Keeping working people from uniting has long been a priority for the plutocracy. If they fail, it is over for them. For once people join hands across racial, religious, linguistic, and, most importantly, national lines; once we all come to view the rest of people who inhabit our planet as friends to be made rather than enemies to be feared; the rulers of our world, its lord profiteers, will have no hope of quelling the revolt which will rout them from their heights. Wealth, power and privilege will be eternally consigned to the dustbin of history, where they belong. It is just such a coordinated, nonsectarian uprising they dread, and they spare no effort or expense in its prevention.
History is replete with examples of clever subterfuges used by owners to discredit rebellious workers. Perhaps the most insidious tactic is to denounce dissidents as selfish and/or disloyal. Patriotism might be the scoundrel's last refuge, but it is the first, poison-tipped arrow from the quiver of the business tycoon bent on preserving his class supremacy at any cost. One of the worst outrages of this type occurred in the United States before and during the First World War.
President Wilson created the War Industries Board and, after initial difficulties with its management, asked Wall Streeter Bernard Baruch to step in and reorganize it. "Barney" and his agents went around the country telling small businesses and working people that everyone was going to have to make sacrifices for the war effort, that "everybody had to take a haircut." He asked businesses to keep their prices down so that the government and big industry could afford to produce the materiel our fighting men would need to prosecute the war. Likewise, they asked union leaders to urge their higher-paid workers to take cuts, and to forgo raises until the war was over. In every single instance unions agreed, if in some cases reluctantly, and thus labor costs were reduced and prices for essential goods remained low.
The WIB then purchased these materials and directed them to businesses in which Baruch and other board members had a stake. The resulting finished products were auctioned off to the highest bidder. Most lucrative of all were arms sales. Samuel Bush, great-grandfather of George W. Bush, co-owner of a steel company with the Rockefellers, was named chief of the Ordnance, Small Arms, and Ammunition Section. He was also responsible for maintaining relations with manufacturers. In this capacity he directed government funds to businesses, including his own.
The sale of these munitions and other WIB-controlled products were brokered by J. P. Morgan, the American representative of the Rothschild banking dynasty. So great was the war's carnage ( and the opportunity to profit from it ) that literally thousands of buyers lined up every day in front of Morgan's house on Wall Street in the vain hope of gaining his ear. Morgan sold to the highest bidder, including the Axis powers, right up until America's entry into the war.( According to some historians, he didn't abandon his lucrative, treasonous enterprise even after. ) No exception was made for our government, it too had to pay top price or see the discounted produce of American labor resold to her enemies. The profits from this illegal trade found their way into Wilson's cabinet. The godfather of the American intelligence services, Secretary of State Lansing, uncle of Allen and John Foster Dulles, was one of the beneficiaries.
It was the greatest transfer of wealth that had ever occured. Fortunes were made. As a result of his corrupt business deals, Baruch's net worth rose from one million dollars to two-hundred million at the war's end.
The WIB asked American workers to keep the costs of raw materials down in the name of patriotism. The scamsters on the Board then sold these materials to whoever could pay the most for them, even those buyers who would soon be using the munitions to kill Americans. They kept wholesale prices down and jacked their retail prices as high as the market would bear, thus enriching themselves at everyone else's expense. Those who screamed in protest, like Eugene Victor Debs, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Emma Goldman, were denounced as traitors. Some, including those mentioned above, were imprisoned.
The same thing happened during the Second World War and Vietnam. It's happening now.
Today it is not in the name of war but economics that we are asked to accept austerity measures. The burden of repaying the enormous debt our government incurred bailing out the world's largest banks must be borne by all, we are told. It is the duty of every citizen to brave the painful contraction of our income and the privation it will impose upon our families. We all must do our part. Others have, so should you, we all have to pull together.
Indeed, we must do our part. It is our duty. We must resist.
We must defeat once and for all the predatory idea that our livelihoods belong to Wall Street or government, and are theirs to plunder whenever either needs a source of quick revenue. We must let Wall Street know that we are not their property, and that our lives are not led in service of theirs. And that we are resolved that we will not be made to suffer for their criminality, or shouted down by their media mercenaries. What is ours is ours, and will not be taken from us.
If we agree to have our buying power slashed by losing our COLA, then we validate the outrage that it is we who are beholding to Wall Street, rather than the other way around; that our pay really belongs to our employers and that we are indebted to them for it; that we are at the mercy of their generosity. Our compensation is not an allowance doled out by a loving parent, but the result of a contract, formal or otherwise, freely entered into by parties of equal stature. We conspire in our own degradation if we accede to their demands. What will we be saying about ourselves, what can we expect in the future, if we agree that trillions should go to Wall Street and that we should take a pay cut to finance the unprecedented give-away. We will be confirming, de facto, that we working people are in a very essential way only second-class citizens; that the interests of the ownership class supercede ours; that the fruits of our labors are gifts bestowed upon us by the privileged few, to be modulated or withheld as suits their purposes. We will be agreeing that what is ours is really not ours, that we didn't really earn it.
What kind of life will it be for us when our financial well-being, and that of the communities in which we live, is contingent on the ethics and goodwill of the ruling class, a ruling class which has never demonstrated the slightest inclination for either? Do you want to live forever at the mercy of Wall Street's gambling addiction? If we give in and agree once again to submit to their latest abomination, will they ever relent? Will we ever be free of them?
Must we accept this? Is this our duty? No! Get off your knees!
In part two of this article, I will attempt to prove that this depression, like all the others, is man-made; that they are the result of planned contractions of the money supply by the big banks; that they are an act of class war against working people; and that the goal is to impoverish us and redistribute wealth upwards to the ruling class. What we are experiencing is not the unhappy result of the Fed's incompetence, or "irrational exuberance," or home-owners biting off more than they can chew, or conflicts of interest within the rating agencies, it is an attack. It is class aggression, and it is our duty to resist.
Until then, here's the end of Shelley's poem, The Mask of Anarchy:
Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number.
Shake your chains to earth like dew.
Which in sleep has fallen on you.
Ye are many – they are few.