Lest we forget: Memorial Day in Tompkins Square Park, New York City, 1967. Photo © Loren Bliss 1967, 2011.
NO, I'M NOT dead, not yet, though sometimes the aches, pains and political betrayals of old age – arthritis in shoulders, wrists, knees and every vertebra plus the constant foreboding generated by the Democrats' ongoing collaboration with the Republicans in the slow-motion genocide of “austerity” – almost make me wish I were dead.
Especially now, burdened as I am with the physical preparations for temporary eviction from my apartment – an atrocity encouraged by anti-tenant Washington state law that allows the landlords to renovate their buildings without any loss of rental income – it is easy to imagine the grave as a better alternative than the relentlessly increasing wretchedness inflicted on us by capitalism.
But that is precisely what our One Percent overlords and their Ruling Class vassals want us to think.
The more of us die, whether by our own hands or by the policies of murderous neglect that are the quintessence of capitalist governance, the more money there is for the One Percenters to gamble in their Wall Street casino and buy mink coats, diamond necklaces and Parisian penthouses for their mistresses.
Hence an ultimate truth – one I hope will dissuade anyone genuinely contemplating suicide: in such times as these, with the capitalists intent on eliminating everyone who is not immediately exploitable for profit, survival is an act of revolutionary defiance.
It is also an act of revolutionary defiance to reveal what the landlord is doing to all of us who live in this 50-unit senior housing facility. He is compelling old and broken women and men to pack all our possessions, then forcing us out of our apartments for the one day (or possibly more) it takes to replace the flooring therein. And he is coldly, arrogantly indifferent to the weeks of wrenching disruption this inflicts on all of us – in my case, packing before and unpacking after the temporary evictions, a total theft of at least two months from whatever remains of my life. Nor does the landlord give a flying rodent's rectum about the gnawing anxiety inflicted by the fact this sword of Damocles has been hanging over our heads since October 2014.
My understanding, from the Tacoma city officials to whom I fruitlessly complained early last year, is this sort of outrage is illegal everywhere save Washington state, where decades of behind-the-scenes collaboration between the Democrats and Republicans ensure we tenants remain perpetually powerless.
While the landlord's minimum-wage, mostly immigrant workers will physically move our boxes and furniture out of and back into our apartments, we geriatrically afflicted tenants must do all our own packing and stacking, and all our unstacking and unpacking too. Fortunately for the people whose mobility is limited to wheelchairs and walkers, some of our more physically capable fellow residents have volunteered to help those who are physically disabled. Otherwise we'd all be fucked.
For me, a physically disabled 76-year-old, the worst part of the ordeal is over. That was packing my personal library of 1,026 volumes, nearly all hardbacks. These books filled 25 boxes, each box 16 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches; each box weighing approximately 75 pounds when full. In other words, the 25-box total weighs about 1500 pounds – three-quarters of a ton.
The boxes and the requisite packing tape, which contrary to the landlord's promises were NOT provided, cost me $135.92 out of pocket. And there will be no refund from the landlord. In other words, my rent – $470 per month – is effectively raised to $492.65 for the remainder of 2016.
That $22.65 difference may not seem like much, but to me it is a is a ruinous blow. Thanks mostly to Washington state Governor Jay Inslee's Democratic administration, my 2016 income has been slashed $155 per month. That's right – as I have said before and will surely say again – this year I already had $155 per month LESS than I had in 2015.
Hence, even before the landlord-imposed expenses associated with the temporary eviction, I had absolutely NO discretionary income – all of it stolen from me by the same politicians who granted Boeing an $8.5 billion state tax exemption and are always scheming to find additional ways to bolster the bank accounts of the already obscenely wealthy capitalists who own USian governments at every level.
I repeatedly write about my own economic circumstances because they exemplify the fact that, from the perspective of the impoverished peoples who now make up the USian majority population, there is no economic difference between the openly fascist Republicans and the more closeted but at least equally fascist Democrats. That's why so many of us no longer bother to vote.
