beyond, Clinton expanded it, and so on, they were able to break that kind of solidarity.

The same thing happened to the populist movement, it is a lot of what Jim Crow was about. You can exploit these things and it does break down bonds of solidarity, mutual aid and so on. The end result is you get a society that is just dissolving. People don’t talk to each other, they don’t have associations, they don’t participate together in things, they don’t work together for common goals, etc. OK, so you get things where people go crazy, particularly in a society where violence is just beneath the surface and constantly used against poor and weak people. So, you get things like the Columbine story, or, I don’t know what this is going to turn out to be, but it is one of several. There has been a long series of them.