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Gotta Serve Somebody. Notes on Joe Biden and the Current Political Scene.

“You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re going to have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re going to have to serve somebody”

— Bob Dylan, Gotta Serve Somebody

 

 

Capitalism is all things to all people in the United States.

It defines everything.

All oppositions, all agreements, all antagonisms between divergent cadres, classes and regions sooner or later are contextualized by sales and debt, and your position on the food chain.

Which brings us to Joe Biden and healthcare.

Bernie supports healthcare for everyone and he wants it run by the government. It’s a kind of socialism.

The representatives of Wall Street, by which we mean republicans and liberals, who belong to the Property Party (as defined by Gore Vidal) are terrified by this not only because it would tear a multi billion if not trillion size hole in their portfolios but because if you lose this fight, and healthcare becomes a government socialist style program (as it should) then who knows what’s next?

They get the he-be-jee-bees and the jitters and shakes because if you can socialize healthcare (as you should) you can start pushing for socialized education, housing and food and before you know it, capitalism is dead – and the environment has been saved and the ruling class has been tamed and the world is a better place.

Can’t have that now can we.

So, Joe made a revealing comment in an interview with one of CNN’s more animated bots and apparently no one in the media has bothered to jump on it.

Which should surprise no one who can think because of course the media does not think so much as excrete.

Here’s the Biden comment via The Guardian:

“While the former vice-president has not set out a detailed healthcare plan, he told CNN his proposal would make Medicare “an option for anybody who in fact wants to buy into” it. “But if they like their employer-based insurance, which a lot of unions broke their neck to get, a lot of people like theirs, they shouldn’t have to give it up,” he said.”

Can you spot the key statement in that?

Here, we’ll help (emphasis added):

“But if they like their employer-based insurance, which a lot of unions broke their neck to get, a lot of people like theirs, they shouldn’t have to give it up,” he said.”

Biden probably understands universal healthcare is better than not having universal healthcare. But, and this is crucial, he also knows that it’s not just the pirates on Wall Street who will lose money and power if healthcare is socialized.

Biden answers to another cadre.

Unions.*

Granted Unions are a husk of their former powerful cadres but the few that still exist still wield power and can get out the vote.

By supporting a better than what they had healthcare plan but not as good as universal healthcare in a socialized system, the Unions get to own a piece of Joe Biden.

Like a character in a Terry Gilliam cartoon Biden opens a creaky semi-mechanical door in his soul and out of it comes some portion of his identity, and he sells it to the Unions in exchange for lubricant in the form of cash, voters and vocal support which also includes vocal denunciations of Trump and the people running to Biden’s left.

The Union bosses probably understand that universal healthcare is better for them and the environment but they also know it would require them to fall on their swords and surrender what little of their power remains.

The historical irony being that if you were to lift the rotten log under which America’s politics thrives like a colony of spoors, you would find the ugly but fascinating truth: Wall Street and the Unions, the right wing anti-left republicans and the liberal anyone but Bernie centrists, are all giving each other hand jobs.

While yelling about how righteous they are and how their opponents are all spawns of Satan.

It’s all a great big fucking orgy of lubed up apparatchiks, hacks, spineless whores, and squirming pols trying to cling to the otherwise atrophied remains of the 20th century.

This rictus industry is the dead heart of politics in America.

Biden in contrast is not just old, he has an old soul but not in the way Marianne Williamson would phrase it while dancing under a full moon or delivering a heartfelt sermon at a packed church.

Biden is standing the watch along side the bankers and the portfolio humping psychopaths and the Unions, because he is trying to protect and preserve a dead world.

The new world of course doesn’t have all of the answers despite the fever cult of AOC or the rabid cheerleading for Bernie you find with The Not So Young Turks, The Majority Report or their remoras.

Which brings us to a crucial issue: When punks like Michael Brooks of The Majority Report deliver snark fueled sermons titled Joe Biden is the Failed Politics of Old White Liberals, he is pissing on the old Union cadres who either got their heads busted fighting for better jobs or grew up listening to their parents talk about getting their heads busted for better jobs.

