Maybe I am just too easily perturbed or maybe things are just very perturbing. So I am giving The Nation its weekly read and I find a brief essay by Walter Mosley on the class structure of these United States. And I am perturbed. He’s not saying anything remotely new or something I don’t think about nearly every day. But I am perturbed anyway.
Maybe these things need to be said over and over and over until somebody happens to listen. The USA, for all its wealth, is a class society. Funny, Roosevelt said that clearly. Mosley concludes his little essay with this line: “A man can be rich, but only a nation can be wealthy. And if any person of any age suffers from poverty, then our whole country bears the shame.” That’s FDR revisited from when he said—and I forget the exact words—the health of a nation is to be judge by the health of the least among us.
Over and over again. I am glad Mosley is saying it again of course, but I doubt we have one Democrat in office that has the guts today to say what Roosevelt said in his. I have had the painful misfortune of having lived since almost the moment I was born in 1945 through a period—excepting for a brief outburst of something in the 60’s—of monstrous reaction.
The money lenders and the merchants of greed came to dominate the rhetoric of this country and managed to draw a veil over the yawning chasm between the classes. That’s the victory of the consumer society. Everybody had more crap to put in his or her garage. Everybody could share in this superabundance of crap. We could all eat shit equally; and people have bought it for the last 60 years.
Oh, but oh my, people will say, we have now a new global world order. Things are just not the same. Painful scarifies will be required (usually of other people). No, things have not changed. Marx was terrible on communism (though he did say he was not a Marxist) but dead on when it came to capitalism. The Manifesto lays it out clearly. Marx knew about global capitalism back then. That’s why he wrote, Workers of the World Unite. He knew more than most know today.
Over and over and over again—and I suppose people should and must say these things over and over and over again. But I am getting tired. And I have a pessimistic streak; it’s really hard not to have one. Perhaps people are not able to recognize their own self-interest. It’s beginning to feel like Nietzsche’s Eternal Repetition of the Same, and, well, that is truly the road to nihilism.
I can’t go on; I go on. Says Beckett over and over again. That’s not a philosophy designed to promote social change, that nihilism. But perhaps the road to Heaven goes straight through Hell.