fragments of an attempted writing.

capitalists on strike? catachresis as the language most befitting the new reality?

I should state from the get go that I'm not sure how much mainstream political rhetoric matters anymore in terms of public response -- i.e. the actual political alignments and allegiances and correspondent political activity of the masses.  

I think most of the American public operates with the assumption that nearly all or all politicians are full of shit and this has resulted, ironically, in politicians having even more leeway with regard to their rhetorical audacity.  But it is nonetheless interesting how forthright the Right is becoming at both national and states levels of government.  There have been times when the industrialist/business side of the Republican Party tried to avoid like the plague anything that hinted of overt class distinction (they rather presented themselves in the "common sense" or "ordinary American values" postures), and there have been times when they have strayed from that "plain American common wisdom" song and dance but I don't know that the straying has ever gone this far before.  

Now you have the surreal situation in which Paul Ryan and Co. bemoan a small tax increase on the very wealthy as class warfare, even as that disgrace to the state of Ohio John Boehner tells us that job creators in America are on strike, because they dislike "excessive" regulation, government binge spending, and a "tax code that discourages investment."   Add to that the steady stream of lesser Republican politicians saying things like this and this, and you have to at least marvel at the chutzpah.  That Boehner uses the overt working class language of class warfare in defense of and applied toward the bourgeoisie is remarkable.  I'm not sure if this use of language is more pomo or théâtre de l'absurde.  Something tells me Bertolt Brecht would have relished this rhetorical moment, but then again maybe he would have hated it, because there is nothing left to rhetorically exaggerate in order to meet the needs of theater.  We are living Die Dreigroschenoper now.

But at very least the Boehner, Ryan, and pals acknowledge that class warfare exists.  Obomber cannot, of course, be counted on for that.  He's been convinced by his handlers that contemporary economics has to do with math.  How quaint.

Yesterday I read a defense of John Fleming's statement about only having 400k left over after "feeding his family" in which, par for the course, the defender pointed out that increased taxation of Fleming would result in less job creation, as 62% or somesuch new jobs come from small businesses, or so the story went.  But if those job creators like Fleming are already on strike when it comes to job creation, it seems to me that perhaps we could talk about acquiring some job creator scabs - which could be funded via taxation schemes.  Now if Obama were to go tit-for-tat in the use of language here, and actually respond to Boehner by suggesting that job creating scabs be brought in to take the place of Boehner's striking capitalists, that would suggest that the Democrats have a modicum of intent at actually playing the game.  But that, of course, will never happen.


  1. You remind me of one of my favorite Jim Hightower quotes: "What say we keep our factories and jobs here . . . and move our corporate headquarters to Mexico, Korea, Indonesia, wherever else we can get some reasonably priced chief executives?"

  2. This reminds me of one of the chapters in the masterful documentary by Patricio Guzman, La Batalla de Chile, where he talks about "La insurección de la burgesía". There of course the Chilean bourgeoisie went on a capital strike, refusing to open their businesses, and so on. If Allende had an ounce of common sense and a set of huevos, he would have just told the workers to take over the businesses themselves and run them.

    Here we see the great superstition that treats capital as a thing when it is a perfectly mutable social relation. That is why factory occupation is the highest form of class struggle below actual insurrection to topple the bourgeois state. Once you show that you don't need the capitalist to make the machine run, the question becomes what do you need him for precisely? To fill out a suit?

    Of course, it goes without saying that we need a MASSIVE jobs program, preferably under worker control, but we aren't going to get that until the struggle gets hotter in the streets. Though it would be wise for the bourgeoisie just for their own survival to fund such a thing: do they really want to turn the United States into a banana republic? I mean, social spending, spending on education, etc. are practically nil in Third World countries. I think that says a lot in and of itself.

  3. See Krugman's "Taxes and the Wealthy" post for the effect changes in taxes have had on after-tax income from 1979 to 2005 on those in various wealth brackets:

    Now, the trickle down argument can be made that those in the top wealth percentiles are those best positioned to invest an increase in after-tax income into job creating enterprises. Unfortunately, wealth advisors to the ultra high net worth set advise on increasing wealth, not on increasing jobs for people who aren't their clients. That is, the wealthy look to increase their return on investment, and return on investment is not primarily interested in paying out more salaries to more people. At some point in the past, it's possible that most local wealth stayed local and did in fact trickle down to the rest of the local community in one way or another. However, electronic financial markets and globalized economies make it far easier for the rich to invest their wealth wherever it will get the best return for the least risk. Given the runway available in undeveloped and developing markets, it's far easier to find returns abroad than it is at home. That is, excess after-tax wealth is not likely to stimulate the local economy or create jobs - it's most likely to be saved or invested abroad.


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