Cars fed on corn, people fed on horseshit

Dave and Joe ponder socialism and the Tea Party

Dear Joe,

The Tea Parties started out as Ron Paul supporters in protest of both the neocons and the faux bleeding heart liberals and have been co-opted and corrupted by others so unfortunately are not what they started out to be.

I agree both Dems and Reps have been and are horribly corrupt and just two sides of the same worthless coin flipped for our confusion and division and "their" amusement and profit. My view of Dems and Reps has always been the Dems take your money and give it to people that don't deserve it to get votes and the Reps take you money and keep it for themselves. They are learning much from each other and the main difference now are the sound bites. One of the reasons I have not watched TV for the last 15 years. Few ever wonder why there is almost always a 50/50 split and we just flip back and forth thinking we finally got rid of the last bastards.

I don't think socialism hasn't fared well in the past either though with a few horrible examples coming to mind such as several periods in Russia as well as Maoist China. Hell China is much more capitalistic now and they actually put their criminals to death rather than reward them with large bonuses. I've always been technical and not much of a history buff but want to learn so what examples do you have of socialism working well? Seems it can be just as corrupt as our "democracy". I'm mostly inclined to hope for a benevolent dictator.

I'm basically libertarian — smaller government is better, do whatever you want but don't hurt or bother anyone else, and I supported Ron Paul since I do believe in the constitution, free markets and capitalism as long as they are kept honest, which is one of the two purposes of government in my opinion — keep the playing field level and protect us. Problem is they have not been kept level or honest here in the US and elsewhere for a long time as the political and financial systems are horribly rigged and the markets highly manipulated by the likes of Government Sachs on behalf of the Plunge Protection Team. And as far as protection, we are routinely subjected to scare tactics for the financial benefit of the military-industrial complex rather than truly protected from things like scams perpetrated on old folks and anyone else naive, ecological poisoning and ruining our food stock all for profits.

I feel that what Obama has been doing could certainly be called socialism since we are bailing out so many individuals, states and companies that have been anything prudent. I've always worked hard and saved and been fiscally responsible but my finances have been devastated this last year and I don't see Obama's version of socialism helping me or hardly anyone at all except the corporations. Actually, I think he's fascist not socialist, given the continued collusion with big business against the American people (my definition of fascism). I feel it was quite socialist/fascist giving future tax money to people for cars and houses that did not earn it rather than to have given every man, woman and child that was a US citizen $50,000 equally and fairly rather than selectively and mostly instead to the banksters and Government Motors etc.

So I don't know what the answer is but what we have is not working and I'm unconvinced socialism would work either as I think it reduces everyone efforts to the minimal effort as there is little incentive to produce to maximum when your efforts reward someone else that does not often even try. Best would be if we had a resurgence of honest and a sense of universal morality where indeed we were not out to screw anyone and everyone always out for ourselves. I'm all for improving one's conditions through hard work and personal efforts and being able to enjoy the results and do not want to be forced to help anyone else but rather want that to be my own personal decision.

Don't consider me heartless as I do feel that we could and should normally help out a lot of folks that have come upon hard times through no fault of their own such as folks born with disabilities or suffering accidents. As a nation we can and could have helped folks a lot more than we did. Instead we often buy dictators for our corporate profits and the money is gone. I just don't think we should have the welfare system in any way remotely resembling what it is now. If someone loses a job then our government can give them a job as there is certainly much to be done, or help train them for a new job and help with some daycare while they learn or give folks jobs providing the daycare, but just don't put them on the installment plan for free just to secure their votes at the expense of everyone else when society gets nothing out of it but a permanent leech that now thinks doing nothing is a way of life.

Please explain what your views of socialism are as I for one do not have a good image or opinion of it at present after the long history of failed and entrenched welfare and all the useless bailouts to people and companies that did not deserve to be bailed out when my own savings, investments and job and income opportunities were quite devastated after working my ass off my entire life and not getting a single nickel of all this largesse going on but am totally on my own without a shred of support from any government entity.

I do agree with most of what you rant about, but I just fail to see how socialism is the answer — knowing full well that what we have currently is certainly not.

Thanks,

Dave

Dave,

My apologies for taking so long to answer your letter. I'm always short of time these days, partly because of age and less time to accomplish things, or as a good friend of mine calls it, ERDT: "Estimated Remaining Drinking Time. Plus there is the age-accompanying slowing of every process. I now take a book to the bathroom — to piss. Right now, I am pissing my way through Lionel Trilling, which somehow seems appropriate. The net result has been that I've not answered as many reader letters as I would like.

