Bangs and Whimpers

November and the city came alive with the sounds of…..power saws and power drills at work, cutting and attaching plywood and chipboard to the wooden struts secured on the frames of shop windows and doors. There hadn’t been this much noise on the streets…since the last time the police shot an unarmed African-American person. It’s the Monday before the US presidential election day of Tuesday, and the shopkeepers are prepared, or preparing. Better shuttered than shattered.

Sooner or later, everyone knows, it will happen, or rather one or both of two its will happen. Not if, but when. Sooner or later either Biden or Trump will be anointed as the president. Sooner or later, the police will shoot another unarmed African-American person. Got to happen, or else elections aren’t elections and the police…..well, they really aren’t being the police.

Meanwhile, in rural U.S., or the more rural areas of the United States, in those areas on the back foot ever since the Great (late)Communicator, Ronald Reagan, unleashed the old Volcker double-dip recession following the great agricultural capital investment boom, those areas still moving backwards faster than that other Great Communicator, Michael Jackson, could moonwalk, Covid 19 was allowed to run rampant, amounting to a third wave, a third peak of infections in the USA. Hospitalizations because of the infection increased 60 percent since late September. Hospitals in the rural mid-and mountain West, already few and far between due to the great wave of Wal-Mart-ization, struggled to care for, or find any facility that could care for, the new cases that just kept on coming. Texas, Florida, California, Illinois, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, etc. etc. experienced a 79 percent increase in cases in the six weeks since the end of summer. South Dakota, home of the world’s largest motorcycle jamboree, registered a positive test rate that increased by half since summer’s end.

The much debated, and advertised, experiment– “herd immunity”– was underway, and had proven itself a menace to the “herd,” which did nothing to dissuade the pumpkin-colored and pumpkin-headed lout currently occupying the presidency, from holding his super-spreader events at the White House and around the country. There he pledged to ensure that this government by the lobbyists, this government for personal profit, this government against the common good and opposed to the general welfare, this government in its full, but decaying flower as the ultimate RICO (racketeer influenced and corrupt organization) enterprise, shall not perish from this earth…even as the earth itself perishes. The pumpkin-colored lout, having purchased the Miss Universe contest, was reaching out to be Mr. Universe– pumped up on dexamethasone, remdesivir, REGN-COV2, zinc, melatonin, Vitamin D, Pepcid, and KFC extra crispy. Gazing in the reverse camera image on his smart-phone, he saw not Schwarzenegger, but Berlusconi and Juan Peron. “Boonga, boonga! Ghislaine, I’ve issued a full pardon. Wake up Jeffrey. “

When he wasn’t abetting physical threats against governors or promising indictments against political opponents, the lout entertained his audience with a unique style of popping and locking to “YMCA.” After that song and dance came and comes the one about being robbed of a second term; the whining and whimpering about “vote fraud,” and the criminality of the Biden family.

Biden himself was certain that promising decency, normality, tolerance in a world ever more indecent, abnormal, and intolerant was tactic, strategy, program all in one. That was his ticket, he thought, not just to victory, but to power (there is a difference). He picked up the fallen banner of his former leader and waved it high, unable to see that the words on the banner had changed to “No, We Didn’t.” Did he make a mistake? Did he get something wrong? Of course he did. Getting things wrong is his greatest contribution to political history. It’s on his business card: “Joseph R. Biden- When you know no other way to screw things up.”

With the cities draped in plywood and the countryside draped in hospital sheets, the election was held, the votes were counted, Biden was announced as president-elect, while the lout played golf for the 284th time since his inauguration. Nice work, if you can get it.

The lout, of course, denied the numbers, and announced to his staff, “It’s Giuliani time!”

In his first speech as president-elect Biden called for unity. He appealed to the collective memory of Abraham Lincoln, and to the generosity of spirit that recognizes your opponents’ “good intentions.” He re-imagined an imaginary need to heed the voices of our “better angels,” ignoring ever so conveniently that the call to “better angels” appears in that first inaugural; that inaugural where Lincoln vowed to hold the “rights” of slave-holding states “inviolate,” and swore to guarantee the return of fugitive slaves to the slaveholders.

Lincoln, to be sure, found his better angels, finally, in Sherman and Grant and Sheridan, in the heroic 54th Massachusetts Infantry, in the 200,000 African-Americans who served in the Union military and secured the victory against the slaveholders’ rebellion.

On the occasion of his second inaugural, Lincoln dispensed with the angels, taking earthly comfort in the profane truths of the armed combat: “The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all.”

Better angels indeed. The louts’ supporters in and out of the party were recalling Lincoln too, but not the Lincoln of the first inaugural. It was the Lincoln of the Ford Theatre they envisioned, and with the intention of telescoping, collapsing, the time between the two Lincolns.

