“You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan”
— Lennon/McCartney, Revolution
“Yes, in the immense confusion one thing alone is clear.
We are waiting for Godot to come”
— Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Joe Biden recently pissed off the left of center Democratic base by telling a story about his ability to work with gangsters.
In this case he was referring to a pair of unrepentant Confederate segregationists who held seats in Congress in the 1970s.
Biden’s point was that ugly compromise is the DNA of American politics.
Ugly compromise was there at the beginning when the anti-slavery (slave owning) aristocrats agreed to allow slavery in order to achieve a more unified nation after the revolution.
They knew they were kicking the can down the road but it was as they saw it either, fight a civil war in 1800 and lose the country, or have a country and fight a civil war later.
Fast forward a hundred years after the civil war and Jack Kennedy, a Catholic new money aristocrat with a gangster fascist father, needed votes in the South. Bribes could only go so far – mostly in West Virginia, Illinois, and to the press barons – and the rest required the services of another gangster – LBJ.
Disgusted by the man’s barbarism the Kennedys were faced with a dilemma which JFK summed up as: I’d rather Lyndon was inside our tent pissing out then outside pissing in.
History of course is full of this sort of thing.
Sometimes it is pure cynicism and sometimes it is pure stupidity or cowardice.
Sometimes it’s evil but still the lesser of two evils.
Sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above.
For example, consider Egypt.
Egypt is and has been for some time a canal that owns a country.
There is nothing else there that matters to the world except as a museum.
We mean this in the coldly cynical sense.
There are a lot of places you can get dates and a handful of things like assorted precious metals and gems.
What matters though is the canal.
The current regime is of course a ruthless sadistic tyrany engaed in domestic programs of torture, and murder.
No one is exactly in favor of it except for the sadists – a not inconsiderable minority – but, what is the alternative?
The obvious answer is a revolution leading, in theory to an elected government with all of the usual systems of “checks and balances.”
Of course getting there is not easy and the truth is a revolution would in all likelihood lead to a civil war that, given Egypt’s size, make Syria pale in comparison.
And would lead to the closing of the canal.
Which would lead to it needing to be reopened by force.
And that would mean a force comprised of some European troops and a lot of Americans.
This trap is systemic.
It is in place around the world.
The gravitational weight of centuries of culture, including entrenched political and social norms and class antagonisms, and centuries of assorted imperial schemes has created a kind of entropy.
Want to do something about the awful situation in Myanmar?
Ok, what’s the plan?
Want to do something about the awful situation in Baltimore?
Ok, what’s the plan?
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the rest of the We’re not Nancy Pelosi Gang all correctly want to do something about the awful things.
They have plans.
They want to break up the banks and the tech giants and reign in the Military Industrial Complex, provide universal health care, erase unjust debt, provide adequate housing, affordable education, save the environment and of course are quite obviously a lot nicer and a lot smarter than the malignant troll currently squatting over the country.
One of the things no one ever asks them – and certainly they don’t answer questions they aren’t asked – is exactly how they propose to accomplish all of that.
Once you grant their premise, as any reasonable person would, that those plans are essential for saving the country if not what we charitably call civilization, you’re left with the implied truth of their criticism of the system.
The corruption is systemic and massive.
America is a corporate dictatorship.
Vast pockets of the country are dominated by bigots and loose affiliations of racist and fascist cadres.
And then there’s the moral hermaphrodites led by corporate liberals.
And then there’s the tens of millions of people who don’t care.
And then there’s the loose cadres of professional thugs inside the system who have for decades been perfectly willing to set off a bomb somewhere in order to provoke a crisis that upends plans to stop engaging in imperial adventures.
And then there are similar forces in other countries who launder their billions through financial networks that are based in New York and London and Zurich and Tokyo.
So, assuming we end up with a President Sanders or Warren or Buttigieg or Harris, exactly how are they going to make things change?
The obvious counter argument is, well, see they will have long coat tails and there will be a sweep in the House and at least a workable balance in the Senate.
Except, the electoral map is corrupt, easily manipulated, and contains sclerotic pockets of reactionary resistance.