Your letter exemplifies the quandary of countless Americans these days. So I must make time for another overly wordy, poorly informed, meandering reply of the sort visitors to this site have become accustomed.

About the Tea Party movement. Yeah, you're right. It is not what it started out to be. Personally, I believe it has been co-opted by ultra conservative GOP think tanks operating in the background. I've seen it happen before and I believe I am seeing it happen now. With no proof, mind you. However, when I smell fresh dog shit in the air, I assume the presence of a dog somewhere about.

I am not alone in this. Many veteran journalists agree with me privately, but cannot say so publicly because they cannot prove it. They supposedly have journalistic standards and public responsibilities to which they adhere (they cannot prove that either). I, on the other hand, am moreover retired from journalism as a vocation, and have a big mouth. In the typical crankiness of aging Southerners given to drink, I have taken to calling things as I see them. Or smell them, as the case may be. And these days with the political climate reeking like a whorehouse after the fleet pulls out, the olfactory bulbs reign triumphant.

A few years from now someone will write a book about the neocon co-opting of the Tea Party. And all six copies sold will be devoured by amateur political junkies, one of whom will then launch the standard internet rattle and buzz about it, to be read and discussed at length on forums by the other five purchasers of the book. And of course, some university pinhead will do a thesis, which will be published as a book by a university press. Three other scholars will read it ten years later while writing their own thesis. And the Tea Party will become some obscure flake of history's dandruff.

But now is now. The Tea Party is "Now the News," according to MSNBC. Assuming that a 57-year-old matron in jogging pants and a Minnesota Twins baseball cap leering into the camera and dangling a teabag can be called news (It doesn't take much). Anyway, when it comes to the Tea Party's neocon DNA, look at what you've got. A bunch of fringy far right libertarians, who by no means represent the typical libertarian, and guys like Ron Paul, who admittedly has some attractive points, but like the fringe libertarians, seems convinced that a nation of 300 million can operate without any sort of government. How different is that from Grover Norquist, who was gonna reduce government to the size of a baby, then "drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub" (I think I've seen that sick fucker on CSI). As far as I am concerned, if it croaks like a frog and bumps its ass on the ground while jumping into a lake, it's a frog for all intent and purposes.

Regarding your comment, "Dems tak
e your money and give it to people who don't deserve it to get votes. And the Republicans take you money and keep it for themselves."

Cute, but not completely correct. I know because, being in the half-truth business myself, I write that sort of stuff every day. Both parties take our money and give it to people who do not deserve it, so they can pile up campaign support dollars and get fat jobs when their terms are over. This was known as bribery before the syndicates bribed Congress and the Supreme Court into sanctioning the practice.

Getting back to the undeserving "leeches" in our society sponging off the rest of us … I defy you to personally go out there, take names and photos, then send them to me. And I mean personally, not just some cut and paste propaganda off the web. I am not saying you will not find any. I'm just saying pack some extra shoe leather because such citizens represent a very small portion of the national population. I'll see you in ten years when you are finished.

In testimony to the durability of certain strains of bull shit, Republicans and neocons are still successfully flogging the old welfare queen stuff, not to mention claiming that millions of illegal aliens getting free medical services (This is gonna turn your stomach, but I believe everyone should get free medical services — even pets. Animals constitute entire nations of other sentient beings sharing the planet. Take a look at the European Commission's Animal Welfare legislation. American citizens should be so lucky). When the GOP is not flogging the iconic "urban single mother," code for black woman, it is minting new myths to suit the occasion. Such as, and this is may be my all time favorite: "ObamaCare Likely to Mandate Free Sex Change' Surgeries for citizens and illegal immigrants" (Liberty Counsel Legal Group; Aug. 4, 2008). By golly that should stop illegal immigration cold, if anything can. "One foot over the border and it's whack and tuck surgery for you Pedro!"

Hic est verum, Davarino: Neither party does shit for ordinary or poor folks unless they are forced to, unless it is to their campaign or election advantage, or unless it will funnel public money into the private corporations backing them. Like giving ghetto kids fast food chain coupons.

You wrote, "They are learning much from each other and the main difference now are the sound bites."

That's always been the case. And it always will be as long as they can keep the public snookered into believing there are actually two parties in this country.

Regarding your comment, "I have not watched TV for the last 15 years."

