By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
While the concept of class warfare is verboten and greeted with expressions of bewilderment and fear in the West, at least now everyone is familiar with the 99% versus the 1%. However, this is really too facile an analysis.
It would be more accurate to talk of the “not-so-talented, toadying” 10% versus the 90%. But while this can prove quite accurate for neo-imperial clients, a genuine rise of the middle class in the West renders it less accurate than this distinction:
Today’s “proletariat” is Mao’s “property-less class”. This is easily understood – the propertied class has lives which are more stable by orders of magnitude.
I am a socialist and I want property – this is not a contradiction. In fact, the lack of property is making me crazy – fortunately, it turns out that I am not alone.
In my 2019 book Ending Western Propaganda on Red China (Part 5: The Cultural Revolution’s solving of the urban-rural divide) I relayed a fascinating transnational study which found that Paris and London had the highest rates of social psychosis; more importantly, they concluded that owning your home – or not – was found to be the single biggest predictor of mental and emotional stability.
Of course: being forced to hand over one-third of our pay checks every month to a rich, two-home owning landlord (which he or she probably just inherited from their parents) is a huge stress. I estimate my current landlord has received about €130,000 of my money over the past 8 years.
All that sweat of mine down the drain simply because I need a roof to live yet I can’t possibly qualify for a loan in Paris, where last year the real estate crossed the €10,000 per square meter mark.
As I summed up: “‘Bread, peace, land’ can be translated to ‘Bread, peace, a decent apartment’ in modern times. But it’s not only China and not only Maoism which has solved this issue, proven by their 90% home ownership rate: 80% of Cubans own their own home and thus pay no rent or mortgage.”
Please believe me: when I think about all that money in my landlord’s pocket I get pretty stressed, to put it mildly. I’m not edging into social psychosis, but the recalcitrant capitalists will probably want me locked up for making the following demand/social service announcement.
Now is the time for the landlord class to show who they are as individuals
Across the world there has been an incredible overreaction to the Corona crisis – in my estimation – as the global economy is shutting down. Places like the US, India and many other areas simply do not have the social safety net to accommodate such a move… but they have done it anyway.
Landlords across the world must do the following:
- Talk to their renters to gauge their economic situation.
- Admit that a poor economic outlook for their renters is an undeserved injustice.
- Admit that their renters must be aided, and that landlords have already profited enough.
- Waive this month’s rent – and perhaps for months to come. Give some profits back.
- Or, at the VERY LEAST: reduce rent charges in order to only cover the landlord’s monthly mortgage payment on the property/property taxes/building assessments, etc.
- If their renter has a good economic situation, landlords must donate their rent-profits to charity, because they have already profited enough and their nation almost certainly does not have the social safety net to take care of other poor renters.
This is all simple justice, and it is in the hands of individual landlords to do so.
I am not asking landlords to ruin their credit rating by refusing to pay the mortgage on their properties (though they should demand such an agreement with their lending bank, in order to force banks to consent to widespread debt furloughs), merely to forego gaining profits on their properties.
Can they not afford do that for one month? Perhaps three?
Of course they can.
If they cannot, then they have proven themselves to be the true “(rent) welfare queens”, because they must be living such unaffordable, extravagant lifestyles; they have proven themselves to be as bad as the most ruthless venture capitalist and job-moving globalist; they have proven themselves to be traitors.
Is traitor too harsh a word?
No – failure to do so means that your landlord is only looking out for himself and his nuclear family, so of course he has necessarily betrayed every other larger group: neighborhood, town, metro area, province, region, nation and earthlings. Furthermore, there is constant public and media shaming of “welfare queens”, poor people and non-college educated workers. Have you ever read somebody calling out the landlord class like this? Not in any Mainstream Media and probably not even in Anglophone world, where the landed petit-entrepreneur is supposed to be the rightly-guided class of moral heroes.
This is the best I can do: if not “traitors”, then “deserters”. Feel better?
Won’t do it? Then fear the revolution
Last spring I wrote an 8-part series about China’s Cultural Revolution precisely because I witnessed that France’s Yellow Vests were essentially demanding a French Cultural Revolution: a near-total shutdown of society in order to have huge discussions about their society’s most contentious socioeconomic and cultural issues and their current trajectories. Of course, such trajectories are quite, quite unpopular, and this was before the Great Recession threatened to turn into the Great Depression 2.
The West has now shut down, but still appear far from joining China and Iran as the only two nations with state-protected Cultural Revolutions. However, the horrendous economic impact – which will create such widespread poverty, unemployment, homelessness and death precisely because they do not have the big government of socialist-inspired nations like China, Iran, Cuba and others – seems certain to eventually push the entire world towards the leftism and cooperation of socialism rather than the continued greed, selfishness and competition of “capitalism with Western characteristics”.
From the the very beginning of China’s Cultural Revolution landlords were openly vilified, along with the “four olds”, unrepentant capitalists and known-to-be-corrupt party members. The bad ones were paraded around in dunce caps, or sent to (finally) work for a living instead of living off of parasitic rent-seeking, and – if we listen to balanced Chinese sources and not Western ones – abused physically pretty rarely for an event I refer to as the “Chinese Socialist Civil War” (here, Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution?).
So landlords can either double down and grab as much cash as they can, or when the Cultural Revolution comes to their town people can testify that during this crisis they were true human patriots. It’s an individual choice landlords must make now, and they may not ever be judged harshly by their society for their choices… but they might be. Asian societies know this: Fear and shame are perfectly acceptable motivations for good deeds, after all – but why not just go socialist?
For the people reading this in huge housing developments with corporations for landlords, there are easy ways to resist:
- Organise on a building-by-building level to refuse collectively to pay your rent as normal, or at least to collectively demand some reduction.
- Follow the Chinese, if only because what they did worked: outside your buildings put up dàzìbào, or big-character reports/posters to publicly shame your corporate landlords.
- Contact your local newspaper media and insist they cover your actions against unfair landlords.
- If your local media won’t side with the People, then resort to social media. Social media can be quite effective, but it is easily overestimated – apply pressure on your local journalists and publishers.
- The youth class has had it bad enough since 2008, eh? The average age of the Yellow Vests is, in my estimation, 50 years old because, in my estimation, people that age and older have comparatively little to lose. So be an elder leader and risk your credit score, blacklisting, harassing phone class from bill collectors, etc., so the youth can resist in other ways and not live so very long under Western capitalist-style stigmatisation.
Many medium and large businesses are reportedly already telling their creditors – banks – that they are stopping parasitic rent payments for the time being; they have to keep their savings for the long, slow Corona recovery which will surely eat through their cash. (Again, do the doctors, helicopter Moms and Western politicians have any understanding of economics on a micro- or macro-level? I wonder….)
The non-propertied class doesn’t have these types of levers but social shaming is one – I suggest you use it with your landlord.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.