What ACTUALLY IN FACT REALLY Happened
A Non-Fiction Novel in Forty-Nine Tweets
Twitterstorm One: The Precariat
1/ What ‘happened’ to both the Democratic and Republican Parties is that they were blindsided by a profound demographic change. This change happened unnoticed right under their noses. What happened, succinctly, is the rise of the “Precariat.”
2/ Precariat: “a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, a condition of existence without predictability or security.” The precariat live paycheck to paycheck. They may have sufficient income to meet daily needs, but are unable to meet minor emergencies.
3/ They are unlikely to have health insurance. They delay doctor and dental visits unless pain is unbearable. They literally cannot save any part of their income. Half of Americans cannot cover a surprise $500 expense. (US Census)
4/ The precariat rents. If they’ve owned a home in the past, they’ve probably lost it (or soon will). Since they cannot save, they will not have a paid-off home nor any income besides Social Security, at retirement.
5/ The Precariat class transcends traditional demographics. You find them among the working poor in the inner city, and in rural America. Notably (and rather alarmingly), you find them in large numbers among recent college graduates: future professionals crippled by debt and underemployment.
6/ Also among the precariat are older white-collar workers who have been forced by reorganization and downsizing into lower paying jobs. You find the precariat in rust belt states: rejects of automation and outsourcing. (The popular stereotype of the Trump voter.)
7/ Retired Americans, a major part of the precariat, live constantly at the edge of disaster — they have meager incomes and little ability to earn. The precariat is the fastest growing demographic in the US. It will soon be a majority.
Twitterstorm Two: The Demand-Constrained Economy
8/ Most Americans have zero (or negative) marginal utility. The cost of hiring and training them cannot be justified in terms of ROI. In rural America (and much of suburbia) the economy consists of school bus drivers, teachers, dental assistants, shop clerks, etc.
9/ Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid provide the base for this diminished economy — a stop-loss against economic free fall. The economically stronger cities aren’t much better off. The existing labor ecology has an astonishing number of make-work jobs.
10/ Paper pushers, electron pushers, contractors, consultants, temps, and middle managers nervously looking over their shoulders. The pressure on employment is across the board and constant. Half of all current jobs will be automated out of existence in 20 years.
11/ The elite tolerate the make-work economy only because they require demand for their products. A form of corporate-sponsored welfare. But the make-work economy is disintegrating. Companies face constant pressure to cut costs from competitors and investors.
12/ The Company Man is a distant memory. We are all either gig workers, or future gig workers. The psychological consequences are profound. The US suffers a collective insecurity that borders on a kind of national PTSD.
13/ Anger, lashing out, confusion, and depression permeate the collective consciousness. The most damaging consequence is hopelessness, leading to apathy and withdrawal. This engineered hopelessness benefits the status quo.
Twitterstorm Three: The Coronation
14/ This brings us back to Queen Hillary. In any rational world, her plan should have worked. The GOP had by then already turned feral and atavistic. The political “middle” seemed open for another Dick Morris style triangulation.
15/ Big finance was in her pocket. Koch & energy sector was sidling up to her. Neoconservative hardliners were lining up for cabinet posts. Magic was in the air. Pixie dust coated the streamers. Dems would form a center-right majority, and rule America for a generation.
16/ But there was a problem. A very big problem. There was no middle remaining to triangulate to. She triangulated off the edge of a cliff. Everybody was caught with their pantsuits down. Big data. Big media. Party insiders. The talking heads. The corporate donor class.
17/ In retrospect this all seems obvious — especially the causal connection between the rise of the precariat and the rise of radicalism. But, of the hundred or so explanations floated by HRC for her loss, there is no underlying causal mechanism offered.
18/ Instead we get unrelated semi-plausible talking points, tossed off as the occasion demands.
Twitterstorm Four: A History of Violence
19/ Consequence time. Both parties had made devastatingly short-sighted strategic calls, and now the piper would have to be paid…with interest. In 1985, Bill Clinton’s DLC deprecated the working class orientation of the Democratic Party, as part of a strategic re-alignment.
20/ Labor was pushed into the background, and urban professionals embraced. The Party of FDR morphed into the Party of Silicon Valley. A donor arrangement with segments of corporate America was pursued. This arrangement would eventually eclipse all other values.
21/ The Republicans doubled down on an astro-turfed Tea Party economic scheme. Shrink the government, and shrink the public sector. But the private sector was unable, or unwilling, to take up the slack in employment caused by public sector shrinkage.
22/ The few populists on the right who grasped the necessity of fiscal stimulus (like Bannon) were banished. Instead, GOP plan switched to naked shock doctrine: looting of public assets — patterned on what was done to post-Soviet Russia.
23/ The GOP is now backed into a corner. Trump radicalism has left the Party no constituency other than its billionaire donor class. Each succeeding iteration of healthcare/tax reform becomes more draconian. Donors are vocally restive over failure to liquidate the welfare state.