Which means you’re looking at a big circle in which you begin with Bernie and end with Mitch McConnell and Wall Street.
In order to achieve an FDR size landslide one needs two things: For the economy to collapse and for the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor.
While one of those is likely the other is not.
And so what one has is, what one has had in this country since the beginning: how the sausage gets made.
Step one: Beat the animal to death.
It is significant that neither Sanders nor Warren or any of the other would be saviors ever actually discusses just how they propose to get around these obstacles.
It’s just a constant repetition of their plans – all of which are good if not essential – and well, hand gestures and smiles.
While it’s true that there is something essentially sinister about Biden’s apparent triumphalism and his apparent masturbatory pleasure in how he can get along with goons and fascists, the fact is, that’s right out of the Founding Fathers, JFK, FDR playbook.
Because, what’s the alternative?
And violent revolution.
Asked way back in 1968, by high church fascist, William F. Buckley, if he was a liberal, the then young-ish and still dangerous Norman Mailer said, he was not a liberal. And then added: The problem with liberals is that they go through life terrified someone will accuse them of being a leftist.
America’s massive, pervasive and successful brainwashing program has achieved its desired results. Socialism is a dirty word in this country.
A lot of people like to point out that millennials identify as “socialists” or at least are willing to say they don’t like capitalism.
But of course no one ever asks them to explain exactly how they propose to seize control of the means of production or the banks or anything else.
And if they were asked, given that they are products of America’s vaunted education system they would probably say something with as much depth as what you can find on a car’s bumper.
Within their orbit you also find the tepid if self righteous opposition led by people like The Young Turks, The Majority Report and their remoras, who have publicly stated their support for Bernie and Warren, their contempt for Biden and how while they want universal healthcare and “free” education, they still want their iPhones and they still want capitalism.
After all, someone has to pick the cotton and there’s a lot of people in China and Mexico so, ya know, let’s have a “revolution” – via text, Twitter and YouTube.
The smartest writer in the UK, Will Self, said a while back that inevitably, he ends up asking his lefty friends if, in the end, they are willing to kill people in order to achieve a new socio-political system.
The answer, inevitably is, no.
At the end of the Long March when the revolution consisted of Mao, three or four other people, a cigarette and a cave, Mao in full psychopath mode, said the situation was simple and in their favor.
One third of the country, he said, is against us. One third is indifferent. And one third supports us. Therefore we must kill two thirds and we will be victorious.
Despite soft peddling the truth, the facts are that the Continental Army did not fight the British with buckets of water.
Had the British caught Washington, or Franklin or Jefferson, they would, as Franklin said, all have been hung together.
The truth is, there is not one single example anywhere in the world of significant change occurring without violence.
The violence is either a wide spread revolutionary plan or it is a preemptive plan enacted by the ruling class or it is a provocation by one or the other, or it is a product of the situation like the Archduke’s car having a problem, or the German’s deciding it’s better to have Lenin piss inside Russia than be inside Russia pissing into Germany – at least to begin with.
The people who run Wall Street are never going to quietly accept having the banks nationalized or even broken up into smaller factotums answerable to powerful independent federal control.
And if confronted with a powerfully mandated federal hammer, they will respond as they always have – subterfuge, propaganda and violence.
The liberals will never admit that the opposition is fascist precisely because it would require them to either admit to being indifferent or supporters of fascism or, would require them to stand in opposition and risk violence.
And neither will the left of the center except in general terms which they throw at low hanging fruit like Steve Bannon.
And when we say “Wall Street” we mean, the loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires who run the world.
It’s a revolution, says Bernie Sanders.
Yes, isn’t it pretty to think so.
For a look at the entrenched and authentic opposition to Progressive reform:
For a look at the petulant highpoint of “the opposition” at its hysterical best:
From today’s Guardian on the second Democratic Party debate *emphasis added):
“If Roe v Wade makes it to the Supreme Court and is struck down, what would Bernie Sanders do about that as president?
Sanders defends a woman’s right to choose. He says he’d never nominate any justice who wouldn’t defend Roe v Wade. He completely ignores the question.”