The Russians Did This To Us, Wed Kill Em
By David Michael Green
October 02, 2009 "Information Clearing House" -- What if the
It's not so far-fetched an idea, you know. We spent half
a century and trillions of dollars to make sure that it
would never happen, so it's really not such a strange
So what if the Russians invaded?
What if they came and stole all of our money?
What if the Russians invaded and enslaved our children as
cheap worker bee drones locked in dismal dead-end jobs?
What if the Russians invaded and excavated all of our
natural resources, leaving only mountains of toxic debris
in their wake?
What if the Russians invaded and they ruined our
infrastructure, thrashed our educational institutions,
and stuck us with a grossly inadequate healthcare system?
What if the Russians invaded and incarcerated a huge
percentage of our people in for-profit jails? What if
they ruined our military by sending it off on big-money
colonial expeditions? What if they cut the legs out from
under the middle class?
What if the Russians invaded and turned us against each
other, tricking this tribe of Americans into hating that
tribe, in order to keep any of us from realizing that
they were looting our country?
If the Russians did any of these things, wed kill
If the Russians invaded, we'd send our army to crush them
in defense of our country (or, at least, we hire somebody
to do it).
If the Russians invaded, we'd be furious and raging and
hateful and destructive for good reason, too
and we would bring to them the full measure of
American organized violence in order to take back our
country from their plundering rampages.
Of course, the Russians havent invaded. But what's
astonishing about the moment we live in is that America
has in fact been subjected to all these travails. We have
essentially been invaded by those who wish us ill, and
our national and private resources are being stripped
bare. This country is being looted, and everything in it
that isn't nailed down is being carted away and sold off.
Our children are being saddled with enormous financial
burdens. Our educational and healthcare systems, sucked
dry as mere revenues sources, are falling to pieces. Our
infrastructure is approaching ruin.
Our jobs, our industries and our community resources have
been bundled up and exported to where the work can be
done far cheaper, and the workers are compliant.
Increasingly we are scrambling just to survive.
Admittedly, our government remains absolutely dedicated
to making sure that some of us do extremely well. It's
just that that some doesnt include
anyone you know.
What is absolutely astonishing about the moment that we
live in is that we have been essentially invaded, we have
been absolutely looted, and yet we don't seem to be the
slightest bit angry about that.
If the Russians had done it, we would be absolutely
furious. But in fact, it was our own overclass that did
it, and not only are we not furious at them, we don't
even notice the crime. Or, if we do notice, were
furious at some ridiculously inappropriate target, like a
liberal president who isn't even remotely
America has always been a country with its full and fair
share of flaws, but for quite some time during the middle
part of the twentieth century, we got one thing
reasonably right. There was a bargain then, between
elites and the government and the public. According to
the terms of the deal, the aristocracy would still be
fantastically rich, but there would be limitations on
their wealth, because some of that wealth, some
substantial amount, needed to be shared with the working
people and the middle class, and it was the role of
government to make sure that that happened. Many among
the well-to-do even shared that consensus.
Since Ronald Reagan rode into town, however, that deal is
off the table, replaced by what is essentially a new New
Deal or, more accurately, simply the Bad Old Deal.
Under the terms of this new/old arrangement, the
unregulated wealthy grab absolutely everything they can
get their hands on, the middle class scrambles for
whatever bare existence it can maintain, and the rest of
America, the working class and the poor, fall deeper and
deeper into third world-style poverty. Under the terms of
this new system, the role of the government is no longer
to provide for the welfare of the people, nor to ensure
that there are limitations on what the plutocracy can
liberate from them. Under the terms of this new
arrangement, the function of the government is simply to
serve as a tool, assisting that plutocracy in depriving
America's own people of everything that can be taken from
That means that in the last thirty years we've entirely
restructured the economy so that the super-wealthy have
become obscenely-super-wealthy, and the middle class are
lucky to have stood still, and haven't really even
managed that. If one examines the destination of the
considerable GDP growth that America has sustained over
the last three decades, it's gone entirely to the richest
of Americans. The middle class has actually lost ground.
That's an astonishing fact, but think about it: Despite
robust economic growth, workers today actually make less
than they did back in the 1970s.
Even more amazing, it wasn't that hard to pull off. All
you had to do was to fool the people and divert their
attention to other circuses to go along with the
remaining crumbs of bread. Meanwhile, unions were
decimated by changes in government policy. Jobs were
exported first to the south, then to Mexico, then
to China, now to Thailand or Vietnam, and probably soon
to Africa in a never-ending search for the
cheapest possible way to wring value out of the working
people of the world, leaving Americans without any sort
of remaining industry or economic base. Tax policy was
also deployed, channeling money from current working
Americans, and especially from their children, and
diverted it to the already wealthy. The upshot of all
these policy changes was that the richest Americans
became absolutely, astonishingly, fabulously rich, and
the rest of us are barely holding on, if that.
If the Russians had come here and done this if
they had come and stolen our resources, if they come and
enslaved our children into inescapable soul-numbing jobs,
if they had left us with environmental degradation and a
wrecked economy and destroyed education system and a
crumbling infrastructure and a sieve-like healthcare
regime if the Russians had come and done any or
all of this, we would've risen up in anger and hostility
and patriotism and nationalism, and wed have loaded
up our weapons and killed every last one of them.
