I know that you have been rolling your eyes this weekend over how to stop more “Trayvons.” The American Corporate Empire is a slippery opponent. It may be something destructive of our civic life, but it is all around us. We are part of it. America is a capitalist society. We celebrate it. And, as we saw last week, people who know it best, say that its evil cannot be stopped until it collapses. It is as if the Empire is a living thing that thinks and acts, a creature with a mind, a will and an appetite that must be fed. Perhaps it would help us to consider the Empire as predator, beginning with the way it thinks and wants us to think.
Do you remember Mr. Romney’s overheard comment about “the 47 percent?” Was Mr. Romney talking just about potential Obama voters, or was he also talking about the economic condition of vast numbers of Americans of all races including, students, workers, and soldiers in the persons of our returning veterans?
Talking like this and given the way in that Mr. Romney acquired his wealth, do you doubt that he represents the voraciousness of our Corporate Empire? How could he justify throwing away, not just the votes, but also the lives of these Americans? Where did his ideas come from?
The Empire employs theoreticians, thinkers who justify its unfairness and voraciousness; pre-eminent among them is Mr. Charles Murray, the author of our Wall Street Journal article read-ahead, digesting his book, “Coming Apart, The State of White America 1960-2010.”
Murray wants white Americans to believe that their increasing poverty is not a result of the Empire’s commodification of their educational institutions, the destruction of their unions, the globalization of the work of their fathers, and the erosion of the values of their housing and retirement accounts. For Murray, speaking for the Empire, the increasing poverty of white Americans is the result of “cultural inequality.” Murray’s culturally deficient residents of “Fishtown” do not work hard enough, have too many babies out of wedlock, do not go to church and are dishonest. Thus, the explanation of the Empire for its rich is that
”… the formation of the new upper class has been driven by forces that are nobody's fault and resist manipulation. The economic value of brains in the marketplace will continue to increase no matter what, and the most successful of each generation will tend to marry each other no matter what. As a result, the most successful Americans will continue to trend toward consolidation and isolation as a class. Changes in marginal tax rates on the wealthy won't make a difference. Increasing scholarships for working-class children won't make a difference.”
Can you see a difference between the way the Empire views increasingly impoverished white Americans and the way Sam Yette characterized the treatment of Black Americans of the Empire? In the mind of the Empire, are they not each now redundant, throwaway people, like the Trayvons?
Do you think that you can save the Trayvons without thinking about all the people the Empire views as redundant? Clearly some young people are thinking about challenges to the Empire as in this toolkit. What could we expect from their petitioning of the Obama Administration?
As we have noted, Mr. Obama is more a servant of the Empire than its master. Don’t you think that this has been true for most Presidents? (That is a tough question, I know. Entire college courses are devoted to studying the nature and function of the Presidency. But, the question is something to keep in the back of your mind as we think about Mr. Obama as we began with Mr. Younge’s article.)
Servant or master: let’s test the difference for Mr. Obama on a crucial issue regarding Trayvons life. Mr. Obama’s initial reaction to the Supreme Court decision in “Citizens United,” was the most visceral of his Presidency. But, Mr. Obama walked away from this crucial issue for the lives of all the Trayvons and all the white residents of Mr. Murray’s Fishtown. Mr. Obama never made it a campaign issue despite the fact that over seventy percent of the American people across all political party, ethnic and religious lines supported his initial position.
Our recent history shows that no President will challenge the Corporate Empire that has distorted American civic structures and diminished the life chances of millions of American citizens. The cause that Trayvon’s death has inspired can be a catalyst for restoring American democracy if young people of all backgrounds and ethnicities understand they must stand together in courts of law and in city streets to supplant the Empire. The students, workers and soldiers of America have that power.
On Friday we will begin discussing some ideas for moving forward beginning with a 2008 Republicans for Obama Memorandum from “Back in the Day.”