Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Chris Hedges' latest piece, Let’s Get This Class War Started is excellent, I thought. I found it less depressing than most of his writings, though in fact, the subject matter ought to depress. It's one of my own hobby horses he's writing about this time - class. Maybe that's why I can relate easily, am so used to the feelings class war can bring about that I no longer find them depressing. I must have antipathy to oligarchs, ruling classes, "the gentry" buried deep in my genes. My ancestors, or most of them, in England would have been under the boot of wealthy land owners and the aristocracy for centuries, they knew no other way of life. Maybe I feel these feelings more deeply than most in the USA, apart from African Americans that is. I'm angry on their behalf too, and on behalf all peasants and serfs who have struggled throughout the ages. Enough!!

What can be done to bring about change in the USA in 2013 and onward is not easy to see though. Online petitions, tweets, Facebook entries and blogging isn't going to cut it. Boycotts of corporations and their output could help if enough people joined in the effort; a re-birth of Occupy Wall Street, or a new movement along similar lines, better and more tightly organised and led would be a big step forward.

Chris Hedges says it's time for pitchforks (metaphorically, I guess). Prodding a few still sleeping citizens with the sharp ends of those pitchforks would be a start.

Some snips from his article at Common Dreams (also at Truthdig).
The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults. We have been blinded to the depravity of our ruling elite by the relentless propaganda of public relations firms that work on behalf of corporations and the rich. Compliant politicians, clueless entertainers and our vapid, corporate-funded popular culture, which holds up the rich as leaders to emulate and assures us that through diligence and hard work we can join them, keep us from seeing the truth...........

Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith and Karl Marx all began from the premise there is a natural antagonism between the rich and the masses. “Those who have too much of the goods of fortune, strength, wealth, friends, and the like, are neither willing nor able to submit to authority,” Aristotle wrote in “Politics.” “The evil begins at home; for when they are boys, by reason of the luxury in which they are brought up, they never learn, even at school, the habit of obedience.” Oligarchs, these philosophers knew, are schooled in the mechanisms of manipulation, subtle and overt repression and exploitation to protect their wealth and power at our expense. Foremost among their mechanisms of control is the control of ideas. Ruling elites ensure that the established intellectual class is subservient to an ideology—in this case free market capitalism and globalization—that justifies their greed. “The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships,” Marx wrote, “the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.”...........

The rise of an oligarchic state offers a nation two routes, according to Aristotle. The impoverished masses either revolt to rectify the imbalance of wealth and power or the oligarchs establish a brutal tyranny to keep the masses forcibly enslaved. We have chosen the second of Aristotle’s options. The slow advances we made in the early 20th century through unions, government regulation, the New Deal, the courts, an alternative press and mass movements have been reversed. The oligarchs are turning us—as they did in the 19th century steel and textile factories—into disposable human beings. They are building the most pervasive security and surveillance apparatus in human history to keep us submissive........

The piece ends:

The seesaw of history has thrust the oligarchs once again into the sky. We sit humiliated and broken on the ground. It is an old battle. It has been fought over and over in human history. We never seem to learn. It is time to grab our pitchforks.

In another piece at Common Dreams yesterday, by staff writer Jon Queally, a current concern, not unconnected with class war is referenced:
Absent Progressive Uproar, Social Security and Medicare Face Axe.

I feel sure that commenter to the article, John Tredrea, would not object to my copying his very good, and eloquently put, observation here:

What happens in a democracy when the political process is dominated by two political parties entrenched in contributions from a small but powerful oligarchy and when neither party is responsive to the expressed will of the electorate?

What happens when elections no longer provide for "redress of grievances" no matter how clearly and loudly the electorate cries out for responsive legislation?

What happens when the party that professes to be on the side of the electoral majority routinely promises reforms and then betrays its promises without the slightest degree of honesty or remorse?

What happens when the "free press", established by the Founding Fathers as a check on political corruption and abuse sells its soul to wealth, power, and oligarchy?

This is not the country that I was born in and it is not the country that I grew up in and it is not the country that I expected to one day die in.

