It’s been a few weeks since Bernie dropped out. I’ve canceled my $17/month contributions. But I can’t figure out how to stop getting the Bernie texts on my phone. I mean, I could block the number, but that seems mean spirited. You know, just kicking a nice guy when he’s down.
But Bernie was my last hope for America. Kind of ridiculous now to think that the Bernie movement might have taken over the national government. But for 5 minutes after Nevada, some of us were dreamin’ …
It occurred to me, hiking with some very good and smart friends, that America just might really be dead after all. I mean, it feels to me that, since 2008, America has been in an existential struggle against … against exactly what?
In 2003, I called that struggle “People vs Corporations”. But are all corporations “bad guys”? Even non-profits? What about startups? And small LLCs? Well, no, I don’t mean them.
What about the Silicon Valley Gorillas? Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. Are they the “bad guys”? Kind of, but certainly there seems to be no problems with them that simple regulations couldn’t fix. So no “war” is needed.
No, what I mean by “People vs Corporations” is those corporations and industries that were founded pre-WWII. Note that all of these are headquartered east of Rockies; none are in the West. These are the industries listed in Bernie’s stump speech: defense, banking, health insurance, pharmaceutical, fossil fuels, chemical, etc.
What do we call them? What name do we give to those “bad guys”? Those “enemies of the People”? “Corporations” is certainly over-broad. And whatever that elusive name is, it doesn’t include the rank-and-file employees of those businesses.
Well, it’s 2020, and there is no answer to this question. Bernie never gave the enemy a name that stuck. And as far as I can tell, nobody else did either.
Some folks on the far left say that the bad guy is “capitalism”. Now, the sort people who say this — Richard Wolff, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine — strike me as coherent and persuasive. They’re the sort people I learned from in law school.
They’re not marketers, though. And “capitalism” is way too broad and abstract as a name for the “bad guys”.
To see what I mean, consider the following list: England, slave holders, Nazis.
What do each of these three groups represent? They are the three “enemies” or “bad guys” that America was forced to defeat in order to survive, and afterward, prosper. If America had lost to any of these bad guys, there would be no America today.
So who is today’s “bad guy”? Who is the “enemy of the American People”? Who is that party that if America loses against it, there will be no America anymore?
Welp. The best I can do is say that those “bad guys” are the organizations that Bernie was railing against in his stump speech. They’re the organizations that AOC used to battle, before they got to her.
Yeah, I’m aware that Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt were all “centrists” and “moderates” on the very issues that defined their presidency in the time before they became president (or became general in the case of Washington).
That is, at the time of the Boston Tea party (in 1773), Washington was no fire-breathing revolutionary; at the time of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, Lincoln was no righteous abolitionist; and while Eugene Debs was driving general strikes, Roosevelt was no great champion of the working man.
But when each of these three great mean took office, each met the Call of History, and led the Americans to victory against the English (Washington), the slave holders (Lincoln), and the Nazis (Roosevelt).
So if History is calling for the next in the line to Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt, what politician is answering that call? It looked like Obama for about 5 minutes. It kinda sorta looked like Bernie a couple of times there.
Is it Biden? Ha! Good one.
Is it AOC? That’s a trickier one.
Let’s say that an existential crisis that started in 2008, could be met head-on by President AOC in January 2025 … 17 years later! Is it even possible for an American president to defeat an enemy that we gave a 17-year head-start to secure a lead?
Imagine if the Nazis had been unopposed for 17 years — that is, say that America waited until the mid-1950s before entering WWII. In that case, the Nazis would have gotten the bomb first, and there would have been no touching them.
Imagine if the slave holders made it to 1877 unopposed, knowing all the time that these abolitionists were trying to end their fun times in Dixie. What would they have done? They would have murdered half of the abolitionists, and bought off the other half.
Imagine if the Americans had dithered for 17 years up to 1793 before announcing their Declaration of Independence. What would the British have done with all this time to prepare? They surely would have imprisoned and executed those famous guys on our beer bottles who signed the Great Document.
AOC as “Joan of Arc” in 2025? Too little. Too late.
America is done this time. We can’t even define or name the “enemy”, let alone defeat it.
National politics is dead. They won. We lost.
When will the us military start contracting?
When California leaves the union.
You’re too negative, Peter. You’re looking at everything in terms of conflict. If the U.S. hadn’t declared independence in 1776, they would have eventually become independent, probably by more gentle means, much like the rest of the Commonwealth has over the years. Slavery? It had a 200-year head start. And was still eventually defeated (albeit at enormous cost, especially to the south, who started the conflict in the first place, so keep that in mind…). Nazis? Roosevelt didn’t “join” the fight until the U.S. was forced to by the attack on Pearl Harbour (and as an ex-pat Canadian you should remember that we were fighting the Germans, the Japanese and the Italians for a couple of years before the U.S. determined that these guys may actually be a problem.)
Change is always slow unless revolution happens. Revolution isn’t likely to happen, so be prepared to wait…but make sure that AOC has her birth certificate and tax returns ready to produce when the Repubs start hammering her if (when?) she becomes a serious contender for POTUS.
Well said Tom. I see the US as having a strong cyclical dynamic that other countries — especially Canada — don’t. Or at least their cycles are less dramatic. The amplitude of this cycle has only increased since America gained its world empire. Now, the prospect of throwing off the oligarchs would have immediate widespread effects, turning the whole world upside down. Seems less likely by the day. I guess that’s why I think the future of America is states going their own way. Hopefully, this will be a peaceful process, and slow enough to be so.
I hear you feeling a bit beaten down by the last four years and Bernie’s recent departure… but I’m with Tom, bit too pessimistic for the reality!
Truth is, we do know what we’re fighting. You said it yourself, “defense, banking, health insurance, pharmaceutical, fossil fuels, chemical, etc.”… one moniker that might suit: the military-industrial complex. Add “financial” and that about covers it.
That “complex” is really about power consolidation and the monopoly/oligopoly that tends to emerge from it to gain political control. But there’s clearly a trend-line towards the fragmentation of such power accumulation via the democratization of information.
In other words, the internet has changed the game and is in relative infancy. Arab Spring, Snowden, Wikileaks, etc. shows that information wants to be a free and will be… especially with global communication and connectivity at an individual level.
The next war won’t be large entities battling as were the prior three revolutions you note… it will be more Bernie-like. More a thousand cuts, power to the people, overwhelmed by truth and the inability to hide.
Will there still be propaganda and politics? Certainly. But I don’t believe that “national politics is dead”. This is simply a step back (setback?) so we can leap forward.
Chin up. Carry on!
Thanks Roy. Awesome thoughts. Agree much with “The next war won’t be large entities battling as were the prior three revolutions you note… it will be more Bernie-like. More a thousand cuts, power to the people, overwhelmed by truth and the inability to hide.” In fact, back in 2003 I wrote that the next American crisis would be (hopefully) a war waged by love (e.g. Ghandi). I mean, all we people need to do is boycott the old, big businesses. Some are easy to boycott (e.g. banking, pharma), some not at all (e.g. defense). But this pandemic is a dry run for that, even though this is a side effect of staying home. Hopefully, people wake up to our peaceful power.
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