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Whither Revolution in America?

By       Message William P. Homans     Permalink
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Watermelon Slim by self

I still have a friend who is a communist. Actual communists are scarce as hen's teeth, far fewer than principled conservatives, in an America in which the Republican Party calls President Barack Obama a socialist.

But in his honor, if you will, it occurs to me to describe some of the differences between the "workers" of the day of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and those people who fill that role, or (speaking in Marxian terms) comprise that social class, today.

The first difference that struck me was that even in those days of the Industrial Revolution, most of the people in the two largest countries in the world, the US and Russia, as well as most of the people in every other smaller country, were tied to the land. Even in the industrial antebellum North, of which the population of Whites exceeded that of the South by 4 to 1, most people were either farmers or part of agriculturally-based rural communities.

Today's America has largely left the land. Three percent of America are actually farmers, last I looked, and the kids just wanting out en masse. Even a dumb farm kid can get a tattoo and a t*tty ring and be suave and urban today. How'd the post-WWI song go? "How can you keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Par-ee?"

Today's America is mobile. Rulers of Marx's day knew where there thralls and vassals were, they were in the fields in Darmstadt or Devonshire or Grozny.

They had to work or starve, they didn't have Walmart's handy to go and get food that someone huge company thousands of miles away had grown, or the money to purchase it with. They had to be on the land.

Now we get in our vehicles and drive across stretches the size of more than one whole European country a day. Even 5 days in a row! The rulers of technocratic America do not really know where everyone is as well as the dukes and kings and queens that still ruled Europe then, regardless of the inroads of Parliamentary democracy.

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However, the technocratic managers of today have this gigantic advantage: they don't NEED to know where everyone is to exploit and control them, because they may be confident that everyone is receiving-- virtually everyone has ready access to-- the same mediated information.

And when you are in control of the messages that are constantly beamed at a target group-- and there's more than one target group, of course, but the overall target group may be described, roughly, as all consumers who are not identified resisters to the soothing, cooling messages of

"There's plenty of stuff for everybody folks, no scarcity here, never will be, we will always have good for you to buy! Always newer, faster, sexier, better for you!"--

you can have some confidence in predicting the general time of the inevitable collapse, and have your golden parachutes ready well in advance.

There are still plenty of what Marx would have recognized as workers. There's 20 million people in America that drive trucks full or part-time for a living.
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But those who claimed-- and there were plenty of techno-utopianists who did-- that the Information Society would create enough jobs to replace those which are inevitably, permanently lost through the automation of agriculture and other factors (i.e., outsourcing, as American capitalists followed the pointing invisible finger to India and Malaysia and China)-- were blowing smoke up our wazoo.

More American workers shuffle paper, and money, than pick fruit, or load steel, or pump oil. It's a post (even post-post) industrial technocratic maintenance society.

We are on the hospital bed, though we don't know it. America is only in charge of anything right now because it has armed itself beyond the budgets of all the rest of the world, and people may well think to be apprehensive about whatever it might do next.

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My name is William Perkins Homans the third, but probably more people know me as the bluesman (and artist) Watermelon Slim.

I've been in the fight against war, fascism, injustice and inhumanity for 40 years. I was at MayDay, and at the moratorium March the week before. I was one of the leaders of the Great New Jersey Turnpike Stall on my birthday, April 25, 1971.

I bear the scar on my left shin from a neoNazi jackboot, when I was one of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War who bounced the NSWPP from Flamingo Park at the Republican National Convention of 1972. My father fought the Nazis in the North Atlantic and Anzio, and I met their spawn in Miami.

My formal education has been first-rate. I wouldn't trade my degrees for Harvard ones. I was raised in the finest private Catholic and Episcopal high schools.

Elementary School: Gibbons Hall, Asheville, North Carolina

High Schools: Asheville School for Boys, Asheville Country Day, Lenox School for Boys. Graduated with honors 1968.

College: Middlebury College, 1968-DNG

1984-86: University of Oregon, B.A., Journalism and History, Departmental Honors in History, 1986.

I was also captain of the U of O bowling team, 1984-1986. High game 299.

1997-2000: Oklahoma State University. M.A., History, 2000, plus the school-teaching curriculum. Mentor: Dr. Ronald Petrin.

This was my second great self-reinvention attempt. In both, I got the degrees, but neither worked. After both, I went back to truckdriving and the blues. and now the latter makes my living. I just am not a button-down enough fellow ever to be a schoolteacher or general-purpose news reporter. But I think and analyze, and so I write...





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