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Originally, this was to be a commentary on the plight of the white middle class, but that demographic no longer exists in America.  So, let’s talk about the swindling of the white working class.

And although it has all come to a head in the past few years, it is a story that is years in the making.  If Stockholm Syndrome relates to the feeling of empathy that kidnap victims have with their captors, then certainly what we are witnessing today is a Stockholm Syndrome of those on the losing end of American capitalism.

To single out white working people is not to assume that others are immune from identifying with those who would exploit them financially - their own economic kidnappers, if you will.  At the same time, it was white working folks who made a deal with the devil a long time ago.  And now they’ve been sent the invoice from that Faustian bargain.  Allow me to explain.

American capitalism has promoted the mythology of the “American Dream,” the notion that everyone has a chance to get rich.  In pursuit of that dream, poor and working white Americans chose their enemy years ago.  They made a conscious decision to side with the “1 percenters” whose feet were firmly placed on their neck, rather than with similarly situated black and brown common folk.  They decided it was those of a darker hue whose progress stood in the way of their own movement up the ladder.

Generation after generation, they fought and died in wars, someone else’s beef, designed to protect the interests of the 1 percent.

They opposed social programs that had any chance of helping blacks, even if they stood to benefit from the programs themselves.  And ultimately they failed to join forces with workers of color to build a strong labor movement.  As a result of that fatal decision, the jobs moved offshore to where the labor costs were cheapest.  Chinese slave laborers are now making our iPhones, iPads, X-Boxes and other toys, and now even Chinese workers are becoming too expensive.

The most impoverished European immigrant had neither a pot nor a window to throw it out of.  But at least he or she was not black, and thus could be considered a real American.  Though poor whites had far more in common with their poor black-, Latino-, Asian- and Native-American counterparts than with some Wall Street banker or fat cat industrialist, nonetheless they viewed racial minority groups and others as the enemy.  That’s how scapegoats are created.

So, the blame is not placed where it should, which is the über-wealthy sucking the lifeblood out of democracy.  Rather the problem is identified as affirmative action, or welfare queens, or undocumented Mexican immigrants.  Solutions to the nation’s woes are offered in the form of mass incarceration and the death penalty.  Tighter social controls are introduced in the form of bans on Sharia law and Latino studies, voter ID, draconian anti-immigrant legislation and prohibitions on same-sex marriage.

Culture wars are the ultimate shell game, a cheap parlor trick of smoke and mirrors to mask the wide scale corporate theft taking place.  These cultural issues - which also include gun proliferation and the war against a woman’s reproductive rights, including contraception - will do nothing to improve anyone’s station in life.  Yet these time-tested culture wars are fought because someone is betting that the common folk will take the bait.  And usually, such is the case.

Meanwhile, the sanctimonious and self-righteous rightwing among us, a morals police and Christian Taliban of sorts, would distract us with fertilized egg personhood and mandatory sonograms for women seeking an abortion.  But in the face of injustice, like the white clergy in Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, they “have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.”   King called the contemporary church “a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound.  So often it is an archdefender of the status quo.  Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent - and often even vocal - sanction of things as they are.”

So, those who obsess over the sex lives of private citizens have said little about our national scourge of economic inequality or the suffering of the poor - you know, the stuff Jesus talked about.  Preoccupied as they are with birth control bans and zygote rights, they were conspicuously silent when the living among them suffered and the innocent died.  Last year, when the state of Georgia killed Troy Davis, an innocent black man, they said nothing.  And they had remained silent seven years earlier, when the state of Texas wrongfully executed Cameron Todd Willingham, an innocent white man.

Yet, there is hope that for their own sake, people will not fall for the shell game forever.  There is a chance that citizens are waking up, resisting the Stockholm Syndrome, and refusing to act against their economic self-interests.  The spirit of the Occupy movement has liberated the public discourse, an alternative to the neo-segregationist Tea Party and its reliance on racial scapegoats.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks tipped and r3ec'ed (0+ / 0-)

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 07:40:11 AM PST

  •  You seem to covered the topic very well. I hope (0+ / 0-)

    this gets a lot of readership and makes it to the Rec List.

    Too bad that the people who need to see this the most don't come to this Blog.

  •  It's pretty clear (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini

    that the Tea Party demographic is inexorably aging and dying out, with nothing really coming up to replace it.

    While I am, obviously, making a huge generalization, younger people are less easily hoodwinked than older ones.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 07:56:48 AM PST

    •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, greengemini

      Younger voters are more diverse, more educated and more progressive.  GOP is trying to stop history, as this article elaborates: http://nymag.com/...

      •  Oh, I'd say that's very evident. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greengemini

        Without having glimpsed the article yet, look at the dinosaurs panic, trumping up phony crises on marriage equality and feminism and birth control.

