re: Maureen Dowd, “No Axe to Grind,” January 29, 2011

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Our democracy apparently will never be under threat like the autocracies of Tunisia and Egypt because branding is so slick, so supple, so appealing…

The man with the brand can run a magic hand over our t.v.s and ipads and make us forget it all for a moment: the fear of using our real names while we vent our true feelings on blogs and the Times website, lest our employers or even neighbors discover the closet radical and cloaked despair; the marvel that other nation’s bankers and lawyers and teacher and accountants could actually be so angry with \”the system\” as to go out in the streets, and not only burn tires, but not leave until their leader is ousted!; the feeling that our problems must just be our own, and if we aren’t absolutely convinced we are so much better than most other countries, something must be wrong with us…

So, clasp your Blackberry and drink another dose of \”exceptionalism\” from Ax and Barry, but bury the axe of your nihilism about the capacity to ever truly mobilize the brunt of our individual despair collectively on our leaders…
…because there is ONE credit card on which there are no limits: the faith that a brand is better than a generic. Republicans and Democrats have made packages so slick and shiny, people cannot resist opening them again and again, even though mountains of empty boxes pile up.

Brands help us believe we are simple, like a jingle jangle slogan.  Next thing you know, people are lining themselves up like cars to submit to the \”healthcare industry.\” Makes it easier to submit to everything and complain about nothing, because we ascribe to the alluring political party brand that conjures visions of justice while we pay and pay and pay to the private corporations who have taken over every arena of our lives where the government can no longer protect.
Only sloppy, sheer, dogged determination and persistence of tens or hundreds of thousands of us at a time is ever going to change anything, united only by our humanity, and not depending on brands or marketing…like the Bonus Marchers who were rebuffed by Hoover and even initially by FDR, camping in D.C. for years, before they not only got their bonus money for fighting in WWI, but the GI Bill of Rights.
I conclude by quoting from a handbill from December 5, 1932, urging \”Negro\” and \”White\” alike to descend on the opening of Congress to demand \”Cash Payment of Bonus.\”

A Winter of Hunger Faces the Veterans
Cold, brutal winter is now on us. Over a million and a half unemployed veterans are hungry; hundreds of thousands of us have no shelter; Those of us who still have some work have suffered wage cuts, and the stagger plan, and face more wage cuts.
The Enemies of the Bonus Are United Against Us
The Republican, Democratic, and Socialist Parties are all united in the fight against the payment of the balance due the veterans on the Bonus. They get the full support of the boss press, and the liberal writing, too.
Heroes in 1917; They Call Us \”Criminals\” Now
Billions went to the billionaires who in 1917 made huge profits from the war, and today the billions go to the same crowd. The congress that refused to give the starving veterans the bonus gave through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation four and a half billion dollars for the bankers, the railroads, and other big corporations.
We got the bullets and the gas in 1917. Many of us were maimed and crippled for life. IN 1932 we get the bullets and gas of the police, as we did in Washington, and of the troops, which Hoover called out against us.

~~~~That’s not about brand.

That’s a hell-raising insistence on humanity, and a refusal to leave until it is recognized.
It is happening elsewhere, and it has happened here in the past. But both parties are working furiously to sell their brand of the future, to make sure they keep on \”winning\” the dollars from our pockets, because they sure don’t want us to win a brand-less future that is solely ours.


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