If The Russians Did This To Us, Wed Kill Em
It's not so far-fetched an idea, you know. We spent half a century and trillions of
dollars to make sure that it would never happen, so it's really not such a strange notion.
So what if the Russians invaded?
What if they came and stole all of our money?
What if the Russians invaded and enslaved our children as cheap worker bee drones locked
in dismal dead-end jobs?
What if the Russians invaded and excavated all of our natural resources, leaving only
mountains of toxic debris in their wake?
What if the Russians invaded and they ruined our infrastructure, thrashed our educational
institutions, and stuck us with a grossly inadequate healthcare system?
What if the Russians invaded and incarcerated a huge percentage of our people in
for-profit jails? What if they ruined our military by sending it off on big-money colonial
expeditions? What if they cut the legs out from under the middle class?
What if the Russians invaded and turned us against each other, tricking this tribe of
Americans into hating that tribe, in order to keep any of us from realizing that they were
looting our country?
If the Russians did any of these things, wed kill em. Dead.
If the Russians invaded, we'd send our army to crush them in defense of our country (or,
at least, we hire somebody to do it).
If the Russians invaded, we'd be furious and raging and hateful and destructive for
good reason, too and we would bring to them the full measure of American organized
violence in order to take back our country from their plundering rampages.
Of course, the Russians havent invaded. But what's astonishing about the moment we
live in is that America has in fact been subjected to all these travails. We have
essentially been invaded by those who wish us ill, and our national and private resources
are being stripped bare. This country is being looted, and everything in it that isn't
nailed down is being carted away and sold off.
Our children are being saddled with enormous financial burdens. Our educational and
healthcare systems, sucked dry as mere revenues sources, are falling to pieces. Our
infrastructure is approaching ruin.
Our jobs, our industries and our community resources have been bundled up and exported to
where the work can be done far cheaper, and the workers are compliant. Increasingly we are
scrambling just to survive. Admittedly, our government remains absolutely dedicated to
making sure that some of us do extremely well. It's just that that some
doesnt include anyone you know.
What is absolutely astonishing about the moment that we live in is that we have been
essentially invaded, we have been absolutely looted, and yet we don't seem to be the
slightest bit angry about that.
If the Russians had done it, we would be absolutely furious. But in fact, it was our own
overclass that did it, and not only are we not furious at them, we don't even notice the
crime. Or, if we do notice, were furious at some ridiculously inappropriate target,
like a liberal president who isn't even remotely liberal.
America has always been a country with its full and fair share of flaws, but for quite
some time during the middle part of the twentieth century, we got one thing reasonably
right. There was a bargain then, between elites and the government and the public.
According to the terms of the deal, the aristocracy would still be fantastically rich, but
there would be limitations on their wealth, because some of that wealth, some substantial
amount, needed to be shared with the working people and the middle class, and it was the
role of government to make sure that that happened. Many among the well-to-do even shared
Since Ronald Reagan rode into town, however, that deal is off the table, replaced by what
is essentially a new New Deal or, more accurately, simply the Bad Old Deal. Under
the terms of this new/old arrangement, the unregulated wealthy grab absolutely everything
they can get their hands on, the middle class scrambles for whatever bare existence it can
maintain, and the rest of America, the working class and the poor, fall deeper and deeper
into third world-style poverty. Under the terms of this new system, the role of the
government is no longer to provide for the welfare of the people, nor to ensure that there
are limitations on what the plutocracy can liberate from them. Under the terms of this new
arrangement, the function of the government is simply to serve as a tool, assisting that
plutocracy in depriving America's own people of everything that can be taken from them.
That means that in the last thirty years we've entirely restructured the economy so that
the super-wealthy have become obscenely-super-wealthy, and the middle class are lucky to
have stood still, and haven't really even managed that. If one examines the destination of
the considerable GDP growth that America has sustained over the last three decades, it's
gone entirely to the richest of Americans. The middle class has actually lost ground.
That's an astonishing fact, but think about it: Despite robust economic growth, workers
today actually make less than they did back in the 1970s.
Even more amazing, it wasn't that hard to pull off. All you had to do was to fool the
people and divert their attention to other circuses to go along with the remaining crumbs
of bread. Meanwhile, unions were decimated by changes in government policy. Jobs were
exported first to the south, then to Mexico, then to China, now to Thailand or
Vietnam, and probably soon to Africa in a never-ending search for the cheapest
possible way to wring value out of the working people of the world, leaving Americans
without any sort of remaining industry or economic base. Tax policy was also deployed,
channeling money from current working Americans, and especially from their children, and
diverted it to the already wealthy. The upshot of all these policy changes was that the
richest Americans became absolutely, astonishingly, fabulously rich, and the rest of us
are barely holding on, if that.
If the Russians had come here and done this if they had come and stolen our
resources, if they come and enslaved our children into inescapable soul-numbing jobs, if
they had left us with environmental degradation and a wrecked economy and destroyed
education system and a crumbling infrastructure and a sieve-like healthcare regime
if the Russians had come and done any or all of this, we would've risen up in anger and
hostility and patriotism and nationalism, and wed have loaded up our weapons and
killed every last one of them.