God Bless America?

God Forgive America.


mike said...

I always enjoy reading Chris Hedges' essays. The last six or seven lines of his piece sum it up...it's a repeating story written on the stoney path of time. Seems unavoidable and part of the inherent human condition. I do fault his essay for providing a one-sided presentation of the class struggle against the 1%...there are two sides of the story in my mind.

You remark that classism affects you perhaps as deeply as the African-American. I'd have to extend that to just about anyone of a different-than-white skin color, ethnicity, or origin. Let's not forget that the Native American Indians were and still are denigrated to the lowest ranks, and this on their homeland! Hispanics have finally received some respect, but only because they have become a majority population (portions of the USA did belong to them, too...they were also Native Amercians).

Most Americans pre-1900 were rural, self-sufficient farmers far less dependent on "money"...my grandfather only needed money to pay taxes...his fertile land was his wealth. The urbanization of America occurred post-WWI and capitalism took-off with Americans now more dependent on consuumer goods and the consequent money to pay for the goods (ie, employers). Perhaps it currently smarts a touch more, since the socioeconomic disparity evened-out in the late 1940s through the 1970s...the margin wasn't as wide, then diverges rapidly to our current time.

There are many factors that contribute to this condition. The have-nots tend to be aspirers and idolize the rich and famous...just look at our extremely overpaid athletes, popular musicians, movie stars, drug dealers, executives, etc. The have-nots pay big money to be entertained and use products and services. A majority of our young select their educational career paths toward income rather than career satisfaction...in fact more income is synonymous with happiness for many. Many of the not-rich want the accoutrements of wealth (cars, latest digital gadgets, nice clothes, credit card lunches and vacations, etc) and these accoutrements keep them poorer.

The rich are utterly dependent on the lessers, not only to supply services, but as consumers to increase their wealth. And it takes money to make money, as is said (also buys the best lawyers, lobbyists, congressional representatives, and presidents, too!).

It's a "Catch 22" for both sides of the equation. All it would take is for one side to quit playing the game. Yes, it's an ageless game of power, greed, accumulation, and the struggle for survival. Money has become a god of its own in our modern world, even amongst the more spiritual. It's a dog-eat-dog world.

mike (again) said...

P.S. - Social order is part of most species...seems genetically inherent and part of living on the Earth. It won't change until humans evolve sufficiently to eradicate the "dirty X gene" and sublimate the survival-of-the-fittest mentality. Humans group themselves into followers and leaders...rich and poor is just another version of that.

Twilight said...

mike ~ What is the other side of the story then? In my opinion "the other side" gives up their claim on their side of the story when the situation has been forced, by them, into the state of imbalance currently reached.

I did originally include mention of Native Americans in my draft, but as I was then thinking more along the lines of early British/European feudalism, it seemed inappropriate. But in considering the USA alone, and the way it has developed, then they should be included, yes indeed.

Whether what I'll call "the adoration of celebrity culture" has had any part in the extreme imbalance now present in the world, I'm not sure. Is it a symptom - possibly yes, is it a cause - no.

What is so sad about class war, though, is the fact that in the past it has taken World Wars 1 and 2 to bring about meaningful changes. It often seems that in spite of any attempts we may make, the 1% have re-gained too tight a grip on things now for any change to happen as a result of efforts by The People. It might take another horrendous and tragic world-wide conflagration to shake things up again. And that IS depressing.

Twilight said...

mike(again) ~ Yes, we've agreed on this before. The trick we - the human race - have still to learn, and understand, is how to keep and retain some balance in what appears to be the natural order of things on planet Earth. Balance is everything.

mike (again) said...

There are many factors that influence human psychological behavior. I would have to say that most humans aspire toward a higher social status perhaps defined as rich equals powerful, we rationalize and justify our methods to understand our results, we seek social groupings and consequently oppose our anti-groups, we can act morally irrational, there's a bit of the worst in each of us, and each of us has the potential to be corrupted by power and greed.

