What Will the Real American Resistance Look Like — Chaotic Rebellion or Organized General Strikes?

Yves here. I hate to be my usual pessimistic self, but I don’t see much reason to hope for organized resistance in the US, as opposed to various types of desperate lashing out. Neoliberalism and libertarianism have been very effective in getting people to see themselves as atomized and therefore having little power. They have also weakened community bonds by creating workplace demands that undermine most people’s ability to have much in the way of social networks outside their place of employment. The systematic attacks on unions is a big part of this picture, even though some like the National Nurses United still are effective politically.

A second issue is, as we’ve seen with the Black Lives Matter protests, is that even when protestors try to hold peaceful demonstrations, they serve as opportunities for looters. This was pronounced in New York City, where business owners, who had no reason to be de facto defenders of the Black Lives Matters marches, said that the looting was clearly organized by criminal groups: the businesses were cased during the day by people on bikes, and groups would come in during the evening with trucks to make heists.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

Click to enlarge. Suitable for framing.

I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.
—Jay Gould, 1886

It’s normally a bad idea to denigrate the other side’s supporters in a fight, especially in a political fight like the one we’re currently witnessing, and especially when the game that’s really being played is the oligarch’s version of Eric Berne’s “Let’s You and Him Fight” — the one where the rich get the poor to kill each other, while they steal the both of them blind.

So don’t consider this piece to be about the other side’s supporters, whichever side the “other side” is to you, so much as it is an indictment of all of us, and a call for all of us to change our ways.

The Real Surrender Monkeys

The indictment comes from Juan Cole, writing at Informed Comment. Two notes before we begin. First, I’m going to quote at some length, so forgive me; his point is stronger that way.

Second, despite its headline, the point is not about resistance to Trump alone, but far more general than that. Is America’s broken state the fault of Republicans, or do the corrupted leaders of both parties have a hand in what we suffer?

Here’s Cole:

How did Americans become such Wimps? Silence as Trump kills tens of Thousands, Destroys Social Security and Post Office, Plots Election Fraud

Nicole Winfield and Lisa Marie Pane at the Associated Press write at the unbelief with which Europeans are staring at the United States, as we head for 300,000 dead from the coronavirus and our economy shrank 33% on an annualized basis last quarter, and we just appear to be all right with that.

Not only are we perfectly willing to toss grandma in an early grave on Trump’s say-so, but we are supine as he openly engineers the destruction of social security and medicare, and of the post office, on behalf of himself and the billionaire class he represents. That is after we sat by while he completely gutted all environmental regulations that got in the way of corporations making money off poisoning us. I don’t think the neutering of the EPA has even been reported on daytime cable news, though the prime time magazine shows on MSNBC have at least brought it up.

Americans imagine themselves rugged individualists. A cartoonist did a satire on us showing brawny guys, shirts off, with the logo “Rugged individualism works best when we obey.”

In fact, Americans are masochistic sheeple who let the rich and powerful walk all over them and thank them for the privilege. …

The rich figured out in the 1980s that Americans are all form over substance, and if you put up for president a Hollywood actor like Ronald Reagan who used to play cowboys, they would swoon over him. In 1984 when Reagan ran against Walter Mondale, I saw a middle aged white Detroit auto worker interviewed who said he woudn’t vote for Mondale because he was a “panty-waist.” Reagan took away their right to strike and took away government services by running up the deficit and cutting taxes on the rich simultaneously, then claiming the government couldn’t provide the services the people had paid for because it is broke.

Reagan raised the retirement age from 65 to 67. Why? Most young people don’t realize that their health will decline in their late 60s and they often won’t actually get any golden years.

What did Americans do in response? They just bent over and took it.

Actually, it is the French who are much more like Americans imagine themselves to be. President Emmanuel Macron last December tried to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. I can’t understand why. France has persistently high unemployment as it is.

In response, all hell broke loose. Some 30 unions went on strike, and they supported each other. Trains were interrupted. Trucking was interrupted. Life was interrupted. A million people came out into the streets. But one poll had 61% of the French approving of the strikes. They went on for months, and were very inconvenient. …

Macron backed down on raising the retirement age.

In the 2000s, Americans ridiculed the French as “surrender monkeys” for not joining the “Coalition of the Willing (to Commit War Crimes in Iraq).”

That was particularly rich coming from a nation that, in 2000, had just witnessed its presidency stolen by a blatantly partisan Supreme Court — and lifted not a single finger to stop it. The French (and Germans, and Italians) would have been in the streets had that happened to them, burning cars and reputations until the wrong was redressed.

The 2000 election was a constitutional coup — two of them if you count the one attempted by George Bush’s brother Jeb in Florida, whose own coup attempt was made moot by the U.S. Supreme Court’s. Yet for almost every American, it happened on television only, a game show to be watched between dessert and the late-night comics.

Cole writes about how the French are not only willing to “throw a first class fit when the servants of the rich in government come after their lifestyles,” but also how all of the unions and most of the working class had each other’s backs during these actions.

For contrast, in the U.S. the United Food and Commercial Workers union recently filed a lone-wolf lawsuit against the Dept. of Agriculture for allowing poultry manufacturers to speed up production lines, and no other union joined with them. In France, according to Cole, “it wouldn’t have been one union filing a lawsuit. … It would have been a massive set of mutually reinforcing strikes.”

A massive set of mutually reinforcing strikes. Surrender monkeys indeed.

Civil War or Civil Chaos?

Now for the call to change our ways: At the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century, Americans face a crossroads. For everyone who isn’t either independently wealthy (like most of the donors who make up the real Republican base), or comfortably tucked into the professional managerial class (whose interests the Democratic Party seems most to serve), daily life is a both horror show now and collapsing fast to something even worse.

If there were ever a time to rise up, it’s today. And rise up Americans will, I’m sure of it. With Covid deaths high (1,000 a day as I write this), incomes insecure for all but work-at-home professionals, and evictions just one or two missed paychecks away, even for the pre-Covid comfortable — with all this at the door, why would they not?

The question isn’t will they rise up, but how will they revolt?

Will Americans rebel in an organized, focused way — like colonial Americans, for example, rose against British taxes, with planned resistance and coordinated action?

Or will the next rebellion devolved to the kind of battle that Jay Gould contemplated more than a century ago, a civil war where half of the suffering class attacks the other half, a chaotic free-for-all that allows the muscular security state to bootstomp in and “restore order” — all while our modern Jay Goulds (our Jamie Dimon, our Bezos, our hedge fund kings and queens, our CEOs of Google, Disney and Comcast), sail blindly off to their private-jet cocktail sunset, feeding on caviar and broken hearts?

Will Americans rise up effectively, with targets in mind — Medicare for All, Student Debt Forgiveness, Free Public Colleges and Universities, an actual End to Police Violence and Murder — and fight the misery descended upon them all?

Or will they rise up chaotically, their legitimate protests hijacked by Boogaloo Boys and FBI provocateurs, a faux-revolt where fascists battle anti-fascists, the former aided by violent, racist police, until the nation, getting nowhere, yearns for the security of a rapid but “managed” decline over the insecurity of a state-funded free fall to despair?

The time to decided all this is now, before the real first spark, the one that starts the American Arab Spring, is lit. If a General Strike seems frightening, consider the alternative, a five-way civil war with armed cops permanently stationed in the streets and skirmishes everywhere.

The French learned their lesson in 1789 and the century that followed their world-historical revolt, though it took them six generations to get things right.

“America, rise, or you will surely fall” is a lesson this generation has yet to learn. The task is not only to rise from a five decades of sleep, but in rising, to act in a way that dispels the nightmare, and doesn’t continue it.

