Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Party On

How does an oligarchy solve a problem like the class war? They sweep it under the rug, that's what they do. With the help of their corporate media stenographers, the ruling class has conveniently clumped their American serfs into ideological hovels attached to one of two fiefdoms: Democratic or Republican. Better to swear fealty to a political tribe and expend your energy on hating the other side, than self-identify as poor and oppressed and turn against the overseers.

The latest iteration of the Divide and Conquer method, successfully used by aristocrats to maintain control of the masses through the ages, has been dubbed "Partyism." It has now actually surpassed other measures of bias in the group-think hate sweepstakes. Republicans hate Democrats more than they hate minorities and gays and welfare moms. Democrats hate Republicans more than they hate Wall Street. What state of populist affairs could be more perfect for the One Percent?
In 1960, 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said that they would feel “displeased” if their son or daughter married outside their political party. By 2010, those numbers had reached 49 percent and 33 percent.
So, if they filmed a remake of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, the plot, instead of white parents dealing with the angst of their daughter dating a black man, might involve the angst of Democratic parents whose daughter brings home a Republican suitor. Or maybe the red state/blue state families of a pair of gay lovers would be hilariously divided in a comedy-of-errors party affiliation romp, reminiscent of La Cage. If it was a feel-good Lifetime movie, Republican and Democrat hedge fund managers would overcome their mutual disdain and start their own charter school chain just in time for Christmas. Love of money will keep them together.

 The 24/7 ideological "news" shows on MSNBC and Fox have succeeded beyond all the wildest plutocratic expectations. They have gotten struggling people to blame members of their own class (commonly divided into "libtards" and "wingnuts" in anonymous online comments boards) for whatever ails them, rather than the financial "malefactors of great wealth" who robbed everybody blind. They get us to identify with our elected leaders, to take vicarious umbrage whenever our favorite politician gets attacked by "the other side."  They thrive on ridiculing the  pretend-opposite party rather than imparting information to their viewers.

Case in point: the recent manufactured brouhaha dubbed #LatteSaluteGate, in which President Obama saluted service members while holding a cup of coffee. Disrespectful and unpatriotic, screamed Fox. And then MSNBC countered with an old clip of George W. Bush saluting service members while holding his pet dog, which of course shows how hypocritical Fox is to disrespect Obama for disrespecting the troops. And the partisan blogosphere erupted, right on corporate cue. (coup)

  Of course, hardly anybody saw fit to mention that both men were acting like elitist assholes, nor did they question the waste of taxpayer money by presidents for using Marine One to travel to party fund-raising gigs, or why and how this whole grotesque military ritual developed in the first place.

Partyism also explains why there is no anti-war movement. Democrats who should have been in the front lines of peace protests are nearly all silent --  because their "reluctant warrior" Obama is the one hurling the bombs (that he inherited from Bush, of course.)

 To make our acceptance of perpetual war even more ironclad, we're now being entertained/distracted with #PenetrationGate. Through a couple of carefully orchestrated leaks to The Washington Post, we have just learned, to our shock and horror, that two different disturbed people shot at and did a home invasion of the White House over the past few years. Congress is now holding hearings on the scandal. The upshot is that rapt viewers become all too willing to overlook the shock and horror (aka collateral damage) being visited by the "vulnerable" Obama upon vulnerable people in Arab countries. We're also lulled into thinking that Congress, so recently and rightly castigated for turning a blind cowardly eye to the same president's abuse of power, is now doing its job by scapegoating, exposing and scolding a contingent of relatively underpaid presidential bodyguards.

Starting salaries for this "elite" federal force range from a low $33,979 to $43,964, depending on qualifications. This compares unfavorably with the starting salaries of other law enforcement agencies.  New York State Police recruits, for example, are paid $50,374 while they're still in the Academy, with an almost $17,000 raise upon graduation six months later, with another $5,000 after one year. (recent graduates have included former Secret Service agents. Quel choc!)

The corporate media are not talking about the below-median salary paid to those tasked with protecting the most powerful man on earth, of course. The problem with the Secret Service, just like the problem with all members of the 99% who struggle every day to make ends meet, is cast as one of "their culture."

When it comes to issues of the security state, Partyism goes right out the window. When it comes to advancing military goals, and propping up the symbolic office of the presidency, bipartisanship is the unspoken rule: Democrats and Republicans forget their differences, pronto. And the plutocrats and the profiteering war mercenaries and the finance cartels and all their toadies in Congress party on, and on, and on. Wherever in the world there is superfluous human labor and natural resources ripe for the extracting, there's an automatic excuse for a party. And you're not invited. So back to your hovels so that the conquerors can get on with it.



voice-in-wilderness said...

You are right, most of what the Washington street gangs, er, I mean political parties do, is to distract the public from the big forces at work.

Another way of expressing this is "inverted totalitarianism," a term and concept promoted by Sheldon Wolin.

Within this framework it is worth being aware of some differences. The Republican party is home to people with deep hatreds (e.g. of Clinton and Obama) in a way I have not seen among Democrats. And the Republican party provides an umbrella (with litmus tests, if that is not mangling metaphors) for those who deny facts and promote fantasies.

Denis Neville said...

There is now broad-based American public support for strikes against ISIS.

The costs of anti-ISIS operations could climb as high as $1.5 billion monthly.


“Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well deceived.” - Jonathan Swift