February 19, 2007


THANKS MOSTLY TO PRESIDENTS Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the genocidal policies President Richard Milhous Nixon initiated 33 years ago with a curiously under-reported declaration of economic war against the American people have now escalated into a mercilessly savage crusade against each and every one of us who is not part of the increasingly omnipotent corporate plutocracy -- the fat-cat faction in whose exclusive interest the war is being waged.

Nixon issued his declaration of class-war during a 1973 post-inaugural interview by William Randolph Hearst Jr. Curiously, Nixon was at the peak of his popularity -- an apparent paradox on which Hearst himself briefly commented -- especially given the vindictive gloom inherent in the president's economic intentions. But in retrospect -- and in a decidedly eerie sense -- it was almost as if Nixon had somehow foreseen the future and was already declaring his vengeance: within slightly more than a year, Watergate would reduce him, deservedly so, to the most despised president in U.S. history -- the title for which he is now being challenged by Bush.

Hearst's 1973 interview is thus memorable for reasons both personal and political. It -- or rather its implications -- provided all-too-rare intellectual stimulation while I was suffering the brain-numbing misfortune of being a Manhattanite (as I then thought of myself) stranded in Seattle, which from almost any perspective is a startlingly small-minded town, not withstanding the fact it is cobbled together amidst huge and breathtaking physical beauty. But not even the dark loveliness of its Pacific Northwest environment is sufficient antidote for the bigotry and personalized hatefulness with which its natives habitually confront those of us who foolishly venture there from the City -- the place even the most politically “correct” of Seattle’s self-proclaimed “leftists“ secretly damn as “Jew York” -- as if it were indeed the ultimate daemonium of Planet Earth. It will therefore come as no surprise I was never an appreciative reader of either of Seattle’s two daily papers, each of which (even now) routinely reflect the fierce pride in vindictive xenophobia that is Seattle’s chief and most identifying sociological characteristic. But on this particular day the dependably mediocre Post-Intelligencer had momentarily abandoned its customary provincialism and instead was approximating serious reportage, beginning Hearst’s bylined special report atop Page One and jumping it to fill an inside page, every column inch describing the details of Nixon’s plans for his second four-year term. Having noted all this while enduring the wretched bus service that in Seattle passes for adequate public transport, I actually thought it worthwhile to walk some distance (in the omnipresent drizzle of course) to hunt up and purchase my own copy: so I remember the whole episode very well -- not just the contents of Hearst’s report (nearly as thorough as anything I might have read in The New York Times I so sorely missed), but how I came to have the report's text and the manner in which it later influenced my thinking.

To me, Nixon’s second term stands out for two reasons that put the entire aftermath of the Watergate breakin, especially the ouster of Nixon, into what I believe is its proper historical context -- a genuine counter-coup that truly saved the nation -- no matter its later betrayal by the pardon so traitorously granted Nixon by President Gerald Ford. The first of these two context-setters is Nixon’s statement that “this is the last election,” the comment with which he opened his 1973 inaugural address. (If you doubt me, listen to the tape or perhaps, if you are old enough, dig into your memory for the brief flurry of apologetics that followed: the argument -- one I believed then and now to be patently spurious -- that it was a mere slip of the tongue in which Nixon, always a deliberate and careful speaker, really meant “my last election” but somehow accidentally substituted the more implicitly tyrannical and surely more disturbing form.) The second context-setter has, unfortunately I think, remained far more obscure: Nixon’s assertion to interviewer Hearst that all but the wealthiest Americans “have it too good,” and his strong implication that for the rest of his administration (and to the greatest extent he could manage), all federal policy would henceforth be directed very specifically at re-inflicting the myriad hardships the New Deal had either abolished or substantially minimized.

Recognizing the probable (and probably dreadful) significance of Nixon’s quoted remarks -- especially in light of his “last election” term-opener -- I clipped the article (the very reason I bought my own copy of the paper), and I kept it in my reference files for the next ten years, indeed until all those vital resources (and so much else) were destroyed by the fire that was such a ruinous turning point in my own life. Assuming the clip would be relatively easy to replace, I did not seek it out for several years afterward, but then found myself in a quarrel with a perennially antagonistic relative who in effect had called me a liar and implied I had made the whole thing up. Fortunately, though I don’t have the sort of memory that is commonly described as “photographic,” I do have fairly accurate recall of historical details -- even of amusing trivia (such as the nearly forgotten fact the Norman warlord we know today as “William the Conqueror” was known in his own time and even by his own people as “William the Bastard,” not because he was bastardly in conduct -- though surely he was -- but because his mother’s conduct had led to his birth in bastardy). In any case, for reasons I already made clear (and despite my relative's intellectual bullying), I did not succumb to doubts and therefore would not relent. But when I contacted The Post-Intelligencer in an effort to prove my point by obtaining a replacement copy of the interview (presumably a Xerox made from the microfiche on which all daily newspapers of that period are archived), I was told it was no longer available. Subsequent requests have yielded the same result, which leaves me wondering if perhaps the entire story has conveniently vanished down some Orwellian memory-hole.

(If someone can steer me to an unrevised copy of this seemingly lost interview, Nixon’s first after his ‘73 re-inauguration, please do; I would be appreciative enough to thank you in print.)

