Thursday, June 02, 2011

The law is for the little people

Power grows from the barrel of a gun. And the wealthy can purchase a whole lot of guns. There is only one power that has ever managed to even halfway prevent the wealthy from simply taking everything at gunpoint, and that is the power of the People as a whole getting together and using the wealth they produce to buy their own guns to offset the wealthy. We call the organization thus produced "democratic government", and the guns are "police", directed by "laws" produced by "legislators" that are interpreted by "courts" that decide the punishment for those brought at gunpoint before them (said punishment, of course, being enforced at gunpoint too). At least, that was the notion during the 20th century. Today, of course, that all seems rather quaint.

But Tom Engelhardt is only half-right when he says we're living in a post-legal society. We're living in a post-legal society for the rich. If you are an ordinary worker, one of the people who produces the wealth that the rich then steal at gunpoint on their own while returning a tiny portion to you (called "wages" -- note that the rich do not themselves make anything or do anything other than "manage" their "worker" serfs, i.e., they're overglorified slave masters enforcing the wage whip upon their workers), you will find that there is indeed "rule of law" -- that is, you will face "laws" produced by the slave masters, you will face "police" owned by the slave masters, you will face "courts" owned by the slave masters, and you will find yourself in "prison" owned by the slave masters if you in any way attempt to take back some of the goods and services you produce for your slave master. Your slave master will call it "theft" and "trespassing" if you and your fellow serfs decide you're tired of giving the output of your factory to your slave master and decide to instead keep that output and sell it yourselves, cutting the slave master out of the loop. Paramilitary police officers will break in and beat you and haul you out bodily, and then if you attempt to return, they will cage you like an animal for the crime of refusing to be a slave.

Of course, none of this would work if the slaves would refuse to work for their slave masters and instead chose to join together and work for themselves, but the slaves are cowed because the slave masters have vowed to deprive them of all sustenance and housing if the slaves refuse to labor for their slave masters, indeed claim that over 50% of all assets of the nation are "theirs" despite the fact that they built none of it, created none of it, but they wrote up pieces of paper (via their "laws") saying it's theirs so it's theirs. So the slaves go to work every day and accept the pitiful table scraps that the slave masters offer, and they call it freedom.

-- Badtux the Free(*) Penguin

(*) Offer void where prohibited. Attempts to exercise rights implied by the word 'Free' may lead to unemployment, starvation, beatings by armed thugs wearing badges, and lead poisoning. But you are free, citizen!


  1. There's one difference between the lawless (for the rich people) society of now and the lawless (FTRP) societies of yesteryear. And the lawlessness on labour that you describe applied to unions who went on strike against mining companies in the 1910s in Upper Michigan or against meatpackers in Chicago during the 1880s, and other episodes back through Ned Lud and feudal lords during the Middle Ages and slave revolts in the Roman Empire and the Hebrew tribe under the Pharaohs. The Big Man has always used his henchmen to stomp on the little man.

    But people are not so tractable today as in yesteryear. They are less obedient, and more violently fractious, because they are less controlled by the reins of religion and similar primitive superstitions (like believing in the Divine Right of Kings.) Sure, there are still religious whack jobs shot through the American populace, but even they don't practice the obedience their robe-wearing spellbinders preach.

    Simply put, people are more likely to burn shit down and fuck shit up now than they used to be. There's more of a sense of entitlement amongst the unwashed masses than there used to be. There's less of a sense of "I should obey the rules." Not that every man is a Jefferson. They're more like the Morlocks of H.G. Wells' "Time Machine." But since people have an innate sense of what's fair vs. unfair, and they're more exposed than ever via the media to seeing that they're being treated unfairly, they're going to start fucking shit up.

    I don't think they're going to do it in any organized, effective way. It's going to be the equivalent of setting your own rented house on fire because you're pissed off at the landlord. When you do that, the landlord loses the value of his house, but you wind up homeless. Lose-lose, and you lose bigger. Such is the nature of angry stupid people.

