Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Mob of a Different Color

How bizarre is it when news accounts of rioting in Europe describe the frenzied protesters as an "anti-government mob?" Is that an accurate description? The criminals setting fire to banks and murdering their fellow citizens are public-sector workers. In other words, they're a "government mob" -- plain and simple.

I was reminded of that image when I noticed this morning  that officials in several European nations are bracing for mayhem in anticipation of widespread strikes by public-sector workers. A number of  labor leaders as well as the head of the European Socialists party howled in outrage at the proposed cuts in public-sector spending. And the only solution they seemed to be offering for the crisis was to tax the banks.

That, combined with today's Thomas Friedman column in the NYT, got me to thinking about people who complain loudly about perceived problems but offer no viable solution. Friedman, who usually irritates me to no end, nonetheless did a commendable job of boiling the noisiest and most incoherent faction of the Tea Party down to its essence. He calls them the Tea Kettle Party -- just a bunch of alienated folks loudly blowing off steam to little effect (other than generating lots of cable news coverage!).

I'd say the government mobs in Europe display much of the same tendencies, although to be fair, the Tea Partiers appear to be far less violent. Still, both sides are in high dudgeon but are at a loss to offer any long-term solutions to systemic governmental and economic problems. Actually, I'd say they're in denial.

The Tea Partiers think we can cut taxes yet again, take a meat axe to the federal budget and everything will be fine. The government mobs think Europeans can simply tax and spend their way to prosperity -- the mob's prosperity, I guess.

And then there's would-be U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal. He thinks we can sue our way to prosperity, but ah, that's another matter entirely ...


  1. The lead story on NBC Knightly News, starring Sir Brian, this evening wasn't about that problem, which is actually happening. It was about the increased " chatter " that's being heard throughout Europe. No mention of anything about to happen on this side of the pond. But terror threat levels have been raised over there.

    It's like The Weather Channel's " It Could Happen Tomorrow " series. Blitzkreig Stories.

    Pardon me for being skeptical

  2. A meat ax would work for me...


  3. The problem, of course, is there is no political consensus on what to cut. Ours would appear to be a dysfunctional nation -- partially paralyzed and unable to deal with complex problems.
    BTW, I was listening to NPR on the way home and they used an interesting term to describe the Euro-mobs: "Anti-austerity protesters."

  4. Ah, yes. We've been here before. Heaven forbid that anyone should actually be angry about anything. Let's all sit around smoking our pipes and being reasonable. That will solve everything, just as it always has. It reminds me of the movie "Titanic." If Jack Dawson had only spoken with a more refined voice and not had the unfortunate habit of spitting, he would surely have been welcomed in first class.

    How it is that someone can write about politics and not understand that it is all about power relations astounds me. The people who protest and/or riot in Europe have some serious grievances, namely that their governments mercilessly take out the "economic crises" on the hides of the working class. They are the ones expected to "make sacrifices," not the wealthy. No, never the wealthy. We wouldn't want them to lose one of their five houses or their private jets, because that's so gosh darned good for the rest of us.

    It's the same in America, only the meme of "civilized discourse" has effectively rendered people listless. And if that doesn't work, intimidation will: We dare not protest government policies, because the next FBI raid may be us. So here we have the even more absurd spectacle of the government not only insisting on "sacrifice" by the working class (and the removal of any safety net for those less fortunate), but openly transfering trillions of taxpayer dollars to the hyper-wealthy to "bail them out" (read: make them more hyper-wealthy and irresponsible). We have truly achieved a state of bizarro world.

    You want solutions? Simple. Socialism. (And if you tell me what Obama is about has anything to do with socialism, I'll choke on my bagel.)

  5. One further point: I think there are superficial similarities between the European protesters and American Tea Partiers. Namely, they both feel a degree of anger and resentment toward the government (and I think we can safely draw a distinction between government employees and the actual ruling class, for lack of a better word).

    The difference is that European protesters actually understand that it is exploitative economic policies that are the root of the problem, and striking is a way to at least challenge those policies at their core. Not that their chances are more than minuscule in this era of ever more powerful police states (which by making people feel helpless undoubtedly fuels more anger and incitements to violence).

    American Tea Partiers take their rage and completely misplace it, by supporting jingoistic "policies" (I shudder to use that word) such as "less government" and "no taxes" that directly undermine their own wellbeing -- these are the very policies that have driven us to the brink of economic ruin and brought about economic inequality of biblical proportions.

    Short of positing that we are a country of masochists, I think there are two reasons for this phenomenon: One, that Americans are politically naive and have been so brainwashed by the boosterism of "America right or wrong" that they can't recognize when it's wrong; and, two, that the Tea Party -- like so many of the right wing grassroots movements I've seen over decades -- is being manipulated, if not controlled, by corporate and establishment Republican interests, which, needless to say, are not the interests of the people themselves.

  6. Nothing wrong with anger, Fred. But you need to offer some viable solutions.

    "You want solutions? Simple. Socialism."

    I'm not sure you're aware of the irony of your "solution."

    News alert: They already have democratic socialism in much of Europe, with high rates of taxation on both individuals and corporations. And it's bankrupting them. Where do you think the wealth comes from to make a cradle-to-grave welfare state possible? The private sector, of course.

    It's really remarkably simple to explain. What nations like Greece, Portugal, France and Spain have found is that there simply is not enough private-sector capital available to support the massive public-sector employment and social structure they have in place. So offering socialism as a solution is laughable on its face.

    You could go the route of communism, but even then you'd need a source of foreign currency. Plus, such a system can only be sustained through a highly repressive political system with economic and social policies issued by fiat. No one wants that anymore.

    The truth is that both the Tea Partiers and the Euro-mobs are offering anger rather than practical solutions. Until they act in good faith, I can't take them seriously.

  7. If you want a solution how about equal accountability for everyone. If you honestly believe that socialism is the answer then you can’t possibly believe in equal justice for all. Just look at the Democrats they hold Socialism up as their model, so justice is what they say it is, and government replaces religion, so now morals are nothing more than a subjective point of view, and since justice is what they say it is, that means that the truth also is what they say it is. The Democrats base their whole organization on that premise, and that is to get everyone to support a lie. For example, socialism takes care of the less fortunate segments of the population. That seems to be a true statement, but it’s a lie. The reason it’s a lie is because now the government uses these people that are now locked into a system with little or no hope of ever getting out. So the more people that they get into these social programs the stronger the need for these social programs become, and the more powerful this socialist system grows to be. In other words they’re doing it to these people to get them into the system to make themselves more powerful, and that is what socialism is all about.