Big deal. Everyone else does. And you gotta live among them and survive. So you are still fucked. I finally gave up on trying. I now watch "The Office," "The Good Wife," and "Law and Order" nightly. Even here in Mexico. However, you have saved yourself the endless insult of having the capitalist corporate cartels wipe their asses on your brain daily. That's at least something. It's more than I can claim.

As to: "I don't think socialism hasn't fared well in the past. A few horrible examples come to mind such as several periods in Russia as well as Maoist China. Hell, China is much more capitalistic now and they actually put their criminals to death rather than reward them with large bonuses. I've always been technical and not much of a history buff, but want to learn so what examples do you have of socialism working well?"

I can tell by your letter that understanding socialism is going to be a long slog for you. For starters, the American technical and scientific education usually amputates human insight, if at all possible, and bludgeons the humanistic spirit in order to support its absolute claims to all rightness, logic and reason. From the tiniest sub particle to the magnificent complexity of the human mind ("Why hell son, the brain is just a sack of chemicals! Have some more Prozac."), all things are deemed mechanistic and the world is one big Newtonian clockwork, stars, human emotions … Everything.

Fortunately for those maimed by an American scientific/technical education, our corporatist government cherishes the technician and the scientist, and rewards them well. They are absolutely necessary for surveillance of the people, the production of bunker bombs, carcinogens, corn syrup, high tech dissemination of propaganda, and dazzling the proles with phony "technological progress." As in, "Wow! Would you look at that! A car that eats corn. The environment is saved!" And understandably those being rewarded are generally supportive of the capitalist system that values them so highly. That most have never read Rimbaud doesn't bother them one bit.

One the other hand, these people have absolute faith in reading and the benefits of the textual world of information. So I'd suggest reading some real history, absorb some background. Then throw the books away and think for yourself. Historians, like American scientists and the medical establishment, are whores for the empire. Generally speaking they are duly accredited and licensed propagandists and commissars for whatever regime they live under in their time. Unfortunately, one has to consume a lot of their published tripe to grasp how the history or economics rackets work.

Whether by leftist or rightist historians, you'll get the full treatment about Maoist China, Stalinist Russia. Yada yada. Neither of them was socialism any more than what we have here is democracy.

China as the new face of the successful state? China has simply gone to Confucian capitalism, which is the same gangsterism as the old capitalism, but without any civil liberties or human rights. This of course, is seen as an advance in the eyes of the world capitalist syndicates go. This is why the corporations all moved their operations to China. Slaves were cheaper there than in the US. "At last," they smiled, to themselves, "We can now fuck the worker blind, pay them shit and beat the hell out of them for laughs. Sell their second kidney on the medical market if we chose,  what the hell."

People being people though, Chinese folks fresh from the farm and working 70 hours a week so they can save up for a microwave or something, declare it to be now the best system in the world. Just like Americans do. And the workers watch the "emergence of China's dynamic new middle class," consisting mostly of state educated city folks trained in newer, more sophisticated ways to work the peasantry to death, so the middle class can buy a three hundred square foot apartments and cars. Janked on nationalism, patriotism takes hold and they all say to one another: "Is this a great country or what?" I would further add that China is by no means more advanced because it executes more "criminals" (Stalin would have loved your definition of advanced Bubba!) than the US. Given that China has one and a third billion people. I would be curious to see if per capita executions exceed the US. Maybe it does. However, a high execution rate is a curious standard by which to judge the success of a civilization.

Examples of socialism working well? Various types and degrees of socialism are working well all over the planet, ranging from the communal sharing of certain indigenous peoples, to the adaptations one sees in Scandinavian countries and elsewhere in Europe. Toss the political rhetoric and just look. The common citizens are secure, at least until the innumerable world corporatists plotting to blow them out of the water succeed.

And they will. They can't lose. Capitalist corporations have a grip on the world's monetary system, and most importantly, the means of production to supply the world's human needs. Especially in the so-called "advanced countries." People everywhere salute advancement. And world's co
rporate cartels get to define advancement. To them advancement is the degree of cheap unnecessary crap you can ram down the people's throats, and how much you can blackmail human beings for such things as health care. Not to mention convince them that the rest of the world is not safe, that it is not made up of ordinary folks who just wanna raise families, screw and sleep well at nights, but rather is full of murderous heathens out to enslave the local Cub Scout Troop and blow up the neighborhood 7-Eleven.

