Where the Hell Is the Outrage?


images (3)

From the first breath of life to the last, our lives are being stolen out from under us. From infant care and early education to Social Security and Medicare, the dominant economic ideology is demanding more lifelong sacrifices from the vulnerable to appease the gods of wealth.

Middle-class wages are stagnant. Unemployment is stalled at record levels. College education is leading to debt servitude and job insecurity. Millions of unemployed Americans have essentially been abandoned by their government.  Poverty is soaring. Bankers break the law with impunity, are bailed out, and go on breaking the law, richer than they were before.

And yet, bizarrely, the only Americans who seem to be seething with anger are the beneficiaries of this economic injustice — the wealthiest and most privileged among us. But those who are suffering seem strangely passive.

Why?

Wealth inequity and other economic injustices are the product of deliberate policy choices — in taxation, Social Security, health care, financial regulation, education, and a number of other policy areas.  So why aren’t Americans taking action?

The “change” theories Krugman mentioned don’t tell the whole story. For one thing, it’s not true that the lives of the majority are frozen in an ugly stasis. Conditions continue to become objectively worse for the great majority of Americans. But these ongoing changes — in actual wages, in employment, in social mobility and wealth equity — have received very little media attention or meaningful political debate.

It’s not that things aren’t changing. It’s that people don’t know they’re changing. And without that knowledge the public becomes a canary in a coalmine, only aware of its declining oxygen supply when it keels over and dies.

It’s an almost classic state of alienation, in which people may be acutely aware of their own increasing difficulties (although sometimes they can be numb to that as well) but experience them in a state of isolation. That turns the anger inward, leading to crippling reactions like guilt and despair. And repeated individual failures — failures made increasingly likely in a skewed system — lead to a sense of learned helplessness.

The Radical Rich

As long as they stay that way, there will be no movement to repair these injustices. And the more these injustices are allowed to persist, the harder it will be to end them.

Where the hell is the outrage? And how can we start some?

Interestingly, the “change = political pressure” theory helps explain the rage of the “radical rich” who — despite their almost unprecedented lives of wealth and privilege — are articulating an anger which seems at first to be inexplicable. But they, unlike the vast majority, are experiencing perceptible (if minor) changes.

No current policy proposals would substantially affect their historic levels of wealth and privilege. But some Democratic policies would slightly discommode the ultra-wealthy, and conservative forces have been shrewd enough to trumpet that fact far and wide in a tone of barely suppressed hysteria.

The wealthy have already seen a cultural change, as the Occupy movement led to previously-unheard public criticisms of their riches and political influence. That helps explain today’s seemingly paradoxical political situation, in which the beleaguered majority accepts the injustices heaped upon them while coddled and ultra-wealthy Americans erupt in fury.

The Alienators

The media has failed to tell the story of our broken economy. The two-party system is failing, too, as corporate forces complete their corruption of the GOP and seize an ever-increasing chunk of the Democratic Party.

That’s one of the reasons why voter turnout may not be the best indicator of political awareness. Even pronounced financial hardship won’t result in increased turnout or participation in electoral politics if neither party is clearly articulating the majority’s needs or actively fighting for its interests.

Many politicians and pundits have also embraced the “structural unemployment” argument which says people have the wrong skills for the economy of today and tomorrow. But they told us the same thing in the 1960s, the 1970s ”

In fact, they’ve said it for the last 50 years.

And yet technology jobs were down in last week’s jobs report. “Structural unemployment” is another way of telling you it’s your fault if you don’t have a job. It’s a lie.

images (2)

The Exploiters Within

Even worse, decades of “Pimp My Ride”/”Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” acculturation have idealized the wealthy and have left the majority with a subliminal message: If you’re struggling economically, it’s your fault.

The leftist Brazilian educator Paolo Freire spoke of “internalizing the oppressor consciousness”: internalizing the values of those who colonize, rule, and exploit you, accepting their distorted, Matrix-like view of the world as an objective reality.

This can lead to agony, as well as continued exploitation. When I first began writing about illegal foreclosures in 2009 and 2010 — before bank fraud became common knowledge — I began receiving dozens of emails from bank victims saying, in essence, “I thought it was my fault” and “I thought I was the only one.” Some of them had contemplated suicide, which is the tragic end point of an “oppressor consciousness” within.

(I published some of those emails, with permission, in a piece called “Letters From Foreclosure Hell.”)

Books and films like The Pursuit of Happyness have delivered the message that anyone who’s struggling economically hasn’t been brave enough, bold enough, or smart enough, while movements like the Tea Party have mocked underwater homeowners and other victims of Wall Street fraud and predation.

(That movement was born in a “spontaneous” demonstration at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange led by financial snake-oil salesman Rick Santelli, in which pampered and taxpayer-rescued traders mocked Wall Street homeowner/victims as “Losers! Losers!”)