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  1. Ian Ollmann

    To be fair, I believe the reason why we are just taking it is that we above all else place our faith in the rule of law. The rule of law is the shield against authoritarians who think they can do whatever they like. If the rule of law is the backbone of this country — as well it need be if you expect to have a strong and profitable business environment — then if the current administration loses the election, then there will be holy hell to pay if it doesn’t move out of the White House on schedule in January. So, we wait, with growing exhaustion for the term to be over.

    I could be wrong. Maybe I just share a country with a bunch of idiots to who don’t know what they want and take what they are handed. If I am, then it is time to move. However, I don’t think that is the case.

    If there is an indictment to be had over our recent history, it would be to question why Americans put up with such terrible government. We should demand good government.

    1. trhys

      “…then there will be holy hell to pay…”

      Yes, and the violence will be “… a civil war where half of the suffering class attacks the other half, a chaotic free-for-all that allows the muscular security state to bootstomp in and “restore order”…”. And each side identifying with a different faction of the ruling class.

      It’s working class solidarity or disaster.

    2. rob

      the problem is , we ALREADY don’t have rule of law. We already have all three branches NOT doing their jobs.We already have a dysfunctional government….
      We already have been lied to since we were born, and the general population is generally mis-informed, and doesn’t have the factual “solid ground” to make decisions. And decisions made by people who have been propagandized in every way, for their lives and the whole life spans of everyone living now, who they ever knew, are most likely to be bad decisions. It is like playing chess with someone you taught the rules to, yet you only taught them “some” rules, and you get to use whatever you want to “call a rule”…
      The “fail” is already baked into the society… and will most likely play out that way… when the time comes, because while some people may read thought crimes like the ones on this website and others…. most people are vaccinated against such blasphemy.

    3. Mark

      To be fair, I believe the reason why we are just taking it is that we above all else place our faith in the rule of law. The rule of law is the shield against authoritarians who think they can do whatever they like.

      Except it seems that as far as western democracies go the rule of law is certainly not a shield against authorities. Not when it comes to the big decisions and politics. When you have the top decision makers being political appointees and regularly see votes on issue come down along red/blue lines it is hard to see the law as a shield.

      Not to mention the total corruption of the democratic system that exists gerrymandering and voting shenanigans in general.

      If there is an indictment to be had over our recent history, it would be to question why Americans put up with such terrible government. We should demand good government.

      It’s hard to know what a good government is like when you don’t look outside.

      Sorry if I’m laying it on thick. I’m not American but I do love America and that makes the many flaws so much more frustrating for the rest of the world to watch.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles


        Noted legacy ecologist Aldo Leopold said something analogous in the field of ecological endeavor.
        ” The ecologist lives alone in a world of wounds.”

    4. Adam Eran

      The refrain of Trump supporters, particularly about immigration is “Just enforce the law!”

      …as though the law is just, or evenly enforced. One academic told me that only 50% of the undocumented are Hispanic, but 90% of the deportations are Hispanics. “Just enforce the law” indeed!

      Never mind that people of color are more 3-4 times likely to be convicted and serve time for exactly the same crimes as the white people! “Just enforce the law!”

      The immigration debate is particularly fraught because of the context. The U.S. has been attacking its southern neighbors for literally centuries. Between 1798 and 1994 the U.S. was responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders. This creates a steady stream of political and military refugees.

      But worse than those attacks are the economic ones. NAFTA not only produced bank collapses by permitting capital flight (and required a $20 billion bailout loan from the Clinton administration), it shipped a lot of subsidized Iowa corn down south, impairing the business of Mexican corn farmers. The big ones got a bailout (it’s in the treaty), but the little ones got to be economic refugees. Sure, corn is only arguably the most important food crop in the world, and those little Mexican subsistence corn farmers were only keeping the disease resistance and diversity of the corn genome alive….but they weren’t making any money for Monsanto… so screw ’em.

      In the wake of NAFTA, Mexican real median income declined 34% (source: Ravi Batra’s Greenspan’s Fraud). One has to revisit the Great Depression to find a decline like that in U.S. incomes. … and that prompted no great migration … Oh wait! The Okies!

      “Just enforce the law” would have caged Okies in California, separated them from their families, then deported them back to Oklahoma to starve…

      The “rule of law” in the U.S. is a camouflage for the manipulations of the plutocrats.

    5. Henriux Miller

      Just looking from afar, I am curious about the double standard when it comes to Americans “placing their faith in the rule of law”. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think this means, the rule of USA laws for Americans. That is all good and understandable. But what about that same American electorate, Republican, Libertarian, Green, or Democrat, that doesn’t care at all when their very powerful nation, lead by people elected by US citizens, intervenes in foreign countries to thwart the rule of law in places like Haiti, Honduras, Egypt, Bolivia, Ukraine (to mention just a few in recent history. No need to go back in time to remember Chile, Argentina, Indonesia, etc.). Where is the public outrage? Where are the editorials in the mainstream media? How come some Americans can be so concerned about the rule of law in their beloved homeland, and don’t seem to care much about the way their nation, often in violent ways, goes about disregarding the laws of other nations that are supposed to be sovereign?

      1. JBird4049

        My apologies, but this feels like victim blaming. If you are likely to have your vote negated by fraud, gerrymandering, and vote rigging, when just earning enough money for food and rent is sometimes impossible, and the police have the ability to falsely arrest, beat, or just kill you with near impunity, being concerned about distant, foreign lands is difficult.

        I am concerned about the rule of law, but like most Americans, my influence over the rulers of this land does not exist. What concerns I can pay attention to are for here. It is perhaps unfair, but it’s true.

        Of course, if we ever get a chance to send our beloved leadership to The Hague, I’ll be enthusiastic with my help.

    6. Cuibono

      “Or will the next rebellion devolved to the kind of battle that Jay Gould contemplated more than a century ago, a civil war where half of the suffering class attacks the other half, a chaotic free-for-all that allows the muscular security state to bootstomp in and “restore order” — all while our modern Jay Goulds (our Jamie Dimon, our Bezos, our hedge fund kings and queens, our CEOs of Google, Disney and Comcast), sail blindly off to their private-jet cocktail sunset, feeding on caviar and broken hearts?”

      Rhetorical question i take it?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        ” I can pay half the Sparts to kill half the Trots. Or is it the other way around? Either way, its all good.”

    7. Cuibono

      I don’t think there is one answer of course. thee are likely many. the one i see often is that most people are really decent , and they make the mistake of thinking everyone else is too. They don’t understand psychopathy.

  2. LawnDart

    Rule of law worked really well when the last two administrations ignored international law to begin their wars of aggression.

    Rule of law worked really well during the
    great recession when 10-million or so Americans were foreclosed upon.

    Of course, there’s that question of selective enforcement.

    Rules or laws that are transgressed by the powerful are only enforced when it threatens the power and interests of persons more powerful than the transgressor: see ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich as a case study.

    This election is mostly irrelevant, except to see how further the mask may drop.

    What will the real resistance look like?

    Aren’t you seeing it?

    1. hexagram

      The rule of law would have prevented millions of foreclosures last time if the law had been enforced — the laws against forgery, the laws requiring a chain of title to the creditor’s ownership of the mortgage, etc. Obama and Holder wouldn’t move. Apparently, this isn’t the kind of change Obama was referring to, as opposed to a change of clothes.