This generational split is no small thing.

That the Unions are corrupt does not mean Brooks isn’t a punk and class clown.

It is the difference between Springsteen saying “These jobs are going boys and they aint coming back” and some White kid who thinks being able to quote Kendrick Lamar gives him a ghetto pass.

Brooks’ disdain, his visceral contempt for Biden is a pose, even if it is a dangerous one because it is dismissive of the blunt reality of the system and represents the perilous fissure between wings of the Democratic “opposition.”

This explains not only the infantile rage of Chapo Trap House but explains the contempt for Chapo and Brooks expressed by older Democrats.

A still deeper irony in this mess is that the neo-liberals and the anti-Union conservatives and their corporate overlords, all created Bernie Sanders.

Sanders exists as a political force because tens of millions of people have never had a Union job.

They are free range voters and Sanders is their titular chief because the machinery of the system that he hates (rightly) invented the social forces he represents.

Cut loose into the wage slave gig economy these cogs in the machine want “revolution” with organic soy and Sanders is offering it to them.

That this requires the older last remnants of the Union cadres and their dependents to commit social and political and economic suicide goes without discussion and breads class antagonisms like a virus in a petri dish.

But Biden, the Mayor of Bedford Falls, the man who would make a deal with Old Man Potter to fund an orphanage while also agreeing to allow strip mining, is still a creature of the system and the system is a corrupt sewer full of political fatbergs.

Biden is loyal – up to a point – and he wont throw the Unions to the sharks. The Unions in turn are loyal to him.

Which explains why Biden said, he has no sympathy for Millennials. He was acting as the mouth piece for the older Union members and their dependents to say – too fucking bad, we fought and died for these jobs and we’re not going to kill ourselves for you and your Wi-Fi organic kale cafes – however much of a useless cliché those tags may be – because they are just code for the same old steel cage death match inside America’s economic Gulag.

And as Biden makes clear in the interview, part of that loyalty means he could use the opposition research dirt he’s got against his opponents but, for now, he wont.

“Biden appeared to pledge that he would not use opposition research against his Democratic opponents, saying the candidates should be “debating what we do from here” rather than digging up dirt.

“I get all this information about other people’s past and what they’ve done and not done. And, you know, I am just not going to go there,” he said.”

Make no mistake he’s threatening them. He’s sending them a rhetorical dead fish wrapped in newspaper. And that’s not just Harris but Warren and Sanders as well.

And so it goes.

Bernie’s main support (in contrast) is among the “gig” economy of wage slaves who have never paid Union dues because they grew up in an era when there were no Unions. Add in free range left intellectuals and academics, and people who feed off of those social cadres (like TYT, David Pakman and The Majority Report and the shrill corner of YouTube where Kyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore thrive) and you have a fairly accurate snapshot of contemporary America.

Warren is essentially Bernie in drag with a few tweaks.

Harris is essentially Warren in drag with a few tweaks and she’s Black.

Buttigieg is an amalgam of all of that with a few tweaks plus he’s gay.

And Williamson is the spiritual side of the non-republican demographic with echoes of America’s centuries’ old evangelical crusade and touches of New Age Gospel, and entrepreneurship with a side of Goop.

All of them have at least one or three good ideas.

None of them are going to come out and say they are fighting fascism and the entire capitalist system is tyrannical and has to be sent packing and that to do that requires a revolution.

And that’s an authentic revolution not the soft soap rhetoric of Sanders.

In the end ugly compromise will be the order of the day as the Dems cobble together a fractious explosive self destructive coalition.

Like they always do.

In the end of course demographics will butt up against entrenched corruption.

If the worst happens and the malignant troll wins again, AOC will become the de facto head of the party, the Unions will collapse into irrelevancy, destined to become museum curios, Nancy we’re capitalists get used to it Pelosi will be sent off into retirement, and the millions of terrified desperate wage slaves will look to someone they foolishly believe has what it takes to save them.