24/ A part of Mellon’s advice to Hoover is now being carried out in the most literal way imaginable: “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate… it will purge the rottenness out of the system.”
25/ Why only “a part?” The GOP is focused like a laser on liquidating labor, period. Stocks, real estate, and other assets continue to be propped up by the Fed and tax structure. Thus the rottenness grows exponentially.
26/ This was actually kicked into high gear by Obama. The greatest financial fraud in human history received no indictments or convictions.Its perpetrators now advise both parties at the highest levels and extend their grasp on the levers of power.
Twitterstorm Five: No Exit
27/ 2008 was the last off ramp. There will be no Grand Compromise like FDR arranged between capital and labor. FDR had the fear of God to spur capital into compromise. There is no longer any element of fear. They believe they are in command.
28/ The reason labor is now powerless is technological. Labor’s input into actual production is now minimal. It has no leverage. With no leverage the power to strike is meaningless. Production no longer requires vast legions of workers.
29/ The proletariat no longer exists in the way Marx envisioned — at least not as a recognizable and delimitable group that can be organized. In a trivial sense, the 99% are the proletariat, but they have few common features around which solidarity might emerge.
30/ The long-awaited historical juncture has arrived, unnoticed. No one is prepared, but you have to fight the war with the troops you have. The post cold war World System organized around neoliberalism is falling apart. Its disintegration is shockingly rapid.
31/ The US has always been the point of the spear for liberal capitalism. The spear is broken.
Twitterstorm Six: Incidental and Consequential Damages
32/ The US two-party system lies in smoking ruins. The Democratic Party is virtually non-existent in half of US states. It has lost 1000 seats in national and state legislatures. Its centrist and left wing are in open warfare.
33/The majority of politically active Americans now stand in opposition to the current makeup of the two-party system. An unscientific estimate: Trump base 30%, Progressives 25%. 55% have become radicalized. Not even Che could have achieved that.
34/ The DLC model proposed in 1985 is an abject failure. The Democratic Party is dying, fighting an unwinnable internecine battle. The battle objective is to break the progressive wing permanently, and either expel it or marginalize it into insignificance.
35/ Most corporate journalism is on board with the Democratic establishment in this objective. This strategy is profoundly ill-considered. The Dems, mortally wounded, have no center to draw on in order to make up the difference.
36/ They have little, or nothing, to appeal to the remaining apathetic 45%. They are effectively consummating a mass suicide pact.
37/The GOP has a different problem. It sports a well-organized state structure, plus a well-oiled and well-funded propaganda machine. The Republican Party maintains its control, albeit precarious, of Congress, and the vast majority of state legislatures.
38/ But the GOP act is breaking down. Big League. Their attacks on middle America are now vicious and draconian, in an open way. Conservative-leaning independents, are backing away in consternation. The hardcore GOP base is shrinking to an untenable minority.
39/ They are fully as dependent as the Democrats on their donor base. These donors are livid over inaction. They are demanding results. The GOP can’t back down. Each new iteration of repeal-and-replace or tax reform grows increasingly extreme.
40/ There’s now literally nothing off the table. Medicare and Medicaid will be slashed on the trillion dollar scale and ACA administratively executed. Either the GOP enacts these cuts, or they lose their donors. A lose/lose proposition.
41/ Cuts demanded by donors are an automatic recession (absolute best scenario). GOP, as you might expect, are just as clueless as Dems. They shrink the public sector savagely, with no guarantee (and little chance) that private sector can absorb such massive job loss.
42/ Obama-era growth policies, miserly as they were, are now petering out. We have had negative job growth for the first time in 7 years.
Twitterstorm Seven: Riding the Downwave
43/ We are awaiting the next trigger. Nobody knows what it will be. Student debt. North Korea. It will be probably be soon. Impeachment won’t save us. Economic issues bypassed in 2008 will be resurface. It seems unlikely Team Trump will have the competence to deal with a deflationary spiral.
44/ If Trump can’t rescue Puerto Rico or California, what will he do with an entire nation in economic free fall?
45/ Along with the economic chaos, add in a non-functional political party system, and a people deeply mistrustful of their fellow citizens. Unlike 1929, when most Americans lived on farms and could feed themselves, most of the population is urban or suburban.
46/ With majority of Americans disaffected, how will they react to a crisis? Political realignment is inevitable. What will it look like?
47/ The right holds the cards now. They hold influential positions within the military, police, legislatures, judiciary, and media. If people react in untoward ways, there is the example of Tiananmen to remind us of what state power is capable.
48/ On a side note, wired/wireless service will be interrupted if these become organized against state power. Don’t count on digitally mediated solidarity. It may come down to you, and people you know, acting in concert. If any of this strikes you as plausible, you should organize now.
49/ If it hits the fan in the US, it’s going to hit the fan everywhere. China, Japan, and Europe are not immune to an economic breakdown in the US.
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