Rich against Poor

(Apologies for the lapse – it’s been a busy couple of weeks. I’ve been responding to over a thousand emails since the NYTimes OpEd (see below), and I shot a commentary for CBS Sunday Morning, which will air Sunday December 15, at 9am in most parts of the US. I’ll also post a transcript, here, when it airs.)

I’ve been mulling the various polarities offered by our statesmen and corporate cronies as they prepare us for war and a general realignment of powers. The rising conflicts have been presented as Judeo-Christian vs. Muslim, Democratic vs. tryant, US vs. Iran, Bushes vs. Husseins, etc.

But I think what the US current regime exposes through its policies and actions is a much less complex and more typical struggle: rich against poor. The Bush regime’s economic, environmental, and military adventures can all be understood quite easily as the maintenance of the short-term interests of the wealthy over the long-term interests of the poor.

The Bush regime is not simply ‘in bed’ with the oil industry. This is not a question of undue influence or corporate donations. The Bush regime is the oil industry. VP Cheney’s own oil industry dealings have yet to be surrendered to independent investigators, and will likely be kept secret unless the Supreme Court demands they be released – something Cheney, no doubt, thinks will be delayed until after he is dead.

Likewise, Kissinger’s first act as independent investigator of the 9/11 incident has been to bury his own client list.

Bush’s first real action after 9/11, meanwhile, was to work with the Saudis to fly his partners, the Bin Laden family, safely and secretly out of America.

These are not indications of some abstract “conflict of interest” that require our analysis. They are the very simply understood actions of a single, coordinated group. Not a “conspiracy,” but a collaboration. The only real question unanswered about the invasion of Iraq, for example, is who will get which piece of the spoils.

Bush and his regime are businesspeople, who are doing business with fellow, powerful businesspeople in other parts of the world. They trade mostly in oil, which is why they need to maintain global dependence on oil (rather than helping to develop alternative energy resources). They monopolize these transactions through the exploitation of the poor, which is why they need to implement economic policies (in the US) and dictatorial policies (in the Arab world) in order to maintain power.

The main difference between the tactics of the Bush regime and those of their partners in the Arab world is the particular methodology through which they keep their people stupid enough not to fight back. In the United States, citizens are led to believe that Bush and his team are part of an anti-elitist, populist backlash against the over-intellectualized and effeminate liberalization of government by homosexuals, feminists, anti-Christians, and other democratic party members. Bush will also be ‘strong,’ and defend us against dark peoples, everywhere.

(Even the wealthy in the United States – the people who advise me at my own bank, in fact – use self-imposed stupidity and denial in order to bring themselves to the point where they can support Bush. It is in their short-term economic interests to do so. So they use whatever mythology they can to convince themselves that Bush’s leadership actually makes sense on some Judeo-Christian, ethical, or democratic level.)

In Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia, the people are kept stupid mostly through anti-Semitism. “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is published not by an undeground Nazi press, but by the government. Prince Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s minister of the interior, still tells his people that the 9/11 attacks were part of a Zionist plot. (Of course, the Saudi government also supports Al Qaeda, but this is only to keep the attacks pointing at regimes other than their own. If Israel were to disappear, the Saudis would be attacked next. That’s why they need to keep the Jews in everyone’s mind as the #1 enemy.)

Whichever method of maintaining public ignorance is utilized, the result is the same. Nationalism, xenophobia, and a surrender of power and influence to the wealthy.

The way this system may ultimately break down – and the reason why global networks and genuine communication between people is so important – is through the comparison of means of oppression. Americans are good at seeing the way that the Saudi people are being duped, and Saudis are probably pretty good at seeing how Americans are being duped. This is because the stories being told us are incompatible.

As soon as people can understand this very simple equation:

Bush says Arabs bad.

Arabs says Bush bad.

Bush and Arabs make business deals together at the expense of their people.

…things could get interesting.

Then again, this is why genuine international communications networks – like this one – are in big danger. It’s also why the people we fear most stand very little chance of being allowed to get online.