Most of us would jump at the chance to be richer and attain a higher social status. How can we have the desire to emulate something we find offensive? Is it jealousy? And it seems that once social status is achieved, there is a disdain of the lower class. How can that be? Is it guilt partitioned by indifference?

Perhaps the 99% vs the 1% isn't the issue here. Maybe it's simply the way humans are designed and the way we interact. If money didn't exist, it'd just be something else such as land or food. Who owns this portion of the sky? Why did you take my rocks? We seem to be psychopathic creatures that depend on each other, while at the same time abhorring each other.

Twilight said...

mike ~ it'd just be something else such as land or food -
It used to be land, didn't it?
Both here (taken from the American Indians, in Britain and Europe dished out by winners of numerous wars to be received by kings, princes, noblemen, dukes, earls, etc.etc.etc.
The peasants came as interesting added extras of course.

I, for one, do not wish to emulate those with higher social or wealth status. I do not envy them, but I abhor them and their ways of thinking. I am capable of being entertained by billionaires who can sing or act - but I have no wish to be one of them.

Most clear-thinking adults want only to have a comfortable, maybe modest, home with enough money earned to feed and clothe their family, fund education and deal with health care, with a bit left over for treats. I don't know many people in the USA, but in England the people I knew did not chase wealth, or wish to emulate the 1%. But then, maybe I moved in all the wrong circles. I would, wouldn't I. ;-)

I have to disagree, mike. I DO think the issue is 99% v. 1% here, now. Imbalance has been allowed to reach extreme levels, if not slowed down or stopped We The People shall reach a destination at which none of us would wish to arrive.

LB said...

Twilight ~ I understand how frustrating it can be. And like you, I'd like to live in a more just, compassionate world, one in which abuses of power aren't rewarded, either socially or economically.

It's important to remember though, that power takes many forms, not just economic ones. And corruption takes place in many different arenas - in prisons and ghettos, schools and corporations. When it comes to power, no individual, group, race, religion or social-economic class is immune to its temptations.

It's also why I continue to believe the most meaningful forms of change will come about as small, peaceful revolutions within each of us, changes that inform our awareness and influences our choices.

Philip Zimbardo concluded there's a gradual transformation that takes place when (apparently) good men and women first begin to do evil. He came up with the following list:

Seven Social Processes that Grease the Slippery Slope of Evil

~ Mindlessly Taking the First Small Step
~ Dehumanization of Others
~ De-individuation of Self (Anonymity)
~ Diffusion of Personal Responsibility
~ Blind Obedience to Authority
~ Uncritical Conformity to Group Norms
~ Passive Tolerance of Evil Through Inaction, or Indifference

All of this in new or unfamiliar situations: http://www.ted.com/talks/philip_zimbardo_on_the_psychology_of_evil.html

I agree with mike when he observed, "Perhaps the 99% vs the 1% isn't the issue here. Maybe it's simply the way humans are designed and the way we interact. If money didn't exist, it'd just be something else such as land or food."

"Heroes are those who can somehow resist the power of the situation and act out of noble motives, or behave in ways that do not demean others when they easily can."
Philip Zimbardo

Twilight said...

LB ~ Regarding power - yes I agree that it's not always involved with money-making. As in the examples you gave (and in some organised religions, it has to be said), there's sometimes either a sociopathic urge to control, or a drive to control people for the benefit of....politics....which now = corporations - they now buy politicians and whole governments, in the USA anyway.
That brings us back to money!

So, barring the urges of twisted sadists and sociopaths, money lurks always at the core of things.

I like the list by Philip Zimbardo, of items which grease the slope leading to evil...or rather than evil I'd say allowing evil to come about and gain a hold, not only on self but on situations in general.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Rather than being about money, maybe it's about greed, power and the power of illusion, the insatiable quest for MORE of *whatever* false god it is that drives us.

Twilight said...

LB ~ That's a reasonable proposition, yes. I wish we, as a species, had more of an insatiable quest for.... MORE PEACE! That little bit of human DNA has all but disappeared in many of our kind.

LB said...

