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Pitchforks and Revolutions

I am working on a post on the JPMorgan Chase settlement and the BoA judgment, and I have a couple of other items I’ve been meaning to post. But for now I want to alert blog readers to two great items:

(1)  From Chris Hedges:  A great piece at TruthDig called Let’s Get This Class War Started.  The whole thing is great, but my favorite passage is the first two paragraphs:

“The rich are different from us,” F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have remarked to Ernest Hemingway, to which Hemingway allegedly replied, “Yes, they have more money.”

The exchange, although it never actually took place, sums up a wisdom Fitzgerald had that eluded Hemingway. The rich are different. The cocoon of wealth and privilege permits the rich to turn those around them into compliant workers, hangers-on, servants, flatterers and sycophants. Wealth breeds, as Fitzgerald illustrated in “The Great Gatsby” and his short story “The Rich Boy,” a class of people for whom human beings are disposable commodities. Colleagues, associates, employees, kitchen staff, servants, gardeners, tutors, personal trainers, even friends and family, bend to the whims of the wealthy or disappear. Once oligarchs achieve unchecked economic and political power, as they have in the United States, the citizens too become disposable.

Just before this piece came out, I had a really nasty encounter with a super-rich acquaintance, who used a term I’d never heard before to refer to the coastal Maine town he lives near: “the subsidy people.”  When I asked what he meant by that, he said, you know, the people who get subsidized housing, health care, and so on. (I guess this is a variant on Romney’s “47%”.) Later, he mentioned efforts he was involved in to “develop” that town, and I very gently inquired about what would happen to the current residents if they were priced out and displaced (I didn’t even use the term “gentrification”). He ended up basically exploding, unleashing a tirade against me and (what he imagined are) my politics. Without getting into any of the details, my conclusion from the whole thing was that people who suspect, in their heart of hearts, that they are unproductive and live off other people’s labor have to develop a worldview in which everyone else is a parasite (“subsidy people”), and they have to make anyone who would undermine that worldview for them disappear.  Anyhow, Hedges nails it in this one. Let’s hope the “subsidy people” of that Maine town get out their pitchforks and save their town from the people who live off their labor.

(2) From Russell Brand:  A while ago I meant to post a link to the hilarious speech the British comedian/actor Russell Brand made at the GQ/Hugo Boss Oracle Awards ceremony (watch it here). Now there’s a video of an interview he did with Jeremy Paxman on the BBC program Newsnight, about Brand’s guest editing an issue of the New Statesman (!) on the theme of revolution.  Brand is just brilliant.  And notice how often Paxman keeps circling back to the issue of voting (this should convince anyone who didn’t already know it that voting is about legitimation of the status quo).  Anyhow here’s he video:

Anyhow, that’s it for now. I promise more soon.

–Chris Sturr

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