Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Politics is About Exploitation

Politics is not about the general good. Even Aristotle thought that, when he wrote about it in his Politics, over 2000 years ago. Machiavelli had a better understanding: politics is about exploiting the public.

The only true divide is between the Elites and the Masses, i.e., between the Non-Producers and the Producers, between the Political Class and the Economic Class, between those who steal and those who create.

Those who steal do it by gaining control of the government and using made-up laws to benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else. This is how, in the U.S., one percent of the people have appropriated 40% of the wealth.

This appropriation was not done through the free market. The free market expands the middle class, and the middle class is shrinking. So it is clear the United States doesn’t have much of a free market anymore. It does, however, have enough for the vampiric Political Class to live off of the Economic Class, the producers and the creators.

People ignore the fact (if they ever think about it), that the two most famous deaths in the West – Socrates and Jesus – were men both killed by the State. Both in fact were murdered by the Elites.

You’d think people might keep those murders in mind, since both illustrate what politics is about – force and fraud, murder and lying. Yet instead of seeing it as a murderer and a liar, many people see it as a Good Daddy and a Good Mommy, who’ll take care of them and what give what we need! (For ‘free,’ of course).

If there is one story in history that repeats itself, it is the attempt of the “State” (all the Elites) to expand their power and exploit everyone else.

Politics is driven by graft and special interests, and “patriotism” and “idealism” are shams perpetuated by self-promoters. That’s why I am amused when I see people at a political convention cheering when their respective fraud (whether Republican or Democrat) wins an election. Suckers!

In one sentence, politics is about Wolves trying to sheer the Sheep, and telling the Sheep it’s for their own good.

I don't know who wrote this but it's been on my hard drive for a few years.

George Washington Plunkitt, born in the 1840's, was a hustler in New York City's notoriously corrupt Tammany Hall political machine. While Plunkitt was nowhere near as innovative or admirable as Edison, these men both typified the boundless ambition and optimism that white Americans would do well to revive.

His memoir, entitled Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, is a brutally honest and unapologetic tour through the sausage factory of American politics. In it, he describes how the democratic process is invariably driven by graft and special interests. He explains how to build and maintain a constituency. He lampoons patriotism and idealism in American politics as shams perpetuated by self-promoters. He calls out the "reformers" and "the civil service" for being more dishonest and corrupt than the machine politicians they were sent to replace.

His folksy meanderings can be at times amusing and obnoxious distractions, but the style is what one might expect to find from a bright and gregarious man who's devoted himself to politics and eschewed academics. Even the parts that seem completely parochial or personal can be gleaned for thoughtful insight from a life of experience. He drives home his most important points, like the importance of loyalty, multiple times and from multiple angles.

The politicians who make a lastin’ success in politics are the men who are always loyal to their friends, even up to the gate of State prison, if necessary; men who keep their promises and never lie. Richard Croker used to say that tellin’ the truth and stickin’ to his friends was the political leader’s stock in trade. Nobody ever said anything truer, and nobody lived up to it better than Croker. That is why he remained leader of Tammany Hall as long as he wanted to. Every man in the organization trusted him. Sometimes he made mistakes that hurt in campaigns, but they were always on the side of servin’ his friends.

This book is antiquated and many of his prescriptions are outright immoral and/or illegal, but few other books have so thoroughly influenced my understanding of how the world actually works. My foray into political activism and "community organization" has confirmed over and over again how little has changed in the century since this book was written.

On one memorable occasion, a local GOP operative I met with lurched over the table at Steak 'n Shake and confided that he's really only in it to scrape lists and make contacts for his mortgage gig. There was the passionate tea party organizer who bellowed about taxes and principles through her megaphone...her husband was plotting a run for office. At the national level, the whole Obamacare distraction is little more than a transfer of "honest" graft from the private corporations that benefited under the Republican administration to the bureaucracies and organizations that benefit under this Democratic administration.

Too many idealists attempt to cram their ideals onto reality, then become frustrated when reality fails to comply. To make any real progress, we need to use reality as the starting point and engage in practical politics to pull reality toward our ideals. It's not about compromising or selling out, but about building a base of constituents who look to you as their most credible and competent advocate.

We white Advocates are in a curious position, as our ideology ultimately boils down to being advocates for our constituents. In theory, our job should be easy: White Americans want what's best for themselves and that's what we're all about. Unfortunately, this simple formula has broken down at both ends: with white Americans being bamboozled into wanting what's not best for themselves and White advocates failing to be be credible and competent advocates.

The first half of this equation, persuading whites to think for themselves, might even take care of itself as demographic, social, and economic realities impose themselves on the somnambulant masses. But even if there were some sort of mass awakening, the mob would have no credible and competent political machine to turn to. This is where practical street-level politics, community organizing, comes in. This is where we get to the point: fighting for our people.

William L. Riordan, the scholar who compiled Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, explained how Plunkitt put this theory into practice.

Everybody in the district knows him. Everybody knows where to find him, and nearly everybody goes to him for assistance of one sort or another, especially the poor of the tenements. He is always obliging. He will go to the police courts to put in a good word for the “drunks and disorderlies” or pay their fines, if a good word is not effective. He will attend christenings, weddings, and funerals. He will feed the hungry and help bury the dead. A philanthropist? Not at all He is playing politics all the time.

Brought up in Tammany Hall, he has learned how to reach the hearts of the great mass of voters. He does not bother about reaching their heads. It is his belief that arguments and campaign literature have never gained votes.

He seeks direct contact with the people, does them good turns when he can, and relies on their not forgetting him on election day. His heart is always in his work, too, for his subsistence depends on its results.

Plunkitt's most memorable phrase, "I seen my opportunities, and I took 'em!", epitomizes practical politics. Plunkitt, like most contemporary politicians, was a morally bankrupt ideological vacuum. But one needn't abide our movement's false dichotomy between the crooked winners and "beautiful losers". We can adapt practical political tactics from him, Saul Alinsky, or whoever else offers a good idea.

Like Thomas Edison, we must never give up, even when it seems hopeless. In Edison's own words, "Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged."


sth_txs said...

This is why I'm for extremely limited government and against most regulatory agencies. They have all been hijacked by special interests. Look how many approved drugs by the FDA have killed way too many people before being removed from the market. There is no getting the 'right' people in these positions ever.

At least in the US we don't have 'in your face' corruption. Even though this stuff to is useless crap, you can get your driver's license or building permit without paying the front desk clerk for now.

Twarog said...

I have a copy of Plunkitt's immensely entertaining memoir; his brand of "corruption" is almost quaint by modern standards. When he suggested that the reformers and permanent civil servants were far worse than the old machine hacks, he had a point. At least under the spoils system, you could "fire" the party loyalists on election day if their corruption and incompetence had grown too egregious. Try firing a protected civil servant today!

Amusingly, Plunkitt maintained that he only engaged in "honest graft", not "dishonest graft", and adamantly stressed that, for all his self-serving profiteering, nothing that he or his pals did was technically illegal. Every few years, the Reformers would get elected to City Hall, vowing to go through the city books and find all the money Plunkitt and his boys were stealing. They never found any, because Tammany men invented lots of clever and convoluted ways to fleece the taxpayers legally without directly stealing so much as a penny. Plus ├ža change...

Anonymous said...

Honest graft? What a fucking asshole.

The Night Wind said...

"If voting really made a difference, the politicians would never let us do it."

----Mark Twain