A plutocrat honestly explains the new politics of America

Summary: After decades of work by America’s plutocrats, aided by our apathy, they control all 3 branches, not just Federal but also most State and local governments. Control of a few more States will allow them to amend the Constitution, further entrenching their power. To better see where we are going, see this passage describing the UK (and US) government before the great democratization brought forth by three world wars (2 hot, 1 cold) and the Great Depression. {First of 2 posts today.}

Robert Morley as Andrew Undershaft
Robert Morley as Andrew Undershaft. Getty Images.


Who is the government of our country?

Remarks to an aspiring politician
by Andrew Undershaft, CEO of the giant defense contractor
Undershaft & Lazarus.

From George Bernard Shaw’s play,
Major Barbara (1906).


“I am the government of your country; I, and Lazarus.  Do you suppose that you and half a dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that foolish gabble shop, can govern Undershaft and Lazarus?

“No, my friend; you will do what pays us.  You will make war when it suits us, and keep peace when it does not.  You will find out that trade requires certain measures when we have decided on those measures.

“When I want anything to keep my dividends up, you will discover that my want is a national need.  When other people want something to keep my dividends down, you will call out the police and military.

“And in return you shall have the support and applause of my newspapers, and the delight of imagining that you are a great statesman.

“Government of your country!  Be off with you, my boy, and play with your caucuses and leading articles and historic parties and great leaders and burning questions and the rest of your toys.  I am going back to my counting house to pay the piper and call the tune.”

"Dawn", by Freelancah.
“Dawn”, by Freelancah. Not all dawns bring good news.

Conclusions from this post in February 2016

This is from Act III of “Major Barbara” by George Bernard Shaw. Shaw wrote this for a British audience in 1906. A century later it applies just as well to America. We are not so exceptional after all.

Plutocrats believe it natural that America choose leaders that are either plutocrats or their loyal retainers. If you do not want your children and grandchildren to live in such a nation, I suggest you take action. Forces are in motion against us. Time is not our friend.

The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. … This … was the real American Revolution.
—- John Adams in a letter to H. Niles, 13 February 1818. This process works just as well in reverse.

Conclusions today

A year later we have a government of plutocrats by plutocrats. Enough Americans gullibly believed Trump’s speeches about populism, despite his proven record as a liar. Now we have a far-right Administration (not a populist among them) and a Congress with a far-right majority. Soon the Supreme Court will also have a hard conservative majority. Expect Trump to implement a scattershot program, but with his heart given to the core desires of the 1%…

  • tax cuts for the rich financed by the middle class (& debt),
  • a larger military (driven by bellicose rhetoric about “foes”),
  • deregulation of large corps destruction of unions.

My guess is that it is too late to prevent most of this. The Left might riot — having fun and boosting support for the Trump. If Trump screws up so that the GOP turns on him, President Pence will carry on the work of the 1% — and certainly carry it out more competently than Trump could.

The critical reaction will be that of conservatives in 2020. Will they happily watch their Medicare and Social Security get cut, Obamacare coverage reduced or eliminated (the name is unpopular, not its features), workplace protections eroded away, Federal land given away to the States (who will sell it cheaply to the 1%), and polluters unleashed. Plus continued failed wars and more brinksmanship (to justify the massive boost to military spending).  If so, then the Democrats are unlikely to gain sufficient power to destroy the foundation laid for this New America.

My guess is that conservatives will happily accept whatever policy crumbs Trump gives them, spiced with his flood of pleasing rhetoric. Just as the Left happily accepted the crumbs Obama gave them (e.g., the health industry profit-boosting, unsustainable Rube Goldberg machinery of Obamacare), with his Hallmark greeting card speeches offsetting his support of illegal surveillance, war on leakers and whistleblowers, assassination program (including of US citizens), and widening our mad foreign wars.

If so, the Bush Jr. – Obama – Trump years will mark the fundamental transformation of the Republic into something else, with Americans becoming its subjects — no longer its citizens. This transformation will not be easily reversed. The one percent will be competent, if greedy, rulers. Don’t hope for a great crash to bring forth an uprising — leading to dawn of a new day.

“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
— Attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson.

For More Information

The photo is the actor Robert Morley as Andrew Undershaft in the 1941 film version of “Major Barbara”, directed by Gabriel Pascal.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Trump and the New Populism, and especially these…

  1. From March 2014: Stand by for political realignment in America!
  2. Background: Much of what we love about America was true only for a moment.
  3. Trump assembles a Strategic and Policy Forum to better hear the 1%.
  4. Trump is the next logical step as America becomes a plutocracy.
  5. Here’s the news about Team Trump. See the promises fade away.
  6. Trump assembles a Strategic and Policy Forum to better hear the 1%.

These books by Thomas Frank help explain how we got here.

The Wrecking Crew
Availale at Amazon.
"Listen, Liberal" by Thomas Frank
Available at Amazon.

2 thoughts on “A plutocrat honestly explains the new politics of America”

  1. “Much of what we love about America was true for a moment.” George Bernard was an Irish giant. Gained and lost many friends over his long life. This is a fine example of why.
    This post made me think of the song Thanks for the Memories. Bob Hope (ah the beauty of irony), went and listened to that recording. Then watched Bob’s Christmas Show, December, 1967….filmed in VN, Thailand and Cambodia. A mere six or seven weeks later the NVA and Viet Cong began the Tet Offensive. And six months later the War began its wind down with America a defeated Country.
    Ya had to be around then to truly understand perhaps the ending of the Moment referenced above.


  2. Pingback: A plutocrat honestly explains the new politics of America | Fabius Maximus website

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