As we’ve outlined previously in order to save the planet capitalism has to end but it will never end with a shrug or a whimper but will require all the usual suspects that make up a revolution, and that of course includes the blunt trauma of some sort of Thermidor in which the revolution eats itself.

History is a rancid shit hole like that.

But if anyone wants to know why Biden is spouting such seemingly odd notions, it’s really not that complicated.

Just go to a nearly empty VFW Hall and take a look at the ghostly photos on the walls, and the ghosts sitting at the bar, embalmed in nostalgia and clinging to a life raft cast off from a sinking ship.

 

 

See the details below:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/05/joe-biden-kamala-harris-trump-bully

 

*Our colleague, David Benjamin Steele,  (see the comments section below) makes an interesting point vis “working class” support for Sanders. And additionally he highlights the distinction between Union bosses (essentially more corporate and “CEO” than George Meaney) and Union members.

He adds that Sanders had greater support among the “working class” than HRC.

We’re not certain he’s wrong or right as we lean towards defining “working class” as an older Union membership with distinct ties to the Union bosses vs people who work and are wage slaves within the “gig economy” and support Sanders because in the wake of the post industrial destruction of the former working class, they have had no Unions to join – and as a result, have lower wages, no healthcare and live paycheck to paycheck.

It’s hard to tell through the media filter but they generally (emphasis on generally) seem to be White, college educated (or at least if not educated they have attended a four year university) and are left of center because Sanders tics the boxes for things that matter to them.

That is, they are not ideologically left so much as they are opportunistically not conservative.

This in turn is distinct from the left of center commentariat comprised of such people at TYT, Majority Report, and the more angry if still incoherent “Dirt bag left” exemplified by Chapo Trap House.

But none of these people seem to be what we would define as “working class” even though as we said, they are workers in the wage slave system.

Of course over the years many Unions have made deals with companies that have created tiers of membership with differences in wages and benefits so that Union bosses and older members of the Union may be distinct from others who belong to the same local or national.

As a result there’s a bit of a muddle.

However, we can’t find any other reasonable cause for Biden’s comments. His disdain for millennials seems to be both generational but also red meat for his base – and then one must ask what segment of that base would appreciate an old man saying, get a haircut and a job!

Certainly there are large numbers of people who appreciate it because they are old and cranky and one should not dismiss out of hand Biden being old and cranky but that hardly seems to be the only reason for his comments.

Then there’s the specifics of his comment about Unions busting their asses to get healthcare deals via “Obamacare.”

This certainty seems to be evidence of our central point – Biden and the Union bosses know that universal healthcare will eliminate the last major lever of negotiation the Unions possess.

IF that’s true than working backwards from that point means that there is a significant “working class” and Union “CEO” voting block that is against Sanders precisely because they don’t want universal healthcare as it would undermine their control of the Unions and the need for politicians – or at least people like Biden – to talk to them and make deals with them.

A further distinction might be that “working class” like assorted left wing revolutionary parties come in different sizes and shapes.

They may both be “working class” but are at odds with each other over who gets what slice of the pie.

A possible and interesting analogy might be to consider the seemingly counter intuitive antagonism of drug dealers to the legalization of weed.

On the surface they seem to be the sort of demographic that would favor legalization.

Except that are sitting on hundreds of millions if not tens of billions of dollars in money desperately in need of a soak and a cleanse.

Showing up at a bank with bags of cash after some legalization proposition has passed is a sketchy move under the best of circumstances and with the Federal government still insisting weed is like heroin and thus a major narcotic, the dealers move to the reactionary right of their otherwise left of center natural allies.

This may be similar to the situation of Union bosses supporting Biden and “workers” supporting Sanders.

A further analogy worth considering is the case of David Simon.

On the surface he is a vociferous anti Trump left of center stalwart.

