After You, Who?

Lord, but have we been hearing a whole lot about “freedom” lately, and how “government” is its enemy. This message which would have been considered by our lately revered but strategically unremembered founders to be something of a slap in the face, but in today’s climate of unabashed corporate ownership of both our “free” press and our “elected” officials, it has to be about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  You would literally have to be, well, almost David Gregory to believe such a thing, unless you’ve suffered a head injury or something.  I suppose that the dreary repetition of huge, unaccountable corporations once again fleecing the taxpayer and consumers for one thing or another simply becomes too repetitive too contemplate at some point, much less get too aroused over anymore.  Politicians ignoring the wishes of their constituencies and instead serving the interests of, say, Goldman Sachs on the economy, Exxon and Halliburton on foreign policy, and  the other one or two wealthiest and most connected monopolists on every other subject on down was depressing enough when the side that openly promoted that was winning; now, it’s a stark illustration that without a freedom-destroying “government,” we’re in a heap of trouble.

The overlords who have elbowed aside democracy with their money are quite aware that the thing they have going is too good to be true in a nominal Democracy, and although the US is kind of big compared to what they’re used to overthrowing, it’s not unmanageable if you take your time at it.   Which they have.  At least in the media, what few interests with coins to rub together who might actually challenge corporate power on behalf of the vast majority, mainly lawyers and unions, are routinely chastised for upsetting the natural order of things, where Goliath is, you know, supposed to beat David.  And, now that they’ve managed to recast the Tea Party of yore into a made-for TV event generously sponsored by the modern equivalent of the British East India Company, I’d say that the years were well spent.

In this way, the Beckian attacks on “progressivism” are as transparent as they are politically necessary; the last time the American Government was as wholly owned by a plutocratic elite as it is today, with the widespread poverty and suffering that entailed, a lot of screwed-over people realized that at least they still could vote and spent several decades putting a stop to it.  As a result, from the end of WWII to the early seventies, Americans enjoyed the most widespread prosperity of any nation in history, and the very notion of an astronomically wealthy ruling class in a country like ours became an anachronistic aberration, as Americans perhaps descended from servants could afford to travel and tour the abandoned palaces of the Astors and Vanderbilts without shedding too many tears of sympathy about the income tax and the Servant Problem.

In the end, and this concept is not exactly new, a democratically elected and more importantly, directed,  government is our only bulwark against  corporations so wealthy that they can buy governments, and people so wealthy that they can at least rent them.  FreedomWorks, Fox News, and the Koch and WalMart heirs know this, but the followers they must dupe don’t, at least so far, so a more than usually desperate mop-up operation has ensued.  But really…  even the Astorbilts only had three or so houses, and they were a lot more tasteful than, say the best of John McCain’s seven.  (Or was it eight?)  They may also have had their private cars, but they did still take the same railroads, in some cases having actually built them, which would today be considered both vulgar and vaguely socialistic.  But even if you’re a regular Fox watcher, wouldn’t you still notice the unflattering differences and equally unflattering similarities between the superrrich of then and those of today, a realization which might prove inconvenient to the People Who Matter?

Well, yes, and that’s what everyone from Chief  Justice (!) John Roberts to simian nincompoop Sean Hannity has figured out, and damned if these worthies are going to let such socialist rigamarole get a toehold in our discourse.  Once that evil “government” has been well and truly drowned in the bathtub, the “malefactors of great wealth,” as that commie “progressive” Teddy Roosevelt called them, won’t have to waste their money anymore putting on tawdry and divisive shows each election year, and you can bet they have great ideas about what to spend it on.  It ain’t charity.

If not government, what do we realistically have, against such overwhelming odds and money?  Cole Porter may offer a clue.

After you, why, should I take the time to try?

That’s what they’re counting on.

18 Comments

  1. skeptic says:

    And many thanks for your lack of charity to the multitude of malefactors in this post, ‘Hag.

    I promised someone I’d find a piece by Marianne Moore, titled “Profit is a Dead Weight,” and then post something about it. I found it, but it’s not exactly as I remembered it. I’ll have to re-read it a few more times, in order properly to re-member it.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    It’s not just profit; the bloated salaries and expenses come off the top even before such minutiae are calculated. We all pay for the excesses of the rich, be they $4 gas, $100k operations, or $39 dollar overdraft fees. At least it’s not “taxes.”

  3. skeptic says:

    I’ll let you know when I post that piece. Moore draws a very fine line between profit and greed, at least, she did in the 60s. And, as we know, it’s only become so much worse in the past four decades.

  4. One thing I really like about you CH is that you truly “Get It!” This post illustrates this point better than ever.

    I especially like your statement that:

    “Once that evil ‘government’ has been well and truly drowned in the bathtub, the ‘malefactors of great wealth,’ as that commie ‘progressive’ Teddy Roosevelt called them, won’t have to waste their money anymore putting on tawdry and divisive shows each election year, and you can bet they have great ideas about what to spend it on. It ain’t charity.”

    Isn’t that what the Nazi Elite sought to establish in Germany in the late 20s and early 30s? They effectively used their Völkischer Beobachter (Fox News) to inoculate the masses while they systematically destroyed the concept of democracy in the Fatherland.
    They knew that once the Brownshirts (Tea Partiers) took control of the electorate, they could use the Goebbels propaganda machine to convince everyone that a dictatorship was a good thing, in fact a perfect thing for the advancement of Teutonic principles.

    Will history repeat itself? I hope not.

