The Violence Inherent in the System

mva

In corporate capitalist America, cars-first transportation has always been unquestioned.  As a result, we have spent the largest part of the immense wealth that has flowed through our polarized, brutalized society in the last century building the vast automobile system with which we remain stuck.  It is by far the biggest, costliest public works project in human history — not even close.  It has always been devoted to serving its central purpose, too, which, contrary to long-running propaganda claims, has NOT been transportation, but rather maximum profit for business owners.

Yesterday, The New York Times published a story about new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  Take a look at the video embedded in this story.  It is heart-stopping, at several levels.

This extreme violence is what we have been trained to accept as not just normal, but “an emblem of the American spirit” and a confirmation that capitalism is the best of all possible social systems.

It won’t be long before we recognize, one way or another, how very insane we’ve been, ecological, socially, and, yes, economically…

The main IIHS finding, by the way, goes unreported by the NYT:

The death rate in 1-3-year-old minicars in multiple-vehicle crashes during 2007 was almost twice as high as the rate in very large cars.  The death rate per million 1-3-year-old minis in single-vehicle crashes during 2007 was 35 compared with 11 per million for very large cars. Even in midsize cars, the death rate in single-vehicle crashes was 17 percent lower than in minicars.

NerObama: Another Clampdown Coming

nero

You grow up and you calm down and You’re working for the clampdown.
So you got someone to boss around. It makes you feel big now…
You start wearing the blue and brown and you’re working for the clampdown.
-The Clash

Elected on a wave of popular disgust with the imperial status quo, Barack Obama is far exceeding all expectations in his diligent ideologies-over-facts stonewalling on behalf of his overclass sponsors.  Never in our history has the gulf between popular majorities and the actions of sitting policy-makers been wider.

And it ain’t gonna get any narrower, barring popular rebellion.  Just yesterday, NerObama announced to the G20 that the rest of the world cannot depend on the United States again being “a voracious consumer market.”

Properly translated, this is a signal that, once the bank-dole dust settles and the car-corp handout gets finalized, there is going to be a redoubled attack on “social spending” and the working class in general.

In other words, this “no more voracious consumer market” stuff is code-talk signifying that NerObie isn’t going to pull a New New Deal out of his hat.

In overclass talk, “consumer” means the non-rich, the commoners, the proles. What NerObama is saying is that he is not going to do anything to boost the American masses’ capacity to buy. Now that the financiers’ great surf-party has crashed on maxed-out credit cards and “equity lines,” stimulating subaltern buying power is off the table.

Obama, who apparently read all those campaign-publicized books about the 1930s in order to huff in the ghost of Herbert Hoover, is making the friend-of-Zbig, Jimmy “MX” Carter, look like FDR.

Message to Business Class: Time to Abdicate!

Forgive my suspension of core sociological truisms here.  We know that, in the words of Frederick Douglass, “power concedes nothing without a demand,” and that, as Dr. King wrote in Birmingham City Jail, “privileged groups rarely give up their privileges without strong resistance.” We also know that we continue to lack even weak resistance.

Nonethless, in the wake of yet more mega-bonuses for the overseers of corporate capitalist devastation, it’s a worthy word for any future social movement against this decrepit overclass:

Abdicate!


You money-grubbers have had your chance. You and your system are done, failed, dead, out of chances and answers. Now, yield yourselves and your schemes to make way for economic democracy and ecological reconstruction. If we need your help, we’ll let you know.

How Sick are We Now?: Frere Loup on Crime & Jails

Over at Candide’s Notebooks, the sage Frere Loup recently posted this excellent, pithy debunking of the psychotic, criminal-itself reality of criminal punishment in the USA:

“Every time people talk prisons in the US, I do the numbers.

“80% of crime is White
80% of drug use is White
80% of the poverty in the US is White

“2/3 of the 2.3 million humans incarcerated in the penal system (jail, prison, parole) are Black and Brown. Didn’t used to be that way. Until we passed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, 1964-65 which we instantly regretted, we had Jim Crow to ‘keep them in their place’ and America felt naked in the absence. So…being the innovative and creative people we are in matters of critical importance, we improvised.

“In 1965 there were 640000 humans in the penal system, e.g. jail, prison, and parole (count’em same way now). Whites were 87% of the population, Blacks 12%, Hispanic were part of the remaining 1%. Same 80% of Crime, Drugs, and Poverty for Whites back then. 2/3 of those ‘in the system’ in ’65 were White. What accounts for the difference:

“Selective Enforcement of the Law
Targeted Incarceration
Disproportionate Sentencing

“In 2008 Whites are 70% (2000 Census) and Blacks are still 12% of the population with 18% for everybody else. As a direct result of these ‘policies’, 1/3 of the ENTIRE Black male population in the US are ‘in the system’, they work for Fortune 500 corps for $0.77-$1.44/hr in jobs that used to be done by people getting living wages. But of course living wages DO NOT produce maximum short term profits, in fact nothing produces profits like slave labor, prison labor, child labor, and sweat shop labor. Prison is as close to “slave labor” as they can get outside the Marianna’s. Ask Trent Lott.

“And of course those Black & Brown people can’t vote. Ever. In most states.

“Not at all surprising for A nation that got away with genocide AND human slavery AND wants to pretend it is not a squalid, debased, AND degraded tribe of cannibals.

“Who’s face is Poverty?
Who’s face is Drugs?
Who’s face is Crime?

“And what is the REALITY on the ground? Don’t ask MSM, they’re selling the Kool-Aid and they want you terrified of EVERYBODY.

“We always make others pay for our sins. More economical.”

Now, personally speaking, like Harry Belafonte, I am a Kingian — an American democratic socialist who is convinced that, as MLK said, “the entire structure of American life must be changed” and that we can and should and will only be able do so by finally acknowledging the centrality of racism in our society, and by rescuing and expanding the much-mentioned, but little-used good side of American principle, history, and culture.

So I wonder:

Frere Loup mentions the numbers from the mid-1960s, when Dr. King was already fretting about “integrating into a burning house,” and that the United States was a deeply “sick society.”

Read the newspaper; watch American behavior for a few hours (especially among the comfortable segments); contemplate Frere Loup’s words; then ask yourself:  How sick are we now?