But no matter if the text of the interview has vanished or not; the evidence of deliberate class-war -- class-war that includes policies expressly crafted to inflict (plausibly deniable) genocide -- is now so overwhelming, even corporate mass-media is forced to acknowledge it, no matter how euphemistical or apologetic the acknowledgement. Here, thanks to the radical news-service Truthout, are no-registration-required links to reports of five outrages that exemplify capitalism’s tyrannosauric assault on all of us who are neither members of the board-room baronage nor part of the trust-fund plutocracy:

The United States has deteriorated into the most savage place in the industrial world to raise children, with the highest percentage of children living in poverty, by far the worst incidence of teenage obesity, and the deadliest records in child safety and the availability of health care for children -- all this according to a United Nations Children’s Fund study released a few days ago. Anyone who doubts this deterioration is an accident should reflect not only on Nixon’s remark that Americans “have it too good” but on the policies of every administration since Nixon’s -- especially Clinton’s, which began, via NAFTA and the outsourcing at the core of the Global (Wage-Slave) Economy, the methodical theft of jobs and demolition of opportunity that has flung so many of us (and hence our children, grandchildren and in fact all our future descendants) into inescapable and steadily worsening poverty. No wonder so many Americans are so (rightfully) hopeless they seek the seductive solace of the slow suicide that is drug addition.

Meanwhile the Bush Regime has deliberately increased the lethal hardships of poverty by knowingly (and almost certainly with what in courtrooms is called “malice aforethought”) providing Katrina refugees with house trailers that are defacto gas chambers and thus potentially deadly to inhabit. As a result, thousands of children, women and men are sick and getting sicker -- most probably terminally -- and at least one elderly person is already dead, all afflicted by formaldehyde fumes. The administration’s response? More of the hostile indifference typical of the entire post-Katrina horror: yet another example of what many African-Americans -- folks with whom in this instance I totally agree -- already believe is deliberate genocide, whether by action or neglect it matters not.

Again due largely to the destruction of the socioeconomic fabric begun by Nixon’s hardship plan and dutifully continued by each of his successors, U.S. military families have (of course) become as economically non-traditional as the families of all the rest of us. As a consequence, child-rearing duties are now shared by a huge number of folks who are not birth parents -- grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, unwed lovers -- each of whom should be entitled to the child-rearing stipends traditionally paid to the spouses of soldiers slain in battle. But instead they are methodically denied such funds -- and the problem, increasingly evident since the Gulf War, has now reached crisis proportions. Moreover, though this Washington Post report only hints at the truth, veterans' advocates tell me the federal bureaucracy flatly rejects any and all possible remedies. Thus I have little doubt the real barrier is Bush and his band of JesuNazi theocrats (many of whom do in fact infest the Pentagon), vindictively obstructing all efforts to secure such payments for non-traditional parents -- obstruction that extends even unto brazen defiance of wills written by the now-dead veterans themselves. Obviously -- beyond its expression of the malicious absolutism that is the keystone of Christianity -- here is another example of the ongoing policy of deliberately inflicted misery and methodically worsened impoverishment.

Today’s wounded soldiers fare no better. Indeed, the long-term convalescence section of Walter Reed Army Hospital is as rat-bedunged and roach-infested as 19th Century Bedlam -- and again (once more no doubt in keeping with the Nixon policy of imposed degradation), the overwhelming evidence of neglect proves beyond a scintilla of doubt the Bush Regime doesn’t give a tinker’s damn: never has, never will. That anyone would be so treated anywhere in the industrial world is an outrage; that wounded soldiers would be so treated is an atrocity: another classic example of the venomous contempt with which Bush and his entire family (“why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that”) regard those of us who are neither corporate fat-cats nor otherwise destitution-proof plutocrats.

Finally there is the lonely struggle of union members -- we who for the last five decades were ever more cravenly abandoned by an ever-more-subjugated U.S. workforce -- our shrunken ranks bravely soldiering on (literally in service to every employee in America) -- this in the only counter-offensive ever launched against the rat politics of the Nixon/Ford/Carter/Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush class war. Venomously rejected by self-proclaimed “progressives” (who cannot abide the possibility our sweaty-armpit reality might even momentarily overcome their aroma-therapy trance), mostly ignored by so-called “liberals” (who hypocritically inflate their personal wealth by mouthing paid arguments that unions are now somehow “obsolete”), and repeatedly betrayed by the Democrats (who once portrayed themselves as our allies but have since been bribed into eager collaboration with the boardroom barons -- think NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, WTO ad nauseum), we have finally in the last year or so begun see evidence of a genuine re-awakening of unionism. In the best of all possible worlds, this resurgent activism would be fueled by renewed understanding of class struggle: the fact that, under capitalism, there are only two classes -- the bosses and those of us who have to work for them -- and the corollary fact that (no matter how allegedly “cooperative” the workplace) -- the boss is always “making a list” (as another union guy I know so aptly puts it) and is therefore always the enemy. In truth however what is happening is probably a far less ideological, far more instinctively American response to the ever more undeniable horrors of the Global (Sweatshop) Economy -- that and awakening realization the Global Sweatshop with its obscene wealth and privilege for the plutocrats and its abject poverty for all the rest of us is, already and in fact, our corporate overlords’ ultimate and final response to the double apocalypse of petroleum exhaustion and terminal climate change: in essence, imposition of a new Dark Age -- this one lasting until the end of human time -- with only the fattest of the fat cats exempted from the slave-pens. As during the class conflicts of the 19th and early 20th centuries, labor is again mobilizing, and though this time the mobilization is happening little by slow, it is already obvious enough it has scared the Democrats into proposing the first pro-labor Congressional legislation in decades (maybe since the Lyndon Johnson Administration) -- a measure that would remove some of the many obstructions that now prohibit employees from organizing unions. Dream on: Vice President Dick Cheney pledges the Bush Regime will maintain the obstructions by presidential veto (never mind the fact the Employee Free Choice Act has not even been written). Moreover, Cheney’s predictably vicious reaction implies a by-whatever-means-necessary fight against any other possible union gains. Again, the policy of doing anything and everything possible to deliberately worsen our lot. Obviously, the graffito is true: “Nixon Lives” (not that there were ever many doubts).

Posted by Loren at February 19, 2007 05:13 AM | TrackBack