“Well now everything dies, baby that’s a fact,
But maybe everything that dies, someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City”
— Bruce Springsteen, Atlantic City
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.”
— Joseph Heller, Catch-22
A few days ago the pseudo-left super hero, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, had a brief back and forth with corporate blow up doll, Anderson Cooper.
AOC (she of the cool moniker) laid out what she readily admits is, in the context of contemporary American politics, a radical agenda. Cooper, coughing up a lung, anxiety about his trust fund, and a corporate sense that the system of which he is a prince is teetering on the brink of collapse, tried to corner her as a not so subtle Trotskyist.
Needless to say it did not objectively succeed though for the dull witted CNN liberals and the febrile reactionaries it was a win for Cooper running away – with AOC revealed to be some sort of Maoist.
Needless to say she’s not a Maoist or a Trotskyist or even really much of a leftist but while correct on points – the environment is collapsing and until and unless the ruling class is forced to pay their taxes and the infrastructure is transformed from a capitalist one to a socialist one with sustainable energy substituted for fossil fuels we’re all going to die – she’s catastrophically wrong in her belief that the system can be changed by the system.*
This bring us to the so-called Progressive or alternative media. Specifically we refer to The Majority Report with Sam Seder and some other well-intentioned if daft Muppets, which has a video about AOC/Cooper in which while correct on points – Cooper is a corporate hack and AOC is right when she says Lincoln was a radical and FDR was a radical and we have to change the system or we’re all going to die – the fact is she’s advocating what amounts to a tepid liberalism or New Deal 2.0 in the face of a corporate dictatorship and Murder Incorporated.
Majority Report of course is too busy displaying its virtue and wielding snark at Cooper and in defense of AOC to bother with the ugly truth.
The corporatists are never going to surrender until or unless someone puts a gun to their head. Consider the well documented history of the response to labor in America. Death, torture, blackmail, corruption, organized crime, disorganized crime and a decadent and depraved whore house passing laws that empower the gangsters and disenfranchise everyone trying to change the system.
AOC is not wrong. The environment is going to collapse. You’re going to die. We’re all going to die.
But she is catastrophically wrong to believe that charm, reason, passion righteous indignation and good looks are going to prevail over greed, ignorance, violence, corruption and an unshakable belief in a literal interpretation of the bible by people like Mike Pence, who has the ethics of a virus.
The current battle between power groups; between demographic and historical wind shears, is nothing new. At the beginning of the 20th century there were approximately a hundred socialist mayors in office across America. Socialist parties dominated city halls, state legislatures and were, through union organizing and education and civil disobedience, a force to be reckoned with.
So, of course the corporate dictatorship (what used to be called the ruling class and now, in an effort to soft sell the Progressive agenda is politely called, the “1%”) reckoned with them. The Palmer Raids were not only an unconstitutional power grab and not only the corrupt grandfather of the unconstitutional Patriot Act but were also the parent of J. Edgar Hoover.
The unions were crushed. The left was broken – arrested, exiled, co-opted, and executed. The truth is FDR’s radical agenda only succeeded because the Japanese decided to risk everything and conduct their version of the utterly idiotic idea that you can fight a land war in Asia.
What, said the Japanese military, in December of 1941, is the worst that can happen?
Short of a world war and a complete collapse of the economy, there will not be another FDR. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are not once in a generation leaders however correct they may be on the details. AOC isn’t one either.
When the environment collapses – and it will – events will unfold in a predictable fashion.
Majority Report has fallen for the hype and the diversion and spins its own iterations of both. The issue is not that Anderson Cooper is a corporate shill (which he is). The issue is not that AOC is wrong per se because, she is not wrong. The issue is that the corporate dictatorship will never yield and will as it always has, use violence to maintain its power.
AOC believes you can use the system to change the system. You can’t. In the end as the environment collapses the corporatists will use it as a pretext to declare a “state of emergency.” The already ginned up militias, the loose affiliation of white supremacists, reactionaries, neo fascists and assorted survivalists, in conjunction with cadres within the establishment, will be all too willing to use the pretext of environmental crisis to try and establish a dystopian tyranny. The system can not be used to change the system. Revolution is not a choice. It’s historically inevitable and that is tragic. But then, so is the alternative.
You pays your money and you takes your chances.
More accurate and useless handwringing:
*An important nuance: Critics would say, “The system” includes significant changes like the right to vote and the end of slavery and the 8 hour work day.
They’re not wrong.
What they tend to leave out is that people had to die to make those changes, and once the system adapted it metastasized new forms of control, terror, corruption and political nihilism.
If the “Democratic Socialists” were serious they’d be organizing rolling strikes and the convening of a constitutional convention for the purpose of amending the constitution to allow for the dissolving of the federal government.
Instead it’s the dreary paint by numbers gradualism and self righteous certainties of tepid reform in the face of a disaster.
So it goes.