  3. Tyronius

    Americans are suckers for narrative and spin. Everyone I talk to SAYS they don’t believe what Certainly Not News, MSDNC and Faux Spews sells them between Viagra commercials- but they sure behave like they believe every word of it. The Church Commission happened nearly half a century ago, yet despite the blatant lies fed to us every day on topics from foreign intervention to domestic destruction, people continue to swallow the narrative. It doesn’t help that stepping outside the narrowly drawn boundaries draws accusations of conspiracy theory baiting, even while rabid conspiracy talk is as mainstream as searching for Qanon. We’ve been dumbed down and lied to for so long it seems there is no limit to what we will swallow. No wonder Jimmy Dore spends his days screaming obscenities in frustration; nothing ever seems to get through the glassy eyed stare of the Average American.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Why are so many Americans so glassy-eyed? Could it be they have been mediacated? Could they be on strong mediacation right now? ( Mediacation or mediacine or whatever we want to call it . . . )

  4. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is an article raising a very similar question to the one raised by Juan Cole. And then attempting to answer it, which at least the Cole quotes don’t attempt to do. The first sentence goes like this . . . . .
    “A perplexed European asked me a question: Why, she asked, have there been no general strikes in America to end its aggression in the Middle East? Why, she asked, are Americans so unwilling to force their government do what must be done?” The rest of the article goes on to offer the best answer the article-writer can think of.

    Here is the link:


    something to perhaps think about while contemplating what bunches of Americans might do . . .

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Good link. Thank you for sharing it. I think these issues as well as the “let them fight” attitude expressed in the main post combine to create where we are now.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Thank you for the kind words.

        I came across this link from the Ran Prieur blog. Just another reason why Ran Prieur is such a good blog to read. It is wide-ranging and not devoted to one particular topic-field.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Just one of many interesting things over at Ran Prier.

            If people feel like going over there and reading it, they’d better do it semi-soon. In a few-couple years, there won’t be any more internet. And when that happens, the things you “meant to read” are the things you will never ever get to read. Never ever again.

    2. Lee

      Good read. His description of the powerful leverage provided employers over workers by having healthcare tied to the job is very much on point. When I was a union organizer, the prospect of health coverage was the tastiest carrot on offer. One class of workers we represented, nursing home aides, were quiescent when the union would routinely settle for an hourly rate a nickel above minimum wage so long as they got their health insurance.

    3. juno mas

      Thanks, dw, for the link.

      I would add that Americans have absorbed the cultural inculcation of ” fear the other”. Solidarity is a dirty word in the US.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        It took decades of upper-and-overclass class oppression and repression and target mass-mind-molding operations to make solidarity a dirty concept to be feared and avoided.

        There are still some operating sub-solidarities in society. Perhaps those separate solidaritised in-groups should all begin their own in-group uplift-project and begin comparing notes about what is working and what isn’t.

        I think another stumbling block has been the Perfectionist belief in the ” Beloved Society”. There won’t be any “Beloved Society”. Never. Ever. Maybe we should pursue the lesser goal of the “Polite Society”.

        1. RWood

          What was once a somewhat civil society has roots like weeds. Some of those weeds came up in the ’60s — the gardens had been despoiled by the end of the Big War and the impetus and horror of success made their appearance weird. Yas, yas, there was beat Delectation was the word, and other four-letter semantics, the yeasts of epistemology.
          Transmogrified pleasure in a nuke encrusted world embraced the gamut of capitalism and all its polarities. Notions of the depredations inherent to the nation took further root.
          COINTELPRO and the fusion design of that core of Big Brother that could keep secrets or keep silent led to the media lines and instant transport which are chosen means of expostulation — and much safer in the Big Brother enclosures.
          But I bet there are still tendrils of the resistance from that era in this soil. And cuttings have already appeared viable!

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Make love, not money.

            Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.

            Lead the money around by the nose.

            Food will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no food.

            Nobody owes the world a living. Nobody owes the rich a living.

            I am not my keeper’s brother.


            Some people will engage in a resistance which is cultural and behavioral. They will seek to withdraw some of their effort and attention from keeping the Mainstream DeathCulture Civilization alive. They will think about the distinction and the difference between the Free UnMarket Biophysiconomy and the Forced Market Moneyconomy. They will try living as much of their lives as is feasibly possible in the Free UnMarket Biophysiconomy. They will limit their involvement in the Forced Market Moneyconomy to only make enough money to buy only what they need of those things that only money will pay for. Not everyone will have the freedom to make the choice. But of those who can . . . some will.

            There was a “counterculture” in the sixties. Could there be a “countereconomy” today? Could there be rising unprofits and big negabucks in a growing countereconomy?

            People who don’t feel like marching in a protest only to see the Proud Antifa Boys take their protest over . . . can learn to practice Passive Obstructionism and I-obey-but-I-do-not-comply and Grudging UnCivil Obedience from the obscure comfort of their chairs and yards and so forth. Quietly undermining the foundations of power . . . like a million busy little moles and gophers . . . . can also be a form of rebellion.

  5. Lambert Strether

    I’m waiting for something faux, Indivisible/Women’s March-style, to bleed off the energy.

    It’s also very depressing to me that Portland anarchists (don’t know their social base) are the only ones to take the body. Nobody’s doing that anywhere else. Although it looks to me like cops and the anarchists are both practicing for something larger, I see it leading to where Occupy led: Nowhere, in terms of political power (“shield wall” ffs).

    It would be interesting if there were an equivalent post to this one from the hard right, who are certainly angry and despairing enough. But they are as fragmented and infiltrated as the left. Still, if any shooting breaks out, I would say that’s where it would come from. (I mean, aside from the authorities shooting people.)

    1. Oso_in_Oakland

      Lambert, I’m not sure what take the body means, but i’ve been saying holding it down and think we mean the same thing. white people stepped it up big time in Portland, they’ve stepped up everywhere and that’s a great show of solidarity. it’s different from Occupy because instead of streaming to the hood they are putting in the work in their own communities. what we said during Occupy, they are doing now.
      personally i agree with you about leading nowhere at this point, although there is far more local work going on now and for those in communities where this is occurring we need to keep organizing to keep people around.

    2. occasional anonymous

      Following the head-kicking incident, I’m done with the Portland demonstrations. The peaceful protestors are just wasting their time and energy and have no clear policy demands, and the edgelord anarchist scumbags who come out at night are full on retards that are giving Trump more votes every time they do something stupid.

      Meanwhile in Chicago people responded to a rumored police shooting by…looting a bunch of stores. Idiots.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Were those local citizen-people driven to looting? Or were those semi-professional looters-of-opportunity, biding their time and waiting for a lootable moment?

      2. Oso_in_Oakland

        spoken like a true american, occasional. talk mess about natives and black people, talk mess about whites with the balls/ovaries to join them, sit out any incipient upheaval in safety venting about how ‘full on retard’ those in the streets are.

        1. occasional anonymous

          You the one who was upset that I pointed out that the Lakota in the Black Hills were themselves colonists who drove out the people already living there?

          The daytime protestors aren’t retards, though they have no meaningful policy demands. But the kids who come out at night are idiots, and are only undermining what little point the daytime protests have.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            No . . . I think that was someone else. I certainly don’t reMEMber being upset about that.

            But if you can find a comment of mine where I said I was upset about just exactly that particular specific very thing, by all means reproduce it here in this thread. And offer the link to the post-thread in which you found it so we can all verify that it was really there.

            If you could produce such a copy of such a comment here in this thread, and if you could offer a link back to the post-thread in which you found it, such that everyone else who goes there and searches were to find that it really is there just the way you say it is. . . that could really embarrass me here in thread-public.

            That would be quite a point for you to score . . . if you can score it.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              @occasional anonymous,

              Wait a minute . . . were you asking ME that question just above my comment? Or were you asking someone else that question? Because if you were asking someone else . . . . well then, never mind my comment.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        @occasional anonymous,

        What is this “head-kicking incident” of which you speak? Are there reality-based true-fact linkable-to articles about it?