Below the surface one finds a steady stream of blunt reactionary comments that line up and rhetorically execute left wing strawmen.

Simon of course is an “old school” Democrat – pro union, pro “working class” and possessing a reactionary nostalgia for a lost Baltimore in which bigotry and corruption were systemic but the peace (such as it was) was maintained because the bosses kept everyone on the tight leash of bribes and kickbacks and the cops, who were a gang, busted heads.

As always large segments of the working class are in fact, reactionary anti-left and prone to support for either soft fascism or the blunt force trauma of tanks in the streets.

“There are many who do not know they are fascists but will discover it when the time comes.”

 

2 comments on “Gotta Serve Somebody. Notes on Joe Biden and the Current Political Scene.

  1. As you mentioned, Biden said, “I get all this information about other people’s past and what they’ve done and not done. And, you know, I am just not going to go there,” he said.” Sure, he is threatening his opponents. But nobody is in politics as long as he has been without having many others with dirt on them. As a creature of the system, Biden likely knows the fear of blackmail. He threatens others as a way of virtue signalling to the powers that be that he’ll play ball. Biden is a power player, but he is also a puppet of those with even more power. Some of the Union bosses might be holding something over him.

    You write that, “By supporting a better than what they had healthcare plan but not as good as universal healthcare in a socialized system, the Unions get to own a piece of Joe Biden.” We need more precision in what we’re talking about. There is no ‘Unions’ in the abstract. What we generally mean is union bosses that, sadly, don’t always have in mind the best interests of union members. It’s long been understood that union bosses often have closer relationships to corporate management and corporatist politicians than they do to the workers they supposedly represent.

    You go onto say that, “Bernie’s main support (in contrast) is among the “gig” economy of wage slaves who have never paid union dues because they grew up in an era when there were no unions. Add in free range left intellectuals and academics, and people who feed off of those social cadres (like TYT, David Pakman and The Majority Report) and you have a fairly accurate snapshot of contemporary America.” That is actually incorrect. Sanders won the strongest support among the working class. Clinton lost much of the labor vote in old union strongholds, but Sanders if nominated would not have. Most union members in my union, AFSCME, supported Sanders and the union leadership betrayed us by putting their weight behind Hillary Clinton. I’ve never forgiven them for that. And as a dues-paying union member of more than two decades, if they pull that kind of shit ever again, I will permanently drop out of the union.

    “None of them,” you argue, “are going to come out and say they are fighting fascism and the entire capitalist system is tyrannical and has to be sent packing and that to do that requires a revolution.” That is generally true. It’s the nature of the system. But I would point out that Marianne Williamson has come close to it. She has specifically pointed out that the American military empire is the greatest threat we face and, in doing so, she invoked the American Revolution as a solution that worked in the past. She said we Americans repudiated it before and we shall do so again. That is a not-so-veiled threat of populist outrage. Whether or not she means it as seriously as others will take it, maybe it doesn’t matter. Trump didn’t mean much of what he said either and yet, in saying it, he opened up Pandora’s box. The American people are listening and are beginning to have officially unapproved thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      Well this is a bit about defining our terms. I see Unions as corrupt because of their leadership/bosses but I don’t define the majority of Sanders’ support as “working class” in what I see as an older definition – “working class” being Union members of specific groups beholden to Biden Inc.

      Our definitions may overlap or get fuzzy at the edges.

      I have no doubt many Union members supported and support Sanders but I think a bigger cadre are people who never belonged to Unions – people under 40 and over 18. Also we’d have to take a look at which Unions we’re discussing.

      I’ve heard MW edge up to it rhetorically but like everyone else in the mosh pit she’s somewhat vague – it’s the nature of the system as you want to keep your options open but also specificity is impossible in a sound byte arena.

      Union bosses could easily have something on Biden.

      Regardless there’s an army of private investigators, ex special forces types and internet goons spying and hacking/prying and digging up dirt – something I’ve discussed in various posts vis Trump.

      Liked by 1 person

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