The Moment of Truth — March 28, 2009

Justice v Law

There can be little doubt that the years of the W. Bush Administration comprised a web of disasters from which our country will not soon, and not without difficulty, extricate itself. But such a regime could not have risen to power without a lot of bad pipe being laid beforehand. Bush’s contribution to the rape of the world economy may seem like only one strand of that web, but in many ways it has defined the pattern of the web’s weaving. The preparation for said rape was the assertion of the rights of ownership and profit over every other right.

Even before the advent of communism, the capitalist was ever ready to stomp on the slightest assertion of rights by his workers. He was more often than not aided in his efforts to squelch labor activism by the state. Marchers in Haymarket Square protesting a police attack on striking McCormick Harvesting Machine workers, two of whom the cops had shot dead, were themselves victims of a police riot. Subsequently four of the Haymarket protestors were scapegoated and hanged. Railway workers striking in support of Pullman workers had their activities squelched by US Marshalls and thousands of Army troops. Auto workers began sit-down strikes in Toledo, Ohio in 1934, a strategy in the next two years repeated in Atlanta and Flint, and a new enemy of the supercapitalist was born: the United Auto Workers union.

So Henry Ford declared the UAW his mortal enemy. He manipulated racial prejudice to thwart worker solidarity. But when the USA entered WWII, Ford had more work than workers. The labor market was tight. Ford was forced to recognize the UAW, which now had the power to demand better wages and working conditions. Ford’s chief of thuggery, former boxer and lifelong large-predator pet owner, Harry Bennett, was in charge of anti-union violence. He didn’t succeed in breaking the union, but he and Ford did incite a lot of intra-working-class racial violence.

A particularly notable incident occurred during a workers’ picket. A truckload of black workers recruited by Bennett’s men had just been driven up from down south, by night, and taken directly inside the factory, not suspecting what Bennett and Ford had in store for them. When the mainly white union workers arrived outside to picket, Bennett and his hirelings forced the black men out to face the picketers. Of course anyone inside the factory was considered a strikebreaker. The black men were given a choice: go out carrying a baseball bat or two-by-four to defend yourselves, or get thrown out to the lions unarmed. The result was predictably bloody.

Activities of this kind on the part of Ford led eventually, and directly, to the days in June 1943 when Detroit exploded in citywide racial violence. Yes, Henry Ford incited one of the worst race riots in US history solely because he saw it as the height of impertinence for a worker to demand anything more than he was willing to give. He was pretty sure the Jews and their global Zionist conspiracy were behind the unions, anyway, so he was doing all of Christendom a service by employing Harry Bennett to put his ruthless tactics into action.

But even long before unions, in the days of slavery, the first seeds of intra-class warfare along racial lines were sown in the USA. When black people were finally free, so to speak, to seek jobs, it was so much easier for a white working man to consider a black working man his enemy than to challenge the authority of the capitalist to ream both of them through every orifice.

Back even further, in New England, where the pious Christians first invaded the New World, it was considered against God’s will to struggle against, or in their parlance “bemoan,” one’s lot in the great chain of economy. Out west who the hell knows what was going on. If someone had enough money he could have you and all your friends chopped up and your bodies fed to a Chinaman’s pigs. In Mexico there was enough revolutionary spirit to at least challenge the fairytale of upper class beneficence and superiority, which is why California often sees progress in labor standards the 49 other states think must be the result of hippie dope fiends running the state government.

So for the most part we as a people have been pretty well conditioned to believe that those with the most money deserve all deference and benefit of the doubt, and those losers who have to work for a living should just shut up and thank the supercapitalist for creating their jobs. Workers are always prepared to believe the worst about themselves, and the resource-grabbers and dividend grazers are always prepared to believe in their divine right to absolutely anything they can get their hands on. It’s a socio-psychological pathology organizing the most intense narcissism on the wealthy end, opposite the most severe case of collective Stockholm Syndrome on the other.