      4. kj1313

        As if the 1960s did not have the same turmoil. Sorry but this nations is built on genocide and rioting.

        1. occasional anonymous

          That’s not an argument. The peaceful protestors have little or no coherent demands, and the anarckiddies who come out at night are all 25 or under kids getting an adrenaline rush and thinking that constitutes meaningful action. It doesn’t. All it does is give ammunition to Trump.

  6. Clive

    Another problem is that the currently being whacked group are the traditional white-collar salaried more traditionally-considered as middle class. This is the same group that (hello, class warfare, nice to meet you) was perfectly content to see the working class (primarily unskilled and semi-skilled manual labour) kicked to the curb during the last 20 years or so through outsourcing and offshoring.

    The latter group has acclimatised to its new, much reduced, station in life (no benefits, little or poor “healthcare”, no pension provision, no job security, real declines in wages — etc. etc. etc.) often working two (or more) jobs to try to keep their heads just above water (they may drown a little, from time to time though) and a lot less leisure and family time (not that they have much spare money to do anything with that time, even if they had it, which they don’t). It ain’t Shangri-La. It’s just-about-surviving. If you’re lucky.

    Now, speaking as a generalisation, the middle class is hoping — DownWithTyrannyis certainly expressing this hope — that the working class will ride to the rescue of the newly imperilled middle. Just as with Brexit, they may find that’s a tough sell. “Buddy, can you spare me an avocado?” if I may be a bit glib about it. To which most working class people I know, certainly in the UK, to whom this appeal was made — certainly when it came to Brexit — will reply (and did reply) with a sturdy “no, sod off”.

    1. sd

      Rather than referring to “unskilled” – there’s a lot of skill behind blue collar jobs – think of it as uncredentialled. Because the only thing I see separating blue collar labor from white collar labor tends to be a piece of paper. Both are still labor though white collar like to think of themselves as “management” without really understanding that no, they are not.

      I guess this is a long way of saying Labor doesn’t really know how to recognize itself anymore. Occupy was creating a lens towards seeing the 99% as really representing Labor, and maybe that’s why it was smacked down so hard.

      1. Clive

        Yes, I really dislike this term, but it’s common parlance in the U.K. so I used that because it’s the convention here (referred to as “C2DE” where “unskilled” is in the definition).

        As you say, most manual workers have a lot more “skill” (as in, real-world, socially useful) skills they must bring to bear on their work than I do.

        1. rtah100

          Clive, it was kind to provide a citation for C2DE but it is actually at odds with your statement.

          C2 is the skilled working class. (C1 are the class traitors, the junior managerial grades. The non-commission officers of the class war)
          D is semi-skilled or unskilled.
          E is casual labour or unpaid labour (I hesitate to say no labour as study and retirement are as busy for some people as working lives).

          Also, SD, I am not sure if the NRS classification is really about credentials. I think it pre-dates that modern obsession. It has always struck me as a pre-modern and functional definition: how differentiate from the lumpen mass and replaceable is this person? There may be skilled trades with no credentials in C2 (artisans) and, sadly, there may be plenty of recent UK graduates with credentials working in D or E.

          There may even be a lot of skills in group E but they may not be the ones employers want or not be on offer from the employer on more than a casual basis. I am thinking of fruit pickers as well as pocket pickers and ladies of negotiable affection. :-)

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          How about “skilldentialed” for those skills which are Formally Honored by having Credentials?
          And people whose skills are dishonored by refusal to issue Credentials could be called the un-skilldentialed.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        but they’re really fine bits of paper…pretty, even….
        I agree: “credentialed” is better.

        1. sd

          I disagree. Receiving a certificate for completing a specific training course typically connected with equipment and/or safety is not the same as credentials attained thru a gatekeeper.

    2. Adam1

      While I would have to confess to being deluded into not seeing myself as a laborer years ago, it’s nearly universally believed that the “traditional white-collar salaried” types do not consider themselves as working class or laborers. Yet few have the actual resources to just not work for an income, which means they are laborers. They’ve conned themselves into a lonely corner.

      1. HotFlash

        Salaried, yes but. I worked in the accounting offices of several small businesses. My co-workers and I were ‘salaried’, but all that really meant was that we did not get paid for the inevitable overtime required to, say, get the monthly financials out or count inventory, and of course, no union. My friends in IT worked even more overtime, on salary. Even that distinction disappeared when vast numbers of white collar workers were laid off, fired, or retired early, only to be taken back as free-lancers. Sounded soo romantic, like Paladin. But we billed by the hour, had no benefits, worked at the employer’s convenience, and had many, many other of our laid-off colleagues as competition. Again, no union.

        I have *always* identified with workers, since I was well aware that I did work and that I could not not do it, so, a salary-slave. In the 80’s I went free-lance, as did so many others. I have tried several times to join a union, but the only one that would have me is the National Farmers Union, as an associate member. Even the Wobblies didn’t want me (I had no identifiable employer). I have pitched the idea of associate membership to the local IATSE prez. He was polite but didn’t see any point. I have thanked my posties for 4% vacation pay, maternity leave, and paid holidays. Each one has looked confused.

        Where to organize? What with Covid, WFH, lay-off, gig work, we don’t even have workplaces anymore. What about the unemployed? self-employed? students? pensioners? prisoners? indigenous living on reserves? disabled? I go down a list of my friends and neighbours and many of them would not slot into a the category of workers, but we have very strong common interests. I have further concluded that the best way to build a working, trustworthy organization that includes me is to build on my geographic locality rather than workplace or occupation.

        What I have been doing and with Covid have been able to increase is connecting with my neighbours by being, well, neighbourly. Watch their houses, sit their cats, and dead-head their roses when they are away, for instance, or make food from their weeds and gardens, fix their bicycles, make and share jam from their apples, mulberries, and quinces, pesto from their garlic mustard, ferment their purslane and lambs quarters. Laugh at their jokes (this can be hard). Take an interest in their hobbies. I share my tarragon, kale, and sage. Tell them what which of their weeds and garden plants are edible. Figure out how to teach judo to their kids while maintaining safe social distances (still working on that one). Remember their preferences and their names and the names of their kids and their pets. Shovel one another’s snow and *don’t* keep track of whose ‘turn’ it is.

        Being nice. Flattering people. As a Robertson Davies character remarked in World of Wonders, “Now, I know flattery when I hear it, but I very seldom hear it, and this was of the best cask.” Most people don’t get complimented enough, I know I don’t and most people brighten right up when you compliment their clothes, hair, car, yard/garden, bike, kid, or (esp) pet.

        Asking people about their lives. Most everyone has a good story, many have several. I have gotten a ton of really great stories with the question, “How did you meet your partner?” and another dependable fall-back line is, “Really? How interesting! Tell me more!”

        Find out who can do what and ask them for help. Ben Franklin in his autobiography recommended asking for a favour as the best way to gain a powerful ally. Ben wrote of complimenting a well-to-do man on his fine library, and asked if he perchance had a certain obscure book that Ben had been unable to locate (not quite true), knowing full well that he had it. Man was chuffed to be admired for his pride-and-joy, why yes, he did have that book. Ben diffidently asked if he might borrow it, the answer was yes and Ben got not only the book, but acquired a patron of sorts, who thought that this young Franklin was quite a fine young man. Ben made sure to return the book promptly. I have found this to work well, and I don’t feel that I’m being manipulative b/c I know how I feel quite pleased when someone asks me if I could fix their bike or tell them which of the things growing in their yard is a weed. And it helps to know who on your block has a chainsaw (or a pressure washer or a long-handled lopper or a gun) and knows how to use it.

