I wish I could deliver something upbeat and optimistic as my first post of the new year – but try as I might, I can't come up with anything to feel other-than-gloomy about. And at least half of that gloom is suppressed outrage – you know, the idea that, why expend all that adrenalin on things no one else seems to care about one way or the other. So righteous anger gives away to despair – which, in turn, gives way to, I guess, the final form of decadence, namely cynical humor. And it's not as if it's not possible to “envision a better world” -- au contraire! All you have to do is read some of the classic distributist/agrarian tracts to realize that not only is a better world possible, but it has already occurred, in recorded history. But the question then arises, if things were so much better “in the old days”, why did they have to change? Whose idea was it to trade in that sepia-tinted time for what we have now, namely Northern New Jersey triumphant? (Actually, I should clarify that expression a bit. Technically, if you look on a map, far northern New Jersey is up in the mountains and is actually quite a green and pleasant place. But to give an idea of the future that awaits all of us, I frequently conjure up the image of the suburbs of New York City on the “Jersey side” -- namely the endless miles of sprawl, grunge, pollution, concrete, and utter tastelessness that spreads out in an ever-widening arc from one year to the next.)
Having offered that clarification, I should at least comment on something that threatens to restore the stars to the eyes of the ever-gullible American public – namely the fact that the “Dow” has been hovering around the 10,500 mark for quite a while now. And does this truly mean that the storm is over? Well... I guess if you hung tough when the stock market was in the 7000s, you're a lot happier now than you'd be if you'd engaged in “panic selling” at that point – you know, the kind of selling that the insiders take advantage of, because they have a much better idea than we mere mortals as to what the “floor” is and how soon things are going to improve, and by how much. In fact, my theory is that they know all of these things because they actually control them – at least to some extent. So when middle-class chumps make money on the market, it's partly dumb luck and partly because the amounts are too trivial for anyone with real power to bother taking them away. On the other hand, the aggregate “dumb outsider” investment in the market back when it stood at 14,000 was most definitely worth the effort; the effort was made, and it worked. So now we're fighting over the scraps while the big players have moved on to other pastures – like Dubai real estate I suppose.
But let me offer an additional observation. The stock market – assuming that it represents good news – is the only piece of good news out there. It is far outweighed by all of the massive chunks of bad news – like, for instance, the dollar... the balance of trade... Medicare and Medicaid... Social Security... real estate (still very much on the ropes)... American industry (you know, the kind with smokestacks)... entitlements in general... and so on. Just about the only shoe that has yet to fall is the inflation shoe, and just you wait, my pretties – 'cause when and if that one falls, the rest will all surely follow the way debris from a shipwreck follows the ship to the bottom. But as I have said before, it's not as if the situation is out of control. It is very much in control – just not by us, or by any elected official, or by anyone who requires "confirmation" by Congress. It's under the control of people with their own agenda, and the extent to which their agenda matches ours is random at best; in fact, the chances are very good that most of what's in their interests is not in ours, and vice versa. This is the “invisible hand” that I have written about previously, and it's at least of historical interest how long this invisible hand has been in existence at all... and how long it has had a stranglehold on the American economy (and the world economy, for that matter)... and how long it has been since the occupant of any significant elective office in the U.S. has not been one of its creatures. I have even traced, a while back, what I imagine to be the reasoning processes behind this gradual takeover of the world economy... which, in turn, necessitated a gradual takeover of world governments, and -- just to make things a bit less messy -- massive manipulation of "public opinion" and social values. Given the vested interests involved, one can hardly blame the power elite for having done what they've done... or for continuing to do it. Their program is, if you will, profoundly conservative, even if they do, from time to time, seem to take sides with radical and revolutionary elements. If one defines conservatism simply as the desire to maintain and add to existing power bases, then they are conservative. If one includes notions like democracy, morality, ethics, and the like, then they are anything but – so it really is a matter of definition. When their agenda calls for revolution, revolution is what we get; when it calls for stability and homeostasis, then we get those. So the “little people” -- of whom you and I are charter members – can only hope that their master plan at least calls for keeping us alive, and clothed, and fed, and with a roof over our heads. Now, admittedly – and as I have also pointed out recently – there are forms of slavery than can include all of these. And that, I submit, is exactly what we are living in today – a form of relatively painless, bourgeois servitude. And frankly, most people in that situation not only don't realize it, they wouldn't much care even if they did. I'm talking now about the “entitlement mentality”, which basically says, just give me my government check and I promise to behave. It is this attitude on the part of the majority of the population that was the dream of Utopian thinkers (or cynics) over the centuries; early attempts at actual implementation were made as part of the various revolutions of the late 18th and 19th Centuries... improvements in theory and practice accompanied the Progressive movement... but the crowning touch did not come until the post-World War I era, when the “Three Collectivisms” reigned supreme – Soviet Communism, National Socialism, and the New Deal. World War II – at least in Europe – was basically a struggle to see whose version of socialism would emerge triumphant – ours and the Soviets', or the Nazis'. And of course our version was always “socialism lite” compared to Stalin's, and it got a bit awkward for American liberals when we found ourselves fighting the Cold War against Russia for 45-odd years. But I say that was a matter of degree rather than kind – and there are still people in this country today, mostly in “halls of ivy”, who think that, really, Uncle Joe wasn't such a bad sort after all. (They would probably have preferred Trotsky, actually – but his ouster by Stalin & Co. caused a severe conflict in loyalties, which was most typically resolved in favor of Stalin, because of his superior ideas.) (Just kidding! He had more guns. Don't you know that liberals are all really gun-lovers at heart?)
