National Commentary

Nothing to Lose But Their Chains

nfbenton-mugAnyone who has ever taken the train from Washington, D.C. to New York, or vice versa, who in daylight looked out those big windows to view a big portion of the backside of Baltimore, should have no problem understanding the rioting that has occurred there these last days.

The squalor is hard to believe. It’s hard to believe you’re looking at a major American city. Whole neighborhoods look more like bombed out third world shanties.

This is where the America that is hidden by the major media suffers levels of poverty and hopelessness day in, day out. Why not lash out? Why not loot? Why not break into the ruling class’ decorum?

The Washington Post actually did a decent job this week with a series of graphs documenting the levels of hardship and lack of educational and job opportunities that plague inner city Baltimore.

The same also applies to many other U.S. cities like it. But you don’t need to read the data, you can witness it all first hand with a train ride up the Eastern Seaboard.

Frankly, the issue is not the violence, either systematically by the police or randomly by packs of angry citizens. The issue is everything about America that has caused and continues to cause the current unprecedented and worsening economic divide between the one tenth of one percent of the super rich and all the rest of us.

Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, and legions of super rich right wing zealots like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson are fueling what, for now, only rarely bursts forth as angry protests in the U.S. But if they are not stopped, and the momentum of their policies not turned around, what we saw in Baltimore earlier this week is nothing compared to what may come.

I am not encouraging this, I am merely observing it. No one likes or wants violence, and especially if it gets out of control. That’s one difference: police violence against minorities is kept under control, but mob violence could and sometimes does get out of control.

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, President Roosevelt and his key advisers were smart enough to adopt policies to avert a revolution and maintain a democracy.
Revolution was inflaming the globe, led by the Bolsheviks under Stalinist tyranny in Russia. One reaction by the privileged classes in the west was to counter with fascist tyrannies, as they did in Italy, Germany, Spain and elsewhere.

Many of the same forces sought that same “solution” for the U.S. There was a near-miss assassination attempt against Roosevelt before he was sworn in in 1932, and an aborted Wall Street-led military coup against him his first year in office.

These forces did not relent the whole time he was in office, although they were set back by the positive impact that Roosevelt’s policies had on the public with initiatives like Social Security (much like today with the impact of Obama’s Affordable Care Act).

What these right wing moguls of super-wealth failed to realize then and still do today is that their solutions will fuel, not deter, the flames of revolution, of a complete overthrow of their power, in ways that no one can really control if they wanted to.

How terrified are these elites of this? Consider that when the “flash crash” of the stock market occurred in 2010, it was when riots in the streets against austerity policies were being shown on live TV from Greece. Such things truly inspire terror among the moguls, magnified in part by their own guilt.

Now, the weapons of social control are, as much as the elites have labored to accomplish it, not entirely in their hands alone. The major media have descended shamefully into slavish control by such forces. There is no “free press,” only the illusion of it, among them. But for growing legions, this is being bypassed by new direct access to information, intelligent analysis and calls to action through the Internet.

Notably, in America, revolution can still most effectively be achieved through genuine elections, notwithstanding the social turmoil, radical reforms and counterrevolutionary measures that may accompany them. That’s what’s now underway.

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