Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"Don-ito Trump-olini", Failed Democracy/State, Euthanasia & the CCNV Shelter

The last 19 months (beginning in June 2015) should have taught anyone who pays attention to the doings of government (which, sadly, is not everyone) that America is becoming more openly fascist, that the U.S. is a failing democracy (or, worse yet, a failing state), that the GOP is trying to implement a passive form of euthanasia and that various social services at all levels of government are designed to fail. Knowing these things should cause any person of conscience to swing into action -- which I'm proud to say some people have already begun to do 
As the least popular president-elect in recent history was inaugurated, many people around the world protested -- some quite vehemently. The very next day, at least a half million people -- mostly women -- protested his treatment of women and vowed to keep the fight alive. Though the attendees of the Women's March didn't seem to coalesce around a shared goal of preventing the implementation of fascism in the U.S., they were in fact coming out against one of its tenets.
"Donito Trumpolini" and fascism in America
Benito Mussolini is probably the first name to come to most people's minds when they hear the word "fascism". People know that he fought in World War II, was quite brutal and eventually was beheaded along with his wife. It's less likely that anyone can tell you that there was a general malaise in Italy due to lingering conditions from World War I, that Italians had declared a general strike and that it was Mussolini's goal to make people work for and submit to the monarch. He was not a hero to the populace, but rather a tyrant.

In neighboring Germany, Adolf Hitler was seen as a hero for removing Belgium from Germany's Ruhr Valley which they had occupied in an effort to exact payment of war debt from World War I. Though Hitler has gone down in history as a tyrant, it is easy to forget that he was initially seen as a hero by the Germans -- as was Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he ordered that Japanese Americans be interned. Though Hitler belonged to the National Socialist German Workers' Party, some would argue that he was more like a fascist. I'd submit that they might be confusing a "fascist" with a "dictator". Fascists are generally dictators; but, not all dictators are fascists.

Now that Donald Trump has assumed the office of POTUS, he has begun to rule by executive order -- seeming to sign a new one for every day that he's in office -- this being day 11. That makes him something in the way of a dictator but doesn't make him "Donito Trumpolini". However, the business interests that he brought into the White House and the campaign promises that he is actually keeping give us the space to label him a staunch fascist. Before I go any further, let me lay out for you the 14 tenets of fascism as set forth by Dr. Lawrence Britt in October 2011:

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. 
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
5. Rampant sexism. 
6. A controlled mass media.
7. Obsession with national security.
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
9. Power of corporations protected.
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
14. Fraudulent elections.

It would seem that, with Trump being no Emperor Constantine I, he has not mastered item number eight -- giving him a 93% score when it comes to being a fascist. (That, coincidentally, is also the percentage of DC residents who voted for Clinton -- making him quite unwelcome here.) Though Trumpolini's fascistic characteristics are self-evident upon viewing the above list, his other similarities to Benito Mussolini might require some explaining.

1 -- Like Mussolini, Trumpolini rose to power on the wings of a general malaise. However, Trumpolini promised to be a hero in the rite of Chancellor Hitler, rather than a suppressor of dissent like Mussolini -- initially, anyway. The length to which he'll go to squash dissent remains to be seen, though it was the local police -- not the military -- which took steps to hand down felony charges to people who damaged property while protesting his inauguration, some now looking at possible 10-year sentences. The "Donito" acknowledged the complaints of many Americans during his 17-month campaign -- complaints that could fit nicely into a fascistic agenda and which wouldn't raise any red flags in people's minds, by reason of their appeal as immediate solutions to widely shared concerns.

2 -- During World War II workers were needed and Mussolini was a glorified slave driver. Technology is quickly making workers obsolete. This, in turn, eliminates any need for government or corporate management to compromise with laborers; as, corporate America is always looking to lay off a few more workers and replace them with technology that never complains. In their race to the bottom, these corporations can still move overseas where there is less regulation. Trumpolini has begun to take steps to keep companies here and will likely woo many into staying by  further deregulating American business -- which would allow corporations to become the slave drivers. So long as there are homeless people in the wealthiest nation on Earth, business owners can draw the attention of those demanding fair pay and decent working conditions to the man sleeping on the sidewalk right outside of the office and then telling the complaining employee that they are welcome to join this poor soul if they don't like what the company offers.