But this is only one side of the equation – and, admittedly, a highly speculative one at that. What is not nearly so speculative is the idea that, with Obama, we have, perhaps, the most avowedly anti-middle class, anti-bourgeois administration in our history – worse even than FDR, who was the champion of the working man, and the middle class could dry up and blow away (and many did). But the paradox of American politics is that you can't be a “friend of the working (or unemployed, or on welfare) man (or woman)” unless you are also a friend of the rich; this seems to be the way it works. And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. All liberal “programs” that seem to favor the lower classes are ultimately forms of soma – a dull, deadening brew of programs and propaganda that serve, above all, to mollify and anesthetize. And this is not to say that the program does not provide outlets for anger and frustration; but violence is tolerated as long as it's directed at other members of the underclass. (Did you ever notice how all the urban rioting, looting, burning of the 1960s and 1970s was confined to inner-city neighborhoods? There was not one incident where the trouble spread out of the “ghetto” to middle-class neighborhoods. Accident? I don't think so. Somebody was directing things and making sure they didn't get out of control. I nominate the American Friends Service Committee -- but you may have a better idea.) So – as in ancient times – we have “games and circuses” to keep the underclass – the mob – occupied, and when that doesn't quite fill the bill we have the classic triumvirate of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. In any case, it takes a considerable amount of planning – and considerable resources – to pull this off, year after year and decade after decade, and that's where the rich come into the picture, because they're the ones who can manipulate, for example, the supply of housing, jobs, and “substances of abuse”. They're also the ones who control the “games and circuses” -- professional sports, the entertainment industry, the popular music industry, and so on. And who keeps a steady supply of cheap and deadly weapons flowing into the inner cities? The inner-city residents themselves? Highly doubtful. This is no more likely than the notion that “insurgents” in sub-Saharan Africa finance their own weapons caches. You want to subdue a bothersome, but blessedly ignorant and violence-prone population? Provide them with all the weapons and ammo they need to kill each other off. Frankly, I don't see any significant difference between the “program” as it applies to Africa and the one being implemented in our inner cities. In each case, it involves a population the Regime feels it would be better off without. And, of course, weapons aren't the only weapon – we also have birth control, abortion, malnutrition, and (some would say) AIDS -- but certainly many other diseases that are only aggravated by Third World "conditions". Who ever thought that, as world population levels reached a point where they were deemed “threatening”, someone wouldn't try to do something about it, in an organized, systematic, and untraceable way? Take Margaret Sanger as your starting point, if you like -- what "eugenics" boils down to is getting rid of the non-white races (and, as a bonus, Catholics). (Although I suppose we have to keep a few around to work in the fields; I'll let someone else figure that one out.)
So while the rich wage war – through a legion of means – on the world's poor -- with the full and enthusiastic collaboration of many "leaders" of the poor, note -- a slightly different kind of war must be waged on the middle class. Their numbers must be kept under control as well, of course – which is why, for example, the Catholic birth rate is no higher these days than the non-Catholic, among “white” people. All have been made to drink ZPG, population control, and “family planning” Kool-Aid, and it's only the militant outliers who have managed to resist the pressure. But overall, the strategy when it comes to the middle class is not brute physical coercion; it is suppression, and oppression, through other means – economic primarily, but also psychological. The privilege associated with being a member of the lower strata, as George Orwell so perceptively pointed out in “1984”, is that no one cares what you think, as long as you stay out of the way of the polite people. The class whose heads are constantly being worked on, by contrast, is the middle class; they are the “idea people”, the ones whose obedience and loyalty are made to be -- and feel -- voluntary by the process of front loading them with ideas. (And this is where the public schools come in, and why the public school establishment and the teachers' unions fight like demons against things like private, charter, religiously-based, and home schooling.) Now, of course, these are ideas that are either completely bogus, or ones that might have had some validity at some point, but those days are long gone. What the Regime is asking, in other words, is that the middle class remain loyal to ideas that the Regime itself has not believed in for generations – if ever; it is hypocrisy of the highest order. So we see a marked bifurcation in the propaganda efforts that come out of Washington and the media outlets – one menu for the “games and circuses” crowd and another menu for the “idea” crowd, with very little overlap. In fact, the middle class tends to be downright proud of the fact that they are not swayed by the superficial and carnal amusements of the lower classes – and yet, in a way, the “ideas” they hold dear are much more destructive. If left to its own devices, the underclass would... well, just remain the underclass, with its revolting, primitive, and self-destructive habits. It would almost certainly never come up with the idea of, for example, invading a country in the Middle East and killings its citizens by the hundreds of thousands; for that sort of thing you need a firmly-entrenched bourgeois world view (aided and abetted by the Regime, of course). And, in fact, the Obama administration needs people with this world view – ideational cannon fodder – every bit as much as any previous administration did; and yet their zeal for “fairness”, and “equality”, and making the rough places plain, is causing them to kill the golden goose – i.e. the American middle class. To kill it, that is, or to allow it to be killed – which is ultimately the same thing. So all of the propaganda coming out of this administration is aimed directly at the middle class and its supposed “values” -- despite the fact that Obama keeps giving lip service to the notion of not allowing the middle class to become extinct.
