I am nowhere near as eloquent as Professor Howard Zinn so I am copying this from his book : “A People’s History of the United States”
Chapter 23 The Coming of the Guards
There is no system of control with more openings, apertures, leeways, flexibilities, rewards for the chosen, winning tickets in lotteries. There is none that disperses its controls more complexly through the voting system, the work situations, the church, the family, the school, the mass media – none more successful in mollifying opposition with reforms, isolating people from one another, creating patriotic loyalty.
One Percent of the nation owns a third of the wealth. The rest of the wealth is distributed in such a way as to turn those in the 99 percent against one another: small property owners against the propertyless, black against white, native-born against foreign-born, intellectuals and professionals against the uneducated and unskilled. These groups have resented one another and warred against one another with such vehemence and violence as to obscure their common position as sharers of the leftovers in a very wealthy country.
Against the reality of that desperate, bitter battle for resources made scarce by elite control, I am taking the liberty of uniting those 99 percent as “the people”. I have been writing a history that attempts to represent their submerged, deflected, common interest. To emphasize the commonality of the 99 percent, to declare deep enmity of interest with the 1 percent, is to do exactly what the governments of the United States, and the wealthy elite allied to them- from the Founding Fathers to now-have tried their best to prevent. Madison feared a “majority faction” and hoped the new Constitution would control it. He and his colleagues began the Preamble to the Constitution with the words ” We the people…”, pretending that the new government stood for everyone, and hoping that this myth, accepted as fact, would ensure “domestic tranquility.”
The pretense continued over the generations, helped by all-embracing symbols, physical or verbal: the flag, patriotism, democracy, national interest, national defense, national security. The slogans were dug into the earth of American culture like a circle of covered wagons on the western plain, from inside of which the white, slightly privileged Americans could shoot the enemy outside – Indians or Blacks or Foreigners or other whites too wretched to be allowed inside the circle.The managers of the caravan watched at a safe distance, and when the battle was over and the field strewn with dead on both sides, they would take over the land, and prepare another expedition, for another territory.
The scheme never worked perfectly.
With such continuing malaise, it is very important for the Establishment – that uneasy club of business executives, generals, and politicos – to maintain the historic pretension of national unity, in which the government represents all the people, and the common enemy is overseas, not at home, where disasters of economics or war are unfortunate errors or tragic accidents, to be corrected by the members of the same club that brought the disasters. It is important for them also to make sure this artificial unity of highly privileged and slightly privileged is the only unity – that the 99 percent remain split in countless ways, and turn against one another to vent their angers.
How skillful to tax the middle class to pay for the relief of the poor, building resentment on top of humiliation! How adroit to bus poor black youngsters into poor white neighborhoods, in a violent exchange of impoverished schools, while the schools of the rich remain untouched and the wealth of the nation, doled out carefully where children need free milk, is drained for billion-dollar aircraft carriers. How ingenious to meet the demands of blacks and women for equality by giving them small special benefits, and setting them in competition with everyone else for jobs made scarce by an irrational, wasteful system. How wise to turn the fear and anger of the majority toward a class of criminals bred – by economic inequality – faster than they can be put away, deflecting attention from the huge thefts of national resources carried out within the law by men in executives offices.
But with all the controls of power and punishment, enticements and concessions, diversions and decoys, operating throughout the history of the country, the Establishment has been unable to keep itself secure from revolt. Every time it looked as if it had succeeded, the very people it thought seduced or subdued, stirred and rose, Blacks, cajoled by Supreme Court decisions and congressional statutes, rebelled. Women, wooed and ignored, romanticized and mistreated, rebelled. Indians, thought dead, reappeared, defiant. Young people, despite lures of career and comfort, defected. Working people, thought soothed by reforms, regulated by law, kept within bounds by their own unions, went on strike. Government intellectuals, pledged to secrecy, began giving away secrets. Priests turned from piety to protest.
To recall this is to remind people of what the Establishment would like them to forget – the enormous capacity of apparently helpless people to resist, of apparently contended people to demand change. To uncover such history is to find a powerful human impulse to assert one’s humanity. It is to hold out , even in times of deep pessimism, the possibility of surprise.
THIS WHOLE CHAPTER IS INCREDIBLY GOOD!!