Failed democracy
Those who did not vote in the general election for Hillary Clinton or a third-party candidate must live with the thought that they helped to create a monster and to seat him in the White House -- the latter of which even Dr. Frankenstein wouldn't do. In essence, those who didn't want to vote for the lesser of two evils helped to ensure that we got the greater evil -- or the more overtly fascist one anyway. Though it's true that Clinton won the popular vote and lost in the electoral college, it stands to reason that she would have won both if all eligible voters had voted -- whether their votes were actually "for" her or "against" Trumpolini. Some would argue that she was also a deadly poison -- just a different kind. In any instance, America has picked its poison.

What's more is that we can't say that we didn't know what to expect. Trumpolini is keeping his campaign promises. He has taken the initial steps to begin the congressional and public discourse around matters like building a wall along the Mexican border and banning Muslims in seven countries (whose people have not attacked us in recent history) from entering the U.S. -- while allowing Muslims from countries that have indeed attacked us to continue entering. (He has business interests in Saudi Arabia from which the 9/11 pilots came. Go figure.) He'll supposedly protect America from non-violent Muslims and from the violent ones in countries where he doesn't have any current or future business interests while homegrown terrorism from Oklahoma City to Orlando, Florida continue -- allowing the U.S. to fall of its own weight.

The same lack of logic among Americans that caused us to narrow a field of almost two dozen candidates down to the worst one also causes people to settle for the false sense of security that "the great dumb-agogue" offers. This speaks volumes to the failures of the educational system which teaches students "what" to think instead of "how" to think -- effectively turning the population into fleshly robots, even as we are replaced in factories by steel robots. Poor education has made Americans more emotional than rational, which has enabled a demagogue to rise to power by satisfying the very basic and converse emotions of fear and a desire for safety. Trumpolini's demagoguery had only to ensure safety and now he has been given full run of the house so as to destroy our system from within. (It's no wonder that, as I stated in my previous post, Trumpolini has consistently opposed all things intellectual and scientific.) Non-thinking, emotional, one-issue voters helped get us here. Maybe now they'll study social theory and engage in meaningful conversation about politics and governance -- so as to make their next presidential vote a much more informed choice. (This assumes that their right to vote isn't taken away before November 2020.)

Passive Euthanasia
Societies are built on systems of production and expropriation of goods. Some of those goods are necessities of life, while others are luxuries or things that humans have lived without for over 5,000 years since God made the world. Being as paying all workers high wages could lead to us needing a wheelbarrow of money (or a nine-figure debit card payment, in the age of technology) just to buy a loaf of bread, government should factor in "necessary poverty" and ensure that it is a state of being wherein the lowest-paid workers have only what they need -- but ALL that they need -- affordable housing, a housing-wage job, nutritious food, affordable healthcare, peace of mind and a sufficient means for dealing with unpredictable emergencies. The list goes on. When a society doesn't guarantee that a single full-time job can pay the bills, its people need a sizeable social safety net --a smaller one if all able-bodied people are guaranteed housing-wage jobs.

Trumpolini and the current congress have already taken to creating policies of "passive euthanasia" by expediting the destruction of the social safety net that we've had for just over 80 years in this country. That destruction can be traced back at least as far as the Clinton administration with its failed "Welfare to Work" program that failed to take into consideration the fact that modernization had already been destroying jobs for at least 20 years at that time -- thereby requiring a growing populace to enter a shrinking job market. Under Trumpolini, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development might begin to be de-funded by 10% per year for the next 10 years. Neither Trumpolini nor Ben Carson supports enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. Republicans are united in their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act -- and might even replace it, though you shouldn't hold your breath waiting.

It would seem that this administration and Congress seek to eliminate the social safety net altogether. After all, there is no need for any fascist capitalist to bargain with expendable workers. It goes back to the age-old concept of supply and demand. Capitalists will purchase the labor they need by offering pay, benefits and other amenities to the workers. Those whose labor they don't need they'll just let die, while failing to recognize that they are also shrinking their market insomuch as the workers were also consumers. Therein lies one of the contradictions of capitalism -- letting the unneeded members of the "working class" die and thereby shrinking the market.

It's worth noting that Trumpolini's threat to pull federal funding from all sanctuary cities means that DC could lose a large chunk of the $3B dollars that it gets annually from Congress -- getting another $10B from local taxes. In short, the loss of one-tenth to one-fourth of its budget will lead to some portion of the social safety net being de-funded and destroyed. (We might not have all of the details about the FY 2018 budget until June 2017. There will be much anxiety until then.) Chances are that supports for the disabled will be retained in their entirety while the Bowser admin will have ample reason to pull back supports for job seekers whose work isn't worth six figures or something close to it.