But why, Mr. President, should they _not_ become extinct? That is the real question. Do they support you? Do their votes count? Wouldn't all that money they keep hoarding be better used by your administration – for, you know, the “underprivileged”, “the children”, etc.? Plus, look at their “values”... look at their bad taste, their terminal uncoolness and unhipness. So tacky! And how about those “tea parties” that the Democrats have so thoroughly denounced and condemned? And how about those “town hall meetings” in which middle-class ignoramuses spew hate and invective at their own elected representatives? No, clearly the time has come to wipe the slate clean and take a giant leap toward the socialist utopia you and your party have been dreaming of all these years – a society of the deserving -- i.e. workers, non-workers, the handicapped, and the generally helpless – ruled by a benign, educated, sophisticated (and atheistic, needless to say) elite. We're so close to this already; with just a few minor adjustments...
Is this the explicit policy and program of the Obama administration? Have these goals been expressed in so many words? When you add up all that has been said and done – even so far, in less than a year – it could not get a whole lot more explicit. Of course, “code words” are used now and then, and popular expressions that any decent person would be embarrassed to argue with – like “it's our turn”. (In which case, who just lost their turn?) So yes, to paraphrase John Paul Jones, they have not yet begun to fight – against the middle class and against middle-class values.
I note a further irony here. It's the middle class who have been most consistently in favor of our twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – as well as of “the war on terror” in general, not to mention “the war on drugs”, and all of the other bogus “wars” the government has come up with in order to demand unquestioning obedience and unlimited funding. Well has the Regime learned the lessons of all of America's previous wars: All you have to do is call something (anything, really) a “war” and all considerations of frugality and common sense go out the window. And any hint of skepticism is met with charges of disloyalty and treason. (Don't believe me – just go back and watch the video tapes of the Republican debates in which Ron Paul participated.) So really, the Regime's work is stunningly simple – just plant a few ideas, and watch them “go viral” in the skulls of the middle class; you'll have all the support you need from then on, while the more skeptical underclass says, “the hell with it”, and leaves the building.
And to what do I attribute this sorry state of affairs – one that will characterize 2010 just as much as it characterized 2009, and so many previous years? It basically boils down to this: Lack of capacity for independent thought. And this has a number of facets – one is lack of capacity for logic; one is disinterest in facts; one is a total disinterest in history; one is... not so much a disinterest in economics as a fear that, as a friend of mine pointed out, economics says that to get one thing, you have to give up something else. And this is where the middle class lines right up with the underclass – in its desire to have everything for nothing. Of course, the “everything” a typical middle class person wants is way more socially acceptable – you know, things like a retirement home on the golf course... whereas all an underclass person wants is sex, drugs, and... well, you know. But in fact, they are the very same in principle. The middle class person labors by the sweat of his brow, and then finally retires – if he makes it that far. Fair enough. But he expects a “return on investment” that is disproportional, to put it mildly – no change in his standard of living, for example... if anything, an upgrade! But he will never characterize it that way – either to himself or to anyone else. No, it's an “entitlement”. But wait – the underclass guy is also “entitled” because of... well, “discrimination” I guess... and “racism”, and “lack of opportunity”. So we have an entire society that is entitled to get back more from the system than they put into it. No wonder we have a national debt in the trillions, and have to borrow from China! Now, do you see any chance of this madness – or any facet of it – stopping, or even slowing down, in 2010? I don't. But of course, the “game changer” to all of the above would be hyperinflation – and don't say it couldn't happen here, because it could. But as I said, the situation is not as out of control as it looks – and if hyperinflation -- basically the elimination of the cash economy and of the dollar as a medium of exchange, both domestically and worldwide -- is in the interests of the Regime, that's what we'll get – maybe not in 2010, but eventually. And if it's not, well... then we still have the slow death of the economy as we know it... the decline of prosperity... increasing collectivization... and the chronic infection caused by a gradual bloodletting, which will eventually turn the middle class into the newest demographic in the underclass... but as to the point at which they actually realize this, who knows?