“What the 1% are is, effectively, a ruling class, they represent the point where concentrated wealth can be turned into political power. National politics in the US has been reduced to battles between different factions of that 1%. This is not just a traditional Marxist bourgeoisie though—and this is where I think it dovetails with the argument in debt—it represents the effects of financialization whereby more and more, economic value is not extracted indirectly, through the wage, but directly, through rents and more generally by what they used to call “political-jural extraction,” which I think was Perry Anderson’s term for feudalism. I’m not saying we’re reverting to feudalism quite, but something else in some ways analogous. Whenever a surplus is extracted directly rather than indirectly, ideology also changes, since it’s much harder to disguise what’s really going on. Hence the neoliberal obsession, noted in the book, in preemptive attacks on anything that even looks like it’s an alternative. They’re barely even trying to convince anyone capitalism is a good system any more; just arguing that no other system is conceivable.”
“For members of Congress and candidates for Congress spend anywhere between 30% and 70% of their time raising money from this tiny, tiny slice of us. Think of a rat in a Skinner box, learning which buttons to push to get pellets of food, and you have a pretty good sense of the life of a congressman: a constant attention to what must be done to raise money, and to raise money not from all of us, but from the tiniest slice of the 1% of us. And so what issues might that tiny, tiny slice of the 1% care about? Unemployment? Out-of-control health care costs? Actually reforming Wall Street? Obviously not. The issues that matter to this tiny fraction of the 1% are not the issues that matter to America. This is the corruption of USA-land. And it will only ever change if we change the way we fund elections.”
From Greenwald’s excellent piece on the death of Aaron Swartz:
“Whatever else is true, Swartz was destroyed by a “justice” system that fully protects the most egregious criminals as long as they are members of or useful to the nation’s most powerful factions, but punishes with incomparable mercilessness and harshness those who lack power and, most of all, those who challenge power.”
A number of Tumblr’s have already pointed to this article; I wanted to highlight this quote. The rest can be found here.
Trenton Oldfield, who disrupted the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in April this year to protest against inequality, was sentenced to six months in jail for the offence of “public nuisance”. Although the race was restarted 25 minutes later, Judge Molyneux made it clear that Trenton had disrupted the smooth running of things, and for that he must go to jail: “Thousands of people had lined the banks of the river to enjoy a sporting competition. Many more were watching at home on live television.” The message is blunt: if it’s on TV and aristocrats are involved, then the state can deprive you of your liberty for as long as it likes.
We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites.
— “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution”, Charles Beard