This world is one great battlefield,
With forces all arrayed;
If in my heart I do not yield,
I’ll overcome some day.
—Charles A. Tindley, 1901
The vultures have started circling. In a sane world, legislation that adds $1.5 trillion to America’s debt (already over $20 trillion and rising by the second) would not be celebrated as “just what the country needs to get growing again.” Yet here we are.
The new U.S. tax plan is a scam—a corporate coup—that benefits a few rich and powerful Americans who make the most and want to pay the least. They are the owners of our country, the plutocrats and oligarchs that run this nation and tell politicians what to do, such as increase the military budgetfrom $793.7 billion in 2017 to $824.6 billion in 2018. We, the 99 percent, are not in the club. Anyone who wants a fair and just society becomes an enemy of the state.
The story of income inequality in the United States is as old as the republic itself. But the latest tax-cut measure takes capitalist greed to a new level of inhumanity. The bill has the potential to destroy life for millions of working families, women, children, the sick, old and poor. That sound of doomsday you hear in the distance is not “ka-boom.” It’s “ka-ching.”
As George Carlin said, “The owners know the truth. It’s called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
Well, America, we are long past due to wake up and stop being slaves to a system that does not care about the greater good. Both the Republican and Democratic parties are complicit and responsible for our unequal present and our uncertain future. Neither has a path toward freedom and equality for all. The liberal-versus-conservative paradigm is a dirty trick, meant to divide the American people and maintain the illusion of democracy while neoliberal oligarchs and corporatists have looted the public for the past 30 years without conscience or consequence.
History offers a strange parallel to modern times. According to NPR, in 1933, with the U.S. facing a financial crisis that threatened the monetary system, a group of right-wing financiers plotted to overthrow Franklin Delano Roosevelt and create a fascist military government. They reportedly recruited Smedley Butler, a retired Marine general, to lead the coup, which was known as the Business Plot, or Wall Street Putsch. Butler, the epitome of a soldier and veteran, “saw it as treason, and he reported it to Congress,” said Sally Denton, who wrote a book on the conspiracy called “The Plots Against the President: FDR, a Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right.” While the conspirators denied the plot and the media dismissed it as a “gigantic hoax,” Butler testified under oath before a special House Un-American Activities Committee (the McCormack-Dickstein special committee). His account was confirmed in a final committee report, though no one was ever prosecuted.
The final tax bill Donald Trump hopes to sign before Christmas will be the culmination of America’s imperial robbery—one last score before the owners retire. This means war, the declining empire against the rest of us, and war is a racket. A few profit. Many suffer. In 1935, Butler wrote a book on the subjectand explained how to end the racket:
1. Take the profit out of war.
2. Let youths who would bear arms decide whether there should be war.
3. Limit military forces to home defense purposes.
The only way to smash this racket is to conscript capital and industry and labor before the [nation’s] manhood can be conscripted. One month before the Government can conscript the young men of the nation — it must conscript capital and industry and labor. Let the officers and the directors and the high-powered executives of our armament factories and our munitions makers and our shipbuilders and our airplane builders and the manufacturers of all the other things that provide profit in war time as well as the bankers and the speculators, be conscripted—to get $30 a month, the same wage as the lads in the trenches get.
Let the workers in these plants get the same wages—all the workers, all presidents, all executives, all directors, all managers, all bankers—yes, and all generals and all admirals and all officers and all politicians and all government office holders—everyone in the nation be restricted to a total monthly income not to exceed that paid to the soldier in the trenches!
Let all these kings and tycoons and masters of business and all those workers in industry and all our senators and governors and majors pay half of their monthly $30 wage to their families and pay war risk insurance and buy Liberty Bonds.
Why shouldn’t they?
They aren’t running any risk of being killed or of having their bodies mangled or their minds shattered. They aren’t sleeping in muddy trenches. They aren’t hungry. The soldiers are!
Give capital and industry and labor thirty days to think it over and you will find, by that time, there will be no war. That will smash the war racket—that and nothing else.
Of course, we haven’t followed Butler’s advice. Although the draft ended in 1973, the volunteer military became the new American segregation. The media, military, policymakers, political leaders and even the public propagate dangerous myths and platitudes that enable perpetual war. And now the empire has brought war home, to our doorsteps, with a corrupt, duplicitous tax bill that could leave many people hurting for years to come.
But it’s not too late to learn from Butler and smash the war racket. All Americans who oppose the tax bill need to act fast. The first step is reconciliation. Groups that have been fighting each other need to come together. People who experience oppression have to stop with the divisive identity politics, stand as one and accept that some pseudo-populist leaders, and most political leaders overall, in reality are false prophets and common enemies: the 0.1 percent and those who do their bidding. They don’t give a damn about anyone who is not in the club. All they care about is money and power. And they will do whatever is necessary to get—and keep—as much as they can of both.
Once the 99.9 percent recognizes we share the same enemy, we can mobilize a united front and perform consistent acts of civil disobedience. We can return to a grass-roots mentality of cooperation and revive the civil-rights, injustice-fighting spirit of the 1960s on local, regional, state and national levels. We can revive sit-ins, protests, strikes, marches and boycotts. We can shut down businesses and make corporations feel the pain in their bottom lines. We can disrupt the system and change the status quo. It may be our only hope.
Coordinating a massive civil disobedience movement will require leaders to step up. These leaders will need to rise from outside the mainstream, perhaps from underground resistance groups already in existence.
We are not just talking about reform. We need revolution. Be revolutionary. Only revolution makes reform durable. This will take courage, sacrifice and organization. Achieving economic justice won’t be easy. But a better future for future generations—ending the never-ending cycle of poverty and providing a path to financial survival—is possible if people muster the will to put aside their differences and fight together for what is right.
Start this Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, and spend less money during the season. Instead of buying tons of gifts from Amazon or another corporate store, support a mom-and-pop shop. Do something that doesn’t cost a thing: Write a poem, draw a picture, cook a meal. Give from the heart.
Start small. Stop buying that daily cup of coffee. Make your coffee at home. Give up fast food. Bring lunch from home. Tell a friend and family member to do the same. A handful of companies control all the world’s major brands. Organize a boycott of corporations that do harm.
Then, we can work on creating a stronger, democratic, economic system. Economist Richard Wolff advocates for worker cooperatives and democratic workplaces. He believes the solution for capitalism’s brutalities is easier than you think.
Whatever you do, get informed by trusted sources.
Don’t believe the lying spin doctors, political hucksters and fearmongers.
Don’t listen to the greedy thieves, warmongers and profiteers.
Stop following the misleaders and wolves in sheep’s clothing.
They are all bastards. And don’t let the bastards get you down.
With 90 percent of all media controlled by six corporations, finding trusted sources can be challenging. But the truth is out there. Make trustworthy media outlets your news sources. Get rid of all the other noise, misinformation and disinformation.
Be critical and skeptical. Provide alternatives. Don’t wait for someone else to develop the mass of people we need for change to come. Take the initiative. Be the change. Be a connector. Be an agitator for justice. Contest elections. Build mass movements. Elevate underrepresented voices.
Together, we can take the profit out of war and start a massive anti-war movement.
Do whatever good you can to help redeem America.