        They've lost on "defense of marriage." They know it. So, they've started zeroing in on access to birth control. The ageist, sexist attacks on women in the public eye have become more vitriolic than ever, and that's all of apiece, very much.

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:44:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Middle Class is Professionals, Bureaucrats and (5+ / 0-)

    business owners in the middle between the rich and the working classes.

    What we did here and abroad in the developed countries in the New Deal era is bring a middle class lifestyle and opportunity to much of the large working class. Key elements that traditionally only were available to the middle class and rich included easy access to education, upward mobility, chance for leisure and travel, and a secure retirement.

    We always had the large working class, we still have it and the middle class, but we've spent the past 35 years revoking the middle class lifestyle from the American working class and limiting it once again to the small middle class.

    And you're spot on about the process. Racial and ethnic fear, jealousy and rage, and the sex based culture war, have been the program of the modern rightwing revolution from its inception when the Beatles were still touring.

    Kudos to Occupy for getting the concept of vast economic injustice back into the mainstream conversation for the first time since the Big Band era. But we have an immense distance left to go in terms of conceiving policy. Most of the country is too young to have seen the last time the working classes were gaining ground. The policies of those times are largely unknown and where they're known they seem extremist to the alleged people's party.

    Even Occupy is making some proposals that will drive the 99% farther down, despite their seeming so much better than the rightwing's.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:01:36 AM PST

    •  "Revoking the middle class lifestyle" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini, a2nite

      A massive shift in corporate and tax polices that have stolen labor, intellectual capital, and purchasing power from 300+ million Americans.

      "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

      by CFAmick on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:11:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's also that the white working class (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    longtalldrink, greengemini

    wanted to keep African-Americans down--the satisfaction that comes to some to be able to feel superior to at least one other group of people.

    I mean, if pretty soon blacks get the opportunity to climb over them, well then it's time to demand your country back.

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:05:50 AM PST

    •  Racism has always been used as a go-to tool by (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bunsk

      the wealthy, a primary weapon of class war. It keeps the peasants squabbling among ourselves and prevents us from discussing the real problems that beset us or uniting against our wealthy exploiters and oppressors. A good dose of fear among white workers that black people were going to take our jobs and our women, provided by Dr. Warbucks, has turned the trick for years, and has worked so well that we white folks have learned to hate Asians and Meso- and South  Americans with equal gusto, for stealing our jobs and offending our god. Lynching has grown more sophisticated, but that has enabled us to do, sadly, a lot more of it, both here at home and now internationally. A solid clue to what, or more importantly who, is behind this, lies in where this lynching is happening now...neighborhoods of color that can be exploited for gentrification and increased real estate value and land harboring indigenous people and desirable natural resources here at home and anywhere internationally where anybody is so bold as to live above our oil. Who profits from racism? Certainly not the people who have been duped into practicing it at street level. Corporations who practice racial discrimination in hiring lose far more than they could hope to gain. No, only the wealthiest gain from racism, and only in that it divides the rest of us and makes it impossible, so far, for us to form a common front for the common good against our oppressors.

  •  Not to detract from your general thesis (0+ / 0-)

    but the failure of mostly white organized labor to bring in workers of color had little or nothing to do with the off-shoring of jobs.  In fact, you could argue that the pressure went the other direction, with high wage union labor being the obvious early target.

    You can talk about China all you want but recognize that most of the new auto production facilities in the US are located in the non-union south.

    How the fruits of the modern economy are distributed to workers and potential workers is the major problem we face but it doesn't help to oversimplify the situation.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:06:31 AM PST

    •  Unions in US have done more, historically... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      socalmonk

      ...to fight racism than virtually any other organized entity in our society, despite some throwback elements, mainly in the past, which resisted that evolution.

      To the extent that unions in the US have proven ineffectual, inadequate, and limited in their potential, that has been primarily due to NLRA and other labor related laws being written by corporate hack lawyers, to constrain and sabotage that potential.

      The impetus for which comes from the right, the Republicans and their Chamber of Commerce sponsors, and certainly not from the Democrats, who have consistently fought against such efforts, as an integral part of their program, which is why the Democrats are recognized as the Party of Labor, in stark contrast to monopoly corporate fascist Republicans.

      Bring the Better Democrats!

      All Out for the Primaries!

      Democracy is the most fundamental revolutionary principle.

      by Radical def on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:47:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I come from a union family (white) that was (0+ / 0-)

        also an NCAA family.  So I hear you but still think there were more than a few important counterexamples.  Anyhow, that is a different discussion.  The domestic organized labor environment's relationship to globalization is the issue I was trying to highlight.

