I just finished a novel about the underground railroad, set in the early 1800s, involving several southern and border states. It is a work of fiction, but I have read enough academic history to know the truth of it. The images the novel portrays invoke a distressing image of the abject brutality perpetrated by not just slave owners but also by the ruthless members of the apparatus that supported the whole slavery stratagem.
It occurs to me that the servitude depicted in the novel could well describe an atypical variety we witness in contemporary American society. It is the result of conservatism’s agenda secretly put together piece by piece over almost fifty years. Its operative forces have built a structure to serve the masters, summarily described as crony capitalists.
The overseers of this bondage system are Republicans, especially leaders like Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, and Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House. A culture has relentlessly been built around crony capitalism’s servitude plan, which intends to abscond with the bulk of income and wealth by altering our culture in such a way that all institutions – public and private – serve that goal. The cultural coup is well on its way to fruition where a tyranny of oppression thrives.
The true goal of conservatism is to establish an aristocracy, which is a social and psychological condition of inequality. Many conservatives espouse the doctrine – at least to one another — that economic inequality and regressive taxation are normal features of a free market system that lets corporate moguls be the naturally superior economic leaders.
Its economic expression seeks to weaken unions, promote “free-choice” workers, and free consumption, thus, attacking union membership, suppressing wages and exporting jobs while denying consumer protection, assuring maximum profits.
For two generations, such draconian methods have moved stricken economic victims to a relative trash heap of society toward a form of imposed slavery, characterized by opioid drug addiction, with declining future prospects leading to suicide, incarceration, and homelessness. These situations are worsened by Republican attempts to gut social welfare programs, job education programs and health care. Their justification is always the free market, a relative pipe dream.
For the less stricken in American society, attitudes and prejudices are tweaked by controlling the media, education, entertainment, and all branches and levels of government. A great deal of money and effort goes behind maintaining that control by exploiting judicial decisions that elevate the role of money in securing elections and which permit voter suppression. At the state level, gerrymandering keeps voting in favor of Republicans, voter suppression keeps non-whites and the poor away from the polls, and a legislative majority passes laws that keep dissentions subjugated and in disarray.
This coordinated attack – economic, political and media messaging — keeps the stricken population in chains of hopelessness and poverty and the less-stricken in a state of insecure angst with weakened government support. It is a government consistently demonized by Republicans as well as conservative media, though it’s a government Republicans use to oppress the non-rich.
Furthermore, a separatist culture keeps poor and non-white populations apart from the more affluent, and fosters bias in urban living. The state of prejudice has been unmasked with deadly violence against our black brethren, revealed by ubiquitous smart phone videos. A wholesale form of non-white rejection, however, is manifested in attempts to cast off those of different color and different ethnicity in our society, with a nativist movement of fascist-like white supremacy.
Accordingly, an almost institutionalized violence is tacitly accepted by too many of a benumbed citizenry whose welfare has been eroded over almost two generations. The agents of their oppressors, Republicans, often provide the inflicted targets of blame, while GOP candidates seduce voters with bogus populist messaging.
Much of the redistribution of income from the less well to do to the very wealthy is accomplished through tax cuts for the rich, declining social spending and compensatory higher taxes at state and local levels, as well as assorted out-of-pocket expenses for education and health care. Though these policies fall heavily on non-whites, they reaches the middle class as well, as the managed decline of unions tends to lower wages for even the college-educated. Responsibility for environmental disasters is also often put on the backs of average taxpayers.
Not only do conservative legislative policy take money out of the pockets of the middle class and the poor, it also brings about suffering in the form of food deficits when cuts in social programs like school lunches and Food Stamp programs are cut or eliminated. It assures lost opportunities for youngsters from poor families as Head Start programs are cancelled, and it attempts to cut not just health care but budgets to advertise it.
In addition, this apparatus of control has fostered a system where corruption among the elite – business and government leaders alike – is not blameworthy for corporate leaders. Fines for crimes like bank money laundering are waged against corporations, thus paid for by stockholders. This standard of corruption elevates suspicion and distrust of the establishment as stricken Americans vote for the most vile of con men, Donald Trump.
The cutthroat structure has brought a Supreme Court which made money speak louder than voters and made voting more difficult for Democrats. Extreme gerrymandering and stealing Supreme Court seats are commonplace moves by Republicans, existing alongside an archaic Electoral College that helps give control to overseers. With Justice Gorsuch confirmed, his corporate bias will further strengthen the corporate yoke over the common people.
Overseeing and controlling public income and wealth has turned to pushing competition or privatization like an elixir for education, social security, and prisons, the latter marketing incarceration like a product. All of these efforts spell authoritarian control. All in all, decisions are made and the oppressive results are staggered to enslave in maneuvered waves. The drug war and mass incarceration was one wave that dislocated the poor, but mostly non-whites, whom the Great Society briefly tried to help.
The benefactors of legislative efforts by overseers like McConnell and Ryan are the rich. The justification pretends the competition of an open market system. The proclaimed enticement is always jobs, mostly a ruse to push through legislation that kills any vestige of egalitarianism, with the poor and the middle class on the losing side.
The impoverished and the unhealthy can more easily be manipulated. If you can’t take away health care directly, you can sabotage it like Trump, McConnell and Ryan can do with control of the government. This, Paul Ryan can falsely justify by saying the ACA is in “a death spiral,” regardless of how many times his assessment is disproven.
With control of education, the curriculum can be filled with pro-corporate indoctrination. Manipulate the safety net to subvert middle class prospects to elevate insecurity among the citizenry. It makes control easier. The same strategy applied to slaves in the 1800s. It was unlawful to educate slaves for fear of their uprising. Besides, they were considered too inferior to educate.
A form of slavery already befalls the poor who work long hours at low pay, reminiscent of slaves and poor freemen; they live near refineries with poorly-maintained smokestacks releasing toxic effluents. At a much higher rate, their children are subject to respiratory diseases or even an early grave with different forms of cancer.
Consider the death and disease caused by Trump and friends who are doing the bidding of billionaire fossil fuel industrialists like the Koch brothers. Currently Scott Pruitt, the EPA polluter-in-chief, is circulating two memos: one which demands all regulatory actions be documented and the other demanding recommendation to repeal within a month regulations of air, radiation, and water pollution.
Meanwhile racism is still with us. There are still real dangers for a black child with the tenacity to display confidence, intelligence, or independence when authority looms over them. It is a black parent’s nightmare.
A direct confiscatory insult, Trump gathers wealth using the office of president and our tax dollars to live even more lavishly. His personal corruption is added to the oppressive conservative movement which Republicans have relentlessly pursued for their contributors. Hidden behind Republicans are the masters who pay billions of dollars to maintain their serfdom enterprise.Tweet
Latest posts by ocjim (see all)
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