The CCNV Shelter
DC's Community for Creative Non-Violence homeless shelter was created in the late 1980's through the direct action of a group of Vietnam-era vets who'd renounced violence. Through the use of Trotsky-ist antics, they pressured Ronald Reagan into converting a vacant federal building into a homeless shelter which has held as many as 1,700 beds, though its capacity has been reduced to about 1,000 beds -- in spite of DC's growing homelessness.

With upwards of 60% of the remaining residents being able-bodied and needing employment assistance of a better sort than what Bill Clinton offered, it has been next to impossible to get city officials (or the U.S. Dept. of Labor which sits right across the road) to make any robust effort to connect any of these people to jobs. DC's continuing emphasis on housing the disabled (an effort that began in late-2008) is both a moral policy of helping the helpless AND an immoral excuse that is intended to cover-up their reluctance to assist "working-class" people who might never become the high earners that city officials seek to attract. Unlike the terrorist-harboring Saudis, these poor Washingtonians don't have much to offer to the capitalists -- Trumpolini, Congress, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, the DC Council or otherwise.

With DOL sitting to the south of the shelter, there is a ginormous, 2.2 million sq. ft., $1.3B construction project that will take until some time in 2023 to complete sitting to its north. No homeless person from the shelter has been hired there, though many have inquired about employment.

The building that houses the CCNV Shelter is owned by the city, having been transferred to them by the feds. The city pays CCNV to open up its 250 hypothermia-only beds on freezing nights. The remaining year-round beds are run by volunteers. This makes CCNV the cheapest shelter in the city. This leaves me to wonder if CCNV will be kept open in spite of any expected Trumpolini-induced budget cuts. Then again, it sits right on the edge of Capitol Hill; its value will be increased by the construction across the road and land to build on is becoming scarce in DC -- all of which give capitalists reasons to push for the demolition of a building that was built in 1940 and is only four stories high in a part of town where other buildings are 10-stories high. The developer-in-chief or his cronies might find a way to push for CCNV's demolition -- especially since he is so unpopular in this town.....and so vindictive.

In closing.....
The fascist dictator who recently came to power in our failing democracy might soon implement policies of passive euthanasia that lead to the loss of a social safety net and conditions similar to what was seen during the Great Depression. It's fair to say that, when Trumpolini gives America a cold, DC will get pneumonia. So, when you activists from other parts of the country come to DC to protest Trumpolini and the situation that he is putting the country in, connect with the locals and learn as much as you can about the even worse situation that we will soon have here. Even so, come and mobilize against Trumpolini.

1 Comments:

Blogger media said...

Good essay. I wonder how long that took to write. I used to know some of the CCNV people (not well except for one---pete f who lived at 14th and euclid). It would nice to have some sort of discussion/reading/research group on thtuff. Of course there are some on rleated issues---dc fiscal policy inst, CEPR, IPS ( https://thenextsystem.org ), a blog linked to dcindymedia on 'sociology in ward 6' , and others. Some people i know who are in and out of shelters and social service groups have alot of problems and (bad) habbits (as i do) they are somewhat unemployable and not much fun or interesting to be around alot--very narrow existances ('street life').

i was thinking of trying to teach a free class at muriam's kitchen (since they do have writing classes) basically for something to do since i have some free time. I propodosed something like this also for Knowledge Commons DC (free classes also)---but that is mostly a young, white, basically upscale and educted crowd. Also alot of their classes are on things like 'microbreweries' or wine tasting as opposed to social issues and social theory. The activist scenes i've been involved are mostly non or anti-intellectual. It seems one has a choice to either work in a soup kitchen 'hands on', be an activist like empower dc and live at dc city council meetings (without the high pay of a co0uncilmember) , or else study poverty by getting tenure and staying in the ivory tower, mostly teaching and writing for future professors or professionals. If i had or was in a think tank i'd prefer it to be half typical educated research types, and half people with direct experience of poverty and related issues. (

also, rather than hanging on the street and usual habits, they'd switch habits to thinking about problems rather than having them, and even get paid something for that. Just as place like CCNV can provide housing for a lower price than the Trump Hotel or Motel 6, i think think tanks could exist which operate at a lower coat than current NGOs. (some people i knew referred to alot of current NGOs as 'poverty pimps' since people made good or sometimes high salaries writing about poverty---crying all the way to the bank.

January 31, 2017 at 10:47 PM  

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