Twilight ~ In an amazing example of synchronicity, right after I left my last comment, a friend emailed me about a GMO Mini-Summit. Noticing John Robbins would be one of the featured speakers, I googled him and found a link to a letter he wrote disassociating himself (along with others) from the movie, "Thrive".

Though I don't recall ever reading much about John Robbins (he's the Baskin Robbins heir who gave it up because he realized the product wasn't good for people), some of his thoughts echo my own. More importantly, what he said directly relates to our conversation. Adding, I do realize you're *NOT* a conspiracy theorist. What he's addressing is bigger than that. His whole letter is worth reading, here's an excerpt:

"The conspiracy theories at the heart of Thrive are based on an ultimate division between “us” and “them.” ”We” are many and well-meaning but victimized. “They,” on the other hand, are a tiny, greedy and inconceivably powerful few who are masterfully organized, who are purposefully causing massive disasters in order to cull the population, and who are deliberately destroying the world economy in order to achieve total world domination.

This way of thinking has an allure, for it distracts and absolves us from the troubling truth that the real source of the problem is in all of us, and in the economic systems we have collectively produced. If the ills of the world are the deliberate intentions of malevolent beings, then we don’t have to take responsibility for our problems because they are being done to us. Thinking this way may provide the momentary comfort of feeling exonerated, but it is ultimately disempowering, because it undermines our desire to be accountable for the way our own thoughts and actions help to create the environmental degradation and vast social inequity of the world in which we live. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.”"

Here's the link: http://thrivedebunked.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/humanity-and-sanity-the-full-text-of-john-robbinss-repudiation-of-thrive-and-its-conspiracy-theories/

Twilight said...

LB ~ I'd never heard of "Thrive" or Robbins. Thanks for the link.

I have come across a similar conspiracy theory - that an attempted devastation
of comfortable ways of life for middle/working classes and the poor is a deliberate manipulation by "Them" (the 1%), first stage in a world-wide takeover.

While I can sympathise with that version of the way things are, and see where the theorists are coming from, I don't subscribe to the detail of it.

But, then again, neither do I subscribe, exactly to the view that "it's all been our fault" (the fault of We The People), or that we only blame the 1% to absolve ourselves.

No! That doesn't sit well with me either.

The ills of the world stem (IMO) from a combination of greed of the few (as we've said), for both power and wealth, and disinformation, manipulation and brainwashing (over time) of the many, to the stage where they become blind, lazy, apathetic.

I remain always on the side of We the People, while agreeing that more need waking up, I will never absolve the 1% - and 1%s through the ages from their evil grasping uncaring ways.

Have you ever watched "The Century of Self" - Adam Curtis's film.

It used to be available in 6 parts at YouTube. there seem to have been some changes made since I last saw it there.

See this blog for info if you haven't seen the series already.


LB said...

Thanks for the link, Twilight. I agree, there's a lot to this. Though if the premise of the series is true and to some extent, humans are subject to lower, self-serving, unconscious/irrational desires, making it easy to control and manipulate us on an unconscious level -through advertising, consumerism and other methods- then isn't the answer for all of us to wake up as individuals, regain our autonomy and begin to think and choose more deeply, compassionately and wisely?

If not, then the most any revolution could accomplish would be to have the masses trade one form of illusion for another. What's to stop us from falling prey to another equally superficial and corrupt master who's no wiser, more compassionate or just than the one we're rebelling against.

mike (again) said...

I don't like the wealth inequity here in the USA either, Twilight, but I'm not inclined to believe it's a simple matter of us vs them. So far, this comment thread has involved only the USA's 99% vs the 1%...what if we expand this discussion and consider global wealth inequity.

How can this be any different than comparing the per capita wealth of the industrialized nations vs per capita wealth of the global population? I read somewhere that the poorest in America are in the upper 10% of the world's income and quality of life. That probably puts me in the upper 5% of global wealth (my income is considered at the top of the poverty level...a couple hundred more per year and I'd be out of the poverty level). I have shelter, food, clean water, sanitary waste disposal, medical attention is available for a price. Is this why most of the truly poor in our world have disdain for us industrialized nations? We are insolent toward their concerns, much like the mega-wealthy is impudent toward the 99% in the USA.

