The social unrest in the United States over the last year was entirely predictable. It is the result of decades of destruction of the middle class. Since the 1960s, right-wing forces determined to reverse Roosevelt’s New Deal have waged a systematic takeover of the US power structure. This process accelerated during the Reagan presidency, with deregulation, tax cuts and a buildup of the military budget that vastly increased the wealth and power of corporations and those who control them. The neoliberal policies dictated by the global elite were developed in their current form over the following decade, with their full intent becoming clear during the Clinton years. An early response to the neoliberal attempt to create a global corporate governance structure was the “Battle in Seattle,” the 1999 act of mass resistance to the WTO and its assault on the sovereign right of nations to determine their own economic destiny.
Now that these economic policies are affecting average Americans, they are united in their anger but divided as to who to blame. Most commonly, they point the finger at each other or partisan politicians. Few of them realize that most politicians at the federal level are puppets and that those who buy into their lies and those of their accomplices in the corporate media are being manipulated by the same puppeteers.
Since the 1970s, the US Empire has imposed neoliberal austerity measures on targeted nations whose economies it had devastated, usually deliberately. These governments were invariably progressive and often socialist. They came to power on the promise of putting human needs over the interests of the elite. The Empire could not allow such countries to succeed, or others might follow their example. Beginning with the US-backed fascist coup in Chile in 1973, a pattern was established of bringing a nation to its knees economically, then offering promises of IMF loans tied to mandatory economic restructuring that made these nations debt slaves. Often forced to sell off their national assets to service these debts, they were unable to pay them off. Only a couple of Latin American leaders were able to challenge this form of economic blackmail, one by repudiating the debt and others having it paid by Venezuela under Chavez. These nations and Venezuela itself have since become the constant targets of regime change operations, which in most cases were eventually successful.
Eventually, these ruthless methods were used against ostensible “allies” like Greece, when its people found the courage to challenge punishing austerity measures that were devastating its society. This was during the Occupy movement that began in the US, yet few Americans made the connection between the struggle of Greeks and their own. The economic crisis of 2008 had become a distant memory to most of those living in the United States of Amnesia who were not among the millions who had been economically devasted by it; Disillusioned by the political system and busy trying to survive, most of those who were dropped out of any political involvement.
In 2012, most middle-class Americans had not yet noticed a significant drop in their standard of living. The economic system worked for them, especially those who were comfortably retired with pensions. These were the very people most likely to vote, and they vote for those who are most compliant with the agenda of those wealthy enough to pay for their increasingly expensive campaigns. Few of those who had done well in this system noticed that the US economy was being increasingly propped up by unsustainable personal debt. The financialized economy made the bankers rich while forcing both parents of intact middle-class families to work and impoverishing millions of single parents. Student debt soared, health care became increasingly unaffordable, schools and infrastructure were failing yet in the United States of Amnesia, even those who were left out of the American Dream failed to notice the steady deterioration of the real economy. Austerity continues to prevail even though there is always enough money to increase the “defense” budget, already vastly greater than the total of the next ten largest militaries. At the close of that year, presidential candidate Mitt Romney admitted that to cut the budget for the Pentagon would devastate the economy, which no longer produced much but weapons, debt for the middle class and fabulous wealth for the rich.
The lessons of 2008 have never been fully appreciated by most Americans, including many who were involved in the Occupy movement. Its failure to focus on the obscene power that financial interests had over its corrupt government made the movement an easy target of a media looking for reasons to discredit a movement that had the potential to awaken Americans to what might be done to challenge the ruling oligarchy. The Occupy movement’s efforts to avoid adopting an agenda that could be co-opted made it easy to obscure its implicit message. In coordination with JP Morgan Chase and others, US federal law enforcement agencies stepped up their efforts to establish police state capabilities and used them to shut down the movement, sometimes forcibly. While the Obama government made a show of shaming those responsible for the global financial crisis, financiers, none ended up in prison. Instead, they were left in charge of running the show.
Many now say that what we are witnessing in America and Europe is the collapse of a capitalist global system that has always dominated Western governments and used them for its own ends. The decline of the US has occurred in tandem with the unparalleled acquisition of power by parasites who do not realize that, like cancer, they cannot consume the host that feeds them and survive. Belatedly, millions of Americans have decided they will not tolerate further erosion of their standard of living because of the policies of a corrupt government whose leaders are chosen by the economic elite. If those on the right who have been brainwashed into believing that the US has been taken over by “socialists” ever realize they must make common cause with liberals, a united America could become a real threat to the government and those who control it.
The US government would no doubt respond to a revolt in the US with police state tactics of the sort the US has used to justify its own regime change efforts in targeted countries. However, such state violence would be unlikely to protect the plutocrats and their puppet politicians from the anger of a united American middle class. In their arrogance, the oligarchy seems blind to this threat. That is the only reason they persist in their foolish attempts to strip US citizens of their social safety net even while plundering the middle class. This all but guarantees the People will revolt. Unfortunately, there hubris may be justified. Such a revolution cannot succeed unless the left and right recognize that they are not each other’s enemies and together target the real enemies of freedom who control the economy and government from behind the scenes.