Better angels, for sure. The “progressive wing” of the Democratic Party had appealed to the better angels of the established wing. The “social Democratic” wing appealed to the better angels of the “progressive wing.” The “democratic socialists” appealed to the better angels of the “social Democrats.”

It was a veritable orgy, a group grope of better angels. Actually not. It was more like a chain-letter, a pyramid plan, a Ponzi-scheme for good intentions. And of course the lout and his minions would be the chain-breakers.

There are no good intentions, and no better angels, among the millions supporting Trump, just as there’s nothing in the bank accounts of a Ponzi-scheme not because the bank has been looted, but because the bank itself is the organization of looting.

Unlike 2016, there can be no mistaking the lout’s supporters for “confused,” “misguided,” “neglected,” “forgotten” “workers.” That bird won’t fly. That dog won’t hunt. Everybody knows what they are and why they are, all 70 million of them.

This notion of “American democracy,” a “peaceful transfer” of power, has always depended on the adequacy of the law, of “representative” institutions to the task of protecting private property. They are no longer adequate.

Because of that, there is no downside for the lout and the lout’s supporters in obstructing the “peaceful transfer of power.” Just look at the numbers: the lout brought in more votes than ever; the lout’s supporters maintained control of the senate, gained seats in the other house of Congress, and lost nothing in the state governments.

Nullification of the election, something that might get John C. Calhoun up out of his grave to dance a jig, is in fact tactic, strategy, and program all in one.

The lout, who calls himself the “law and order president” can only save himself and the louts around him by creating chaos, providing “reason” unreason for Barr to unleash federal police forces for official repression, while encouraging the right wing militias to engage in unofficial repression. Meanwhile, the lout will purge his “government” of all its “soft elements,” those who think there is any distinction between peaceful protests and “anarchy;” those who think it’s one thing to deploy the military in Iraq, Niger, Colombia, but something else to deploy that same military in Portland, Seattle, New York, Albuquerque.

The only force that presents a real obstacle to the lout and the lout-ists happens to be the working class. Now it makes no sense to call for a “general strike” when those doing the calling do not have sufficient strength to organize, execute, and protect the general strikers. At the same time, it is pointless to organize the working class around “local issues” around “contracts,” “working conditions” when the preservation and reproduction of the system itself, of the institutions of that system– its congresses, its courts, its regulatory bodies, its political parties– preserves and expands homelessness, disease, bigotry, terrorism, unemployment, poverty….. and louts.

S.Artesian

November 9, 2020

2 thoughts on “Bangs and Whimpers”

  1. So over on his site: https://theplanningmotive.com/, the author aka “ucanbepolitical” which I’ll shorten to ucan, published a piece “and the victor is the….virus,” a post so-filled with fundamental mistakes about the meaning(s) (not to mention the meaninglessness) of the recent election, I figured to stir the pot with some acerbic comments.

    The Planning Motive has published some very interesting work on the tendency for the rate of profit to decline, with ucan’s self-heralded elaboration of the real numbers indexing the fall by including calculations adjusted for turnover time. His work is the only one I know of that grapples with turnover time; even Marx while referring in numerous passages is the impact of turnover time never grapples with it concretely or even abstractly with his mathematics.

    The results of ucan’s methodology do not appear to be earth-shaking to say the least as his calculations for the rate of profit including turnover time track near-exactly other calculations on the TREND LINE, even where the actual individual rate calculations differs.

    Anyway, I’m not arguing about that. The discussion I initiated began with ucan hinged on an off-hand remark by ucan that “Trump supporters…are not interested in the forensic interpretation of facts and processes, but when they are struggling to put food on the table, it pain’s them to see a VP’s son getting an underserved but lucrative job.”

    I have no use for the Bidens, nor the Trumps, any of them in any capacity, but I do have a bit of use for accuracy– namely that the investigations into Biden by Trump supporters in the US Senate found no evidence that Biden manipulated the bipartisan, odious, US policy towards the Ukraine for personal or family gain; and namely that Trump supporters are not, in the main, those struggling to put food on the table. I cited the round of exit polls and studies that showed those with incomes below $50,000 a year preferred Biden while those with incomes over $100,000 a year preferred Trump.

    That caused ucan to argue that because Biden carried less than 500 counties that account however for 70 percent of US GDP, while Trump carried over 2000 counties that account for 30% of GDP and that in those “Trump counties” agriculture, mining, and manufacturing account for a larger portion of the counties aggregated GDP, the poorer people and the workers in those counties supported Trump.