If I truly cared about the rest of the world that really does live in abject poverty, I should downsize, forfeit the bulk of my money toward helping them come UP in the world, and ensure their survival rate is on par with mine. That means I would only have money enough to survive...I wouldn't have any additional money for any pleasurable pursuits...that wouldn't be fair to them.

My current level of wealth and inaction toward global human poverty is on about the same accord as the USA's 1% toward me.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Hmmm - that's a depressing thought! I don't know the answer.
It would take that enough of us could remember, learn the lesson. That hasn't happened often throughout history so far though.

All we can deal with - or try to - is the situation we have now, as best we can, when enough people become aware of it. The rest, what happens next, will be for the next generation to deal with. :-/

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes, this thread has been mainly about the USA and Europe/UK, because that was what Chris Hedges had written about on this occasion.

I agree that, with all the injustices and inequalities here, we are still far better off than those in 3rd world countries.....some of whom are being used in the way peasants were used in feudal times in Europe and Britain.

We can do only what we can do though....While it IS affecting to consider what you propose, theoretically, it really isn't going to happen is it? And why should the least well-off among us foot the bill to bring about more equality when 1% of our countrymen are so filthy stinkin' rich?

I've probably mentioned this before somewhere, but discussions like this always bring to mind

"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin.


LB said...

mike ~ I hear what you're saying. Another related issue is how, in a global economy (where many of the items we use each day are produced in other countries), our choices can have a significant effect not just on businesses and employees here in this country, but on the well-being of workers in other countries as well.

Labor abuses, human rights violations and/or slavery are not unique to the chocolate industry. Food, coffee, tobacco, flowers, clothing, shoes, toys, decor, furniture, technology (including our beloved Apple iPhones)- the list of industries using exploited and abused workers to produce their products, both here and abroad, is extensive.

Did you happen to read the Huffington Post article, "They Walk Among Us - 30 Million People Are Slaves, Half in India"?

For those of us who are able and want to make a difference, we can start there, by choosing to buy ethically produced, fairly traded or directly traded items. Or used. And we can try to consume based on need, instead of replacing things every time something newer and better comes along.

If available and we can afford it, we can also buy organic. When we do, we're not just supporting our own health, we're also supporting the health of our environment as well as the health of the people (often hard-working, migrant farm workers without adequate healthcare) who helped to grow our food. If we can, it's also better to buy from smaller farmers, closer to where we live.

We change things every time we decide to buy from or give our money to ethically run, environmentally sustainable businesses and *stop* supporting businesses that don't represent our values - and by letting them know.

I always tell the story of how many years ago (back when health insurance was still relatively affordable), I stopped going to a favorite dentist of mine after finding out he was volunteering each year providing dental care in 3rd world countries, yet didn't provide basic health insurance for the full-time office manager of his thriving private practice here in the US. I made a point of asking because it mattered to me.

If we're able, we can donate, volunteer and/or speak up for those who can't. Some of my favorite charities are local, while others (like Doctors Without Borders) are global. We don't give much, but I figure a little is better than not giving at all.

These are just a few examples. No one is perfect and it can be challenging to try and live differently after having grown accustomed to doing things a certain way. The point is, if we want to change things, those of us who *can* have small ways of making a difference. We're not powerless. Most of us can do something, start somewhere.

At the very least, we can treat others the way we'd want to be treated. This is another reason I don't like the idea of making it about us versus them. It dehumanizes "them", in much the same way many of us feel devalued and dehumanized.

mike (again) said...

I'm not saying the USA's 1% elite should be ignored, so don't misconstrue my comments, but I'm sure they justify and rationalize their actions and accumulation of wealth just as I do with my meager income. I can only imagine that global citizens at the bottom of the wealth index feel a complete lack of empathy from us elite, wealthy, stuck-on-ourselves Americans.