        So, in these day’s of Covid, I think we need to look at ways of organizing that stress our common denominators rather than our divisors. Neighbourhood is usually a proxy for class, so that is included while avoiding having to debate the definition. It’s pretty clear whether one lives on the block or not and although not everyone wants to participate, you can’t be cancelled for being not quite the right shade or gender or income or whatever. We neighbours have a lot in common off the bat. Talking and working with neighbours builds trust and a better knowledge of what we actually do have in common in terms of attitudes, needs, and abilities, which will be useful, maybe vital, for quick response when/if TSHTF. Besides, it’s all walkable :)

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Why doesn’t the Laborers international Union of North America expand the notion of Labor to include Free-Lancing, Task-Rabbiting, UberLyft Driving, etc.?

          They could become the Laborers, Free-Lancers and Task-Rabitters international Union of North America. They could recruit a membership of many millions.


          1. HotFlash

            That would definitely cover a lot, but it still leaves me (self-employed) out. Also pensioners, students, people on disability, prisoners, unemployed, househusbands/wives, and many many more who have a lot in common. Perhaps a Peoples Union?

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              A Peoples Union would be a very interesting development. Something like the One Big Union of the early IWW.

              Different people will have different views on how to get there or whether it is even possible enough to be worth trying for or not. Perhaps grouploads of people with different intra-groupload approaches should each and all try pursuing their own separate theories of what to do. And not try poaching members from eachother but rather all respect eachothers’ groupload-rights to pursue the approaches each group thinks best. The groups can compare notes from time to time to see what appears to be working out how, when and where.

              Meanwhile, a very expanded laborers union would be a step to somewhere in the short to medium term meantime.

    3. Carolinian

      Great comment and you have your finger on the problem. The US became vastly rich after WW2 and changed from a country of farmers and laborers to one dominated by the middle class. Since middle class people have financial resources to fall back on their revolts tend to peter out as those in the sixties did (along came the “me decade”) and as this seemingly white middle class led BLM revolt probably will. France is a completely different country and things aren’t exactly going that well there either despite the Yellow Vest revolt.

      Meanwhile the middle class in this country is constantly encouraged by the media to despise the working class so there’s no solidarity to be had. That’s why no general strikes.

      It’s an intractable situation with all avenues of reform and most especially politics under the thumb of one percenter oligarchs. What can be done other than to wait for it to collapse?

      1. Monte McKenzie

        The 1% are forcing revolution as the only option left for the 60% stupid but “all American reaction” as wealth has alwayse been admired and the poor despised !

  7. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    I propose that a good start would be a complete dismantling of the very idea of IdPol (more broadly, critical theory).

    Just as this theory denies the individual, it also denies the universal.

    But the problem set is universal (well, 99 to 1 anyway). A set of atomized identities by definition cannot be permitted to re-aggregate to solve a universal problem.

    Nor can it reason:

    The entire concept of reason—whether the Enlightenment version or even the ancient Socratic understanding—is a myth designed to serve the interests of those in power, and therefore deserves to be undermined and “problematized” whenever possible. Postmodern theory does so mischievously and irreverently—even as it leaves nothing in reason’s place.

    So against an opposition that is 100% unified (with the unifying principle being the 1% extracting the wealth of the 99%), and with an inability to apply reason (only identity is permitted), is it surprising that there is nothing but defeat ahead?

    France has class consciousness, which means that the home of postmodernists and deconstructionists like Derrida can still organize en masse to attain mutual social goals. After America learns class consciousness, and attains some market and political power based on class, THEN we can get to redress for the various other groupings and divisions and identities. Meantime your race, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity issues are just going to have to take a back seat.

    So the IdPol warriors must be resisted with everything we’ve got, no matter what it takes (think of it as mental Coronavirus). If we ever want to get out of this mess that is.


    1. jr

      Agree 100%. One of CT’s insidious strengths is that it has no epistemic basis, at least as far as I can tell. It’s like trying to punch a water bed, it just deforms then pops back into place unaltered, inert.

      Class consciousness is like jabbing a knife into the water bed. It provides direction, motivation, a template for organization. Something, imperfect no doubt, to stand on.

      But maybe CT and it’s winged monkeys have an epistemic base after all. Since everything is identity, maybe their base is their identity. We are right because we are right.

      I say all this as someone who has reflectively set aside ontological certainties and whose epistemic base is squishier than a bag of Gummi Bears on a hot dashboard. I have chosen, as much as that can be said about anything, to see the world this way. I don’t think these people even realize the implications of what they say they think. Well, of course they don’t. To criticize Critical Theory would never occur to them.

      1. Katy

        August 18, 2020 at 8:46 am
        One of CT’s insidious strengths is that it has no epistemic basis, at least as far as I can tell. …
        But maybe CT and it’s winged monkeys have an epistemic base after all. Since everything is identity, maybe their base is their identity. We are right because we are right.

        In my experience, this is basically correct. I tried a number of times to have intellectual discussions with IdPol cult members. The conversations went something like:

        Me: “This theory has a number of problems, because it relies on faulty assumptions A, B, and C.”

        Of course, this was on Facebook, so it was probably my bad to try to have an intelligent conversation anyway.

        I deleted my Facebook account completely. No need to bother anymore.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          People like that need counter-epithets and acronyms of counter-derision and counter-rejection.
          Like RPOC ( pronounced ” arpoc”) which stands for Rayciss Pursun Ov Culur. I respelled it so that the words would not trip a ppolitical ccorectness censsorship ttool.

          Words like Social Justadzehull Warrior. Leftard Wokenazi. etc. ( also somewhat respelled).

          These are only stopgaps on the way to a more detailed understanding which would allow us to use the Vampires own tools to dismantle the Vampire’s own Castle.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Or maybe VOC, for Vampire Of Color. Vampires Of Color in their Castle Of Wokeness.

    2. Randy G

      HAL9000 — Thank you for the link!

      I didn’t think I would ever find myself in agreement with Andrew Sullivan.

      The IdPol mania appears to be the left throwing in the towel and scurrying down the road to nowhere….

      In the meantime, Michelle Obama and George W. Bush are hugging…. Ellen D. and Dubya are dancing, hugging and taking in football games together. Seems some “folks” aren’t letting IdPol get in the way of their class consciousness.


  8. clarky90


    There is video reporting.

    Andy Ngô
    “It looks like the person robbed and beaten by BLM protesters in downtown Portland tonight is a trans woman. She pleads for her backpack back. Her longboard was also stolen. She may be transient. The man who tried to protect her was later beaten himself & kicked unconscious.”

  9. marcel

    Just one quibble when Thomas writes ‘Macron backed down on raising the retirement age’. One should recall that OMS declared on Feb 28th COVID-19 a pandemic, and on Feb 29th, the government pushed through the raise without a parliamentary vote. It was only the pandemic that put an end to the discussion, and the ugly beast raised it head again during July.
    There is not much a strike can do when government rides over all democratic processes. One should remember that 5 people died, tens lots an eyen a leg or an arm and hundreds were arrested by the cops during the strike. So yes, France is worse than anything they show these days on Belarussia.

  10. David

    It’s worth pointing out that there’s no such thing as an objectively weak or objectively strong political system: it’s all relative. A very weak system may survive if the opposition is even weaker (Lebanon today), but may fall quickly if the opposition is slightly less weak (Batista’s Cuba for example). All things being equal, a strong system requires more effort to overthrow it, but not necessarily that much more. But “strength” is a complex thing, and goes beyond numbers. It also includes unity of tactics and unity of purpose, and both of those imply an organisational capability. Regimes fall quickly when divided among themselves, oppositions can take power if they are disciplined and know what they want (the Bolsheviks in 1917 for example).