        Where are we, now that we need us most?

        by Frank Knarf on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:26:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well, I'm so-called "White," but poor. Only saving (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Arkieboy, baghavadgita, socalmonk

    grace I hold firmly, is that once I take my final breath, I don't have to aplogize for letting money define my life.

    Hope has a hole in it when Republicans come, bringing shackles and sorrow; branding their greed on the backs of the poor. - Wendy Connors

    by Wendys Wink on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:07:22 AM PST

  •  I like it. And unfortunately, "democrats" have (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    socalmonk, mungley

    been advocating this same system as well. If one looks closely there are only small differences at the margins between the two parties. I fully realize where the republicans would like to take our country but the democrats haven't really done anything to slow the descent into neofeudalism. The exact level of suffering it will take for the great unwashed to experience an awakening is the greatest unanswered question.

    •  money has corrupted the political system (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      baghavadgita, socalmonk, mungley

      and unfortunately the Democrats have been part of the problem as well.  Agreed.

      •  The main problem with Democrats... (0+ / 0-)

        ...is the huge amount of pressure that's brought to bear, with very considerable resources, from the right, to coerce, co-opt, and yes, corrupt them to Chamber of Commerce program.

        Remove that pressure, democratically, electorally, with substantially more progressive plurality, and that corruption can be very substantially mitigated, even virtually eliminated, legislatively and judicially.

        Less progressive plurality, not so much, or worse.

        Insinuating absolute non-viability of the Democrats, AS IF they are "the same" as the Republicans is not only factually incorrect, it's also hyperbolic bullshit aimed at suppressing likely Democratic voter turnout, which can only perpetuate and worsen conditions in every regard.

        The only solution to Any of the legitimate issues raised by Occupy is moar democracy, which will certainly Not ensue from electoral boycott or splitting.

        Right Now, going into the Democratic primaries, is our chance to being forward the better Democrats, to challenge Blue Dog ilk and vacillating "liberals", and force them to the left, or replace them with more viable candidates going into the generals in November.

        While such efforts may often face resistance from some elements of entrenched Party apparatus, resolute grassroots activism and agitation in the masses can overcome that, as well as all of the point-shaving Republican vote suppression dirty tricks, to swamp the polls with a mass electoral uprising.

        History will judge us harshly, if we fail to seize this opportunity, Right Now, to materially seize the power.

        Seize the Time!

        Seize the Power!

        Bring the Better Democrats!

        All Out for the Primaries!

        Photobucket

        Photobucket

        Democracy is the most fundamental revolutionary principle.

        by Radical def on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:34:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You said (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SquirrelWhisperer, bunsk

    "In pursuit of that dream, poor and working white Americans chose their enemy years ago.  They made a conscious decision to side with the “1 percenters” whose feet were firmly placed on their neck, rather than with similarly situated black and brown common folk.  They decided it was those of a darker hue whose progress stood in the way of their own movement up the ladder."

    While I agree with your premise in general, can we not do what the right does? No broad-brushing please. There are 'MANY poor and working white folks' who never bought into the crap. I am one.

    Certainly, there are 'MANY poor and working white folks' who did buy the crap, so your point is taken, but this poor, working class white woman and her husband never did.

    •  well said (0+ / 0-)

      It is not to say that everyone drank the kool-aid, but many did and that's one of the reasons why were in the mess we're in.  We're all in this together, but unfortunately not everyone saw it that way.  Thanks!

    •  Could it be that poor and working white (0+ / 0-)

      Americans made a conscious decision to side with the "1 percenters' whose feet were firmly planted on their necks because the 1 percenters had jobs to offer, while the similarly situated black and brown common folk had none to offer or could not offer as much compensation?  If that was the situation, how was the poor and working whites' decision the wrong one for them to make?  Put another way, how would the lot of the poor and working whites have been improved by siding with the black and brown common folk, rather than with the 1 percenters?

      •  the way I see it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        If they had sided with black and brown people, everyone would have higher waged right now.  There is strength in numbers, and if working people of all backgrounds had stood together as a counterweight to corporate power, they would have increased their own bargaining power and strengthened the labor movement.  Labor is far weaker in the U.S. than in other countries.  A stronger labor movement would have meant more income and better working conditions for all American workers.  If you participate in your own oppression for some perceived short-term gain and fight over crumbs left under the table, you're only playing yourself in the end.

        •  right, now it is poor working class (0+ / 0-)

          turn 2!get screwed. If they get played repeatedly,  can't feel sorry 4 them & not wasting my breath. They vote 4 evil & are a party 2 same. White working class say bye-bye to that taste of the good life u got. U screwed ur kids.

          Tired of this crap.

          The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

          by a2nite on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 05:33:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Awesome diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini

    Thank you.

    Please Vote for the Democratic nominee for President in 2012.

    by mungley on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:15:28 AM PST

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