As I pointed-out in my second comment, humans justify and rationalize their behavior. Why should I help the world's poor when there are far wealthier individuals available to assist them? Well, I am considered WEALTHY by global per capita income statistics!!!!! Am I obligated in any way to assist the global poor, or am I correct to justify my selfishness by saying only those wealthier than I should be responsible?

Here are three rather startling factoids:

50% of the world population own less than 1% of the global assets

The proportion of [global] poor people (with less than US$ 3,470 per year) is 78%. The proportion of [global] rich people (with more than US$ 8,000/year) is 11%

over 80% of the world population lives on less than 10 US$/day.; over 50% of the world population lives on less than 2 US$/day; over 20% of the world population lives on less than 1.25 US$/day


mike (again) said...

LB, I fully understand and agree with your suggestions!

I have a very limited income, therefore I have very limited purchases that can make a difference. I'm at poverty level on my Social Security benefit...I do have a website with e-commerce, but so far it hasn't been profitable and I'd be wise to ixnay it, as it further erodes my finances (it does keep me busy and I enjoy it...it's my jobby). After a number of years with NO income, I feel rich simply being able to meet my needs and obligations.

I only buy food, actually! I have brown rice and milk for breakfast...two peanut butter sandwiches on my own whole wheat bread and a glass of milk for lunch...usually beans for dinner. I try to keep each meal under $1.

I am able to pay my utilities, property taxes, homeowner's insurance, monthly haircut, and some months I restock supplies for my jobby. I don't really consume anything that requires a conscientious choice. I use my bicycle or public transportation for getting around and shopping groceries. I would like to purchase organic whole wheat flour and non-hydrogenated peanut butter, but that pushes it, so I don't.

I don't particularly enjoy Halloween myself, but I do enjoy the children's excitement (and I remember my own excitement as a child), so I always give candy. I have a huge number of trick-or-treaters and can't afford to buy anything fair trade...or if I did, few children would receive treats.

Regarding fair trade, the concept was to eliminate the middle-man that made the profit. Theoretically, fair trade shouldn't make a product's purchase price exceed non-fair trade. But, it does I'm sorry to say. Sort of like the whole wheat flour I purchase...less processing and should cost less...it costs twice the price of white, refined flour.

Twilight said...

mike and LB ~ Well - I refuse to feel guilty about the statistics mentioned. I, personally, do not have a bad conscience about the matters raised in the later part of this thread. If I should, then I'm sorry.

My own angst and anger relates more to the additional fear and pain rained down upon some of those poor people whose lives are already a struggle, by our "leader" via his drone programme.

I believe that life, being alive is the first requirement. Struggles that follow are another matter. US policies are denying even the right to live to some innocents. While I'm concerned about the matters you've both raised they do not haunt me as does the idea of a family in Pakistan or Yemen or elsewhere being quite unexpectedly one day torn assunder by the hubris and uncaring of the USA.

Twilight said...

Hauling this back to its source to finish off: Chris Hedges' piece this week - I've just read comments to the piece at Truthout.


Not far from the top of the thread an exchange between commenters vallehombre, Charlesrocks and Carol Crown stood out for me.

LB said...

mike ~ I completely understand! I'm amazed you manage to keep your costs that low. $1.00 a meal - wow. Sounds like you don't eat processed food, which is good.:) We also eat a lot of legumes, brown rice (and) oatmeal.

I also get how impractical, if not *impossible* it can be for some of us to shop as ethically as we might like, let alone donate - which is why I always try to make a point about the ways in which those of us who are *able* can make a difference. As more consumers with a conscience (those of us who *can*) begin to shop a certain way, hopefully it will pave the way for more affordable, ethical and healthy options for lower-income folks who don't grow their own food.

It can be more expensive to shop with a conscience and isn't always convenient or practical - especially when it comes to finding non-GMO/organic food. We've been trying to buy in bulk (less plastic) from our local organic food coop, which though more expensive (and less convenient) in some ways, is more affordable in others. We've also limited ourselves to one, maybe two servings of chicken during the week now that I've been *trying* to buy free-range, organic that's been raised humanely and wasn't fed GMOs.

