March 26, 2009
Class War? Bring It On
Imagine: A nation of hardworking people –
who’ve been forced to watch as their homes,
jobs and futures have evaporated thanks to
the greed, incompetence and malfeasance of a
cabal of penthouse-dwelling banking
overlords – has shown a measure of
indignation when informed that the worst of
the worst of these, the human carp occupying
the boardroom and corner offices at AIG,
were being treated to $170-odd million in
bonuses thanks to their tax dollars.
A Politico.com pundit, inexplicably selected
for an interview on the BBC, lamented a
“disastrous” week for the Obama
Administration owing to the rising tide of
popular anti-oligarch sentiment,
characterizing the groundswell of popular
rage against the AIG welfare scheme as
tantamount to “class war.” It was a mantra
echoed throughout Fox News, the
wingnutosphere and the grumbling classes of
newly-defanged Washington reactionary
parasites aghast at the thought that
anything should ever come between a banker
and his next Ferrari or oceanfront condo.
The rabble were getting ever so slightly
restless! Oh, the impertinence! Oh, the
horror! Imagine: The poor, the powerless and
the hungry might stop licking the boot that
Well, it would be about damn time. The
Armani-clad parasite class have had a free
ride since the first seconds of the Reagan
Administration, engineering three decades of
rising national productivity paired with
flatlined or declining real wages for some
98 percent of the population even as their
own pay packets bloated like blood-engorged
ticks. The old disparity benchmark between
the wages of the highest- and lowest-paid
employees in the American workforce used to
be a scant 1000:1. Nurtured under the
loving, protective wings of Reagan, Bush I,
Clinton and Bush II, that figure now stands
at a high of 80,000:1 amongst the highest
echelons in the financial services field.
Think about that: It takes 80,000 times more
money to feed, clothe, house and amuse a
Bernard Madoff than it does to do the same
for the person who takes out your garbage.
The latter provides you with a clean living
environment. The former engineers a global
economic collapse, profiting as you are
evicted from your home. Cool with you?
Oh, but we shouldn’t point out such things.
After all, it might provoke a class war or
Guess what: The class war has already begun.
In fact, it’s been going on for centuries.
The thing is that only one side knows about
it, and only one side has been fighting.
It has always been an easy matter to
convince the broad mass of Americans that it
is in their best interests to celebrate the
vast material success of the anointed,
storied men who give them orders and exploit
their labor for their own profit. After all,
the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the
governing class should be rewarded and
encouraged! These titans of business
create jobs! It is owing to their vast,
immane beneficence that we are able to toil
in their factories and shine their shoes in
order to buy the Kraft American Singles and
Ford Pintos that they wish to sell us!
We should be grateful. And – if we’re
really, really good – we might even be
allowed to join them. Buy that lotto ticket.
Or maybe Regis Philbin will ask you if you
want to be a millionaire, or Ed McMahon will
show up at your door with an oversized
check. Or, if you only work a little
harder for a little longer and put a
little more of your hard-earned money
into shares of their overpriced stocks and
bonds, just maybe you’ll be able to
trade up some day to a McMansion of your own
– packed to the gills with sulfur-filled
It’s a con. It’s always been a con – the
oldest con in the book. Hypnotize the rubes
with glittering baubles, pander to their
basest instincts towards hoarding and
competition, dangle the carrot of “the good
life” a few inches before their noses, and
use every tool at your disposal – the TV,
the pulpit, the editorial page – to
encourage them to dream, dream, dream of the
“better life” awaiting them somewhere down
the yellow brick road, whether in heaven
above or in a gated community cul-de-sac.
By definition, a dreamer is not engaged with
reality. The dreamer doesn’t notice that his
time, his energy, his rightful share of
resources and his physical health are being
siphoned off with every passing day. By the
time the con becomes obvious and he reaches
the charnel house at the yellow brick road’s
dead end, it’s too late to do anything about
The class war, as practiced daily in the
office parks and brokerages and factory
floors of the United States, is the ultimate
masterpiece in asymmetrical warfare – one
side armed to the teeth and out for blood,
the other blissfully unaware of being under
attack. For a fleeting second, some feared
that the AIG bonuses might have disrupted
this precious asymmetry. Had it done so, and
justice, the last investment banker would be
sobbing at the center of the charred
wreckage of the last McMansion.
fear: Another $1 trillion was delivered
safely into the bankers’ hands, the Dow went
up 500 points, and all was forgiven. And as
Dorothy Parker once said, “Thus they are
both fit and well/Who should be by rights in
And as the Everly Brothers said: “Dream,
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