Tuesday, June 8, 2021

No War But Class War


No War But Class War

by C. A. Matthews

Bourgeoisie (in Marxist thought) the ruling class of the two basic classes of capitalist society, consisting of capitalists, manufacturers, bankers, and other employers. The bourgeoisie owns the most important of the means of production, through which it exploits the working class  --The Free Dictionary

It's a funny word, but it's been receiving a lot more airtime lately. Is it because Americans are becoming more sensitive to income inequality, or is it because they themselves are suffering deprivations due to the pandemic? Either way, more people are openly discussing what they find unfair or unjust in our society and aren't afraid to use either bourgeoisie or the "C word."

No, not that "C word"--although often a discussion of communism comes after the mention of this particular C word. (And not that C word, either, for those who have their minds in the gutter.) The word I'm referring to is simply "class." And before you go off on a rant about how America is a "class-less society," let me ask you one question:

Where did you go to high school?

I learned the awesome power of this particular question when I lived in St. Louis, Missouri. Here's the scenario: You're introduced to someone in a conversation and then about nine times out of ten in the St. Louis area you are then asked, "So, where did you attend high school?" I found it an odd question as an adult long since graduated from high school, but I'm friendly so I shared the name of the high school I attended in Ohio. This threw the conversation for a loop usually, and I often got cross looks or simply ignored for the rest of the evening. But all too soon I learned why they asked me, a total stranger, this question, and why the answer was vitally important for the questioner to ask.

Americans tend to dress and speak alike no matter where or how they grew up. I'm not talking about regional dialects or accents. I'm talking about how difficult it is to tell what side of town a fellow American comes from if they dress similarly and use similar terminology to yours. So, we have to figure out another way to discover what "C word" another American belongs to without seeming too obvious. In St. Louis, it's as easy as asking which high school you went to since this gives the questioner the neighborhood you grew up in (true of both public and parochial schools there) and the approximate value of the home you grew up in, and, therefore, how much money your parents made to support your family.

Of course, if you admitted to attending a working class area high school, you could be shunned by those who attended schools in wealthier neighborhoods. That is the true power of the question. It helps separate Americans by class in a relatively quick and painless way. You didn't attend the "right" high school? Then the questioner knows that you're probably not going to fit in well with their bridge club or even know what golf is, let alone how to play it. For recent immigrants and people of color this question is a double insult, as the wealthier high schools are almost certainly populated with a majority of white, native-born students.

Please don't get hot under the collar when I tell you that America displays just as many classes as a Downtown Abbey episode. We all know it's true. Americans don't like to think of themselves as snobs, but we're as human as the rest of the world, and we like to put our inferiors in their place. We've just agreed among ourselves to pretend that we're not capable of such vulgarities as class consciousness.

American might be unique in the fact that there is such a thing as poor snobs as well as rich snobs here. I know because I am one. My favorite tale of how I first realized how much of a poor snob I am comes from my high school days. (Funny how secondary education keeps popping up, isn't it? Possibly this is where most of us first learn how we're "different" from the others who go on from there to attend Ivy League schools and drive luxury cars.)

There was only one high school in our city, one large public high school. This lead to some interesting interactions among students. I remember talking to a classmate at the end of an English class about where we were both planning on working in the summer. Most kids from our side of town worked part-time in the school year and full-time in the summer months. It's how we were able to afford new shoes, winter coats, and save up for college or trade school. 

Anyway, a third classmate entered our conversation and said something along the lines of, "Oh, I don't know what I'm doing this summer, too. Should I go to horse riding school or tennis camp?" The first classmate and I exchanged knowing glances of the variety of, "Yeah, wouldn't it be nice if the summer months were actually a time to have fun and go on vacations, right?"  We then returned to discussing the benefits of working at the local ice cream shack versus looking for more underpaid big chain fast food work located closer to the highway.

It was then that I realized how much I hated rich people--not necessarily my well-to-do classmate since she was a nice enough person, but how this idea of class kept us separated and how it kept working people from ever enjoying a life that our rich classmate took for granted that everyone else in our high school enjoyed.

Had she ever been to our side of town? Possibly not. Why would she leave her side? She had everything she needed on her wealthier side of town and could go out of town to the big city whenever she or her parents wanted to go. Working class kids just had to make do with what we had and stay put. That was our lot in life. End of story.