    The problem with any attempt to resist in the western world at the moment is the lack of this organising capability. In the past, this capability existed the trades unions and the mass political parties; these days it has mostly disappeared. If you’ve ever been part of, or even closely observed, a demonstration, you know how complex organisation can be. Traditionally, routes would be identified and notified in advance, there would be negotiations with the police, start and finish arrangement and timings would be worked out, stewards with armbands would keep order and there would be measures to stop infiltration by outsiders. Most of all, there would be some agreed purpose, and some rules of conduct. Is the idea to be quietly impressive and get publicity, or to scare the authorities into making concessions? Are we prepared to cooperate with other groups and if so how? What happens if violence breaks out? Above all, what are we trying to accomplish, and how will we know whether we have done so?

    Traditionally, mass parties and organised labour were able to do all this to some extent, and in some countries were able to force concessions and overthrow regimes. Even today, the case of Algeria shows that very large numbers of demonstrators, well organised and keeping up the effort over long periods of time, can achieve at least some positive results. But that doesn’t happen in the West. It’s instructive to look at the Gilets jaunes in the context. In some ways, the lack of central organisation was a strength, but overall it was a weakness. There were a series of specific demands (many of which the government eventually conceded) but no real strategic vision. The gatherings were unorganised and undisciplined, and it took them a long time to get round to appointing stewards to keep order. Anyone could come, and many did, with ideas and objectives quite different from those of the GJs, and their own cause was harmed by the presence of Black Blocs and others. Most of all, there was no real leadership: in December 2018, a determined move on the Elysée Place, which nearly but not quite happened, would have forced Macron to flee Paris. But the GJs couldn’t get their act together. Trotsky wouldn’t have made that mistake, but then Trotsky had an ideology, a vision of the future, a clear plan and a disciplined group of people.

    The reality, I suspect, is that there will be a slow move into chaos and disintegration, after which the strongest and the best organised will come out on top. But on present plans that won’t be the Left, which doesn’t have the organisation, the discipline or, frankly, the will. I’m sure there are people on the Left already writing books about who was responsible for their upcoming defeat. In France, with mass organisations of the Left a distant memory, we’re supposed to put our faith in the unstable and chaotic coalitions of Greens, Identity Politicians and bits of the Left that recently took power in some municipal elections. So far they’ve turned out to be even worse than expected, which is saying something, and to resemble a right-wing satirists portrayal of extremist student politics. Meanwhile, the forces of the Right are biding their time.

  11. Ex-pat Geezer

    Violence is a horribly inefficient way to manage a slave state. The wage slave approach is far cheaper to sustain and more effective at keeping those with a “job” quiet. Fear of personal or family disaster is still very effective. My son in Orlando shares the political vision and aspirations that are held by most in these pages, But he has two kids and a situation that’s on the edge of comfortable, It would likely disappear overnight if he were to be seen to poke his head up.
    Violence can be applied to the few percent who will take to the street and take the risk or have a nest egg, but that number will remain manageable as long as the rest fear for everything they value, and place their responsibility to sustain their families before the very shaky hope of political change.
    On the positive side,I like the idea of a general strike. It has potential. but it still will work or fail depending on the loss of the tiny digital funds transfer that keeps people alive in a monetized slave society We need a way to tide people over., like a strike fund. Make that work, and the working stiff will have real power again.

    Bernie Sanders offered a view of what might be– and was effortlessly neutralized by the DNC and his own mistakes. Still, he went a long way toward educating the slaves. Maybe, just maybe.

    1. jr

      “strike fund”

      Thanks for this, I haven’t bumped into that idea in a ling time. Perhaps a kind of Patreon situation, sans Patreon?

      1. The Rev Kev

        If there was a strike fund the corporations would sue to have those funds seized and given to them in compensation for the damages inflicted on their corporations. Even if the courts eventually, eventually said that it would have to go back to the donated cause, by then it would have been held in escrow by the court for years.

        1. Anarcissie

          Hence it would be necessary to organize resources very locally and generally not in a money form, which would make them inaccessible to the capitalist state and its corporate components. This sort of thing is being learned now; for instance, in certain demonstrations people self-organized to supply the marchers with the supplies they needed to stay in the streets longer.

    2. Oso_in_Oakland

      ex pat, not gonna try to tear down a good idea. unions that have one parcel out the strike fund more or less equitably. people in a setting where there is any semblance of activism know people they can trust. paypal or something better would work to help with bail, supplies, etc.

  12. Tom Stone

    No mention of the Surveillance State or Fusion Centers?
    Cointelpro never died and neither did “Total Information Awareness”, they became very successful Public/private partnerships.
    No mention of the 1033 program. the Santa Rosa cops used an MRAP to serve a search warrant on a 17 year old earlier this year, an armored vehicle.
    No mention of “Velvet Glove” repression?
    Assange and Snowden come to mind.
    Remember Gary Webb, driven to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head, twice?
    Chaos and repression, between the wonderful organs of Propaganda, pervasive surveillance, infiltrators and blackmail and last but not least Tanks and machine guns that’s the only avenue left.
    And it sucks.

  13. Eureka Springs

    Issues, people, issues. Never ever say things like neoclassical economics or bourgeois. As lambert says – concrete material benefits.

    I’m delighted the post refuses to get caught up in a red/blue poison pill. Shocked Juan Coles place is doing it even if just one post.

    I also think a general strike is key. Getting to the numbers worthy of being deemed gen strike, the practice strikes should be called something else. Also we need different models. No need to stand in the streets and get shot while providing cover for provocateurs to burn down your hood, gas, shoot, arrest you. Just shut down, sit down and stay that way as much as possible. Feed each other in the meantime.

    One or two good unions are not enough to include them all. Unions will not be friends of the masses in this. Example: They clearly do not want M4A.

    While demands must be short it has to be more than the post image of 2k and M4A, imo.


    Possible demands during #GeneralStrike
    1. Job Guarantee 22.50 per hr
    2. Medicare for all (Jayapal’s bill)
    3. Debt jubilee
    4. Election reform: Paper ballots, hand counted. No machines. Proportional Representation. Move To Amend – money out of politics
    5. Tax the rich

    1. sd

      Union leadership doesn’t want M4A. I think most union members are aware that the savings from M4A would mean either an increase in pay, more funds shoring up pensions, or some combination of both.

    2. juno mas

      The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Las Vegas, Nevada made M4A a tenet of their platform support of Bernie Sanders during the recent Nevada primary. (Which Sanders won easily.)

  14. John Anthony La Pietra

    So how DO we get the 90% and the 9% together, each contributing what they have and recognizing the value of the contributions of others? Are we hungry enough yet to join in after someone throws the first stone . . . into the cauldron and starts making stone soup?

    1. Lou Anton

      It’ll take Events.

      The pandemic is Event #1. Exposed the fault lines between the Essential and the 9-19% who’ve been able to be the Comfortable during lockdown.

      As for your question about how the 9 and 90 come together. I think it’ll take a second Event: white collar layoffs. And when that happens, it’ll Provo be those with the biggest salaries who go first (early retirement, maybe furloughs that turn permanent, whatever). Cross that with a resurgent virus means a lot of previously comfortable people will have to live the Essential’s life: no money, precarious, one hospital trip from ruin.

      When that happens, maybe we get ourselves some improvements.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        As to coming together, the 9% are irrelevant in that case. It’s like the problem with lamenting if Team Blue will ever learn. They won’t. Maybe a few will, but we have long reached the point of where purges are necessary. The 9% have been given every opportunity to behave. Stop worrying about their feelings. It’s like Kerry’s 2004 promise of not raising taxes on anyone making less than $250k. They still voted for Shrub, and in exchange for voting for Biden, they are insulting AOC with the DNC’s blessing while pretending an extreme but low energy figure like Kasich isn’t a pig who simply is jealous he isn’t the showman that Trump is.