To my mind, socialism is this:

A community and national philosophy, a commonly shared and not necessarily politicized way of life wherein the first priority is the fundamental well-being of the people (also known as "the masses," a term you have probably been programmed to wrinkle your brow in ominous suspicion of.) "Fundamental well-being" means that everyone eats well, enjoys safe and adequate homes and a common standard of good health. It means that children are educated to do more than just the rote tasks that serve corporate empires. It means the man actually doing the work man negotiates the value of his labor. It means that somewhere in the last third or quarter of his life, that working man, after enjoying his freedom, bacon and common work, and diligently sustaining his fellow men, is released from his toil. Released into security and peace and modest but guaranteed sustenance. He is free to nurse his aches, chase old women or take up Bourbon or Buddhism. Or both, as I have. Whatever he chooses as a free man in a free and benevolent socialist society.

Don't let the ideologues, demagogues and half-assed spoiled little middle class jerks who call themselves socialists in this country fool you. Socialism has to do with man's innate longing for justice, the undying heart within us, and all that is generous and good in that heart. That's why so many have so willingly died for it, and will continue to do so in corners of the world we will never see or hear about because we are not allowed to, but which are never the less part of this world, and therefore affective of this world.

You wrote, "I feel it was quite socialist/fascist giving future tax money to people for cars and houses that did not earn it rather than to have given every man, woman and child that was a US citizen $50,000 equally."

Nah, it's just your standard mugging of the people, then giving them some part of their own money back to prime the pump for another mugging. Doesn't matter how it was handed out. A crack addict will score crack, creating prison jobs and payday for lawyers. The mild spirited school teacher and bookkeeper will bank or invest it in some financial institution, where it can again be stolen, once "consumer confidence" and "faith in the economy has been restored." Under capitalism, everybody's life turns a profit for the empire. Capitalism's golden calf, the gross domestic product, makes no distinctions between good and evil. Both are profitable.

And "socialist/fascist?" That's right up there with "Islamic fascism." Ain't possible. Go look 'em up. These things are mutually exclusive. However, our national brain stamping machinery has successfully demonized the term socialism, and then neatly welded it onto fascism, to boot. Talk about gilding the lily! Nevertheless, it works in America. And they ask me why I think this country is too far gone to redeem "within the system." Geesh!

Lastly, then I gotta run, there was:

"[I] do not want to be forced to help anyone else, but rather want that to be my own personal decision … don't put them on the installment plan for free, just to secure their votes at the expense of everyone else … when society gets nothing out of it but a permanent leech …"

For the sake of blog space, I cut the crap out of your rambling effort to define who is worthy of help and who is not, which is not yours to judge anyway, but God's, if such a judgment can indeed be made. We are all brothers and as such are our brother's keeper. Besides, when I look around me, I do not see a nation of leeches. I see damned few folks getting something for nothing. I see the top dogs, who actually are getting something for nothing, using the bullhorn of media to convince us that one of our brothers and neighbors is getting everything. They would have us believe that the most miserable among us — the poorly educated and those whose souls have been brutalized from birth by the system's failure to provide the basic security necessary for the development of whole people — are indeed getting something for nothing. And further believe that the most wretched deprived among us are a causal factor in the upcoming and rightful collapse of the overall meanest economic system ever devised. I see an empire of theft and coercion — both of our own people and others around the world in our name — which names the victim as the perp.

And I see a people who no longer feel the bonds of coursing humanity and their species, the sustaining earth under their feet, and beneath whose carpet their eternity waits. Rather I see a people conditioned to believe in the state and obey the state's designated bosses. And I see the moving hand of the corporate state active in all things from birth to death — opening the eyes of the newly born and closing those of the newly dead. There's a profit to be made in both, and every human activity in between.

Even those among us who can see, who can observe the hardening condition induced by the enemies of human liberty and well being, feel powerless in the face of this darkening and omniscient order. Despite the quadrennial claims of our political parties during national election years, no savior has arrived and none is coming. No Obama, no miracle of "green science," no national genius will emerge to lead us. We have only the simple, direct, undeceived intelligence of ordinary men and women to rely upon. We must regain respect for the seemingly meager and often lonely powers an individual does have, and choose work and a way of living upon which we can all rely.

Acknowledgment of that, and living accordingly, engenders humility, success and the physical and spiritual thrivance of men and women and children everywhere. It is the animating spirit of socialism.

And, oh yeah, Obama ain't no socialist. I wish the hell he was.

In art and labor,

Joe Bageant
Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

 

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