I keep my car radio when not playing CDs tuned to the local NPR affiliate in Orlando, FL because I like being reasonably well informed in as unbiased a manner as possible to the news of the day. WMFE which is the Orlando affiliate is an all talk radio station except on the weekends when it plays new and space music from 10pm to midnight. There are numerous hosts of serious news talk shows some of which have a call-in portion of the program where listeners can call in with their comments and/or questions for the guest.
This particular program that I happened to be listening to at the time was interviewing someone who self identified as a middle aged white male. Most of the program seemed to be built upon this concept promoted by the power structure that there is some sort of white male “privileged class” that for years has gotten away with all manner of bad stuff and that needs to be held accountable for the social injustices that it has perpetrated. This is all very interesting coming from a nation and a social power structure that has created the myth that America is a classless society where anyone who is willing to work hard enough can make it to the top. The fact of the matter is that numerous studies going clear back to the 1950 have proven this myth to be absolutely false. One such very noteworthy publication from this earlier period would be the classic study of class in America The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills.
In his book Mills details very accurately what constitutes class in America and how it functions from behind the scenes to control nearly every aspect of American life. The fact of the matter is that with Mills we have a clear admission from one of America’s most famous sociologists that there is indeed a ruling class in America that is based on the ownership and control of capital just as formed the basis for Marx’s theory of class conflict as the principle factor driving world history and not some mere incidental fact that need not even be mentioned in polite society so as not to offend anyone.
Economic survey studies today indicate that their are about 1000 billionaires on the planet and their combined net worth is equal to the combined net worth of 60% of the planets population. Of all the world’s developed countries the disparity in net worth and yearly income is the greatest in America the one country whose sacred ideology is based on the myth, i.e. the lie that America is a classless society. As a matter of fact the American ideology carries it one step further than that in making the absurd claim that America is the world’s first and only classless society and that this rabid embrace of the protestant work ethic is what separates America from the rest of the world. The protestant work ethic of the 18th & 19th centuries thus became pivotal in the establishment of the American ideology. Curiously enough the American ideology is premised upon the equally erroneous philosophical construct that America is a nation driven by pragmatism that has no time for ideology. Indeed the famous American philosopher of the late 19th century John Dewey labeled his philosophy “Pragmatism” and indicated that such was unique to the spirit and thinking of America which set it out in contradistinction to more European ways of looking at the world and analyzing reality.
The evolution of the American ideology got its first big boost from the famous Frenchman and world traveling bon vivant, savant, and raconteur to European nobility Alexis DeTocqville. Some of DeTocqville’s more salient quotes of the day still stand out however as a clear indication of the fact that indeed American was not a classless society even in the late 18th century. I am particularly found of DeTocqville’s famous quip that “only in America do both beggars and wealthy businessmen have the right to sleep under bridges. Wealthy businessman however choose not to exercise that right.”
So much for Tocqueville! The point being that even as far back as the late 19th century a class division based upon the ownership and control over capital had an obvious manifestation. Since America is a society that worships the warrior and defines its history as a series of wars that transformed society, we can fast forward from the War for Independence (always mistakenly called “The Revolutionary War”) to the War Against Succession (universally called “The Civil War”). The War Against Succession was indeed more revolutionary than the War for Independence in that it altered the fundamental property relations that existed in American society at that time. It made chattel slaves into either wage slaves of serfs. In that sense it was a great step forward!
Thanks to the US Navy blowing up the USS Maine in Havana harbor in 1898 and the yellow journalism of the great Randolph Hurst, the US ruling class was able to launch itself onto the course of imperialism and a war against Europe that has continued to this very day unabated and unaltered until one vanquishes the other or both vanquish each other. The Spanish American War was based upon the propaganda line that America had a moral obligation to bring “democracy” to the rest of the world at the point of a gun. Indeed the murder and mayhem in putting down the insurrection in the Philippines against US rule was so intense that the military employed the tactic of going into villages and slaughtering off every male that they could lay hands on. This often included mere infants. The bodies were then often piled up to form a rampart from which the marines could fight and defend themselves from the wrath of the indigenous people. That’s how “democracy” America style was bought to much of the world!
In spite of its ravages in the underdeveloped world the unstated but ever omnipresent enemy for US imperialism has always been and continues to be Europe its prime imperialist competitor and rival on the world stage of global commerce. The clever entrance of America in WWI and the finishing up of the job 26 years later in WII enabled the US ruling class and its governing power structure the supreme honor of bring “democracy” American style to Europe and thus nearly vanquishing the age old threat to the Novis Ordo Seculorum. Dropping two nukes on Japan enabled the imperialists to finally place the crown of king of the world on their own heads. A new age had begun where the balance of terror was something entirely controlled by US imperialism that now saw itself as master of the world.
Not so fast said the Soviet Union and thus began that curious non war called the Cold War that lasted from the end of the second world war to 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Luckily the nukes never flew and the well stated and enunciated antagonisms between the two cold warring blocs were never as great as the propaganda of the day led us to believe at the time. Indeed this so called Cold War worked as a convenient justification for both sides to pour enormous financial resources into building up the very selfsame kinds of military industrial complexes that president Dwight D. Eisenhower made reference to in his farewell address to the nation as representing the single greatest threat to the existing social order of the day. Its now obvious that no one really ever took seriously what president Eisenhower sought to warn us about!
