When directed in the right way, anger is a very useful emotion. It can motivate us to defend what we love with a ferocity and determination that mere enthusiasm can’t make us have. This is why as we fight for our rights as poor and working people, we need to embrace the anger that our oppression gives us.
We should be angry because we’re being beaten down every day under a dystopian society where the rich reign supreme. Half of Americans are now in or near poverty. 70% don’t have more than $1000 in savings. 8 in 10 are in some level of debt. A third of American households can’t afford food, shelter, or medical care. 18 million are in extreme poverty. Many of those who aren’t homeless or deprived of essential resources can only live in relative stability because they’ve had to put themselves in unpayable debt, with American credit card debt being at record levels and more Americans than ever now being behind on their car payments. We’re trapped in a rigged economic machine that’s been steadily destroying the middle class since neoliberalism took hold four decades ago, and that will keep pushing more of us into poverty as long as it exists.
This isn’t happening because there isn’t enough money to go around. It’s an act of theft against us that’s being done by a group of capitalist elites. Amid the dismantling of much of the social safety net, the shifting of the tax burden onto the poor, the shipping out of millions of jobs to third world countries, the legalization of many corporate crimes, the privatization of many essential services, the widespread stagnation of the American minimum wage in recent decades, and the emergence of a corporate stranglehold over the U.S. government, our economy and our political system are designed to serve a ruling cabal of billionaires and mega-millionaires. The statistic about how the top 0.1% of Americans now have as much wealth as the bottom 90% illustrates how far the country has fallen into this feudalistic kleptocracy.
And the attitude that the oligarchs have towards us means we can take their attacks personally. Though some rich people like Warren Buffett express sympathy for the poor, the ruling class is largely brimming with contempt for society’s most vulnerable people. Just look at the rantings of the millionaire Republican propagandist Rush Limbaugh, who’s written: “The poor in this country are the biggest piglets at the mother pig and her nipples…We need to stop giving them coupons where they can go buy all kinds of junk…I don’t have compassion for the poor.” Or at the taunts towards the poor from Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, who’s said to her country’s poor and working people: “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.” There are many more quotes like these from the rich and their defenders, and their statements reflect the studies that show empathy tends to be rarest among the highest social classes.
These people see us as nothing more than obstacles to their megalomaniacal power trip. And they’re prepared to use violence against us if we try to end the order they’ve set up.
This is shown by the fact that throughout America, the ruling class has filled police departments with leftover military equipment-a development that’s already escalated the amount of police killings of unarmed poor people, especially poor people of color. They’ve expanded the annual American military budget to an unprecedented $717 billion while allowing the president to use the military as a domestic police force. They’ve weaponized U.S. intelligence agencies into a political police, as was recently confirmedwhen former FBI leader Terry Turchie said in an interview that the FBI’s mission is to keep progressives and socialists “out of government.”
The increase of censorship against anti-war and left-wing online journalists that we’ve seen in recent years is just the first stage of how the centers of power plan to crack down on dissent. As the Macron government’s violenceagainst the Yellow Vest protesters has foreshadowed, America’s corporate state is going to increasingly speak in the language of brutal force.
These acts of repression are the only way the oligarchs know how to respond to the looming crises of global capitalism. They don’t understand the plight of the poor, and they’re entrenched in a worldview that rationalizes their own greed. None of them want to end capitalism, and most of them don’t even want capitalism reformed through expanded social welfare policies. The dominant mentality within the American political establishment is that ever more public services need to be cut, that the rich should pay even less taxes, and that corporations should go with even less regulations. Socialists, meanwhile, are seen as an enemy that needs to be purged.
This is the clueless ruling class selfishness that President Trump displays with his recent declaration of global war on socialism; the super-rich feel like it’s their right to keep grabbing up the world’s resources, and they’re confused and angered when anyone objects to this. As was revealed in one part from a 2017 interview with millionaire Democratic donor Stephen Cloobeck, the super-rich simply can’t grasp why it’s wrong to hoard great wealth while others live in poverty: “It is very, very disturbing when I hear the millionaire or billionaire word. And I’ve told them [Democratic leaders] to stop it. Knock it off. Because everyone wants to do really well, and this is the world of aspirations.”
As the political prisoner Assata Shakur has said, “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” We need to apply this principle to our current struggle.
We have to build institutions that go up against the corporate power structure. Electoral presences like the Green Party, the Socialist Equality Party, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation should be part of our focus, since third parties in America have historically been key to effecting change. We have to organize protest efforts that take away the power of the elites by shutting down the system they depend on, as can be done through general strikes and nonviolent mass protests that disrupt traffic. There must be a mass working class mobilization towards revolutionary action, and the labor strikes that are sweeping the world should only represent the start of what’s to come.
Most importantly, all of these actions need to be infused with the aim of overthrowing capitalism. Capitalism is at the root of why the oligarchs are in power, because capitalism is built on the subjugation of those who don’t own the means of production. We have to keep pummeling the system through strikes and protests until the corporatist government loses its control, allowing for an independent citizens commission to phase out the nation’s use of fossil fuels, dismantle America’s imperialist foreign military involvements, and establish a socialist system with no rich and no poor.
What motivates me to help carry out this revolution is not just my eagerness for creating a better society, but my outrage at what the capitalist class is doing to me and to most other Americans. I know many of you feel the same anger. And we’ve got to leverage this anger towards wresting power from the aristocracy.