But it wasn't the Russians that did it, it was our own overclass. And worse still, it was
our own government acting as though they were protecting us from the evil bogeyman du
jour, while in fact they were assisting the wealthy in bleeding us dry, until our anemia
left us fit only for our profit-seeking hospitals.
Think about how idiotic you have to be to allow yourself to be looted and not even realize
the money's been taken out of your pocket. Think about how politically immature you have
to be to allow a thief to walk right up to you, take your money, and not even recognize
who that thief is. Think about how stupid you have to be to blame it on somebody else
like gays, or Iraqis, or black helicopters and not pay attention to the real
rip-off artist who's stealing your money.
I would tip my hat in admiration to these plutocrats for the cleverness of their scheme
even if a scam this ugly requires the predators to have the moral sensibility of an
empty parking lot but in fact what they've done isn't really all that clever. The
successes of their crimes have lots more to do with the fatuousness of their victims than
with the acumen of the criminals.
Worse yet, as if the American public hasn't already been stupid enough, here we are thirty
years down the road from the advent of Reaganism, and we still don't get it. Here we are
after three decades of being looted, still unable to figure out who's ripping us off. Here
we are, even after the implausibly complete failures and disasters and depredations of the
Bush administration, and most Americans are still unable to point to the criminals and
their ideology, and identify the source of the crime.
Which makes the future looked even more shaky. Now we have a president who most Americans
are coming to believe is some sort of far-left Stalinist, while in fact he is every bit
the full-measured facilitator of corporate parasitism that either George W. Bush or Bill
And yet, because he is being made out to be some sort of outrageously decadent liberal,
and because Americans are too dim to figure out the ruse, this president who is
failing to address the concerns of ordinary Americans, most especially because he's not
working for them in the least is bound to fail, and is looking increasingly like
the proud owner of a one-term presidency. And what we can expect in reaction to that
failure ironically and disastrously and jaw-droppingly idiotically is a
sharp turn to the right. When Obama fails, it will be framed, as it already is being, as
some sort of grand failure of liberalism. In fact, of course, just the opposite is true.
It's a grand success of the overclasss looting of America.
In this respect, Obama offers precious little change, even from the crimes of
George W. Bush. Look at his healthcare initiative, for example. I don't know about you,
but Id say it's a pretty safe bet that anything that the big pharmacological and big
health insurance industries are in favor of is pretty much guaranteed to be a disaster for
the rest of us you know, we the people of the United States. This bill no more
represents an initiative for the purpose of bringing healthcare to Americans than George
Bushs prescription drug bill was an initiative to improve the life of seniors. In
both cases, whatever vicarious and accidental improvements that exist are simply
diversionary window-dressing on what is really another example of legalized corporate
In the case of Obama's healthcare legislation, what's happening is that enormous
quantities of new customers are being forced to buy expensive health coverage from
insurance industry predators who will be vastly enriched by means of this new legislation,
which is precisely why they would favor something that ordinarily we would expect them to
oppose, and that we certainly would expect them to oppose if Obama was any kind of
progressive whatsoever, even if only in his personal fantasies.
The bank bailouts were absolutely no different. What an amazing episode, what an amazing
looting of the American public, what an amazing chapter in the destruction of an empire
and all brought to us by a supposedly liberal president. In fact, Obama was simply
extending the tradition of the Bush administration, and the Reagan ideology prior to that,
which calls for pillaging the federal treasury in order to divert the maximal amount of
money to economic elites, and then leaving the bill for the American taxpayer.
One could go on and on from here. Obama continues to deploy more mercenaries in Iraq and
Afghanistan than there are uniformed American soldiers. He continues to support
privatization of everything from American prisons to schools. He asks for the most tepid
possible re-institution of regulations on the financial industry, and when the thieves on
Wall Street growl back at him, he abandons even those most limited of obstacles to their
The upshot is that today American voters have two choices. They can have the party that
represents the maximal plundering of America, at the maximal speed. Or they can have the
party that represents nearly the same crime at almost the same velocity.
Either way, the United States has ceased in any meaningful way to be owned by citizens.
Its voters vote, but their representatives in Congress and in the administration are
beholden to economic elites, and act entirely accordingly. The country's institutions,
infrastructure, and social relations are all being dismantled piece by piece and either
relocated elsewhere or sold off in order to wring yet another drop of wealth out of the
hides of working Americans, so that those who are already wealthy beyond belief can be
even further enriched.
If some other country did this to us if the Russians invaded and took all our
resources, and enslaved us and our children to work in dismal jobs when we could find any
work at all sufficient to maintaining a rapidly sinking middle class livelihood if
those things happened and the perpetrator was a foreign power, we'd rise up and go to war
and wed kill every last one of em.
But were not doing any of that, even though a very real enemy has invaded this
country and stripped it bare.
In fact, this society is pretty busy making sure that we don't even notice who that enemy
is.(Information Clearing House,
10.02.2009, David Michael Green)
David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.
He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (firstname.lastname@example.org ), but regrets
that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at
his website, www.regressiveantidote.net.