Korea and Vietnam follow with the latter being the single greatest defeat for US arms until the present era. Vietnam was a war of choice that essentially bankrupted America at the time which was why Nixon had to go off the gold standard, i.e. the Breton Woods Agreement concluded at the end of WWII that gave the US dollar the supreme right to be the world’s only international reserve currency redeemable in Gold at the set rate of $35.oo per ounce. The beginning of the end of the end of the monopolar world had begun for the US empire but it was an event that no one noticed as economics will always remain “the dismal science” that attracts no real interest from the general public.
The neo-liberal agenda really began during the period of the cold war and was well epitomized in the person of one “Scoop” Jackson the erstwhile US Senator from the State of Washington who never ever saw a overly bloated defense procurement budget that he didn’t love. This was no doubt due largely to the fact that such prime military contractors as Boeing had there manufacturing plants and headquarters in the State of Washington. Indeed “Scoop” Jackson’s legacy as one of the greatest cold warriors of all time earned him naming rights on one of the very first Trident missile nuclear submarines the USS Jackson. His ultimate wet dream was no doubt a dream where all of Eurasia had been turned into a radio active sheet of glass never to rise again as any kind of a threat to US world domination.
The term “social fascism” was first used by the German Communist Party during the Weimar period. It was a term invented by the German Communist Party and approved by the Soviet comintern that was applied to the Social Democratic Party of Germany in what has come to be thought of in Marxist circles as one of the greatest historical errors of all times. It was a error in political tactics and strategy that led to Hitler’s National Socialist Party consolidating its feeble grasp on power and become the sole dictatorial political party of the land. Nevertheless the term does have real value today when used to describe the kind of very powerful political ideology that has arisen in America today that has taken the neo-liberal nationalistic war promoting and justifying agenda and turned it into a very real ideology that seeks to blame certain groups of American for the inability of capitalism to provide decent jobs and prosperity for all.
The same kind of Stalinist thinking and leadership that helped to produce the debacle of Nazi Germany did indeed survive the dissolution of the Soviet Union and made a happy home for itself in the labor bureaurocracy here in America as well as many other political and social institutions such as the Democratic Socialists of America that began as an adjunct to the Democrat Party and has since been folded into it. The kind of identity politics that has been used to pit one group of working Americans against another is the ideological creation of this devils spawn of ideas used to hide the most fundamental of all historical, economical, and social facts from view which is indeed that the principle social divide in America that needs to be addressed and that is determinative of everything else is the fact that one class owns capital and the other has only its labor power to sell to the capitalist.
By obfuscating this seminal fact social fascism in America has created a whole new class of official enemies in the very selfsame manner that the Nazis used the Jews as a convenient scapegoat for the inability of capitalism in Germany to provide jobs and prosperity for all. The situation is perfectly analogous although the form that the social fascist ideology takes here in the US is markedly different from the form it took in Nazi Germany which was decidedly more diabolical and toxic for those so affected.
The difference then is not one of kind but merely at the present time one of degree and the difference between Nazi Germany that sought to use war as a means to secure its objective of domination and control over all of Europe and the US ruling class and power structure that seeks to dominate and control the entire planet. It has been suggested that the present slow meltdown of the present world order which since the end of the second world war has been an American world order has put the US power structure on its hind legs as it prepares to produce an every greater holocaust for humanity than the one produced by Nazi Germany. This very real possibility that has gone from the merely possible to the now highly probable is something that is stirring the present global consciousness. Never before in all of human history has one dominant world power been capable of producing so much harm for so many as a result of its almost absolute control over such means of mass destruction that the public knows so very little about.
The role of the neo-liberal social fascist agenda that has created a whole new class of victims designed to ameliorate the injustice suffered by previously affected groups is what needs to be addressed in order for any broad based movement for the radical reconstruction of society to be successful. The tactical political purpose of the neo-liberal social fascist agenda is to prevent this from happening by keeping the working class psychologically disoriented socially disorganized. Both Obama and Hillary Clinton are the marketable personalities that the power structure uses to promote the neo-liberal social fascist agenda based as it is upon rabid nationalism, use of war as an instrument of policy, and the stigmatizing of certain demographic groups as being responsible for the past social injustices that capitalism itself was primary and central cause of.
If its true as the ancient Greeks stated that the unexamined life is not worth living then perhaps we can say the same thing about political life. It more than anything else in our present era needs to be examined quite carefully if only to avoid the kinds of pitfalls that humanity has fallen victim to in the past. In an era of increasing complexification there are no longer any easy answers. The way forward politically and socially is less clear than ever before even for those luck few who based their leadership on claims to absolute certainty that in fact never existed. If there is one thing that we are sure of it is that no such certainty exist today. The quantum world of physics is the perfect analogy to the larger social and political world that we as social revolutionaries have to deal with.
Who ever said that this would be easy?
Note-This piece was originally posted to Open Salon on 06-28-2014