Gov. Inslee's Democrats shut down WTAP, the Washington Telephone Assistance Program, by abolishing its tax base in 2013. That particular vulture came home to roost last August, costing me $17 per month. The same Democrats slashed my food stamps 88 percent, cut my Medicare Extra Help 82 percent and hiked my Medicare-subsidized prescription-drug prices 16 percent. Add in the 33 percent transit-fare increase imposed on the local transit system by a RepublicRat coalition, and the loss to me is at least $155 per month. Atop that, there were the (allegedly “Democratic”) Obama Administration's manipulations to avoid a 2016 Social Security cost-of-living increase. Then add the $22.65 per month I had to shell out to pay for my own temporary eviction, and now I have $177.65 a month less than I had last year.
That's why I now have – I'll say it again – NO discretionary income. And, given political and economic reality, it is obvious I will never again have any discretionary income as long as this lifetime continues.
Moreover, stacking those 75-pound boxes of books extracted its own special price. After stacking 24 of the boxes I went to bed short of breath, panting, heart racing but nevertheless so exhausted I immediately fell asleep. When I awoke the next morning still short of breath, heart still racing, I realized I was in trouble, instantly contacted my doctor and on his orders spent the rest of the day in the excellent Tacoma urgent care facility of Group Health Cooperative. Tentative diagnosis: congestive heart failure, to be confirmed or denied by a two-hour echo-cardiogram (ultrasound) exam administered 19 May, the results of which I should have by the end of this week.
Am I upset, frightened, anxious about the results? Absolutely not. Why? As I said recently on a Reader Supported News comment thread:
Remember I am 76 years old: that means Hillary will kill me no matter what – either by slashing Social Security and further slashing Medicare (the Democrats have already cut my Medicare Extra Help 82 percent and my food stamps 88 percent) – or by starting World War III.
While it is true Trump promises to preserve Social Security and Medicare – and many Sanders-supporting seniors say that absent Sanders, that's why they'll vote for Trump – I know history, which includes the lesson implicit in how Trump's idols Hitler and Mussolini promised world peace.
Spawned by a piece about Former President Jimmy Carter, it was one of those rare RSN threads on which I was resoundingly down-thumbed. My alleged offense was pointing out that Carter, by his gleefully self-righteous signature on the Hyde Amendment, did more damage to USian women's sexual freedom than all subsequent presidents combined. But today's hard-line Democrats are so desperate for heroes, they will embrace even an outspoken, Jesus-brandishing theocrat who – just as I (so vexingly) pointed out – was the first in the now-seemingly endless line of presidents from the One Party of Two Names.
Apropos Trump, I cannot, unlike too many of my peers, overlook the fact he is a Republican – not just a clandestine enemy of the 99 Percent, as the Big Lie Democrats are, but (his populist rhetoric not withstanding), the presidential candidate of the party that openly despises the 99 Percent. Hence I regard his promises as no more trustworthy than the Big Lies encompassed by the biggest Big Lie in USian presidential history: Obama's “change we can believe in.”
I should note here my reference to the RepublicRats and DemoPublicans as separate parties is not intended to contradict the fact we are ruled by One Party of Two Names. The fact is I have not yet figured out a way to encapsulate that hideous truth in abbreviated language. “Half-party” is incomprehensible, “pseudo-party” is incorrect and RepublicRats or DemoPublicans, though emotionally appealing, lose the point in the acrimony of their implicit jeers. Stay tuned; my subconscious is working on it.
As to the election itself, I am ever more alienated from the entire extravaganza. Of course I support Sanders, though I doubt he has the chance of the proverbial snowball in hell. But at least he has broken through 71 years of Big Lies and malicious censorship to (maybe) reawaken the USian proletariat to the fact socialism is our species' only path to liberation. Thus I find Robert Reich's most recent demand, that we all back Hillary if she wins the nomination, to be particularly offensive.
