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Rising on the Shoulders of the Poor

Democrats’ Moral-Political Bankruptcy

by NORMAN POLLACK

An end-of-year article in the New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Michael D. Shear’s “Minimum Wage Key to Democrats’ 2014 Strategy,” (30 Dec.), enables one to foresee what the coming year will be like: deft, cautious appeal for votes on an obviously significant human issue, yet treated in isolation as meanwhile the surveillance-war machine-deregulation core of public policy grinds on, making a mockery, a study in the use of opportunistic cosmetics, of Democrats’ claims to represent the people, the people it spits on as it drains the national treasury to feed detestable Behemoth as part of a global vision of counterrevolution and commercial-financial supremacy.

Delightful. Democrats have discovered a presumably winning issue, I say “presumably,” because POTUS and the party have already so pushed the culture of politics to the Right that even this modest increase in the minimum wage seems somehow brave, titillatingly subversive, worthy of respect by the working people en masse they have consistently shafted—when in reality it is a cover for a policy syndrome wholly opposed to the needs of the people it allegedly serves. Dangle the bait (already half-eaten by living costs that $10.10 by 2015 just about keeps things as they were) of a minimum-wage increase in front of their eyes, at the same time as a steadily enlarging crop of billionaires suck at the public teat, and you have a sure-fire formula for encouraging false consciousness among working (if they have employment) Americans that keeps capitalism—as defined by upper groups—healthy and on its toes.

Where, then, meaningful job creation? Public works? Progressive taxation? Effective, thoroughgoing regulation of banks, hedge funds, derivatives? De-escalation of the Pacific-first, heavily deployed “pivot” inviting confrontation with China? End to spying, more spying, still more spying? The list continues and adds up, to any who can transcend the societal myopia an obfuscating USG (in cooperation with the Business Community) disseminates broadcast, to incipient—if not a more advanced stage of—fascism.

Fascism in America wears a smiling face. Its moniker is, Corporatism, itself the sweetheart relationship between government, business, the military, and, increasingly occupying a forward position, banking. Why not a modest increase in the minimum wage! Class structure remains the same. Power remains concentrated and free to pursue military objectives while still preserving, even maximizing, profits. Liberalism sparkles brightly, adding a veneer to the bloodletting and malnourishment it sponsors. Welcome, then, 2014; prospects are good for more of the same. JPMorgan Chase, I toast you, along with those who keep America safe—the massive defense industry, our brave warriors, no gender-bias there, spread over much of the earth’s surface, and the whole apparatus making possible, from armchair “pilots” to faraway airstrips, drone murder, our environmental depredators, and the New American Heroes, NSA and the corrupted judiciary which supports it.

Therefore, Go Green, Go White, drown any misgivings we might have (highly unlikely!) of the human pain and suffering the US daily creates in the world, in the bread-and-circuses of our Bowl Games. For want of anything better, I shall cheer for Stanford at the Rose Bowl, having seen for thirty-odd years the complicity of Michigan State in the fascistization of America.

My New York Times Comment, same date, on the Martin-Shear article follows:

Pathetic, revealing the opportunism and moral bankruptcy of the Democrats. They speak of income inequality and “value issues,” yet under Obama have created the widest CLASS differentiation in income, wealth, and power in American history. The US has a sizable underclass, thanks in large part to massive defense spending, interventions, drone assassinations, JSOC-CIA paramilitary operations intended for regime change, and yet POTUS and Democrats have the chutzpah to talk about raising the minimum wage–a drop in the bucket for the wreck they have pressed upon the American polity.

The cynicism of using the issue for electoral gain, whilst leaving INTACT a reprehensible record on all other issues, demonstrates beyond peradventure they are no better than the Bushies and Republicans, indeed, the continuities of public policy are clear–except, going forward under a “liberal” banner makes the hoax that much more hurtful and inhumane. When Democrats begin to stand for principle, and expose their leader as a devotee of massive surveillance, China-bashing, and deregulation, then one can begin, yes, only begin, to listen to their moanings about reelection.

The party that brought you the greatest violation of CIVIL LIBERTIES hardly deserves commendation for engineering votes on the backs of the working poor, as though stalking horses so that the party and POTUS could confer still more benefits on Wall Street and the Military. A solemn farce, were it not so tragic.

Norman Pollack is the author of The Populist Response to Industrial America (Harvard) and The Just Polity (Illinois), The Humane EconomyThe Just Polity, ed. The Populist Mind, and co-ed. with Frank Freidel, Builders of American Institutions. Guggenheim Fellow. Prof. Emeritus, History, Michigan State.  He is currently writing The Fascistization of America: Liberalism, Militarism, Capitalism.  E-mail: pollackn@msu.edu.