    It has been the “long trend” in US capitalism to transfer wealth from the countryside to the city, along with transfer of population, along with greater proportional significance of agriculture, mining, and manufacturing (particularly in meat packing and food processing) to the “rural economy.” Not for nothing is it called the countryside. This “long trend” was greatly, and harshly, accelerated under Reagan. Volcker’s double dip recession, which followed a capital spending boom by farmers loading up on machinery, and debt, resulted in numerous farm bankruptcies and foreclosures, and the consolidation of production in fewer but larger units.

    There also occurred, after the Staggers Act, the downsizing, shutting down, spinning off and outright abandonment of rail lines, rail yards, and rail shops, that served these areas, and were located in smaller towns. This continued through the 90s with the mergers of major carriers. These lines and facilities were the veritable life-blood of the agricultural communities and towns, providing significant employment to both a permanent and seasonal work force, as many smaller farmers in the off-season sought employment. The majority of these farmers’ income was earned off-farm.

    With the overall decline, the tax base withered for the funding of health, education, and commercial services (like roads, streets, water supplies, lighting etc). Commercial life began to evaporate; schools, hospitals, etc. disappeared.

    Coincident with this decline there was the great lockouts and breaking of the meat-packing workers’ strikes in these areas, further reduce income levels. Some of these processors declared bankruptcy to escape obligations to workers, disappearing, only to reappear years later with new names, relying on immigrant labor, and the labor of women, which was compensated at a lower level.

    Three things followed this: 1) the great “Wal-Mart-ization” of rural areas, as scattered but behemoth big box stores drove the remaining small town retailers out of business 2) the rampant penetration of methamphetamine production, distribution, and consumption 3) politically, the response was the amplification of the conservative bias of small town and rural areas, which achieved an overgrowth into flat out conspiracy-theory, white supremacist, anti-Semitic ideologies. See Osha Davidson’s Broken Heartland. Like something out of an inquisition, the victims embraced and out-ideologied the inquisitors.

    It was the classic pulverizing of the small producer, the “petty bourgeois,” driving them right into the arms of those wielding the wrecking balls.

    The reduced GDP of the rural counties, and the greater proportion of mining, farming, and manufacturing has nothing to do with an expanding number of workers somehow voting for Trump out of misguided anger, but has everything to do with the overall reverse, anti-development of the areas. That’s always been the case in sections of the US, for example the South, were the overall poverty of the region was associated with, and maintained by the reactionary practices of segregation and the permanent attack on black labor .

    Now that’s the long way of explaining this process. But there’s a shorter way, one that expresses it in a single sentence, and a horrific fact: “Support for President Trump increased in 2020 in many of the US counties that lost lives at the highest rate to Covid-19, according to an NPR analysis.” Try as some might, you really can’t blame Dr. Fauci for that.

    S. Artesian

  2. ‘’ The Planning Motive has published some very interesting work on the tendency for the rate of profit to decline ’’
    The falling rate of profit thesis has a major hole. Yes, it is true, Brian Green, M. Roberts and others do a great job on it, but … there is always hidden and non-existent data in their analyzes. This non-existent data is the Profit Rate for ONLY monopoly companies (FAANG, Dow Jones, Cac-40, Nikkei 225m Ibex35etc ..). B. Green’s data is that of the Joint Rate of the capitalist sector as a whole (not including the company-state, which is another serious empirical and theoretical hole). This joint rate, which is an average rate, can be a decreasing rate, but it is completely doubtful that the rate of monopolistic companies is also decreasing. Moreover, according to various data sources that I will not cite now, but which are public and reliable sources, indicate that monopolistic T. G. is increasing. Political conclusion: the capitalist model will fall and disappear not because of a decreasing T. G. for each and every one of the capitalist companies, but because of a decreasing T. G. of non-monopolist companies. Which are the majority in number of companies and, especially, in number of employees. How does the model fall? The subjects of non-monopolistic companies, majority subjects and with large losses, assault the State and extend the ownership of capital to a social and common property. A socialist revolution.

    ‘’ It has been the “long trend” in US capitalism to transfer wealth from the countryside to the city ’’
    ‘’ 1) the great “Wal-Mart-ization” of rural areas, as scattered but behemoth big box stores drove the remaining small town retailers out of business 2 ’’
    ‘’ It was the classic pulverizing of the small producer, the “petty bourgeois,”
    This evidence (transfer of wealth from country to city and from small to large companies) and other broad evidence only speak of the concentration of capital being the fundamental and main phenomenon of every economy and in every place and time. All possible and known disasters (Covid-19, Financial Crash 2008, wars, etc …) only accelerate the same economic result a little more: capital continues to be concentrated. And that concentrated capital does not have, nor can it have, a decreasing T. G.
    a greeting

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