When we all get together what a wonderful day that will be
by Elias Blum
The elites who run and ruin the world have lots of money – huge, unimaginably vast piles of money. And one of the tricks of that elite, as a way of perpetuating its own wealth and power, has been to drive a wedge between the middle class and the working class.
They have divided the rest of us – the 99% – into ‘blue collar’ and ‘white collar’; into those who couldn’t get a good education and those who can’t get a house because they are still paying back the costs of their education; into people who get their sense of worth, meaning and perspective from singing ‘Power in the Blood’ on Sunday mornings and those who get it watching obscure Scandinavian Noir art house movies on Saturday night; into people who make 1/400th of what the CEO does and people who make 1/200th of what the CEO does; into people who push a mop and people who push numbers around a computer screen; into people who are forced to wear stupid paper hats and people who are forced to wear stupid polyester ties. And then what the elite does is turn the lower against the middle and the middle against the lower, using cultural, lifestyle markers.
[I’ll keep my hypothetical examples American, since this trend is most clearly evident and pronounced there, and I was inspired to write it after feedback on the Trump/Hillary post I wrote a few days ago. But similarities can be found in the UK, Europe, and elsewhere.]
On the one hand, we have Bubba-Joe living in a trailer and driving a forklift in a lumberyard in Dumbville, Alabama who hates “them godless baby-killin’ college-educated long haired tree-huggin’ city-dwellin’ latte-sipping hippie folks”.
On the other hand, we have, “Ms” Charlie Ponsalski, a transwoman with a BA in Sociology and MSc in Gender Theory, doing an unpaid internship at ‘Safe Space’ (a charity challenging the marginalisaiton of LBGTQIXYZ astronauts and promoting their right to marry on the International Space Station) while living in a single rented room and working as a ‘server’ (“the word waitress is so gender-exclusive and pigeonholing, and it totally triggers my sexual identity issues”) in a chain restaurant. She really hates ‘those evil racist god-bothering homophobic transphobic bigoted rednecks’ like Bubba-Joe.
But despite all their differences of values, lifestyle, culture and religion, these two are on the same side of the class divide. Economically, their interests are closely aligned. They are both working long hours, for low wages, without union protection, on at-will contracts, barely able to get by, with no economic autonomy or security. They are both getting shafted by an oligarchic state that provides tax loopholes and financial bailouts for the very rich, but only debts, taxes and private prisons for the poor.
Unfortunately, neither Bubba-Joe nor Ms Charlie realise this – but the rich elite do, and they’d very much like to keep it that way. And that’s where the two cheeks of the same oligarchic arse come in. Trump (or it might, in a UK context, be UKIP) makes sure Bubba-Joe’s anger is focused on Ms Charlie – whom he falsely denounces as ‘elitist’. Hillary (or it might, in a UK context, be The Guardian) makes sure Ms Charlie’s anger is focused on Bubba-Joe, whom she falsely denounces as a ‘redneck’.
Then MultiCorp Amalgamated Holdings Inc., whose subsidiaries own both the lumber yard where Bubba-Joe works and the chain restaurant where Ms Charlie works, can continue making obscene amounts of money off both of their labours.
And that’s how oligarchy works.
The solution is for the Bubba-Joes and the Charlies of the world to come together. They don’t have to be friends. They don’t have to share the same values or outlook. They don’t have to listen to the same music or wear the same clothes. They don’t have to have the same religion. But they do have to recognise that they have fundamental class interests in common, and work together – overlooking where necessary, with mutual tolerance, their other, cultural and lifestyle differences – to protect and to advance those class interests. Both would benefit, in different ways, from publicly funded tuition, from universal healthcare, from union rights, higher minimum wages, protection against arbitrary dismissal, guaranteed sick days and vacation days, better unemployment insurance, and a lifting of the regressive tax burden that falls disproportionately on the working poor.