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Happy New Year, 2030

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Good Morning, Worker Bees!  Happy New Year!

And what a year it promises to be, too!  We have lots of hard work in store for you.  More than ever!

Now that our two-generation-long program of economic restructuring has finally made it to full fruition, I feel it only right and proper to celebrate our achievement with you by recapitulating the events of this greatest historical process in our country's history.

Normally, of course, plutocrats such as myself would be loath to reveal such secrets to those whom we exploit so thoroughly.  If this was the late eighteenth century, perhaps you'd even rise up and sweep us away in some sort of revolution.

Alas, that is hardly a concern anymore, for at least a half-dozen good reasons.

For one thing, we've made sure that all of you are stuck in a state of perpetual economic precariousness (at best).  This has made you as docile as lambs.  No one dares rock the boat, lest the mere scrap of an allowance we grant you in exchange for your labors were to vanish in a puff of smoke.  We hold you hostage and demand your acquiescence.  You give it to us.

Second, we know everything you think before you think it, anyhow, because our American Stasi Service is so powerful and omnipresent.  If you were stupid enough to even utter the "R' word, your well-trained child or spouse will have you turned in before you finish your sentence, and we'll have you in chains thirty seconds later.  Try building a revolutionary movement under those conditions, pal.

Even if you could, we have some very nasty riot police ready to go if we see you on the streets without proper authorization.  These cops actually are no different than you -" they're just given a slightly bigger food ration than the rest of you proles.  We find that one can get human beings to do almost anything using these conditions.  And, be assured, we do.

Of course, revolution is the furthest thing from your mind anyhow, because we've turned worship of the existing class structure into this society's religion, and we've made quite fervent little parishioners of you all, haven't we?  Some fools doubted this could be done, but we knew back in the 70s that if one could twist Jesus the socialist -" who talks in bold print about money-changers and camels going through eyes of needles -" into a champion of greedy capitalism, one could sell anything.  And we did.

We've also supplemented your excellent cultural programming with some very potent pharmaceuticals to keep you nice and docile.  You have much to be angry and depressed about, but your happy pills keep you properly focused.  We like that.

Finally, we don't worry about you conducting some sort of revolution, because we've made sure that you've never even heard of such a concept.  You have the worst education that we could possibly imagine, and trust me, our imaginations are quite fertile.  You've never heard of revolutions, or economic classes, or slave revolts or labor unions or any other such claptrap.  If you've never heard of it before, it's almost impossible for you to conceive of it on your own.  By erasing history we have restarted history.  And this time it's going to play out in a lot more controlled fashion than it did even last time.

And so my dear sheeple, no, as a matter of fact, I don't worry about divulging the truth to you about what we've done these last fifty years.  You won't understand it any more than you understand what I'm saying now.  And even if you did, you are completely incapable of mounting any sort of response to the pitiless and intractable system we have created.  Even if you could, we would crush you instantly, grind you into hamburger, and feed you to our pet piranha.

So, here's what happened.

We (by which I mean us nice folks in the owning class) suffered through fifty years of the New Deal-inspired liberal America.  It sucked.  Instead of having nearly all the national wealth concentrated into the hands of the few of us, as had been the case for at least the century or so since America's industrial revolution, we possessed only most of it.  Unthinkable!  Traitors like both Roosevelts, Kennedy and Johnson enacted progressive policies that resulted in a vast diminishment of our concentration of wealth, that created a massive middle class for the first time in American history, and that provided a modicum of relief for the poor.  It wasn't Sweden, I assure you (not that you'd know what I mean by that anyhow), but it was a big change from our glory days.

Even worse, these liberal bastards advanced an egalitarian ethos which sold the public on the idea that everyone should share in the benefits of economic growth, and that banana-republic-style concentration of wealth in the hands of a few oligarchs was not healthy for society at large, not healthy for democracy, and not healthy for 99 percent of the nation.  That's a dangerous set of ideas.  Next stop is communism, buddy.

So we decided that enough was enough, and we came up with a plan.

The first step was to capture one of the only two viable political parties in America.  That wasn't exactly difficult.  The Republicans were already halfway there.  All that was left was to buy-off the old-school moderates who had come to terms with the New Deal and crush any of those who couldn't be bought.  This process was begun in the 1980s and accelerated in the subsequent two decades, to the point where by 2010 the concept of a moderate Republican more or less only existed as some bizarre notional idea anymore, like string theory in physics.  Coupled to the new plutocrat-serving orthodoxy of the Purchased Party we added a hallucinatory hagiography of Ronald J. Christ, The Patron Saint of Tax Giveaways.  All had to give praise to The Lord Gumby, and all did, yea, for generations hence.

It was also important to capture the other party as well (not to mention maintaining the absence of any viable third or fourth choices), and this was likewise duly accomplished.  It was slightly tougher to take over the party of FDR and LBJ, but in the end not really so hard.  The trick was to find some dolled-up whores with lots of charisma and let them do the work.  There was this guy named Clinton, and another called Obama, who played their parts quite skillfully.  Many devoted Democrats loved these DINOs, though they couldn't exactly say why.  Didn't matter in the end.  By the time we were finished, voters could choose between the Party of Wall Street or the Other Party of Wall Street.  Guess which one they picked?

Our assault on your wallets -" and, indeed, even upon your health and longevity -" was as sophisticated in its execution as it was thorough in its strategy.  That's why we understood from the beginning that it was necessary to control the cognitive landscape of the country at the same time we were driving effective electoral choice down to zero.  People had to understand -" albeit, not consciously -" that there were no choices at all, and that any apparent ones they might perceive were inherently lacking in legitimacy and therefore dangerous to adopt.