Viewed in this way, tycoon-exceptionalists from the lofty intellectual heights of Ayn Rand to the grotesque depths of self-righteous ignorance inhabited by Bill O’Reilly, are symptoms of a disease afflicting the whole nation. Allan Bloom, another symptom, in his seminal neo-conservative screed The Closing of the American Mind, attempts, as his mentor Leo Strauss did, to connect Nietzsche to the American left. But Nietzsche’s issues of human worth, of worthiness and unworthiness, of strength and weakness, are nowhere so clearly expressed as in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. One day I hope to map the contortions of sophistry and logic required to pin the modernist version of the Divine Right of Kings on the labor, civil rights and anti-war movements in the USA while denying their existence on the intellectual right. Such contortions on the part of rightwing apologists require a prodigious talent for self-deception.

Only through such self-deception can one observe the political process in the USA and declare it fair, or at worst only moderately distorted by the wealthiest one thousand people in the country. Only through such self-deception could executives of a corporation only kept alive with US government billions assert with outrage that any of that money “belongs” to them. That they are “owed” that money. The manipulating class has gotten so brainwashed by its own bullshit propaganda that it really thinks the rules it invented still apply even after their Mad Queen’s Tea Party-style folly has been unmasked.

This is a class of people who combine the twisted logic of Groucho Marx, the frivolous comic pomposity of Margaret Dumont, and the sanctimony of Alan Alda during the final season of M*A*S*H. Even God herself can’t believe such beings have existed so long without ODing on hubris or their own semen. Until now.

The idea that whatever you can secure the legal right to profit from is somehow yours is intellectually and morally pathetic. Laws are often unjust and always have been. I don’t think I could be accused of poisoning the well if I said no one in his right mind doubts this. Laws are bad approximations of the way people need to behave in order for civil society to operate. It’s up to each person to make up for the failures of the law. Instead today’s Randian narcissist purchases the laws he wants to follow, then calls them justice because they’re law.

Only in the anti-government superwealthy class, which talks non-stop about hating government and its interference, is influencing legislation considered natural, and a business expense. Only the superwealthy corporations and individuals pay to remove laws they don’t agree with. They’ve created the very same legal structure they then complain is preventing them from creating prosperity for all. Phil Gramm, who led legislation to remove rules limiting financial and corporate oversight is not just a lackey of the supercapitalists, he’s also a member.

Why is our government giving the financial wizards trillions now that they’ve been discovered to have done nothing with their freedom but ransack the economy? For one reason: the government is them. They are the government. This is not an issue of whether government is good or bad for business. This is class war, and they declared it, but for some reason we were suckers enough to believe them when they said class war was peace.

The current economic implosion has taken the polish off ideas of superwealthy carte blanche as necessary to keep the economy going. Superwealthy carte blanche has been revealed as a destroyer of economic health. The anger arising now over the disaster wrought by the wealthy has been a long time coming. It’s been deferred at the insistence of both the supercapitalists and their politician-employees. Those two overlapping groups may rue having belabored their special privileges, because the longer these elites held off our legitimate anger, the worse it was going to be for them when the anger finally boiled up to a volume bigger than their BS canisters could contain.

The beauty of having a common enemy is beguiling. It has the potential to unify groups who have always had more in common than not. The right has not let up trying to stigmatize illegal aliens, by which they mean “foreigners are taking your jobs,” gay men: “they want special rights,” Media Elites by which they mean the evil Jews, and of course the ever-present threat of socialism. If anything, since their well-earned crushing defeat at the polls last November, they’ve turned up the rhetoric of incitement to intra-class violence, hoping to forestall the class unity that will inevitably lead to their destruction.

Infrastructure upkeep is not “socialism.” Government bailout money must not be a replacement economy for the supercapitalists to squander the way they did the original economy—such a demand by the people is not “unjust.” Decrying reasonable requests as injustice is going to backfire. We the people are bound to say, at some point, “Gee, if what’s unjust seems perfectly reasonable to me, I must be an unjust person. I guess justice is a principle I don’t care to abide by. I might as well go hog wild.”

There has to be limit to how long you can make your own laws, serving only yourselves and screwing everyone else, and call it justice. Eventually you render both law and justice a couple of bad jokes. And without respect for law or justice, what’s to stop an angry mob from demanding your head on a pike? Just offering a word of caution. I predicted this disaster, so you supercapitalists have every reason to heed my warning.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!