As far as technology goes, while I can limit the number of items I consume (same phone/TV/computer until they stop working), finding technology that's been ethically produced is a whole other issue. Wish there were better choices when it comes to electronics/technology. Now that I know what I know about Samsung, it hurts that our phones came from them. I also don't know how to make do without health insurance, though I did divest from the health insurance industry on my modest 403B.

About that Halloween candy, like I've been telling everyone, if we can't afford to pass out ethically produced, fairly traded chocolate, then we can skip the chocolate altogether. Thankfully there are other options that don't involve child-slavery.

Here's a link on Fair Trade, the original model and how it's in jeopardy: http://equalexchange.coop/fair-trade

LB said...

Twilight ~ I read the comments following the last link you left. I also gave a lot of thought to what Chris Hedges has written about the rich and the way they use and abuse people.

While I can't disagree, I don't think the behaviors he's describing are unique to the rich. My own experiences have led me to believe they're symptoms of a lack of empathy and compassion, most apparent when people are in positions of power, regardless of wealth.

Chris Hedges wrote: "Wealth breeds, as Fitzgerald illustrated in “The Great Gatsby” and his short story “The Rich Boy,” a class of people for whom human beings are disposable commodities."

I've personally known (and heard of) employers, landlords, supervisors, teachers, parents, co-workers, various 'professionals' and neighborhood bullies who abused their power (in whatever form it took) and acted similarly, yet none of them were members of the elite ruling class. Though their behaviors play out on a much smaller stage and therefore have fewer casualties, their actions have the same dehumanizing, demoralizing effect.

It's a human problem.

Twilight said...

LB ~ I don't disagree that greed for power, and the abuse of it is a human problem - I think I've said before - that it's in us all via our human DNA and our planet home's place in the solar system (and wider universe). Some of us have "blockers" and "buffers" in our genes which push the iffy gene to the back, some have magnifiers which push it to the fore. (My opinion - "proper" astrologers might disagree).

Thing is though, LB, when those with magnified effects of this particular iffy gene rise to the top of the pile, or are put there either by heredity, honours, merit, criminal or underhand activities, whatever - they have the opportunity to do far more bad things than individual bullying (which I despise too) or routine nastiness to individuals or small groups. You've pointed this out yourself.

These people in power, when they are also insanely wealthy, can buy governments, make life a misery for huge groups, even whole populations; and if they are allowed to have free rein, over time will be as bad as slave-owners or Europe's aristocracy of the past....treating populations as chattels. We are not there yet, thankfully, but I often sense that the way is being cleared for such an outcome.

LB said...

Twilight ~ I have to disagree. The abusers I've described often engage in far more damaging behaviors than the routine nastiness you've referred to. People who abuse frequently do everything within their power to dominate, dehumanize and/or kill - people's minds, spirits, even bodies. Their violence can be insidious or overt and can affect every area of our lives - sometimes directly.

It's unclear to me exactly what Chris Hedges is suggesting in his piece, "Let's Get This Class War Started". I wish he'd focus more on the some of the positive, peaceful steps each of us can take as individuals to help rebalance social inequities and create a more just and peaceful world.

It doesn't seem helpful or productive to keep blaming the rich when so many of us are unwilling to look at ourselves or how we support the current system.

Rather than waiting for some external solution, I'm starting now. The change starts with me.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Twilight said...

LB ~ I don't believe Chris Hedges was proposing violence. But gentle, loving, personal steps are simply not going to cut it this time, in my opinion. I think Hedges is calling to battle, but not bloody battle, putting heads together to organise a strong movement to move things in the right direction - organising a movement when thousands rather than dozens of people will do the things you so wisely suggest has to be the way to go IMO.

We shall have to disagree on this LB - but I do have respect for your point of view - just cannot share it.

mike (again) said...

I suspect that Chris Hedges is one of the 1%...he's written 12 books, one a NY Times Best Seller. Is on staff at truthdig.com, which is shown to generate 5 to 10 million/yr. His wife is an actress. He has had high income positions for quite a few years.