There were many implications to this imperative.  To start with, there had to be some pseudo-intellectual air cover for the sacking of the body politic.  We thus created "think' tanks like the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute, and funded them lavishly.  We would have told them precisely what their studies were to conclude, but in fact we never needed to.  They knew their purpose in life, and they knew who signed their paychecks.

A new media also had to be created, and we were spectacularly successful at this.  Right-wing ranters on the radio had enormous appeal to those who hadn't yet been dumbed down enough not to be angry, but were sufficiently idiotic not to know the source of their consternation.  To those we added a network of television and radio outlets that were supposedly mainstream and dispassionate, but in fact were driving a corporate agenda from top to bottom, and were joined at the hip with the Republican Party.  Those of you who are old enough will remember this as Fox News.  Today, of course, we just call it the Daily Instruction Network.  In any case, another crucial aspect to this process was the pressure that these outlets placed upon the so-called mainstream media to conform to the corporatism.  Along with the ceaseless pull of profit, and the constant battering of the media as supposedly possessed of a liberal bias, we got them to self-censor what pathetically little authentic reporting there had ever once been in that domain.

It was also necessary to get people to hate government (except when we didn't want them to, of course), so that they could never see it as a solution to the obvious problems that beset them individually and collectively.  Hating a government that you simultaneously adore when it dons military uniforms and slaughters foreigners is manifestly absurd, of course, but you'd be surprised how illogical people can be, especially when you incentivize stupidity with some little carrot here or some little stick there.  Anyhow, if you say that "government is the enemy" enough times -" despite the fact that you're always talking about the joys and wonders of democracy, which is, um, a system in which people pick their government -" the public will indeed grow to hate their own government.  Better yet, just in case some fool was still left somewhere, running around talking about regulation or taxing rich people or single-payer health care, all you have to do is shout "Big government!" and you've shot it down completely.  Needless to say, we did.

Incessant fear can also be quite handy when it comes to quietly looting 300 million people, so we made sure there was plenty of that.  Fear of evil foreign leaders was always handy.  Never mind that they had almost always been on the CIA's payroll for decades.  Never mind that we secretly did business with them at the same time the government was publicly demonizing them and imposing embargos and sanctions for other folks.  Never mind that these bogeymen were pathetic, two-bit, local-yokel bully boys compared to a Hitler, Stalin or Mao.  No matter.  If you say it loud enough and often enough, everybody falls into line pretty quickly.  Plus, it's easy to instantly smash any naysayers to bits just by questioning their patriotism.

Brown people also make pretty good diversionary demons.  Or anyone else who's a bit different.  Women.  Muslims.  Gays.  Immigrants.  The homeless.  Whatever.  All we basically had to do was make them lower in stature than you all and then trash them endlessly.  Not only did that make you feel gratified, having someone you could stand over and piss down on, it also kept you from noticing the sea of oligarchical urine in which you were yourself drowning at that very same moment.  Very effective stuff.  Public manipulation for fun and profit.  Psych 101.  Easy and amusing.  You can't imagine the laughs we had.

From there it was generally just a matter of incessant squeezing.  We sold you a ridiculously counterintuitive bunch of bullshit about the joys of "free trade'.  You went for it, and we made obscene amounts of money by shrinking labor costs down to nothing and pocketing the difference in profits.  More importantly, by packing all your jobs off to Mexico, and then China and India, and later Africa, we put you firmly under the heavy jackboot of economic insecurity.  That's a dividend that has never stopped paying off very handsomely, ever since.

Once we had you sinking economically, we could sell you on whatever supposed remedy du jour we decided to hawk next.  Tax cuts, which actually ultimately increased your taxes and cut ours, seemed like a lifeboat to a struggling middle class.  In fact, they produced massive deficits, which we could then use to sell you on the necessity of slashing your meager safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare.  We also got you to line up behind us as we not only smashed unions, but even the pensions that union workers had earned over the span of entire lifetimes.  You didn't say a word as we let infrastructure crumble and defunded education.  We told you that none of that stuff could be afforded anymore.  It never occurred to you to ask why millionaires and billionaires and corporations essentially no longer paid taxes.  Or why it was necessary for your country to spend a sum equal to that of every other country in the world -" combined -" on a massive military that essentially had no enemies.

You went for it.  All.  And every time we gave you a chance to say no at the ballot box, you instead begged us for more.

And so we cut and we chopped, and we slashed and we burned.  Mostly, though, we just looted and pillaged.

With your help, of course.  Thanks for that.  It was so much cleaner and quicker and more thorough that way.

All in all, I think you would have to agree that we came up with a pretty successful little program for taking the money that used to be in your pockets and sticking it in ours.

That is, you would have to agree had we not rendered you too ignorant, too brainwashed, too frightened, too prejudiced, too distracted, too sick, too doped up and too dead to notice.

Sorry about all that.

We just wanted your money.

Thanks, Fool.

 

www.regressiveantidote.net

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (dmg@regressiveantidote.net), (more...)
 
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I could not have said this any better myself e are... by John Russell on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 4:05:15 AM
colors make it too much eyestrain for a senior cit... by Arthur M. Howard-(Scotoni) on Monday, Jan 3, 2011 at 6:47:09 AM
you highlight the text. It changes both backgroun... by j dial on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 12:26:32 AM
I could not have said this any better myself e are... by John Russell on Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011 at 2:42:31 AM