But it wasn't the Russians that did it, it was our own
overclass. And worse still, it was our own government
acting as though they were protecting us from the evil
bogeyman du jour, while in fact they were assisting the
wealthy in bleeding us dry, until our anemia left us fit
only for our profit-seeking hospitals.
Think about how idiotic you have to be to allow yourself
to be looted and not even realize the money's been taken
out of your pocket. Think about how politically immature
you have to be to allow a thief to walk right up to you,
take your money, and not even recognize who that thief is.
Think about how stupid you have to be to blame it on
somebody else like gays, or Iraqis, or black
helicopters and not pay attention to the real rip-off
artist who's stealing your money.
I would tip my hat in admiration to these plutocrats for
the cleverness of their scheme even if a scam this
ugly requires the predators to have the moral sensibility
of an empty parking lot but in fact what they've
done isn't really all that clever. The successes of their
crimes have lots more to do with the fatuousness of their
victims than with the acumen of the criminals.
Worse yet, as if the American public hasn't already been
stupid enough, here we are thirty years down the road
from the advent of Reaganism, and we still don't get it.
Here we are after three decades of being looted, still
unable to figure out who's ripping us off. Here we are,
even after the implausibly complete failures and
disasters and depredations of the Bush administration,
and most Americans are still unable to point to the
criminals and their ideology, and identify the source of
Which makes the future looked even more shaky. Now we
have a president who most Americans are coming to believe
is some sort of far-left Stalinist, while in fact he is
every bit the full-measured facilitator of corporate
parasitism that either George W. Bush or Bill Clinton
And yet, because he is being made out to be some sort of
outrageously decadent liberal, and because Americans are
too dim to figure out the ruse, this president who
is failing to address the concerns of ordinary Americans,
most especially because he's not working for them in the
least is bound to fail, and is looking
increasingly like the proud owner of a one-term
presidency. And what we can expect in reaction to that
failure ironically and disastrously and jaw-droppingly
idiotically is a sharp turn to the right. When
Obama fails, it will be framed, as it already is being,
as some sort of grand failure of liberalism. In fact, of
course, just the opposite is true. It's a grand success
of the overclasss looting of America.
In this respect, Obama offers precious little
change, even from the crimes of George W.
Bush. Look at his healthcare initiative, for example. I
don't know about you, but Id say it's a pretty safe
bet that anything that the big pharmacological and big
health insurance industries are in favor of is pretty
much guaranteed to be a disaster for the rest of us
you know, we the people of the United States. This
bill no more represents an initiative for the purpose of
bringing healthcare to Americans than George Bushs
prescription drug bill was an initiative to improve the
life of seniors. In both cases, whatever vicarious and
accidental improvements that exist are simply
diversionary window-dressing on what is really another
example of legalized corporate colonialism.
In the case of Obama's healthcare legislation, what's
happening is that enormous quantities of new customers
are being forced to buy expensive health coverage from
insurance industry predators who will be vastly enriched
by means of this new legislation, which is precisely why
they would favor something that ordinarily we would
expect them to oppose, and that we certainly would expect
them to oppose if Obama was any kind of progressive
whatsoever, even if only in his personal fantasies.
The bank bailouts were absolutely no different. What an
amazing episode, what an amazing looting of the American
public, what an amazing chapter in the destruction of an
empire and all brought to us by a supposedly
liberal president. In fact, Obama was simply extending
the tradition of the Bush administration, and the Reagan
ideology prior to that, which calls for pillaging the
federal treasury in order to divert the maximal amount of
money to economic elites, and then leaving the bill for
the American taxpayer.
One could go on and on from here. Obama continues to
deploy more mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan than
there are uniformed American soldiers. He continues to
support privatization of everything from American prisons
to schools. He asks for the most tepid possible re-institution
of regulations on the financial industry, and when the
thieves on Wall Street growl back at him, he abandons
even those most limited of obstacles to their worst
The upshot is that today American voters have two choices.
They can have the party that represents the maximal
plundering of America, at the maximal speed. Or they can
have the party that represents nearly the same crime at
almost the same velocity.
Either way, the United States has ceased in any
meaningful way to be owned by citizens. Its voters vote,
but their representatives in Congress and in the
administration are beholden to economic elites, and act
entirely accordingly. The country's institutions,
infrastructure, and social relations are all being
dismantled piece by piece and either relocated elsewhere
or sold off in order to wring yet another drop of wealth
out of the hides of working Americans, so that those who
are already wealthy beyond belief can be even further
If some other country did this to us if the
Russians invaded and took all our resources, and enslaved
us and our children to work in dismal jobs when we could
find any work at all sufficient to maintaining a rapidly
sinking middle class livelihood if those things
happened and the perpetrator was a foreign power, we'd
rise up and go to war and wed kill every last one
But were not doing any of that, even though a very
real enemy has invaded this country and stripped it bare.
In fact, this society is pretty busy making sure that we
don't even notice who that enemy is.
David Michael Green is a professor of political science
at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to
receive readers' reactions to his articles (email@example.com ), but regrets that time
constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of
his work can be found at his website, www.regressiveantidote.net.