Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Bailout Revolt that Fizzled Away

I must say that when I woke up in Seoul, S. Korea, on Tuesday morning of September 30, and heard that the bailout plan had been voted down in the House of Representatives, and that the Dow Jones had plunged 777 points, I was ecstatic.

A huge surge of energy and optimism rushed through me, even though somewhere in the back, front and center of my mind I knew it was too good to be true. But, I basked in the ecstasy of the moment. It was extremely rejoicing to know that the American people had been listened to; even if for just a short time, while the Congress figured out another way of sticking it to the people some other how.

In my understanding, the members of U.S. Congress NEVER listen to the people, unless the outcry and the outrage is so huge that it threatens their seats. So, the outrage and the pressure on the House members must have been extraordinarily huge, and that was a great cause for celebration.

My trust and faith in the American people was temporarily restored.

But, of course, the dream was short lived. The Senate, most of whose members are not up for reelection, passed a variation of the bailout bill that was packed with lots of tax CUTS, and the House followed suit shortly thereafter; so $700 billion of people's money was successfully stolen and is on its way to the pockets of the crooks who brought us this gigantic financial disaster in the first place.

The problem, however, was how the Left COULD not channel and organize this outrage. Just like it couldn't channel and organize the outrage of the undocumented workers in 2006, just like it hasn't been able to organize the outrage against the holocaust in Iraq, just like it could not channel and organize the outrage in the wake of the disastrous Katrina, a man-made disaster to be sure; nor against any other recent class-driven attacks by the ruling classes in the U.S. against the people.

The most disappointing aspect of this whole episode, however, was how the 'left' was interpreting the unfolding scenario. I'll share only two commentaries that struck me as particularly bizarre, yet indicative of the sorry state of the American left.

The first one is the piece posted on MRZine, that bastion of 'lesser evil' mentality, when it comes to the Iranian regime. In his piece congratulating corporate crime fighters, Michael Moore presented what seems to be the most hallucinatory piece of political writing I have seen for a long time. The gem in this piece is how he tries to hide the culpability of the weasel Democrats and their leadership, who overwhelmingly SUPPORTED the first draft (and, of course, the final draft) of the bill in the House. In doing so, he first argues that:

"The Dems who voted for the giveaway did so mostly because they were scared by the threats of Wall Street, that if the rich didn't get their handout, the market would go nuts and then it's bye-bye stock-based pension and retirement funds."

Oh, poor Democrats; they were so scared. As if they are completely clueless neophytes. Moore is the real clueless neopghyte, not the Dems. But, that's not the real gem. Here's the real gem of obfuscation, if I've ever seen one:

"Here's my guess: The Democratic leadership in the House secretly hoped all along that this lousy bill would go down. With Bush's proposals shredded, the Dems knew they could then write their own bill that favors the average American, not the upper 10% who were hoping for another kegger of gold."

Well, as it turned out, no such alternative plan was proposed. But, for Moore to suggest that the Dems "secretly hoped ... this lousy bill would go down" is truly mind boggling. I wonder why, then, after the first House vote (defeating the bailout) Nancy Pelosi, instead of looking ecstatic, looked like her whole family had just died!

First of all, why would they 'secretly' wish the plan to die? Obviously, the American people were outraged in enough numbers to wake the House up. So, if anything, real opportunists would jump on that bandwagon. Second, if you truly wish for something, and get a chance to act on that wish, why would you act in exactly the opposite way when you have the chance to vote your wishes? Moore is not sane no more!

But, a more troubling piece came not from the right but from the left of the Left. In a Counterpunch piece, Joe Bageant, argued pretty much that the reason bailout passed is because American people are worms without backbone, and won't rise up in a revolt, and the Congressmen/women and their corporate owners know it. This line of thinking is very reactionary; it blames the victims for being stupefied victims, and leaves the American left completely out of the culpability equations.

When big wig 'leftists' such as The Nation magazine, Move-On, and even the CP (Communist Party USA) are stalwart supporters of the Democrats and their treacheries, can we expect more from the American people? When there is no institutional vehicle to channel and organize people's outrage, what choice do the people have? None! So, to have an extraordinarily higher expectation of the stupefied working stiff masses than of the 'enlightened' left is, for me, an upside-down form of political logic.

The point that these 'leftists' refuse to act on is this: Until there is a nationwide organization of the true Left, with a socialist outlook, that works nonstop to organize and galvanize people's rage, the current impasse will not be overcome. If the Left has any backbone, it should unite into a multifaceted, pluralistic and truly democratically organized institution that can realistically challenge the ruling class and Capital in an effective manner.

Until then, calling the people 'worms' or trying to obfuscate the treacheries of the Dems will be the only stones the 'leftists' will have to throw at the problems and the crises of our times.

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