James McMurtry, “We Can’t Make It Here Anymore.”
Capitalism is dying, boy. It’s dying of its own internal contradictions.[He was, after all, a Wall Street financier, so I listened carefully.] You think the revolution’s gonna take five years. It’s gonna take fifty! So keep your head down and hang in for the long haul, because I’ll tell you something. The sons of bitches running things don’t give a shit about their children or their grandchildren, and they certainly don’t give a shit about you! They’ve paid their dues, and they want to get out with theirs! They’re gonna sell off everything that’s not nailed down to the highest bidder. Don’t get crushed when it topples down. Take care of yourself and your family. If you can make a difference, do it, but there are huge forces at work here, and they have to play themselves out according to their own design, not yours. Watch yourself.
– Wall Street Financier, Morris Cohon, to his son, Peter Coyote—Winter of 1969/1970
The above passage is from Peter Coyote’s excellent memoir, “Sleeping Where I Fall”. In the next sentence, Coyote adds,
As far as I can determine, everything he prophesied has come true.
Sure enough, last year, 2008, balls out free market capitalism stepped on its dick and fell on its ass. We had lived a fantasy for nearly thirty years.
Yet we cling to the notion of capitalism as if it were the only thing that keeps us American. We still demonize any form of Socialism.
I personally, have no problem with Socialized Medicine, even when called by its proper name. To me, Socialized Medicine means the lady that checks me in at the hospital doesn’t first ask me how I intend to pay for services rendered, but rather asks me, “Where does it hurt?”
I’ll pose a question to those who’s greatest fear is socialism. Those bankers that you hate so much, those bankers whose bailouts your grandchildren will be paying for while they’re also paying for the wars and maybe a bit of healthcare, those terrible evil banker people . . . are they socialists?
No, they damn sure aren’t socialists. Instead they’re doing things like plundering companies to make millions for themselves. If the companies are destroyed and employees lose their jobs, it means nothing to them. This isn’t even capitalism any more and they aren’t investment bankers. They’re just gangsters, no better than Russian Mafia really.
Or the lender walks away from the foreclosure, leaving the previous owner’s name on the title, still liable for taxes and liens. Pond scum, aren’t they?
Yes, there are huge forces at work now and it’s most definitely a time to be careful. But such huge forces also provide openings. We can make a difference. Now is the time to do so.
If / when socialism or something like comes to the US, it’ll be due to a genuine populist uprising from the heartland and not from the machinations of increasingly isolated and useless Marxist grouplets in the US, most of whom couldn’t find the actual working class if they had a road map. (Hint: Most of that working class is white.)
In a recent NPR interview, singer Steve Earle said he was a redneck and a socialist, and that about everything Karl Marx said about capitalism seemed true enough to him. McMurtry’s example of the hospital asking ‘where does it hurt’ not ‘do you have money’ is a great way to get the ideas across to the public at at large.