    Great post Hag.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, CHNN’s Fatherland correspondent, the Heel, ends to be even less sanguine about the whole thing than even me. That’s saying something. I must belatedly h/t Thom Hartmann… who’s been ranting for years about how corporate gigantism makes the rest of us irrelevant, but I do think that the media jumping so proudly on the wrong side is pretty unprecedented. In the old days, everyone knew who was on the take of, say, Louis XIV or the Pope, and judged their words accordingly; not so today.

    • The Heel says:

      Steven,
      One aspect of growing up in the Fatherland was that left leaning teachers, in particular history teachers, took it upon themselves to explain in great length how (in their not so humble opinions) the Nazi past could have happened. I guess we were the first generation that was educated by the children of those that had a chance to vote for Hitler.
      Long story short, there are remarkably many parallels to what happened in this country since the turn of the millennium. Hitler, Goeppels, Bormann (the secretary) were geniuses in manipulation of the masses and building loyal support structures – in particular via the relatively new medium radio. Yes, they repeated the same mantra over and over (their version of “they hate us for our freedom” BS) until it stuck. When in power, their patriot act equivalent (Ermaechtigungsgesetz) did away with further elections (who has time for that?).

      The difference is that Germans didn’t get a second chance to vote on Hitler. The pivotal point was the enactment of said “Ermaechtigungsgesetz” – nothing could stop the mad man after that.

      If you are interested in this era from an intellectual’s viewpoint, read Sebastian Haffner’s books (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebastian_Haffner). In one book, I remember, he writes about how bemused his fellow Berlin Intelligenzia was to hear “this weird Austrian radical talk with his funny accent”. Before they knew, it was too late….

      Incredibly many parallels. You pointed out a few.

      However, contrary to Miss Hag’s ascertainment, I do have faith in the USA to remain a democracy – at least if compared to Germany between 1933 and 1945.

      I am almost glad in a sense that this country had the nerve to re-elect nimrods like Reagan and “W”. This should give the thinking few here some idea of what it feels like to have a German background :)

      • Thanks Heel.

        I just reserved a copy of Haffner’s “Defying Hitler” at my local library. It should be a good read.

        • The Heel says:

          Let me know how you like him as an author. I was hooked after reading “the meaning of Hitler”. Read most of his books as a result.

          I also remember as a child my father religiously watching the “Internationaler Fruehschoppen” TV round of journalists. Up until I was maybe 12 years old it was of course as exciting as watching the paint dry, but in my teen years I started to appreciate listening to such accomplished and experienced individuals. They invited international journalists and Sebastian Haffner was a regular on the show. I sure wish there was something like this anywhere these days…

  5. michlib says:

    The sad fact is that the Tea Partiers won’t “get it” until it’s wayyyy too late. It will be interesting though to hear the rationalizations that will accompany the ” but I didn’t sign up for this ! ” protestations of ignorance. And that really is the problem, isn’t it ? Fellow citizens who have abdicated their responsibility to be informed and cognizant of when their taffy is being pulled. And to parade around in such braying satisfaction in that ignorance !
    Sorry baggers, saying ” I didn’t know ” will not be exculpatory.

    • You’re right. It wouldn’t be exculpatory, but you know that if we ever reach that point they will use the “I didn’t know” excuse to justify their actions.

      Let’s hope we never reach that point. It would be ugly.

  6. Après moi? Well…you know how that goes, don’t you Hag dearest….

  7. retzilian says:

    One of the big differences between today’s Gilded Age and the first one is that the bastions of industry at least felt a twinge of guilt and were moved to set up museums, parks, institutions and such.

    This generation of pirates would never bother.

    I don’t know how successful (long-term) this generation of plutocrats will be, other than exploiting immigrants, third-world countries and such. They aren’t going to get too far with spoiled, fat Americans.

  8. nailheadtom says:

    Ah yes, the continuing culture of envy, where life’s losers lament the success of the winners. Naturally, there’s no hypocrisy involved. You mental dwarfs are hunting and pecking on keyboards hooked to Pete’s Neighborhood Computer Works, in your houses heated by fuel supplied by Main Street Oil and lighted by your own personal hydroplant. If you had even an electron of integrity in your pathetic beings you’d divorce yourself from every corporate product. But no, then you’d have to put your money where your mouth is.

    Of course, you fail to recognize that corporations are associations of free individuals, just like the Communist Party and NARL, but that doesn’t matter to you. Because, you’re phonies.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Ah, the “winners’ in a rigged game; who get more for doing less than Louis X!V, but share his opinion that le etat cest moi. As you ought to be aware, the great majority of corporations don’t waste their time or money buying government policy, having better, more useful things to do. Nice repetition of the current talking points about how corporations are made of “free people”, though…. yeah, like WalMart associates. The point I was making is that there is a point, and we’ve reached it, where “we the people” are pissing up a rope trying to govern ourselves in the face of a very few people with too much money and too much power. Increasingly, you sound like a chicken singing the praises of KFC, only less convincingly.

    • The Heel says:

      back to name calling? I liked the elf helper thing. Still makes me smile…
      Come on Tommy, be a nice boy!

      • He can’t. He’s The Electron of Integrity! You can tell by the big E-I emblazoned on his sweatshirt, and The Oxford English Dictionary (unabridged) on the bookshelf in his secret lair.

        In his efforts to match the style and grace of our beloved Hag, he’s become the Leo Gorcey of the Right, a rhetorical fun-house mirror of nasty authoritarian delusions.

        Malice as slapstick, who knew? Maybe vaudeville really does have a future, and maybe the Hag was right to grant Tom a stay of execution after all.

  9. Greetings, great article.