Monday, August 25, 2014

The Revolt of the Middle Class: Ol' Remus at his best


It's time for ol' Remus to give viewing with alarm a rest, it's getting too crowded to be heard. He's going back to the "what's coming" part, taking up the trail where he left off, with the most potent economic and political force ever created: the middle class. 

Remus can do this with some objectivity because he isn't middle class. He's lower class. Better said as working class. Worse, he's not even "fly-over country" working class but Appalachian working class, something instantly obvious and inexpressively offensive to the middle class. Perhaps it's because the media savages us at every opportunity. Appalachian working class people are the only Americans that can be insulted by name without consequence. It's no wonder the middle class is amazed we can read without moving our lips, let alone have a preference for Gatwick over Heathrow, say.

For his part, Remus is well impressed with the middle class. Their resourcefulness and gritty determination are all the more admirable for the beatings and disrespect they take from all sides. Think they don't? Preppers can't resist calling them sheeple—good luck with that "resilient self-sufficient community" when you'll really need them. Academia takes them to task for deferring present delights for future gain. It's racist, you see. The media assaults them relentlessly. Consider how shabbily they're portrayed in sitcoms, how they're the perp in every crime drama. We have to go all the way back to the Cosby show to see even-handed treatment of a middle class family and that was only because, well, you know.

By now you may be wondering why the middle class is the dangerous economic and political force. Remus has been rereading the usual academic sources, and of the Tea Party movement and Libertarians, &c., and he's come to the conclusion we'll likely see more economic and civil catastrophes, each one more incredible than the last, during which the middle class, present and recently former, will shake off its overburden perforce and step to center stage once again, its forbearance terrifyingly gone. There's likely to come a time when the coddled class will believe they have nothing left to lose, they'll be shown how wrong they are. The middle class could remake everybody's world right down to the hardpan.

What would happen if the middle class revolted? We're talking a real insurrection, not some clapped-out "victory" at the polls. And just so we're clear, the middle class we're talking about are airline pilots, geologists, professors, engineers, lawyers, architects, corporate middle management, military officers, economists, urban planners, financial managers, supervisory nurses, pharmacists and the like. They're neither wealthy nor independent, but they don't work under close supervision. They have degrees in the hard stuff. They plan ahead. They have assets and skills and connections. And what they don't know or don't have, they know people who do. 

We know what hasn't caused them to revolt thus far: being lied to, defrauded, insulted, taxed into penury, bullied and legally swindled. The system is arranged so they support the rich leeches and the poor-by-choice leeches, both of which openly loathe them, even while they loot their earnings. They and their kids are pushed aside so the unqualified can step in front of them in any line worth being in. It's the law. Government schools teach their kids to despise them and everything they value art-link-symbol-tiny-grey-arrow-only-rev01.gif. Even so, through it all, most of the middle class has accommodated their tormentors. 

The American middle class has been as stoic as the Russian peasantry. That's changing. And that's the point. There's a difference between abuse and betrayal. Where betrayal begins, stoicism ends. Where stoicism ends, insurrection begins. But the question was, what would happen if the middle class revolted? If there were an armed march on DC, or a wave of sniper attacks and political kidnappings, or Ayers-type bombings, it wouldn't be the doing of the middle class. It may be an actual revolt, maybe even a guerilla movement, but not a middle class revolt, and no insurrection can be successful without the middle class piling in. 

So, what would happen if the middle class revolted? Consider the nearly unfixable damage a few Edward Snowden-like IT managers could do. Or how freight trains loaded with, say, high energy chemicals could be misrouted. Or the well-equipped home workshops of engineers who design military drones. In some cases not doing something can be just as damaging. Think of the power grid, then imagine some overlooked maintenance with unexpectedly huge effects, or how a small misstep in charging a natural gas pipeline could detonate the whole thing. Count the number of bridges over the Mississippi, there aren't that many. Imagine what heavily loaded barges could do to the supports if mishandled. Consider something as simple as mislabeled fuel at a transportation center. Or an airport. All these things are under the direct control of the middle class. 

A middle class revolt would have a decisive political consequence as well: DC's legitimacy would drop to zero. It would become an occupying power and be seen as such, with ramped up repression typical of any banana republic where the will of the people is overridden—rigged elections, a captive press, militarized police, warrantless wiretaps and so forth. Just as predictably, the power of the parallel society would grow exponentially in response. 

The unemployed middle class would be just as dangerous as those in place, they're adept at networking informally, they know how things really work and they know critical vulnerabilities others may not fully appreciate. They also know disinformation when they see it, for many it was a routine part of their former job. 

The question of what would happen if the middle class revolted pretty much answers itself. Whether they will or not is another question, but if you need to know for sure when things have gone from serious to seriously ugly, if you're looking for the decisive moment, if you need a signal to Get Out Of Dodge, these are the kind of events to watch for. Beware, it won't happen with shrill outrage or manifestos on YouTube. The middle class goes for results, not publicity.