The Lords of Capital use periods of crisis to devour the less-rich and reshape the political economy to their further advantage, so that the Joe Bidens of the world jump higher and come quicker when summoned.
The Orange Era of racist rants will soon be over–just a few hundred mad tweets to go till January 20th, when the head flunky for the real rulers of the USA will take over the levers of government. Joe Biden made only one campaign promise that counts–to the only people that matter to corporate Democrats–when he assured the party’s rich funders that “No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change” under his presidency. But even as he spoke, back in June, the greatest change in wealth and power relationships in U.S. history was in full roar, as the billionaire class feasted on the Covid economy. As detailed in a November 12 report by the Institute for Policy Studies and other leftish outfits, the combined wealth of the 647 U.S. billionaires increased by almost a trillion dollars, and 33 new billionaires were created, during the same period that 22 million Americans lost their jobs, many of which will not return when the virus has receded. The Pew Research Center found that “one-in-four adults have had trouble paying their bills since the coronavirus outbreak started, a third have dipped into savings or retirement accounts to make ends meet, and about one-in-six have borrowed money from friends or family or gotten food from a food bank.”
Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and the Washington Post and the guy that runs the cloud where the CIA keeps its secrets, grew richer by $70 billion during the Covid crisis–a $2 billion per week increase in wealth. As a group, U.S. billionaires are one-third richer than before the coronavirus struck.
What ordinary people experience as disaster is manna from heaven for the Lords of Capital. “Disaster capitalism” is only disastrous for those without capital. Every catastrophe consolidates the power of the billionaires, who use these periods to devour the less-rich and reshape the political economy to their further advantage, deepening their dominance of society so that the Joe Bidens of the world jump higher and come quicker when summoned.
The oligarchs are so obscenely rich, they bend all social and political institutions to their will. “Democracy” cannot possibly exist alongside oligarchy. It is, therefore, necessary that politicians like Biden pretend that the oligarchs are just regular folks, like the rest of us. “You know what I’ve found is rich people are just as patriotic as poor people. Not a joke. I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who has made money,” Biden assured a group of 100 rich people in Manhattan.
Black voters may have put Biden in the Oval Office, but the former “Senator from Mastercard” has always taken his orders from the oligarchy. The oligarch-in-charge at the Democratic National Committee is Michael Bloomberg, who has fronted much of the DNC’s bills this year. The coronavirus has been very good to Bloomberg: he added $10.5 billion to his mega-fortune–a 22 percent increase–in just the two months between March 18 and May 15. Such sums can buy every important politician in the Democratic half of the corporate duopoly.
For the Lords of Capital, control of the Democrats is critical, since they are the party that claims to represent the people hardest hit by capitalist crises. (The Republican “base,” although full of people in economic straits, demands only that white supremacy be championed.) It is the Democratic Party’s job to beat back popular demands for social and economic justice, because the peoples and classes that make these demands are Democrats. As the crises become deeper and more frequent under late-stage capitalism, the oligarchy’s hold on the Democratic Party tightens, accordingly.
The Black vote is key, because African Americans are the most left leaning constituency in the nation, the group most in favor of income redistribution–the oligarch’s nightmare–and a range of other measures that would provide working people with some degree of security in this cutthroat capitalist economy. Therefore, the trick for keeping the austerity regime (Race to the Bottom) on track is to make Blacks and their allies more afraid of Republican racists than of rule by oligarch-controlled Democrats. That’s why Hillary Clinton’s campaign was so determined to run against Donald Trump, the most outrageously racist Republican, in 2016, as revealed by Wikileaks.
But the straw-man refused to be knocked down. For the next four years the Democrats, the bulk of the corporate media, and the national security state waged the most furious and dangerous campaign of demonization since Lincoln was elected in 1860. (Trump was correct in making that analogy but, like everything else from his mouth, it came out stupid.) It was a four-year, non-stop shock to the system, administered by the bulk of the ruling class and their media–the biggest beneficiaries of the system. They risked delegitimizing the very institutions that have facilitated corporate governance, for the chance to rewrite the national narrative. From now on, the United States is on a permanent national security emergency footing, requiring censorship of social media, draconian punishment of protesters, and 24/7 witch hunts for Russians, Chinese, Venezuelans and their home-grown “dupes.”
The Lords of Capital know, better than most of the rest of us, that the Race to the Bottom that immiserates the working class and disperses Black communities, is also responsible for the exponential, fantastical growth of oligarchic wealth. The Race to the Bottom is a global phenomenon of late stage imperial capitalism, which funnels ever-increasing proportions of wealth upward by forcing all the world’s workers to compete against each other. War must be endless, to enforce the terms of the Race on as much of the planet as possible. Government social, health and income supports that allow workers to refuse “gig” and less-than-living wage work, spoil the Race.
Biden is the oligarchs’ pick to keep the Race to the Bottom accelerating and the profits skyrocketing. On the other side of the duopoly, the Amerikkaner hordes plot vengeance for their perceived loss of what W.E.B. Du Bois called the “public and psychological” wages of whiteness. There is nothing lesser about either of these evils–which is why the only real option for Black and working people is an independent politics of struggle.