    They're angry, probably not so stupid, though, in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Greece and Spain. There's no direct political link between all the rioting in these countries, but what unites them is the sense that regular people are being fucked over by the powerful ones. So they're giving the fuck-job back, at the cost of their lives and the disruption of their societies. The Man is still winning -- look at how repression continues in Egypt, just with a "meet the new boss" Army face instead of Mubarak's -- but what has The Man won? Control of a smaller pie than he had before, one that's burnt and fucky.

    It's gonna happen in the U.S. too. There will be some riots, but what there's going to be a lot more of is fucky work product by truculent "I-don't-give-a-shit" minimum wage-drones. The crap customer service that everyone experiences, and many of us do (even though we don't like to confess it)? It's our reaction to the sense that we're being screwed, so why should we care how we do our job? Being an asshole worker is a low-key insurgency to stick it to The Man.

    The Man will continue to win. Violent repression by the police, and crappier-than-ever wages will continue. But The Man will reign over a dungheap America. And even if The Man decides to abandon America, cut it loose in favour of emphasizing business in China, or India, or elite retreats in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands, he's going to be presiding over a reduced world that's more fearful for him to live in.

    We're all going down. Some will go down further than others, especially the ones who were lower to start with. But everyone will end up lesser than they were before. If that's what it takes to fuck the rich people over, even if just a bit, I think it's a losing bet that the low-down ones want to take.

  2. Uhm, you're not in America. People here are *EXTREMELY* obedient. If Fox News or their preacher at the mega-church they attend (more than half of all Americans are regular church-goers, more than any other nation other than South Korea) tells them the source of their problem is a Muslim Extremist Socialist Nigger President, that's what they will obediently believe. Americans are probably the most sheep-like creature on the face of the planet, our oligarchs regularly get away with shit that would have French or Greeks rioting in the streets. There are protests, sure -- orchestrated karaoke, fuss and furor signifying nothing and accomplishing nothing other than to make people feel smug -- but no real resistance. People have this vague feeling that something's wrong, something bad is happening, but they lack even the ability to conceptualize any alternative other than to be serfs on the plantations of their oligarchical overseers.

    The United States is turning into some bizarre blend of Orwell's 1984 where Big Brother is always watching, and Huxley's Brave New World where soma -- uhm, television -- is used to drug the population into submission. And as far as I can tell, the majority of the sheep like it. Because Big Brother loves you and wants only the best for you, and he only comes down on those people, those other people, the people not like you, the people who are convenient scapegoats for all your problems...

    - Badtux the Bummer Trip Penguin

  3. For whatever relevance it has, the Wobblies used to say (paraphrasing somewhat) that the working class could bring the system to a grinding halt by taking a step back and folding their arms.

    Not entirely realistic, but there's probably some truth to it.

  4. There are protests, sure -- orchestrated karaoke, fuss and furor signifying nothing and accomplishing nothing other than to make people feel smug

    You got that right. Which is one of the main reasons I don't go to protests much any more. Drove to Seattle on March 19 for the demo on the anniversary of the start of Iraq Attack II, because I'd feel like a loudmouth who's got no game if I didn't do SOMETHING on the date. But as you say, a lot of it's about the smug for me. I used to live in San Francisco, after all. (I would insert a hyperlink to the South Park "smug" episode there, but you've undoubtedly seen it.)

    Damned if that Posin' Bankist Fascist Nigger President didn't attack Libya on the exact same day! And the 300 people who showed up for this gig marched around downtown Seattle under the watchful guidance of bemused police, while a far greater throng of tourists and shoppers stared from the sidewalks. "Oh look, Martha, it's the colourful hippie peacenik folk festival parade!"

    I agree that Americans are sheep. I still say they're malcontented, anomic, poorly socialized and inherently violent sheep that are going to throw a spanner into the works just through their own inherent nastiness, though. It's the Youth Of Today! who are going to do it most, because they're a combination of slackers and droogs. FTW. FTUSA.

  5. According to the Count de Evermond, all chateaus are equipped with mob proof gates and tazers, so we better storm the Bastille first or dance down the Jefferson Monument!

  6. I saw the best comment the other day. The article was similar to this one.

    "Dear Seal Team 6,

    We need you,


  7. "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose" (Desperado)

    At some point we will take that shiny city on the Hill and make it ours.


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