Yves here. I have been saying for some years that I did not think we would see a revolution, but more and more individuals acting out violently. That’s partly the result of how community and social bonds have weakened as a result of neoliberalism but also because the officialdom has effective ways of blocking protests. With the overwhelming majority of people using smartphones, they are constantly surveilled. And the coordinated 17-city paramilitary crackdown on Occupy Wall Street shows how the officialdom moved against non-violent protests. Police have gotten only more military surplus toys since then, and crowd-dispersion technology like sound cannons only continues to advance. The only way a rebellion could succeed would be for it to be truly mass scale (as in over a million people in a single city) or by targeting crucial infrastructure.
By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny
“[T]he super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow. An analysis of 2016 data found that the poorest five deciles of the world population own about $410 billion in total wealth. As of June 8, 2017, the world’s richest five men owned over $400 billion in wealth. Thus, on average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people.”
—Paul Buchheit, Alternet
“Congressman Steve Scalise, Three Others Shot at Alexandria, Virginia, Baseball Field”
—NBC News, June 14, 2017
“4 killed, including gunman, in shooting at UPS facility in San Francisco”
—ABC7News, June 14, 2017
“Seriously? Another multiple shooting? So many guns. So many nut-bars. So many angry nut-bars with guns.”
—MarianneW via Twitter
“We live in a world where “multiple dead” in San Francisco shooting can’t cut through the news of another shooting in the same day.”
—SamT via Twitter
“If the rich are determined to extract the last drop of blood, expect the victims to put up a fuss. And don’t expect that fuss to be pretty. I’m not arguing for social war; I’m arguing for justice and peace.”
When the social contract breaks from above, it breaks from below as well.
Until elites stand down and stop the brutal squeeze, expect more after painful more of this. It’s what happens when societies come apart. Unless elites (of both parties) stop the push for “profit before people,” policies that dominate the whole of the Neoliberal Era, there are only two outcomes for a nation on this track, each worse than the other. There are only two directions for an increasingly chaotic state to go, chaotic collapse or sufficiently militarized “order” to entirely suppress it.
As with the climate, I’m concerned about the short term for sure — the storm that kills this year, the hurricane that kills the next — but I’m also concerned about the longer term as well. If the beatings from “our betters” won’t stop until our acceptance of their “serve the rich” policies improves, the beatings will never stop, and both sides will take up the cudgel.
Then where will we be?
America’s Most Abundant Manufactured Product May Be Pain
I look out the window and see more and more homeless people, noticeably more than last year and the year before. And they’re noticeably scruffier, less “kemp,” if that makes sense to you (it does if you live, as I do, in a community that includes a number of them as neighbors).
The squeeze hasn’t let up, and those getting squeezed out of society have nowhere to drain to but down — physically, economically, emotionally. The Case-Deaton study speaks volumes to this point. The less fortunate economically are already dying of drugs and despair. If people are killing themselves in increasing numbers, isn’t it just remotely maybe possible they’ll also aim their anger out as well?
The pot isn’t boiling yet — these shootings are random, individualized — but they seem to be piling on top of each other. A hard-boiling, over-flowing pot may not be far behind. That’s concerning as well, much moreso than even the random horrid events we recoil at today.
Many More Ways Than One to Be a Denier
My comparison above to the climate problem was deliberate. It’s not just the occasional storms we see that matter. It’s also that, seen over time, those storms are increasing, marking a trend that matters even more. As with climate, the whole can indeed be greater than its parts. There’s more than one way in which to be a denier of change.
These are not just metaphors. The country is already in a pre-revolutionary state; that’s one huge reason people chose Trump over Clinton, and would have chosen Sanders over Trump. The Big Squeeze has to stop, or this will be just the beginning of a long and painful path. We’re on a track that nations we have watched — tightly “ordered” states, highly chaotic ones — have trod already. While we look at them in pity, their example stares back at us.
Mes petits sous, mon petit cri de coeur.