Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

After me, the deluge

Conor Lynch gives a history lesson. He alludes only in passing to the essential precedents in U.S. history, which are the reforms of the progressive around the beginning of the 20th Century, and the New Deal of the 1930s. These did not happen because radical had seized control of the government, but precisely because the wisest among the economic elite realized what had to be done to save capitalism.

The regressive plutocrats who have now (illegitimately) seized power in the United States are too ignorant of history and too blinded by insatiable greed to understand what they are doing. Lynch quotes Barack Obama:

“My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks,” said the president in a meeting with top Wall Street CEOs in 2009. “I’m not out there to go after you. I’m protecting you. But if I’m going to shield you from public and congressional anger, you have to give me something to work with on these issues of compensation.”
Lynch concludes:

If defenders of the status quo were students of history, they would recognize that preserving the current system and its institutions will require confronting problems like inequality head-on. Reformers on the center-left seem to understand this, and support policies akin to the social democratic reforms of the mid-20th century.

The most pro-capitalist party in the world, on the other hand, is currently implementing an agenda that will no doubt heighten the contradictions of capitalism. The Republican tax bill, the most regressive tax reform of the past half-century -- a period that included the extremely regressive Bush tax cuts -- won’t just make the rich richer, but the middle class poorer. Income inequality has been rising steadily for the past 40 years in the United States, and one of the major drivers behind this trend has been tax cuts for the rich.

At a time when global capitalism seems to be heading toward the dystopian nightmare that Marx predicted 150 years ago, Republicans seem intent on telling the “forgotten men and women” of America to “eat cake.” Rather than taking a hard look at the consequences of corporate capitalism and neoliberalism, the GOP is enthusiastically doubling down on the policies that got us here in the first place. “I think Republicans are underestimating the extent to which this tax-cut bill is going to radicalize their future opposition,” Slate writer Jordan Weissmann tweeted earlier this month. It is safe to say that Republicans are also underestimating the extent to which their policies will destabilize capitalism itself.
 How many votes Donald Trump received, and why, is irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of this analysis. 

1 comment:

mojrim said...

Obama should have let the pitchforks through. His response to this (and torture) made zero-accountability the law.