    2. rhodium

      The 9% under the top 1% are more like the royal eunuchs tasked with guarding the King’s harem. They may feel lucky to live in the court and be close to the King, tasked with the important job of guarding his resources. They are politically neutered, but at least they are not peasants. Analogy aside, often they spend a vast sum of their money on educating their kids hoping to create a legacy where their kids attain higher status or at least don’t sink down to lower classes. They cling to their position.

      They are a small proportion of the 99% though and even the next 10% are steeped in pmc identity enough that they’d be reluctant, but you really only need the bottom 70% at a minimum probably to get mad enough to revolt. The problem is still that the entire working class has the same struggles and gripes that steadily become more unbearable, but they’ve chosen to blame different things for it. The tipping point has to be when mutually opposed political identities begin to jointly turn on plutocratic power structures. They don’t have to agree on everything, only that we are no longer a democracy of the people for the people, and to act on that. I think it’s already going that way. Too many people are still overlooking the populist impulse rising in both parties even if this so far has mostly been confined to politics. The current pendulum swing has us staring at a party with a picture frame full of billionaires behind the candidates claiming to appeal to moderates. This is ripe for populist seething from the entirety of the working class.

  15. Bob Hertz

    Fewer than ten per cent of French workers are actually paid -up members of a union.

    However, the unions are still very strong in transportation and utilities. I assume that is how they exert such public power.

    For what it is worth, Americans will come out into the streets for racial issues and for motorcycle rallies……….just not for economic causes. Baffles me too.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Many Americans came out just recently for the economic causes expressed in Occupy Wall Street. Between the infiltration and subversion of the Zucotti Park protest by preening ” this-is-what-democracy-looks-like” anarchists and the Obama-coordinated drive by many Democratic mayors and legal repression enforcement Fusion Centers wiping out all the other Occupy Actions, Occupy was physically closed down and erased.

      But it did happen. For an economic cause. And not so very long ago. It is worth remembering that it did happen.

    1. Anarcissie

      The DSA is materially unimportant. Therefore, they do not have to be handled. That may also be generally true of that part of the PMC which does not connect itself with other forces and groups which will come into play as the current system breaks down or metamorphoses.

  16. The Rev Kev

    I don’t think that America will eventually end up in a second Civil War but it may end up where Russia was in the 90s – a general breakdown. Maybe that is why there is a bullet shortage at the moment. In any case, I will limit this comment to a few observations. If there is wide spread revolt, the Federal government does not have the manpower to put it down. Portland alone has demonstrated that. The government will thus try snatch & grab attacks on leaders which again we have seen in Portland. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat and all the rest of them will totally censor the news on what is happening and spokespeople from any revolts will be disappeared from social media. The government have technology behind them but the numbers can overwhelm this advantage. The National Guard may be reluctant to get too heavy handed as after all, they live there. You may also find that you may have gunfights between police and Guardsmen if it gets really nasty. But I am going with chaotic rebellion simply because if there is an organized rebellion, the government will try to decap the leadership and break up any movements to bring themselves “Victory” which will leave a chaotic rebellion as the only viable choice to move forward. Still Russia came back and given the right circumstances and leaders, so can America.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “The National Guard may be reluctant to get too heavy handed as after all, they live there.”
      my best friend in HS(and the only one from back then i still talk to), went into the army to get away from his parents, and to give himself time to think about a path in life(didn’t work,lol).
      he mentioned, after he was discharged, that the army etc sends folks from texas to georgia or new york, and vis a versa, so that if there’s ever unrest, they won’t be asked to fire on people they know, but strangers…and, given the dissimmilarities between someone from the Bronx and someone from Diboll, Texas, it would be as if they were in a foreign country.
      stuck in my head all these years, but i’ve never seen anything about this other than his offhand, drunken comment, 30 years ago.
      the existence of specialised training at different bases would seem to counter this…but i’m not near qualified to speak on military culture, beyond a bunch of crazy viet nam vets.
      In my wanderings, everything east of the Sabine looked a lot like East Texas, to me…including the white folks.
      again, idk…just a little thing i remember.

      1. Rtah100

        U.K. army regiments are raised and based locally for precisely the opposite reason, to shoot not at their cousins.

  17. Watt4Bob

    I first encountered the French, as in post-modernism, deconstruction et al in art school, in the early 1970s.

    At that time it was being used by bad artists to explain/excuse their bad art.

    In essence, “You don’t get it!” ( probably because you’re hopelessly encumbered by the old rules that in reality constitute the chains of your own oppression. )

    Or “You’re so retinal, this piece is conceptual?” (Could have fooled me, finding no conceptual content, I started evaluating its formal presentation.)

    All of course underpinned by dramatically feigned victim-hood.

    It seems that in the intervening years the tactic has spread, and proved useful in every field of endeavor where divide and conquer is the default rule of the game.

    At this point, I envision the retort to my criticism of half-baked political thinking being;

    Wake Up!!” from the supposed left, and “How we gonna pay for that!” from the right.

    1. Nancy Boyd

      It is significant that for “the left” in the US, a politics arising out of literary theory is more salient than a politics arising out of theories of political economy. I can count on two fingers the number of Bay Area leftists I know who understand anything more complex than Supply-and-Demand. Within that relationship, they don’t even understand elasticity. But they know narrative! And how to manipulate language to obfuscate.

  18. Steve Kachur

    The Dissident Voices link adds and deepens the DWT discussion. Take these with the companion piece “Everythings fine” to help fill out the picture. What motivated the general strikes in the US in the early 30s? or the sit down strikes that birthed the CIO? Socialist organizing for more than 30 years and misery. The organizing piece seems key to me. Who were the people who committed themselves to making connections with people, talking up and educating others about class, and taking the risks of beatings, prison, death? The Communist Party.
    What’s different today? Working class institutional success allowed us to get comfortable. Anti communism and class collaboration provided for elimination of the most dedicated organizers. Witness George Meany’s AFL CIO actively working with the CIA to undermine labor around the world. Outright murder of leaders who wouldnt go along (King, Malcolm X, Tony Mazzocchi, etc.) when necessary. The PMC tendency to class collaboration remains the strongest element in public discourse, the MSM, and in most venues, crowding out even the recognition of class conflict.
    I ‘ve seen from my own work in a union job and on the M4A and other political campaigns in CA that precarity and the potential for loss of whatever benefits or advantages people have is a very powerful force. The other very powerful force is US imperialism, cloaked in symbols of patriotism and adoration of our warriors. Interestingly its always been easier to talk about this as bs with actual veterans than with others. The vets get to see the lies up close unlike the rest of us. Maybe too many USians sense that they share in the benefits of empire, so consider loss of empire as part of the precarity facing everyone. Add in knee jerk racism (how many brown people should die for US status?) for a more toxic concoction.
    I dont see any “left” in the US capable of leading anything. I’m afraid that we will have to reach much more widespread misery before people start to act.
    Sorry to ramble.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Big Money has co-opted the Union leadership, and stifled labor organizing and organized labor. SabotCat is an emblem for the IWW — often used to signify sabotage or wildcat strikes. Neither sabotage nor wildcat strikes require organization on a large scale. They can affect business without warning at random. My understanding of Big Money’s tolerance for the Union movements in the 1920s and 1930s were the advantages of strike warning and the presence of a leadership that might be bargained with — big advantages compared with the kinds of disruption sabotage or wildcat strikes could wreck on business.