I can't find definitive income information, except notations that he has accumulated a large net worth.

LB said...

Twilight ~ While we may disagree as to the cause(s) of society's woes, hopefully we can at least agree that organized, voluntary, and *peaceful* boycotts -specifically economic ones with clearly stated goals- would be a way to start.

I've already begun advocating for this. While a few people are interested, most are not. Some people seem more motivated by the group (and peer approval) than they are by individual causes.

I also make a point of using the word "voluntary" because it's important not to harm or alienate people by forcing them to participate against their will - by blocking entrances to businesses, destroying property or physically threatening and/or taking over spaces. We can't address injustice with more injustice.

LB said...

mike ~ I was wondering about that. It occurred to me how Chris Hedges and others may not realize that a lot of us are as deeply concerned with how our neighbors treat us (and how we treat one another) as we are about how we're treated by the wealthy elite. Both things can be equally true.

No matter the source, it's all a symptom of the same corruption of character and lack of empathy. Like the IChing says, its cause was internal as will be the solution. Or something along those lines.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I'd assumed CH would be far wealthier than the average person, which is what helps him to have access to the major (not mainstream) media online.
I doubt he's of the true 1% though, in line with bankers, Wall Street moguls, corporate bosses etc. He's hardly a capitalist either.

I'm not anti-wealth, as such, mike. I'm anti the use of wealth to control the masses by buying the power of government. That's what the 1% are doing - have done in fact.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Organisation on a massive scale is needed, in my view, before anything truly meaningful can result.
How the movement would proceed (I hope) would be peacefully, at least in the beginning. Any violence would likely come from police - we saw hints of that with OWS in 2011 - and they were peaceful enough. Violence from the Establishment could beget violence - it has before, it would again. That is something a movement for change would have to face, I'm sorry to say. :-(

ex-Chomp said...

Of the thinkers and sociologists you quoted above the weakest point is precisely the so-called natural antagonism between the rich class and the rest of society, in particular the poorer part f the society itself.

And by the way, in their ages there was no mass-media, this is very important a difference.

Let me quote this video, which is partly dated, but still contains something interesting:
Ron Paul and Frank Zappa on the Danger of American Fascism http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gLDzDklTRU

Frank Zappa was from Sicily, Italy, and in Italy they know - the thinking part of them... - what Fascism is: They never went out form it really.

Oh by the way: Fascism and Nazism had the consensus...

An interesting saying:

ex-Chomp said...

Oh another possibly interesting link is this:

Up to the moment the basic debate will not change no revolts wil be succesful and no matter what we do or want or dream of

Twilight said...

ex-Chomp ~ Frank Zappa had died long before I became aware of him - sadly. I wish he were still around now.

“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
― Frank Zappa

While I don't often agree with Ron Paul, he was right in that clip.

Robert Reich's piece was a good one. I usually agree with his points of view, but he does tend to give the Dems and the president a free pass.....as do so many Establishment pundits of the left.

Your last sentence is a bit defeatist, ex-Chomp....but probably accurate. I don't see where a movement is going to come from....yet. Sometimes the unexpected does happen though. It's important for us all not to fall into apathy and despondency.

LB said...

While peaceful social activism is important, I don't have any grand illusions about what it's likely to achieve. For me, it's enough to try do a thing because it matters, to remain mindful and keep on making small efforts, even if no one is watching and even if my efforts seem to fail.

If we focus too intently on the bigger goals and ideals, the immediate result, we risk losing sight of the individual and how each of us matters. It's easy to overlook and dehumanize others when we're thinking big.

Many of us seem to lack the patience or willingness to take the small, concrete steps necessary to reach out to others and help create more lasting forms of change. Nor are we willing to make the relatively small sacrifices that might make a difference in both the short and longterm. It can be hard work and not very glamorous.

One of the greatest illusions involves the invisible, voiceless people all around us, the ones more concerned with day-to-day survival than abstract politics or revolutions.