by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
I found out today
We’re going wrong.
– Cream – We’re Going Wrong – 1967 album Disraeli Gears
Shortly after reading about the latest 7 million Americans who made unemployment claims this week that song shuffled on my iPod. It’s a haunting and even frightening song, and while that makes it sound like some lame emo band we must remember that it’s being played by the rock super-dupergroup of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.
The song is a psychedelic ode to the terrifying realisations caused by a middle-class freak-out, which were occurring regularly across the West back in 1967. Somebody’s mind has just been opened to the fact that the path they were on is not right. Why was it not right? Because they had failed to ever look inward – they had accepted the prevailing nonsense without questioning it.
Today it’s hard not to have this same feeling that the Western trajectory is veering out of control… but only because that is entirely the case: capitalist – i.e. growth-demanding – economies are hysterically yanking out the single-most important pillar of their economic culture (competitive demand) as if their house won’t collapse immediately.
Because there is none of the dependability provided by central planning, Western capitalism is flying blind because it has wilfully broken its fundamentals – how can any investor, CEO or supply clerk accurately foresee the economic future for at least several months (at a minimum)?
Thus a good comparison is Gorbachev’s “fatal error” in 1987, so-called “self-financing”: that yanked out the single-most important pillar of their economic culture – central planning – for enterprises which controlled 60% of all Soviet output. The immediate, radical reordering sparked economic chaos, then bread lines, then the undemocratic, top-down implosion of the USSR.
In my previous article I condensed the economic data and gave the undeniable conclusion: Who now needs a bailout in the West as a result of the poverty-inducing corona response? Wall Street, Main Street, the County Seat, State Capitol Plaza and Corporate Circle. Everybody.
Of course “bailout” is a euphemism for “loan”, meaning that the “lucky” in these sectors will simply get more and more indebted to a 1% which actually only gets smaller, smaller, richer and richer (as Marx proved).
Want mediocrity? Turn to the middle-class
What was rather fascinating is that among all the articles I have read about our new corona-world I found only one single instance of a Mainstream Media relaying a complaint of how the corona response was a middling, “middle-class” solution.
“The entire plan had the imagination of a middle-class person,” was the tough assessment of Harsh Mander, director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Equity Studies. “People were asked to maintain social distance, wash their hands and stay home assuming they have homes and salaries going into bank accounts.”
It is interesting that open resentment towards the middle class seemingly surfaced only in India: It’s hard to imagine a middle-class with a more disagreeable sense of entitlement than the pudgy middle managers from the mighty continent of India. One need not be an untouchable Dalit to believe that while a college degree might be a marginally-impressive achievement, using it to work at a Western corporation’s call centre is really not proof of hot stuff; one need not question the reactionary caste system to point out that such a middling life is not sufficient justification for maintaining a system of alleged karmic supremacism. Thus, I would imagine that in India today the term “middle-class” carries as many condescending connotations as it did in the Anglophone world back in 1967.
“But the West is not India”, you will object. Indeed, nobody talks about class or caste in the former. But high-and-mighty Westerners must concede that it is also not 1967 for them, back when union membership was high and an 18-year old male could exit high school assured of not just a decent-paying job but even house and car loans from private banks. (LOL, Millennials think I am making this up, but ask your grandparents – this was actually the case!)
Let’s accept Harsh’s mild definition of “middle class”: somebody who has a nice home, savings and the resources to comfortably weather months of societal turmoil. Using that definition, how very few qualify as “middle class” in the West in 2020!
The 17 million Americans who have been added to unemployment ranks in the past 15 days now have not only no income but no health care and no pension (which had become nearly non-existent in their private sector, anyway). The number is not higher than 17 million in 15 days only because the USA’s antiquated 1980s computer infrastructure could not process more claims. These people are definitely not middle-class.
You could have a family of four and an income of $90,000 in the US but how can you call yourself “middle class” when you strain to afford middling versions of health insurance plans, college education, child care and elder care? And heaven forbid you have to pay for all four at once. These people lack the stability to be called middle-class.
What is middle-class in France? I rarely meet anybody taking home more than 2,000 euros per month. That sum was fine in 1980, but after a Lost Decade produced by austerity – with its increased taxes, steady price inflation and social services which are no longer paid for by the state – their middle-class now suffers from lower-class instability as well.
The reality is that “middle class” in the West in 2020 is actually what used to be called the “upper-middle class” – their entire society has been devalued by a standard deviation since 1980 due to neoliberal capitalism.
Across the West doctors are telling 64-year old Uber drivers to quit in order to avoid exposure to coronavirus, and their journalists are agreeing with this remedy, as if such a person is only Ubering because they have a passion for people-moving? Such advice is middling, middle-class nonsense.
Corona is forcing the West’s upper class to learn that the middle-class mentality has been blown apart, and not by Cream and loud bass but by inequality-provoking socioeconomic policies which fundamentally disregard the needs of the middle and lower classes. Contrarily, the needs of those classes are always and indisputably the primary policy focus of socialist-inspired nations, which is why the West declares Cold War on them.
The West’s upper-class is telling their lower classes to commit suicide
The US fake-left has practically deified Dr. Anthony Fauci mainly because he openly contradicts Trump, but also because middle-class Westerners slavishly worship at the altar of technocracy, which rests upon the false idol of their imaginary meritocracy.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson made the correct observation that not only is this lockdown economic “national suicide” but that Fauci had “bulletproof job security”; this meant that, “He has the luxury of looking at the world through the narrow lens of his profession. He doesn’t seem to think much outside that lens.”
For anyone who thinks Carlson pegged him wrong, Fauci recently said: ‘I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you.” That is the “cultural suicide” assessment and bizarre goal of the man who essentially has been given the power to guide US socio-economic policy.
Fauci is not middle-class, but his workaholic, narrow view certainly is stereotypically middle-class; his total disregard for life as it is lived by living, pulsating, hungry, unstable workers certainly is middle-class.
Instead of a vanguard party which is in touch with the lower classes, the US has promoted the singular view of this germ-obsessed technician (and I’m sure Fauci is considering the broader effects of a lockdown on the municipal bond market in his non-lab time/non-hand washing time).
In an interesting article by USA Today, This is what China did to beat coronavirus. Experts say America couldn’t handle it, we can see a government which is invasive, or we can see a government which is actually touching and in-touch with the average person – which you see depends on your lens.
But have no doubt: testing, tracing, treating, quarantining – these are all things which require mass mobilisation of pulsating humans, and which were done under an unassailable Chinese government slogan of, “No one left behind”.
China demands the ill have “zero contact” with healthy people, and that is rigorous; Fauci seems to want everyone to have “zero contact”, period, permanently.
Fauci’s slogan is more like “I want to leave you behind”, and is that not the middle-class Western dream: To leave the sick, hungry and poor – including their White Trash – behind in their rear-view mirror?
Insist that socialist-inspired nations are totalitarian and unfeeling all you want, but nothing is more synonymous with “mediocrity” than the Western middle-class: “The approach we should be taking right now is one that most people would find to be too drastic because otherwise, it is not drastic enough,” Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health,” said to USA Today.
What a middling and mediocre statement. And what a middling and mediocre Western response to the corona crisis (which still could wind up as middling and mediocre, as far as pandemics go).
Expect many more freak-outs.
In a crisis mediocrity is not needed, but truly exceptional conduct and resolve. Unfortunately their most inspirational conceptual ideas – which could really help people through these tough times – go unreflected upon and not relayed by the Western corporate media.
Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!
A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020
If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020
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’.