“Incremental Change” Is Code For “No Change Whatsoever”

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Incrementalist selfie

The battle for control of the steering wheel of the Democratic party could be described a number of ways. A battle of populists versus establishment loyalists. Of socialists versus those who wish to stay the course of neoliberal corporatism. Of those who have not bought into establishment propaganda versus those who have. Of popular sentiment versus corporate interests. Of Main Street versus Wall Street. All of those are fine descriptions, but for me it’s most accurate to describe it as a battle between revolutionaries and incrementalists.

I don’t write about the Democratic party as extensively as I used to, just because I think we’ve seen enough evidence in the wake of the 2016 election to be confident by now that its controllers are going to fight a real move to the left as aggressively as the GOP would. It’s hard to remain interested in a dense mass of inertia that would rather spend its energy babbling about Russiagate than facilitate the people’s revolution that America hungers for, but there is still a large faction of revolutionaries who believe this battle is worthy of their time and energy, and I like to check in on them once in awhile.

So let me be clear about what I see happening there.

“Incremental change”, in the current US paradigm, is an oxymoron. When it is demonstrably feasible to give Americans the same economic justice and social safety nets provided to everyone else in every other major country on earth, and Democrats push for anything less than that, this is all the proof you need that they have no intention of changing anything whatsoever. They do not want to change things for your benefit, they just want your votes. They will not change anything. It will not happen.

As we’ve discussed before, America is a corporatist oligarchy wherein a plutocratic donor class must necessarily keep the rest of the population struggling financially in order to rule. Whenever you’ve got a system where money equals political power, by diverting as much money as possible to one class and excluding the others it is possible for that class to rule over a nation as completely as a king rules over a monarchy. America undeniably has such a system, and politicians are either fighting against that system or they are not. Whenever you see them only advancing drastic measures when they cannot pass, and promoting incrementalist neoliberalism-friendly changes like Obamacare and the Paris Agreement the rest of the time, you may be absolutely certain that they are not fighting against the oligarchic system which necessitates economic injustice.

This is indisputably an either/or situation. It is 100 percent impossible for a politician to serve a plutocratic class whose rule depends upon killing economic justice while simultaneously fighting for economic justice. This necessarily means that if a bill which would ease financial hardship on ordinary Americans ever gets close to passing, the incrementalist Democrats will necessarily have to sabotage it. We saw this happen earlier this year in California with the SB 562 single payer bill.

They really are either with the plutocrats or with you; if they say they can be both, they are lying.

Right now two-thirds of Americans would struggle to cover a crisis that costs a mere $1,000. Two-thirds is considered a supermajority in congress. This is how the plutocrats have secured their rule; there is a key threshold majority of the US population who is far too impoverished to afford the luxury of putting any amount of money toward political campaigns and influence. This is why a 2014 Princeton study found that non-wealthy Americans have functionally zero influence over American policy and behavior: the plutocrats have set up a system for themselves wherein money equals political power, and they prevent a crucial supermajority of Americans from having any money.

If America ever gave its citizens single-payer healthcare, just for example, that would no longer be the case. The threat of an unpayable $1,000 medical bill combined with the fact that healthcare takes a much bigger chunk out of Americans’ bank accounts than single-payer would is enough to keep that massive supermajority politically impotent in a system where money equals political power. You can’t be donating a meaningful amount money to anti-establishment leftist insurgencies when doing so could put you out on the street.

This is how we may be certain that the Democrats’ popular Medicare for All bill will not pass. Ever. Not if Democrats are able to somehow persuade Republicans to vote for the bill, not if Democrats win back majorities in the House and the Senate in 2018, not even if Democrats somehow win supermajorities in both congressional houses. Never. Democratic party leadership has made it abundantly clear that they’ll be changing nothing whatsoever about their position on corporate donations and lobbying, which necessarily means that they’re still beholden to the plutocratic donor class, which necessarily means that they’ll never support economic justice measures. If the Republicans stop being powerful enough to sabotage Medicare for All, the Democrats will sabotage it themselves. Guaranteed.

This is not to say that Americans should stop fighting for single payer healthcare; far from it. Nobody should ever be allowed into elected office without promising to do everything they can to give their constituents a sane healthcare policy, and nobody should ever be re-elected if they fail to deliver it. By all means demand loudly and aggressively that your elected officials support Medicare for All; Americans should fight for all forms of economic justice like their lives depend on it, because they do. But you will have to fight tooth and claw in order to get it, as you can only get it at the expense of the most powerful plutocracy in the history of civilization. And you can be absolutely certain that you will not be helped toward that end by the corporate incrementalists of the Democratic party.

This is also not to say that DemEnter is an invalid approach. But if you’re going to dive into that pit of vipers, you must hold to your true north without wavering. The fact that it is impossible to serve a class which opposes economic justice while simultaneously fighting for economic justice means that compromise on these issues is also impossible. If you want to work within the Democratic party, you cannot give the incrementalists a single inch, because every inch you give them is deliberately engineered to sabotage your agenda.

Economic justice necessarily means wresting power away from America’s true rulers, and wresting power away from those who rule you is the very definition of revolution. You are therefore either a revolutionary or a servant of the oligarchy. If you want economic justice, stop looking to anyone who advocates anything less than unequivocal opposition to the plutocrats and their minions. The incrementalists are not on your side.

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I write about the end of illusions.

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