March 25, 2008

The Inbred Mendacity and Stupidity of the Ruling Class

When I refer to the "ruling class," I intend that phrase to include every Washington politician and mid- to high-level Washington appointee and bureaucrat, most state-level political leaders, appointees and bureaucrats, the wealthiest and most influential American companies and individuals -- and members of the "respectable" media. See many of my essays for the particulars, including "It's Called the Ruling Class Because It Rules," and "Blinded by the Story: Liberals and Progressives as Political Creationists." As I have explained in detail in those articles and many others, in terms of the fundamental, most critical objectives involved, there is no difference between the members of the two parties -- not insofar as the ruling class itself is concerned. For God's sake, try to take your partisan blinders off, and see and understand the stark similarities of purpose shared by all members of the ruling class. My essays and, more importantly, the books and articles I reference and excerpt in those and many other pieces, should help you in that task.

One of the most critical objectives of the ruling class is to ensure that the mass of "ordinary" Americans -- all those Americans without influence or "connections," but whose work, and often whose lives, pay for and sustain the ruling class's hold on power -- believe in the "legitimacy" of the ruling class, that they believe the ruling class genuinely does have the "ordinary" American's best interests at heart, as our rulers repeatedly insist. That fiction is just that: a fiction. It obviously would not do if those who make possible the lives of unimaginable comfort and power enjoyed by members of the ruling class began to understand that the lies fed to the great unwashed to keep them docile and obedient are a huge load of unadulterated bullshit.

As I said, the ruling class includes the "respectable" media, and it certainly includes "respectable," well-connected, inside the Beltway writers such as Josh Marshall. Thus, Marshall informs us:
What I am saying is that no one can run away from the choice every American with the franchise will face in November. The next president will either be John McCain or the Democratic nominee. That's an immovable fact. Not voting or voting for some protest candidate doesn't allow anyone to wash their hands of that choice.
In view of the fact that Marshall has offered sustained work over a period of years to maintain the status quo -- I don't recall Marshall's impassioned, repeated pleas for impeachment of any of the numerous criminals in the Bush administration, as just one example -- I could be glib and simply say: "He's a fine one to talk about washing one's hands of that choice, or of the unspeakable crimes committed by our government, through Republican and Democratic administrations alike." Okay, I will say it: He's a fine one to talk.

Marshall is not interested in the views of those who reject both McCain and the Democratic presidential nominee. Marshall is not interested in the fact that both nominees will support the continuation of the drive toward American global hegemony, by intervention, war and occupation as necessary, and toward the continued expansion of the authoritarian-corporatist state. Marshall is not in the least concerned with those people who conclude, with history, the political developments of more than a century, and innumerable facts on their side: "We do not want what either of the major party candidates represents, since they are the products and the embodiments of the same, irretrievably corrupt system." Marshall does not acknowledge those people who say: "We reject your system's 'legitimacy.' It is unforgivably, immorally and murderously illegitimate. To hell with both your candidates, and to hell with your system."

Marshall is not interested in any of that, for that would put him out of his well-paid and well-connected job. All that influence and all those returned phone calls vanished! Contemplate the immense tragedy.

(At first, I thought I should cut Marshall a little slack here, since his concluding paragraph seems to suggest that he is only addressing those people who share the "series of policies now generally adhered to by members of the Democratic party." But words -- and employing them accurately and with care -- are a central part of Marshall's profession. He said what he said. In addition, that last paragraph, and all of Marshall's writing, rests on the belief that there exist fundamental differences between the Republican and Democratic parties. But as this post and many others here demonstrate in detail, that is not true. Yes, there are some narrower policy differences, and those can sometimes be of considerable importance to specified groups, as discussed in the second half of "Cui Bono? -- and Bush's Monstrous, Deadly Dare." But in terms of fundamentals: no, there is no difference whatsoever. But Marshall is incapable of seeing or acknowledging this fact of the most critical importance. That, too, would put him out of a job. So my criticisms, harsh as they may sound to some, stand.)

I read Marshall very irregularly. With all political partisans of this kind, every position on every issue is very easily predictable in advance. Exceptions to that rule are extraordinarily rare, and they hardly make it worthwhile to wade through all the other...ah, stuff. That is true of partisans of both parties. Nothing is of greater interest to me, or provides me more pleasure, than the completely unexpected, a perspective that had never occurred to me before. You will not find that kind of thing at any "respectable" blog. Respectability carries many sins; one of the worst is that it is utterly boring. So I came upon this respectable utterance from the very respectable Marshall by way of James Benjamin, a most interesting, provocative and enjoyable blogger whom I hope you all visit regularly.

Benjamin offers a number of comments about Marshall's plea to sustain the ruling class in its legitimacy, all of which are interesting and virtually all of which I agree with. He very kindly mentions one of my favorite recent posts as an example of the opposing view: "The Tale that Might Be Told." My grateful thanks for that. Benjamin also writes as follows:
Psychologically, a small turnout (and by small, let's say less than ten percent of the electorate) would change things considerably. It's hard enough for a president to claim a mandate when less than a quarter of the registered voters support them (although they usually do somehow with a straight face). Once you start talking less than five percent of the registered voters supporting the eventual "victor", any remaining pretense of a "mandate" is taken away. One might also take away from Silber's essay the idea that the elites need us much, much more than we "need" them.

Said it before, and I'll say it again: ideally we'd have not only a mass boycott of the polls in November, but also a general strike to drive the point home that a very large number of Americans are plain and simply fed up with the status quo. I don't hold out much hope for something that organized to happen here as of yet, but perhaps I might one day be pleasantly surprised.
One of Benjamin's observations is especially significant: "One might also take away from Silber's essay the idea that the elites need us much, much more than we 'need' them." Exactly. In fact, the full truth is far worse than that: it is only the slavish obedience to authority, the reluctance and refusal to break the goddamned rules and "cause trouble," that makes the elites and their hold on power possible. Take away that obedience, take away the refusal to deny the legitimacy of the ruling elites and their demands that all the rest of us support them in their rule, and they have nothing. The elites know that; most Americans don't.

It's long past time all Americans learned these facts. You can help them in that task: don't vote for any national elective office. (I don't think voting for a Kucinich or a Ron Paul is necessarily wrong; both men have offered many views with which I am in complete agreement. But voting for them is entirely futile, as events of the last year have demonstrated beyond all question. Moreover, voting for national politicians like them implicitly gives credence to the idea that fundamental opposition is possible within the system -- when it is not. In that sense, I think voting for them is a grave mistake.) If there are some local and state issues or politicians you can support in good conscience -- which is to say, issues and politicians that challenge the status quo rather than supporting it -- okay. But nothing else.

The ruling class is corrupt, immoral, deadly, and entirely illegitimate. Their greatest fear is that you will realize it. Let them know in every way you can, and certainly in November, that you've figured out their con.

Call them on their shit. Then make them lie down in it. And then, ignore them.