I take some hope in the fact that more and more Americans seem free to talk about class and income inequality and the lack of universal health care in 2021, but we still have a ways to go. We still need to discuss what concrete steps we're willing to take to destroy this system that condemns those without what our society calls "wealth" to a life of poverty, hunger, possible homelessness, and an early preventable death. If the founders were willing to risk it all for the "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" why aren't we?

"No war but class war" says the bumper sticker slogan. I think that's what it's going to take--an all out assault against the institutions that propagate the evil capitalistic class system in this country and the world. Voting out the corrupt billionaire supporters has proved impossible. The Citizens United ruling has taken away our voices since money is speech according to it. We will never be able to outspend the billionaires and their lackeys. We'll have to outsmart and out-fight them in the streets.

In other words, it's time for the pitchforks, folks. 

We can't keep pulling our punches. Speak out, speak loudly, and never give in to those who say it's not a fight worth winning. It is. Our planet is dying because of capitalism. We don't need to maintain the classes to survive. The system is killing us all. We need each other without these artificial divides.

All is not lost for the rich according to this short video--they can be taught to empathize! https://youtu.be/Pg5QFOuMoN8


Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, candidates for the Green Party nomination for president and vice president

Over 300,000 immigrants were deported in Biden’s first 100 days — a rate of deportations higher than any period under the openly anti-immigrant Donald Trump or under the “Deporter-in-Chief,” Barack

The deportation machine of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continues unabated. ICE and CBP defied Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations.
Predictably, these agencies targeted Black and Latino immigrants for deportation.

Biden partially rescinded Trump’s “Return to Mexico" policy for asylum seekers, but only for Latin Americans. Reflecting the longstanding anti-Black racism of US immigration policies, Haitians and Africans were excluded.

Black people have been flown by ICE without due process of their asylum requests to countries like Haiti, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the political violence means they may face death.

More Haitians were deported to Haiti in Biden’s first 100 days than in the last year of the Trump administration.

Biden has the legal authority to bring ICE and CBP into compliance with the law and his administration’s policies. These rogue agencies’ unions and members campaigned in uniform for Trump in open defiance the Hatch Act. ICE and CBP must be dismantled and replaced with a new agency that will uphold the law.

But Biden shows no appetite for that fight.

Instead, Biden submitted a moderate immigration bill to Congress on his first day in office, the U.S. Citizenship Act, which would leave ICE and CBP in place. It would provide immigrants in the U.S. before
2021 with a path to legal status and, after eight years, to citizenship. But it reinforces the racial biases in the criminal justice and national security systems toward Black, Latino, Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern,
and South Asian people, who remain targeted for criminal and national security surveillance, discrimination, and arrest that would render them ineligible for legal status and citizenship.

In any case, if the Democrats in the U.S. Senate don’t eliminate the filibuster, no immigration reform will happen. 800,000 Dreamers and more than 20 million undocumented immigrants will continue to live
their lives in constant fear of deportation.

Meanwhile, Biden has continued Trump's "Title 42" public health authority to immediately expel people seeking asylum without due process.

The only exception is allowing the entry of unaccompanied minors, tens of thousands of whom are now stuck in some 200 facilities across two dozen states. Most of these detentions centers are unlicensed and riddled with neglect, abuse, covid, lice, and failure to help connect children with their families or vetted care providers.

While Biden has said he will not build more border wall, his administration is in the courts pursuing eminent domain proceedings that were initiated by the Trump administration against landowners at the border where more wall could be built.

Nor has Biden stopped the policy of co-opting local police into federal immigration enforcement, which has made racial profiling worse and undermined the trust and cooperation of immigrant communities
with local police in solving crimes.

The rule-or-ruin intransigence of the Republicans make them irrelevant to immigration reform—or any other reform. The Democrats in control of both houses of Congress and presidency are negotiating with themselves. They may try to blame the Republicans, but it is the Democrats who could but will not eliminate the filibuster by a simple majority vote in the Senate.

That is why we need the Green Party now more than ever.

We are working to help Greens build that alternative and advance the agenda we advocated during the presidential campaign, from immigration reform and student debt relief to Medicare for All and the Ecosocialist Green New Deal.

Please help us carry on this fight for justice, peace, and the environment with a donation today!

In Solidarity,

Howie Hawkins



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