“(M)y morsels of advice,” Reich wrote, “may be hard to swallow. Many Hillary supporters don’t want Bernie to keep campaigning, and many Bernie supporters don’t want to root for Hillary if she gets the nomination. But swallow it you must – not just for the good of the Democratic Party, but for the good of the nation.”
My initial comment-thread reply followed Reich's oral imagery, reductio ad absurdum, to its inevitable climax, an ejaculation RSN's censors later (understandably) suppressed:
Quoth Mr. Reich: “...swallow it you must...”
Quoth the 99 Percent: “but, but, but – they promised not to come in our mouths.”
Then I got serious:
I have said it before and I will say it again: a vote for Hillary Clinton – for the closeted “nuke Hanoi” Goldwater Girl who now shows her inner Ilsa Koch by cackling at the torture death of Qaddafi – is a vote for World War III and therefore a vote for human extinction.
Nor is Trump a rational alternative. A vote for Trump is a vote to unleash all the racist malevolence, ChristoFascist misogyny and JesuNazi intolerance that has always festered at the core of USian society.
Who with right mind and informed conscience can make such a choice?
Later in the same thread I elaborated:
(Hillary) is, or so her relentless self-centeredness makes it seem, a genuine clone of Ayn Rand, who (in what amount to fictionalizations of Mein Kampf), proclaimed selfishness and greed to be not, as we were always taught, the deadliest of sins, but rather the ultimate of human virtues instead.
Surely this explains Hillary's attitude toward capitalism, within which selfishness and greed – and the moral imbecility essential to their embrace – have always been defined as the heights of virtue.
But then, what else might one expect of a closeted Goldwater Girl, who (or so it seems), has in her thinking merely replaced the long-ago slogan “Nuke Hanoi” with a truly suicidal and therefore infinitely more frightful modern variant, “Nuke Moscow.”
Speaking of closeted, might Trump be Hillary's clandestine assault weapon? Perhaps the most damning conjecture yet of the reasons behind Trump's candidacy was dragged out of my subconscious by an RSN poster's comments about the fear Trump is inflicting on Hispanics, African-Americans and First Nations people:
(Y)ou have laid bare a highly probable and very disturbing truth: that Trump's function (and therefore probably his clandestine purpose) is to terrorize people of color into ignoring Sanders and voting for Clinton.
In which context reflect on the documented friendship between Trump and the Clintons.
Shame on me, as – knowing the realities of class-war and therefore the malevolent strategy and tactics of the One Percenters and their One Party of Two Names as I do – I surely should have recognized this probability.
Good catch...for which kudos: what you suggest is no doubt part of the One Percent's strategy for ensuring the ultimate victory of fascism – which is, after all, the only way capitalism can survive – whether under Hillary or Trump.
Near the end of the same thread was my defense of Marxism, in context perhaps my best such effort yet:
Fascism...needs to be recognized as the inevitable consequence of capitalism. While the New Deal and its antecedents sought to ameliorate capitalism's pro-fascist momentum, they failed because capitalism cannot be reformed. With its ethos of infinite greed as maximum virtue – the rejection of all human morality and its replacement with consummate moral imbecility – capitalism is literally too evil to reform. Thus to prevent capitalism from morphing into fascism, it can only be overthrown and abolished. Hence the relevance of Marxism, not only as the one truly effective antidote to capitalism, but – increasingly (as capitalism becomes indistinguishable from governance itself and thus grows ever more tyrannical) – the only life-preserver we humans have left if indeed we are to save ourselves, our species and our planet.
Meanwhile, back in the sweat-shop warehouse my apartment has become, I have yet to disassemble my book shelves – at least a day's work, and even with the power screwdriver thoughtfully lent me by a friend, lots of arthritis pain – every twinge an object lesson in the evils of capitalism.
LB/31 May 2016