The last two Democratic Presidents have tried to have it both ways, exalting, deregulating, and pampering the wealthy while speaking the language of justice. That has weakened the Democratic “brand” and undermined public confidence in government, while failing to resolve our underlying economic problems. The rhetoric of “consensus” and “compromise” contributed to the decades-long rise in inequality.

As Paolo Friere said:  “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”

Action Plan

So what do we do?

1. Expand our avenues of political expression: First, we need to remind ourselves that electoral politics is not the only productive avenue for political activism — that we need strong and independent voices and movements.

2. Refuse to let politicians use social issues to exploit us economically: We also need to reject the exploitation and manipulation of progressive values by corporatist politicians who use social issues like gay marriage and reproductive rights exactly the way Republicans do — to manipulate their own base into ignoring their own economic interests. Politicians who don’t take a stand on economic issues should be rejected, up and down the ticket.

3. Explain what is changing — and contrast what is with what should be: We need to do a better job of explaining what’s happening, so that we can make people aware of the harmful changes taking place all around them.

And it’s not just about “change”: It’s also about contrast — between economic conditions as they are, and conditions as they should be and could be, if we can find the political will.

4. Expand the vocabulary of the possible: The “learned helplessness” outlook says “the rich and powerful always win; we don’t stand a chance.” History tells us otherwise.  From the American Revolution to the breaking up of the railroads, from Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting to FDR’s New Deal, from Ike’s Social Security and labor union expansion to LBJ’s Great Society victories, we need to remind ourselves of what we’ve accomplished under similar conditions.

5. Tell stories: And we need to tell stories — human stories. That’s why Tuesday night’s Bill Moyers special on PBS is so important. “Two American Families” tells the story of a white family and an African-American family in Milwaukee over two decades. Their stories bring home, in a personal way, the agony that has accompanied the destruction of middle-class jobs — a destruction that only happened because politicians made conscious policy decisions.

To explain, to provoke, to inspire, to tell stories is to begin the process of political change. As Paolo Friere said, “To speak a true word is to transform the world.”

images (1)

via OpEdNews – Article: Where the Hell Is the Outrage?.

Advertisements

About Old Boy

Love the past and the future but live in the present

Posted on July 15, 2013, in activism, Anti Austerity, Government, Human rights and Liberties, politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

100 Films in a Year

12 months. 100 films. Hopefully.

Morcan Books & Films

The site for a new perspective on books and films

humhist

thoughts and thinking

Cinematic Architecture

An Inquiry on the meaning of cinematic for architecture and in architecture

IMPREINT journal

The official bulletin of the artist IMPREINT created to repost excerpts from 'En plein air'.

shadowplay

david cairns

Sannaan Tech Talk's

See Something Techy | Do Different From Other

Film Music Central

The Central Hub for Film Music and the Composers Behind the Music

Photobooth Journal

A life in a photobooth.

Momentary Cinema

Fleeting posts about film

The Motion Pictures

Lindsey D.'s ramblings on the moving image!

Classic Film and TV Café

Corruption, Banks, Politics, health, welfare, rights/liberties oil & gas, Ireland, The world and anything that catches my fancy

thefilmtent.wordpress.com/

Writing about film, for the love of film.

Grace Kingsley's Hollywood

One hundred year old news and gossip.

durnmoosemovies.wordpress.com/

Movie musings with a modicum of moosey magic.

Silent Room

a place to discuss silent films

Nofiltersattached

Nofiltersattached

dark anki

"Imagination: Upcoming Reality"

The Lonely Author

A quiet corner for writers to get inspired one word at a time.

unbelsorrisodallitalia.wordpress.com/

意大利旅居記事簿:來自意國的微笑 by Scarlett To

Keithlovesmovies

Movies, TV, and so much more. Don't forget to disable your add blocker!

Early & Silent Film

Just another WordPress.com weblog

AWKWARD

FASHION THAT MAKES YOU BLUSH

TIMES OF LION

Exposing Truth

Article 19.1.a

A potpourri of random thoughts, societal issues, pencil sketches and celebration of life for the beauty that it is :)

Journeys in Darkness and Light

Explorations in film and comics

Syed Abir

“ জীবন মানে অনিশ্চিৎ ভ্রমণ

sorryless

Warm . . . warmer . . . disco!

let me photograph you softly

photographs on the street

| SCRIPTEUM |

Blog de escritura

Sally Cortés

"Érase una vez una gitana, que escribía historias de amor"

territori del '900

identità luoghi scritture del '900 toscano

lou rasmus

drink and smoke and fuck

fountain hues

the journey of a poetry

Flavorful Delights

A collection of recipes, food inspirations, and finding joy in cooking

Cafė com filosofia

A verdade existe!

From 1 Blogger 2 Another

Sharing Great Blog Posts

A Better Man

Make a Start

johncoyote

Poetry, story and real life.

%d bloggers like this: