The United States is a global behemoth, powerfully towering over friend & foe alike. The tendrils of our power can reach even the darkest corners of our connected world. Nothing we do goes unnoticed. This is no accident.
The Cold War and Reagan Era was the beginning of what we have become. We changed the way we manage our affairs, internally and externally. The Powell Memo was the seminal document. It set the rhetorical and strategic platform to place the already-outsized power of capital above the power of the people.
In this article, we will use the term Masters of Capital or MoC to represent the general national and global corporate and oligarchic class. Use of the phrase is not intended to signify the existence of some sort of conspiratorial cabal that is running the world from smoke-filled rooms.
The Masters of Capital (MoC) had taken far too many losses from Leftist Egalitarianism in previous decades. The dissolution of the USSR disappeared the specter of communism which undergirded the power of the Military Industrial Complex and Intelligence Community. These entities were making money hand over fist and could influence all the countries decisions. The Anti-War Movement was very effective in changing the views of the populace on the costs of war. The Labor Movement empowered workers to gain a fairer portion of a given corporation’s revenue. The Civil Rights Movement threatened to end the permanent underclass status of African Americans specifically and Communities of Color, in general. Environmentalists impeded the ability of corporations to exploit natural resources without accounting for impacts to the commons, human health, and personal property.
Movement Politics was changing the country in ways the MoC did not foresee. The MoC leveraged their considerable influence over the US government to undermine each of these movements. They spread the fear of communism/socialism in all these instances within the country. The country also fought in other nations (for MoC financial gain) to stem the tide of communism. This dynamic gave cover for the country to violently suppress these factions by branding them anti-American, traitorous, and subversive.
These movements began to impact social order, ballot boxes, and international affairs. Politicians were forced to capitulate. In the end, the gains for the little guys were unstoppable lest the country risk insurrection. The best that could be done was to dilute and subvert the legislation through operatives using poison pills.
Levers of Power
These equality-based insurgencies used every method at their disposal to influence the U.S. government for redress of their grievances. Their powerful and charismatic leaders demanded logical, moral, and easy-to-understand policy changes that were grounded in fact and history. They developed a language to convey their strong moral & ethical message that impacted the masses emotionally and intellectually. They used the education system to show the impact caused by US actions, at home and abroad. They used strikes and other measures to impact MoC economic concerns. They used people power in politics at the polls and utilized activism to assure elected officials stayed on the straight & narrow. They used the legal system to file lawsuits to change the legislative landscape all the way to the Supreme Court. Activist lobbied international bodies to bring pressure from our global allies. The free press aired our dirty laundry in living rooms around the world.
These equality-based insurgencies used every method at their disposal to influence the U.S. government for redress of their grievances.
The MoC and US government were under siege from all quarters. There was no choice but to acquiesce to the demands of the people. Temporarily. They began to plot and plan. The Powell Memo provided a broad strategy to put capitalism back in charge.
Levers of Oppression
The MoC funded think tanks to study the success of these movements and counter their gains at every level. They also selected the tactics and tools to undermine this all this justice and equity.
The blueprint was simple: Undermine, corrupt, co-opt, or eliminate every lever of power available to the people. Thereby, rendering egalitarian movements harmless. All of that started with divide and conquer.
This was how it has always been done. A divided foe is easier to defeat. Divide the people and take their power. Every community or society has ideological, social, and economic fault lines. The key is finding ways to exploit the divisions while undermining vehicles for reconciliation.
Depending on the system, the populace has a certain amount of power they leverage through approved channels- politics. Some power can also be applied through unapproved channels- activism. The strategy is to impede political power and demonize/criminalize activism.
What They Want
The goal is to take power from the people and concentrate it in a few wealthy hands in order to control resources- labor, land, and natural resources.
The goal is to take power from the people & concentrate it in a few wealthy hands in order to control resources- labor, land, and natural resources. The conduit for this control is typically a captured governing class. The strategy to reach this goal: 1) to divide your populace, 2) limit political & legal solutions, 3) undermine the economic base, 4) eliminate or co-opt leaders, 5) limit access to or co-opt education, 6) repress activism, 7) suppress and co-opt media, and 8) direct blame elsewhere. If you look around the world, you’ll see this broad strategy applied over & over again no matter the size of the community or society.
The tactics will vary based on the influence and wealth position of a given community. For instance, to undermine the economic base of Americans, you go after housing. Most families in the US that have or had wealth based in home ownership. Here are two examples how tactics differ. But the outcome is the same.
- Because of the legacy of race, the Black Community had very little influence & wealth. The very rights to have rights for Black people are still questioned to this day if we are honest. Because of this, the MoC can merely limit their ability to buy a home in the first place. Then use redlining to undermine any chance to benefit from home ownership. Then allow predatory industries to keep the community down.
- Conversely, White America has the vast majority of influence & wealth in the country. You can’t just run roughshod over their rights. So you have to slowly engineer a housing bubble that subsequently crashes destroying $17T in wealth overnight. Then don’t allow the government to intervene on behalf of citizens.
In these two examples, the outcome is the same- undermine generational wealth. The tactics differ significantly based on the power the targeted community can wield. You can see this play out in policy after policy. More on that in the future.
A Movement of Their Own
Several successive egalitarian movements shifted the political, social, and economic needles much further than the MoC wanted. They needed a movement that would carry an agenda that suited their needs. They knew that available data & history was not favorable to them. The press was not submissive to them or government. Academic and government research was not yielding facts they liked.
The most prominent issue they had to tackle was the idea of America itself. Purported equality, opportunity, and equity were built into the American system of governance. The Constitution was designed to evolve with the wants and needs of the populace. The legal system was designed to be fair to one and all. All three Abrahamic religions were built on peace, kindness, and helping the less fortunate. After successive Civil Rights legislative and judiciary victories, the entire system was set to make these premises true. Add to all of this, international agreements on human rights. Obviously, this could not stand if the MoC was going to implement their agenda.
White people in America, like any dominant class, do not take kindly to anyone taking advantage of them, whether real or perceived.
White people in America, like any dominant class, do not take kindly to anyone taking advantage of them, whether real or perceived. They key is to make the dominant group think your agenda is in their best long-term interest. The MoC needed new datasets and rhetoric that they could get people to rally around. They had to create an aggrieved class of their own. They started with the most effective tool for division in their arsenal- racism. That gave them a ready-made core of radical, violent, and morally bankrupt people to build on. They established their own institutions- think tanks, publishers, schools, and universities; to create their own sets of facts. They weaponized Christian fundamentalists. They began a system of patronage that groomed hand-picked, future politicians that would carry out their agenda, to the letter.
The Modern Conservative Movement was born. They quickly took control of the Republican Party using the Southern Strategy to gather the newly-aggrieved under one focused political banner. All with a brilliant (but evil) rhetorical and political strategy based on the set of “facts” they created and Christian Fundamentalism. All directed to inject their well-groomed activist-politicians into the American political system with a legislative agenda to take power from the people.
Then a group of these very same MoC-ers, led by the Koch brothers, funded an organization using the same goals and strategy with different tactics to take over the Democratic Party. This group of Dixiecrats became the Democratic Leadership Council headed by none other than William Jefferson Clinton. They successfully filled the party with corporatists and passed some of the worst legislation of the modern era under the banner of compromise.
Coalitioning is Hard
Coalitions are built on commonalities. If people can recognize how power and oppression have worked in their communities, they can more easily see the real invisible hands at work in other spaces. Until then people will be easily cleaved from these newer movements fighting for equal treatment by divisive tactics based on racism, jingoism, and weaponized religion. The problem is that our entire mass media and education system is designed to hide the real power players and their agenda. White America is the target of this system of misinformation.
“I continue to provide free education to a problematic class because I believe we have an obligation to ourselves, to our cause, and to our future to be willing to insert the truth in those moments where the system has failed us. I have to be willing to educate those who are sincerely trying to be an ally.” ~ Pamela Getz, The Struggle of Dealing With Allies
The United States, in particular, puts a great deal of effort into keeping poor & dwindling middle-class communities divided. They leveraged the country’s history of racism through policy and practice to keep us apart- physically and ideologically. Different schools, different neighborhoods, different churches, etc. From the moment we wake in the morning to the time we go to bed, we are fed a diet of inferior/superior pablum. It is psychological warfare of the highest order. White people have the numbers, connections, wealth, & power to fund and undergird egalitarian coalitions. That is why this system of misinformation & comparative advantage was created to keep them isolated from real, common working class concerns.
For the people that will read this, much will ring true because they are observable in our discourse. That is because data, lived experiences, and our media sources comport with these conclusions. Whether we got here through self-study, formal education, or activism; we have the decoder ring. Or They Live glasses.
Not everyone has the ability to decode what is going on in our environments. As addressed above, this is by design. In fact, socio-economic pressures and cognitive dissonance make deciphering the messages extremely uncomfortable. Just to get to the point that you understand what is really happening is like trying to untangle a pit of snakes and not knowing which ones are poisonous. In the end, most people just avoid it altogether, choosing not to make waves. But, now the only way to heal the country calls for untangling those serpents & unearthing painful truths. The choice to begin the journey is indescribably painful.
To beat the MoC, we need all hands on deck. People are awakening at an astounding pace due to the efforts of grassroots movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. The 2016 campaign of Bernie Sanders piggybacked on the successes of these movements and took the Progressive message all over the country. People heard it and liked it.
Nothing unites people more than a common enemy, a set of observable truths, and elegant messaging.
People are ready to become more active. They want to change the nation so that it serves the many, not the few. Like all of us, they want good paying jobs, not go bankrupt because someone they love gets sick, or become a debt slave because they want a college education.
This requires a new political education and a rallying cry. Nothing unites people more than a common enemy, a set of observable truths, and elegant messaging. That is the responsibility of those of us that are already in these spaces and want the movement to succeed. I addressed this directly in another article.
Ending Zero-Tolerance Allyship
It is human nature to resist change. Especially, when the status quo offers a comparative advantage. Moving into Progressive spaces is not easy. There are always mixed messages, warring factions, and grifters. On top of that, the MoC is working to subvert the movement through government and industry.
In this environment, it is incumbent upon Lefties to make sure the transition is as painless as possible. We have to remember that implicit bias is built into all of us by this society. It takes time and effort to defeat decades of programming in one individual. We’re talking centuries and generations of programming in the cases of racism & misogyny and its ongoing.
It gives Progressives in the movement a chance to sharpen our message & become better partners.
Too often when an ally says something deemed insensitive or wrong, they are written off. Even after being subjected to irate, public course correction on social media. This is counterproductive, to say the least. Humans respond poorly to being publicly berated. Additionally, potential allies see these events, and it makes this anxiety-inducing ideological journey even harder. It can even make people turn away, altogether.
These are learning opportunities for all of us. It gives Progressives in the movement a chance to sharpen our message & become better partners. Approaching allies with patience and respect can strengthen bonds & improve communication. Potential allies watching the interaction get a little closer to making the leap.
This is not to say there will not be bad actors that take advantage of our patience. Discussions will reveal those people while not alienating others.
There are a lot of people in justice activism with great track records as allies and partners. They will make mistakes, too. Their history is not erased by one or two tweets/statements. 90% is still an A. Most of us are B/C students in real life.
Zero-Tolerance is a detriment to any relationship or organization. It is an absolute cancer in movement building.
Much to our credit, America has raised a generation of young people that believe they and their peers deserve something from the systems around them. More importantly, they have the right to demand those things. The much-maligned Millennials really only want the same deal Boomers got. Specifically, what White Boomers got- affordable, quality education, infrastructure, housing & healthcare; less war; good jobs; retirement with dignity; etc. Boomers & Gen-Xers failed this generation. Miserably.
Millennials are ready to fight and lead. We should do all we can to support them. We can’t make the same mistakes Boomer activists made. Let the young people lead. We are building this movement for them.
Better World Ahead
The Left is full of fractures on the best of days. We have to all do our part to make this coalition stronger.
Actify Press is going to continue to beat the drums of Resilient Solidarity. We are also going to develop a Resilient Solidarity training program that lays the historic, political, social, policy, and economic foundation outlined in this article. This is going to take a lot of work & we could use your help.
To find out more and stay informed about Resilient Solidarity follow this link and fill out the form.
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