We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Keiser Report: The Politics of Rage
I regard both figures as expressing archetypal views of middle class people who are increasingly feeling rage against the capitalism as it functions today. They both see that the latter is crimping the lifestyles of their family and friends who have prospered in the system during earlier stages of capitalist development. However, it is clear from their comments that they are now feeling opposition to the system in its present functioning. This sense of disaffection among the middle class has been increasing in recent years as their prospects have diminished under the increasing trends of outsourcing of their jobs and the technological innovations which are reducing their opportunities in the economy.
Such people are much like "house niggers" (the middle class), who Malcolm X referred to, loyally serving the plantation owner while enjoying many privileges denied to the "field niggers" (the working class). They don't like their present plantation owners who are treating them badly, but that doesn't mean they want to change the present arrangement. They love their masters. They just want to be treated better, you know, like they were before the current neoliberal phase of capitalist development. [Google removed this video from YouTube, so now see this when Malcolm described them as a "house Negro".]
I urge you not to be misled by all their dramatic rhetoric because they are not experiencing anything like the rage of the working class most of whom are really suffering. They want a return to a kinder, gentler, regulated form of capitalism of earlier periods--for them--which, according to my reading of history, did not exist for the working class. Thus one should not be impressed by their dramatic expressions that they blithely toss out such as "rage" and "revolution".
Still, in spite of the limited criticism of their arguments, the fact of this increasing disaffection of the middle class might be posing very significant problems for the ruling capitalist class and their hold on power. What genuine revolutionaries must be on guard against is that any developing movement to fundamentally change the system not be co-opted by these very limited critics--or else we would not change anything fundamentally. We would still have precarity and alienation that working people have previously experienced, we would still have the media, education, and entertainment used by the rich to dumb us down and ideologically corrupt our minds in support of capitalist agendas. We would still have horrific wars, like in the 20th century, whose worst effects would be felt by working people. We would still have the mindless production for profit that is wrecking so much havoc on our planet to such an extent that scientists are now warning us about our impending extinction.