      The problems facing Big Money today are more serious than during the 1920s and 1930s. The long narrow fragile supply lines for parts and goods are target rich as are the computer systems on which Big Money has become so dependent. The Security State apparatus is bloated and ineffectual. Single actors or small groups of actors can do great damage to Big Money’s bottom line — and stand a good change of getting with it. I remain surprised nothing has happened yet and hope I can move further away from the large urban areas before it does happen.

  19. Jeff N

    “Recorded in a rush to prevent their label from using a different B side, this song tackled the topic of the National Insurance number blacklist. It was a much talked about but officially denied scheme operated by certain construction companies to make sure certain building workers never worked again. On the original 45 on Secret Records it was labeled Employer’s Blacklist. A tremendous song for a good cause, The Business should be proud of this song.
    Job chances seem very thin
    It’s a losing battle we must all win
    The C.B.I. are winning keep down the pay
    Mysterious people calling early in the day
    The x has appeared another lost life
    No tears are shed for the children and wife
    The dailies ignore it or treat it with tact
    Still when have they been know to report fact

    In our country so fair and free
    So say the holders of the economy
    There is a monster said not to exist
    They call it the employer’s blacklist

    Nobody really knows what’s going on
    Be a rebel and you’ll always be wrong
    Same old questions are always seen
    One side of the story told to the screen
    The government is too wise to be tricked
    Anyone too clever has got to be nicked
    You listen to this and you think I’m sick
    Well if you think that mug, you must be thick

  20. Adam Eran

    The U.S. has been heavily influenced by the libertarian Kochs. Their spending during the 2016 election cycle: $889 million, roughly 30 times more than pseudo-lefty, George Soros spent. The thrust of libertarianism is that there is no such thing as the public realm, no such thing as systemic problems. One has to practically be in a hypnotic trance to ignore systemic problems now, though, particularly the public health problem of the current virus. (The political right not only cut funding for the CDC pandemic team, they cut the early warning virologists in China.)

    This is pretty pervasive stuff, and I’d say it even influences civic design (land use planning) in American cities. Wherever you go, you’ll see sprawl. This is the architecture of separation and alienation. You don’t meet people on the street or in the park, generally, you meet most of them in traffic, as you’re driving your car, perhaps suppressing your road rage. This design conceals the homeless, beggars, the poor, etc. and gives Karens everywhere the sense of entitlement that divides society.

    A bit of good news: For new development, California now requires “complete streets” that give equal access to pedestrians and bicycles, along with the cars. (Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation to retrofit existing suburban streets, which are death traps for pedestrians.)

    Also: Thanks to Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento’s current Mayor, previously State Senate leader, California no longer evaluates proposed development based on how fast the traffic can flow through it, but on vehicle miles traveled (VMT). VMT seems a little abstract, but pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighborhoods can cut VMT roughly in half (1/3 – 2/3).

    Those will have long-term consequences. One of the Kochs died recently, and the other retired, but their endowments for university chairs and foundations continue…we’re certainly not out of the woods yet.

    1. Ana

      Regarding the mayor of Sacramento: he is fine with blocking access to public sidewalks so that businesses can use sidewalks for outdoor money making activities.

      It forces the frail elderly, the blind and disabled into streets with traffic. I suppose running over them would slow traffic.

      I wrote laws regarding access, and it’s gone in a poof. Selective enforcement at work.

      Ana in Sacto

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If someone(s) in Sacramento suggested boycotting those businesses which occupied sidewalk space with their business until they took their business back indoors, would enough Sacramentonians
        join the boycott to shut down the sidewalk business presence? Or not?

  21. Wukchumni

    We did nothing to stop the menace of guns in the aftermath of Sandy Hook when 20 six year olds were gunned down in cold blood and we’ve gotten so used to mass murders that anything under double digits is ho hum.

    The country wants to rip itself apart, but not get messy doing so and luckily for them they don’t have shove a shiv into somebody’s belly, they can do carnage from a distance.

    I see something akin to a risk named Rwanda, but instead of us hacking one another apart with crude weaponry, ours will be state of the art perforation.

  22. James E Keenan

    “[I]n New York City, … business owners, who had no reason to be de facto defenders of the Black Lives Matters marches, said that the looting was clearly organized by criminal groups: the businesses were cased during the day by people on bikes, and groups would come in during the evening with trucks to make heists.”

    ISTR that in post-mortems of the crime wave during the 1977 NYC blackout, the same phenomenon was noted, e.g., reports of Mafiosi pulling auto carriers up to dealerships, breaking the glass and driving away with brand new cars.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It would not be safe to try defending your dealership and its cars from such mafiosi looters-of-opportunity.
      However, would it be safe to leave a couple of decoy-cars out there for them to steal in just such moments of opportunity? Decoy-cars full of very fine Polonium 210 dust? Or depleted Uranium dust? Or maybe both mixed together?

      That way, the mafiosi would be getting what they deserve with the further delicious twist that they went out of their way to ask for it.

  23. Tom Bradford

    Not mentioned in the above is the role of religion.

    I believe (credo) the US is unusual among ‘advanced’ western states in that more than 50% of its population claim that religion has an important role in their lives – and its a religion that tells them to “turn the other cheek’, to ‘Do unto others’, that wrongs suffered in this world will be compensated for in the next, that the trials and tribulations suffered are a Job-like test of faith and that ‘taking arms against a sea of troubles’ is in fact evidence of a loss of Faith in one’s Divine Father.

    The highly regimented Western religions – the big three – make unquestioning faith in and obedience to its authority a primary requirement of their adherents and have been used by the PTB to whip the peasantry into line for fifteen hundred years and more. In Western Europe it has been losing its grip for several generations and has been largely expunged from Government except in the notional and cosmetic nods to it. But in the US Government is still riddled with it – “In God we Trust”, Presidential candidates having to highlight their Christian antecedents, holding Bibles upside down in front of churches to demonstrate their honesty and trustworthiness, Evangelicals more than happy at all the signs of the End of Times.

    God knows I’ve no idea how it can be done, but until the US comes to realise its destiny is in the hands of its people rather than God’s hands I can’t see much hope of any sufficiently broad-based and powerful movement for change.

    1. hexagram

      Your basic idea is correct, but the Jews must be omitted from the big three. First of all, they number fewer than 20 million. Second, half of them are secular and answer to no religious “authority”. Third, the others they have no centralized, recognized “authority”. Adherents are very fluid and move from one faction to another at will. Fourth, no Jewish sect is intent on recruiting others to its faith, nor do they preach eternal damnation as the reward for non-belief. So, the principal weapon of obedience is missing.

      1. Tom Bradford

        I didn’t intend to include Jews in the big three (religions), just Judaism and I’ve never considered the two terms equivalent.

        Granted I know little of Judaism and would agree that it seems to have little in the way of institutional hierarchy. However I do believe it centers around the Torah as an unchallengeable source of wisdom and teaching, ie a recognised ‘authority’. So what the Torah says or implies – or is taken to say or imply – about ‘rebellion’ against the current social order/authorities would be relevant to my argument.

        That said I’ve no idea what the Torah’s point of view is but, historically, active and potentially aggressive ‘taking to the streets’ against social unjustice doesn’t seem to feature prominently in Judaism.

  24. hexagram

    Half the slave class trying to kill the other half? It has always been thus, certainly since the Bolshevik revolution preferred destroying the socialists to destroying the fascists. Even the fascists employed this strategy. Every European war for the last five hundred years had this structure. You can bet on it next time, too.

  25. SteveB

    One would ONLY need to strike the ports… No need for a general strike..

    Strike the ports and the whole of US will shut down in a week or two..

    The UAW used the strategy of targeted strikes very effectively against the Auto giants in the 60’s & 70’s

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Unless of course the shipping classes were able to ship stuff to the ports of Mexico and Canada and then send it by truck and rail into America. And the same way for getting things back out.

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