On August 1, I’ll have my 65th birthday, and I’m looking forward to this milestone. I feel like my best years-and I’ve had some good years, some not so great-are coming.
Over the years, there has been a new idea about aging; life doesn’t end at a certain time, you don’t have to look forward to decrepitude. In the words of the poet Robert Frost, I have “miles to go before I sleep.”
Issues of class and race remain in the forefront, whether or not the news media brings them up. So many times I hear of working-class people complaining about some alleged “benefits” someone just a little less fortunate than they are have attained, or about some other branch of the working class that attained said benefits from being in a union; it’s mainly someone’s biased perception, or someone told them something at a bar or in line at the store, and such anecdotes get passed around, and sometimes the commercial news media is no help. The attitude is, “I don’t have that good stuff, so why should they have it also? Let them be miserable like I am!”
It’s people like these who are the audience for such fascist charlatans as t—p, who direct working people’s anger at some other target than who is really putting them down-the plutocratic class, as dangerous as the oligarchs around Putin, who have subsidized political campaigns, media platforms, so-called “research institutions,” etc., to turn our politics, our economy, and our very thinking processes in their favor. It’s the undoing of decades-centuries-of faithful work by labor organizers, suffrage campaigners, activists for the rights of people of color, LGBTQ+s, workers in fighting for their most basic human and civil rights; and the removal of legal protections for working people, women, and minorities, and the end of restrictions on how far the traditional dominant classes-in race, gender, or class-can continue to dominate.
One thing that occurs is the hero-worship of such figures as corporate executives, and of the so-called Founding Fathers” who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Corporate execs are simply people on top of vast private bureaucracies, passing down orders to those below them, hiring and firing people whom they employ for the work of their hands and brains (for as little money as possible), getting as much work out of as few workers as possible trying to attain a slightly higher quarterly profit, using money from tax breaks to stash in offshore tax havens and buying up the company’s stock to raise the value of the stock. These are not forward-thinking geniuses concocting new ideas and technologies in their basements; otherwise, they would see that fossil fuels are tearing apart the environment, eventually leaving the planet inhabitable; and that their employees can take only so much abuse and not do anything against it.
As for the Founding Fathers, the geniuses behind the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: they were indeed great men of that time, but in that time, they owned slaves, and lived off their unpaid labor; they were mortal human beings, with all the feeling that men have; and they were primarily upper-class men of that society, and that turned the decision-making apparatus of the new country in favor of that class; there was chattel slavery for African-descended people, property qualifications kept low-income whites from voting, and women were mainly totally excluded from any role in society outside of the home. Plus, the Revolutionary War economy was primarily agrarian, mainly in the South, and manufacturing was more of a supplement, focused on small localized shops worked by master craftsmen.
And in THIS era? Lower-income people, of all colors and genders, and after much grassroots agitation, won the right to vote; and the small shop for manufacturing has been replaced by multi-state, multi-national, highly beaucratized corporations, which can safely ignore shop-floor workers in their local branches (if the workers don’t have unions), who are only answerable to their boards of directors, who care nothing for the quality of the product and all about the next quarterly profit, and have evolved into financial capitalism, where banks and hedge-funds make all the primary decisions about the economy-if there is no popular intervention, either through the ground-level activism or through a government actually on the side of the people.
In short, the made-up idolatry of the corporate class and the earliest leaders of this nation has to cease, and we must make up OUR OWN minds to take responsibility for the well-being of this country and those of us in it. And we must avoid the two traps of despair (“They’re gonna take back the House and Senate, and the election hasn’t happened yet!”) and overconfidence (“The Republicans are running the most stupid and reactionary candidates, who’s gonna vote for THOSE guys?”). The task of defeating them will require much effort, for they are wealthy, organized, and indifferent to anyone else’s rights or well-being; but our nation’s history is studded with the struggles of put-down, put-upon people organizing, alongside of other similarly-repressed peoples, and with their efforts, they won their rights-the rulers of our society didn’t just cheerfully give in to them. They did it in the past, and we can and must do it today.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! Slava Ukraini! America will be free! Bye!