That is why the Movement For a People's Party, whose 4+-hour streamed convention on Sunday was trending at #2 on Twitter, is receiving so little media coverage. It's the bloody and sometimes lethal street battles between social justice protesters and right-wing militias in a few US cities that are gobbling up all the headlines.
It's as though a story about the burgeoning solidarity among regular people must not be allowed to take attention away from the professional marketing of fear. The increasing numbers of people who are refusing to succumb to fear and hatred of the "other," and who are also taking steps to politically organize themselves outside the confines of the two-party system strikes fear into the heart of the ruling class.
If all we hear about are Trump's tweets, and tut-tutting punditry about Black on Black violence, Black on White Violence, White on Black Violence, White on White Violence, Antifa and QAnon Violence, the propaganda about Russian Interference in Our Democracy, it just sucks us into their divide-and-conquer program and deflects our attention away from the real war, the violent class war of the Rich against the rest of us.
It tries to transform our fear of Covid-19 into fear of the Other. It tries to redirect our rational anger about the failure of the corrupt political duopoly, to both prevent disease outbreaks and to ameliorate the devastating social and economic effects of the pandemic, onto one or the other of the senile presidential candidates. The ruling "donor" class, through its political operatives, has made the conscious choice to abandon tens of millions of vulnerable people to needless suffering and death, while Wall Street posts record gains.
So, who are you going to vote for, Trump or Biden? Which side are you on - Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter? By presenting us with such limited choices and bemoaning the "divisiveness" without exploring the longstanding, underlying causes of it, maybe the Duopoly can lull us or scare us into thinking that we have no choice at all. And that it's all our fault.
For starters, one thing we should keep in mind is that protest-busting cops function as the hired weaponized buffer zone between citizens and the ruling class. The fact that America's municipal police forces have been become increasingly militarized in recent decades, with even small town departments now heavily fortified with tanks, drones and grenade launchers, is testament to the essential brutality of thst real war, the class war of the rich versus the rest of us. The oligarchic forces, be they Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, DEA, ICE, National Guard, Homeland Security, Border Patrol or cops on the beat, are mainly comprised of working class people from the same distressed communities where "civilian" jobs have been destroyed by the cruel ravages of neoliberal capitalism and its corporation-serving "free trade" deals. All you need to achieve the American Dream of a secure job and a decent wage is a gun, a uniform, and a pension -which may or may not be there for you once Wall Street gets done fiddling with it.
Donald Trump does not, of course, give one single damn about either police officers or about the marginalized assault rifle-toting vigilantes acting in his name and upon his inflammatory tweeted instructions. Nor do Joe Biden and Kamala Harris give one solitary damn about the Black victims of the police violence and privatized prison gulags which they have funded and championed and overseen their entire political lives. Cops, vigilantes and protesters: they are but interchangeable pawns and props and scapegoats in the cynical power game.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose $50 billion-plus personal fortune makes him one of the richest and most powerful men in the world, did in fact boast that "I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world."
This man, an honored prime time speaker at the Democratic National Convention a few weeks ago, had launched his own ill-fated run for the presidency last year by apologizing for using this private army to racially profile ("stop and frisk") Black and Brown men in record, relentless numbers for the crime of merely existing. His neofascist policy, eventually declared unconstitutional, was what really "inflamed tensions" between communities and the private army acting at the behest of Bloomberg and the other lords of capital. These armed forces were not a few "bad apples," These were regimented troops under strict orders to fill a quota imposed by a racist billionaire mayor and even funded by some of the same corporations now trying to make a cynical buck off the Black Lives Matter movement.
It was unsurprising, therefore, when the New York City police union blasted Bloomberg for the fake apology he offered in the standard venue beloved of any pandering Democratic politician worth his salt - a Black church.
“Mayor Bloomberg could have saved himself this apology if he had just listened to the police officers on the street,” said the union’s president, Patrick Lynch. “We said in the early 2000s that the quota-driven emphasis on street stops was polluting the relationship between cops and our communities. His administration’s misguided policy inspired an anti-police movement that has made cops the target of hatred and violence, and stripped away many of the tools we had used to keep New Yorkers safe.”That's all well and good. But I'm waiting for that magical day when the cops in riot gear being deployed all across America to quash the biggest protest movement in US history finally do the right thing. I hope they do what Tsar Nicholas II's own private army did during the March 1917 mass demonstrations against that particular authoritarian regime. I'm waiting for them to mutiny, to put down their arms and their tear gas canisters, and to take the side of the protesters.
How long can it humanly take before sheriff's deputies and city marshals get disgusted enough to side with their own neighbors and refuse to serve millions of landlords' warrants on all the renters facing eviction this year because Congress has refused to offer emergency relief to them?
Matthew Desmond writes in the New York Times that
Marshals that carry out evictions are full of suicide stories: the early morning rap on the door followed by a single gunshot from inside the apartment, the blunt sound of giving up. From 2005 to 2010, years when housing costs were soaring across the country, suicides attributed to eviction and foreclosure doubled.A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control has revealed that the stress of the pandemic caused one out of every four young adults to seriously contemplate killing themselves within the past 30 days. Unpaid caregivers, essential workers, and Black and Brown people also reported harboring suicidal thoughts at rates far above average. Recommendations by study researchers include the government giving more financial support to individuals and localities in order to reduce mental stress and racial disparities in health care.
In Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, published last fall just before the Covid-19 outbreak, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton write that paradoxically enough, it is the for-profit US healthcare system itself which is the leading cause of these deaths by suicide, and drug and alcohol abuse. The costs of our privatized, for-profit healthcare system are "like a tribute that Americans have to pay to a foreign power," similar to the unconscionable reparations Germans were made to pay after World War I.
The obscene amount of money that impoverished Germans had to pay to the victors was proportionately far less than Americans have to pay for medical care today, the authors write. Even if our system were delivering results, which it is not, the cost would still debilitate the economy. Although avuncular billionaire Warren Buffett compared our health care system to a tapeworm, Case and Deaton aptly describe it "as more like a cancer that has metastisized throughout the economy."
Couple that with suicide-inducing evictions and egregious rent hikes, and you've got yourself a state that has gone far beyond failed.
Just as our health insurance premiums and deductibles and "surprise" medical bills sent out by private equity-owned hospitals are tributes imposed by the oligarchy on those whom they've effectively colonized, so too are rents.
Political economist Thomas Piketty in his book Capital and Ideology also compares the victims of contemporary predatory capitalism to the colonized subjects of an imperialistic foreign power:
"In other words, the rest of the world labored to increase the consumption and standard of living of the colonial powers, even as it became increasingly indebted to those powers. The situation is like that of the worker who must devote a large portion of his salary to pay rent to his landlord, which the landlord then uses to buy the rest of the building while leading a life of luxury compared to the family of the workers, which has only hhis wages to live on. This comparison may shock some readers (which I think would be healthy) but one must realize that the purpose of property is to increase the owner's ability to consume and accumulate in the future."Lacking even a wage with which to pay the tribute of rent, or a basic guaranteed income or health care in the middle of a pandemic, people are realizing that their choice is not limited to Trump and Biden, or choosing between protesters and cops. The choice is between succumbing to despair and taking to the streets. Or starting a third political party. Or joining a revolution that's overdue by about 250 years.