Posted 8 years ago on July 16, 2013, 2:29 a.m. EST by WSmith
from Cornelius, OR
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Why Aren't Americans Fighting Back?
[It's Class War and we're losing, WTFU!!]
Monday, 15 July 2013 09:16 By E. Douglas Kihn, Truthout | Op-Ed
This is the big question, right? It's what people are wondering everywhere.
The answer is simple and plausible - but the explanation is a bit more complicated. The majority of Americans are suffering terribly from the current economic crisis, but they do not yet have a political self-identity that will allow for a successful fightback. They don't know who they are or what they're fighting for. Neither do they understand whom or what they are fighting against.
"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles . . . if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle." These are the words of Sūn Zǐ, a 6th century BCE Chinese general, military strategist, and author of The Art of War, an immensely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy.
All fighting is the same. Self-knowledge and knowledge of the enemy confer on the fighter the outlines of a winning strategy, based on the best utilization of available weapons of offense and defense.
The majority of Americans, unknowingly, are members of the working class, AKA the proletariat, and will be fighting for the kind of socialism in which sharing, cooperation, volunteerism, and wellness replace the drive for individual profits, competition, ego, and the desire for power over others. Most Americans would like to see an end to global poverty, war, and injustice, and one day, we shall discover that the means to this end involves the social ownership and democratic control of the world's wealth. Only with this in place can the benefits of that wealth find their way back to the vast majority - the bottom two-thirds of the economic ladder.
That accomplishment will prepare us for the next stage, which will fulfill most of the needs that we "earthlings" currently have. These essentials include saving the environment, automating all boring and unhealthy jobs, developing the individual person, living wherever and however we wish, and benefiting from the astounding medical and other technological advances of the future.
The American majority will be fighting against the other pole of attraction - the ruling class, AKA the capitalist class, AKA the bourgeoisie, and their particular version of class society, which could be referred to as the Dictatorship of Capital. The rulers are fighting for the status quo - their supposed right to own, control, and accumulate wealth - and the power over the majority that that wealth provides.
The capitalist class already knows who they are and what they are fighting for, and they are well aware of who their enemy is. That's why they are presently winning the fights.
Before we examine the roadblocks that need to be cleared away for this to begin, let us briefly review the current unpleasant situation.
The Current Crisis and Today's Fightbacks
The last four decades have witnessed the first-ever generalized stagnation of wages and benefits for working people in this country, as well as the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world, from middle and low income Americans to the billionaire gamblers, bankers, industrialists, and their hirelings. According to Mother Jones, from 1979 to the present, the productivity of American capitalism grew over 80 percent, while US wages only grew around 12 percent.
The share of US wealth held by half of American households plummeted in 2010 to 1.1 percent, while the top 10 percent's share was 74.5 percent. And according to the British aid agency Oxfam, the 2012 income alone of the 100 wealthiest families in the world was enough to end global poverty four times over!
This is the Privatize Everything period, when every grain of sand and every drop of moisture must be owned and extracted for their profit-producing potential. Since capitalist markets began crashing in the early 1970s due to the final exhaustion of the post-World War II boom and the subsequent global crisis of overproduction, American workers and small business owners have been hit with a concerted regimen of job speedup, increased competition, and economic strangulation - AKA "austerity" - which is aimed directly at them.
For the working class in America, unemployment remains high; debt is increasing; pensions are under attack; public education and medical care are being undermined; prices keep climbing; security and respect on the job are historical memories; public services are being slashed; cultural standards are coarsening; prisons are filling; foreign wars continuing without end; cop brutality increasing; harmful addictions of all kinds soaring; personal relationships fraying and mental/physical health spiraling downward, while the secretive security state grows stronger day by day. Times are good for snake oil salesmen of all colors and stripes, but bad for whistleblowers and other honest folk - and getting worse.
So the objective justifications for the Big Fightback are firmly in place.
Some are fighting back, but not the majority of Americans all at once. An old Chinese proverb reminds us that "the tallest nail gets hammered down." Political fightbacks have coalesced recently around many "separate" struggles, such as those of public union workers in Wisconsin, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the coal miners, the US postal workers, the fast-food workers, public school teachers, the anti-war movement, those determined to stop global warming, the free speech and press freedom movements, communities fighting to stop police harassment, the reproductive rights movement, the LGBT movement and a hundred others. Despite some victories here and there, none have so far initiated a real groundswell of opposition to the relentless rightward course of the oligarchy and its institutions of class rule.
Two Successful Fightbacks from History
History offers us valuable lessons from the examples of successful, largely non-violent fightbacks by big majorities against oligarchic tyrannies.
In 509 BCE, the Roman people overthrew the last king and established a republic, which was composed of three socioeconomic classes: the patricians, landed aristocratic families who owned and controlled the wealth, did no physical labor, and made all of the decisions; slaves, who performed forced labor in the fields and the homes; and the plebeians, the Roman proletariat who served the Republic as soldiers, shopkeepers, crafts people, skilled and unskilled workers, and small farmers.
Fifteen years later, the proletariat, who had been suffering horribly from debt bondage and the threat of slavery, physically withdrew from the city confines and vowed to establish a new city on a nearby hill if their demands were not met. These organized plebeians told the grossly outnumbered patricians that they weren't going to fight their wars, produce their food, make their clothes, or anything else for them until they - the working class - received some debt relief and some say in the operation of the new republic.
The plebeian fighters knew who they were and whom they were fighting. These workers were the people who, aside from slaves, created the wealth that the patricians had come to depend on.
Because of their overwhelming numbers, the strategy of peaceful physical secession forced changes favorable to them - debt relief and political recognition.
They understood that all plebeians - the immense majority - were their comrades and that all patricians were their foes, and that this tyranny in which patricians were making all the decisions had to be fought against and overturned.
Their understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of themselves and their enemy gave them their weapons and their winning strategy. With these, their fear and apathy turned to anger and enthusiasm and, within a year, they had won political representation and debt relief. The plebeians used this strategy three more times over the next two centuries until the final plebeian secession in 284 BCE and the resultant law known as the Lex Hortensia, which forced the retreating patrician order into a permanent position of subordination to the plebeian order.
A more recent example would be the phenomenon of Polish Solidarity, whose full name is "Independent Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarnosc." At the time, Poland was a Stalinist workers' state with one owning class - the working class - and a bureaucratic caste managing and usurping wealth and privileges, much as some corrupt union officials today are make decisions and live well while the silent rank and file struggles.
Solidarity emerged on 31 August 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard. It was the first non-governmental trade union in a Warsaw Pact country. This very large union reached 9.5 million members - 1/3 of the total working age population of Poland - before its September 1981 Congress.
Their fightback was against the ruling bureaucrats of the Polish police state and their Stalinist brand of "socialism-from-the-top-down." The members of Polish Solidarity knew themselves to be working class - and they knew they were fighting for the kind of political freedoms that Americans have in our Bill of Rights.
During the 1980s, the unionists used the powerful weapons of class solidarity - massive sit-down strikes that brought the economy to a standstill and peaceful mass street protests that generated support throughout Poland and the world. This double-barreled plan of action eventually brought the oligarchic bureaucracy to its knees and opened the floodgates of anti-Stalinist rebellion around the world, culminating in the fall of the Soviet Union and the shakeup of the Chinese Stalinist bureaucracy.