In tracing the nightmare of the neoliberal development (parts one
, and three
, as well as many other posts), I’ve wondered, How do they plan to wrap this up in the end? Their totalitarian intent is clear. But under e.g. Stalinism or Nazism, as many hoops as the “citizen” had to jump through, you didn’t need money
The goal today is to use debt indenture to reduce the people to de facto slavery, and perhaps restore de jure serfdom. But since they’re planning to do it all primarily using money and debt, how do they plan to prevent the people from simply jubilating the debt? Certainly they’d be willing to use any level of violence, but what if they’re unable to apply total violence all at once? What if they can apply violence only in increments?
I guess the answer is that they plan to deploy a steady escalation of the combination we already have: consumer and “war on terror” brainwashing (starting in the corporate schools and toy advertising, and basically the same for adults in the MSM, since the goal is to render them infantile), social pressure (again ring-led by the corporate media, and also by pseudo-political astroturfing), letting individual members of the former middle class hang onto rump material rewards in exchange for Stakhanovite exertions
(exactly as under Stalin) and debt accumulations, the escalation of the criminalization of poverty
and intensifying police statism. We’ll continue to be the slowly boiling frogs, until we’re cooked once and for all.
Through this combo of lies, fraudulent carrots, and real sticks, they plan to enforce debt indenture.
To its backers, prospects that investing in the Virginia Company would pay off seemed greatly enhanced by the availability of a virtually unlimited conscript workforceBritain’s dispossessed rural tenants, imprisoned beggars, and petty criminals. Thousands of English people were transported to Jamestown, most against their will. They worked under harsh conditions of forced labor, with poor food and shelter, and brutal punishment. Only one out of five people sent to the colony survived to see the end of their seven-year period of servitude. Among transported children, the survival rate was only one in ten.
The Virginia Company’s aggressive and careless use of indentured servants had its roots in the conditions of severe stress that characterized English society at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Under feudalism, the nobility had made their earnings on the backs of the peasantry. But in the 1400s and 1500s, many nobles concluded that they could do even better by getting rid of the peasants. The ongoing practice of “enclosure” converted peasant subsistence lands into sheep pastures, driving countless people from the countryside into rural vagabondage or urban destitution. The scope of enclosure was vast: aerial photographs and archeological excavations have revealed more than a thousand deserted settlements, lending support to estimates that nearly a quarter of the land in England was affected by enclosure. Meanwhile, the English conquest of Ireland, and the banishment of Gypsies and Africans, created further waves of social disruption.
To lose one’s land was to become by definition a criminal. Under Henry VIII (15091547), vagabonds were whipped, had their ears cut off, or were hanged. During the reign of Edward VI (15471553) they were branded on the chest with the letter V. The Beggar Act of 1598 required first-time offenders to be whipped until bloody; second-time offenders were banished to work the oars of galleys or to serve time in the poorhouse.
The organizers of the Virginia Company presented their idea of converting the excess population of England into a new colonial workforce as a neat solution to two problems: gaining a foothold in the New World, while at the same time ridding the England of its unwanted people. Perhaps even more immediate on the minds of British leaders was fear of rebellion. During the Midlands Revolt, a large-scale uprising that took place in 1607, the same year that the James River settlement was founded, a group of peasants called Levellers took action to fill in (i.e. level) the ditches used to enclose and drain peasant fields.
Consider these quotes and see if they sound contemporary.
Edward Hakluyt, who spent twenty years promoting the ideas that led to the Virginia Company, was quite frank in calling it a “prison without walls.” In 1609 the company applied to the city of London “to ease the city and suburbs of a swarme of unnecessary inmates, as a continual cause of death and famine, and the verey originall cause of all the plagues that happen in this kingdome.”
At the request of the company, Parliament in 1618 passed a bill allowing the Virginia Company to capture English and Scottish children as young as eight years of age. John Donne, one of the leaders of the company, promised in 1622 that the Virginia Company “shall sweep your streets, and wash your dores, from idele persons, and the children of idle persons, and imploy them.”
Historian John Van der Zee describes children “driven in flocks through the town and confined for shipment in barns.” Those who survived the Atlantic passage encountered regimentation and institutionalized cruelty as routine aspects of everyday life. Each person, including children, received a military rank, and those who violated the detailed rules were tied “neck and heels” for the first offense, whipped for the second, and forced to work on a convict galley for the third. Such methods of discipline had been devised by Maurice of Orange for training Dutch soldiers; they were introduced to the Virginia colony by Sir Thomas Gates and Sir Thomas Gale. Even petty crimes were harshly punished. Stealing an ear of corn or a bunch of grapes while weeding a garden was punishable by death. For stealing two or three pints of oatmeal, one worker had a needle thrust through his tongue and was then chained to a tree until he died of starvation.
Speaking out against the leadership of the company earned even worse punishment. For making “base and detracting” statements against the governor, the Company managers ordered one servant to have his arms broken, his tongue pierced with an awl, and finally to be beaten by a gauntlet of 40 men before being banished from the settlement. For complaining that the Company’s system of justice was unfair, a man named Thomas Hatch was whipped, placed in the pillory, had an ear cut off, and sentenced to an additional seven years of servitude.
But of all the offenses an employee of the Company could commit, the worst judging by the severity of the punishment was merely to quit. When one group of runaways was found living among the Indians, Governor Dale responded with a frenzy of executions: “Some he appointed to be hanged, some burned, some to be broken upon wheels, others to be staked, and some to be shot to death.”
“As your U.S. senator, I am not in the business of creating jobs.”
— GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle, 5/11/10
WALKER: You know, the fact of the matter is we have to change how we do things. We are on an imprudent and unsustainable path in a number of ways. You talk about debtors’ prisons, we used to have debtors’ prisons, now bankruptcy is no taint!
So where are we slated to end up, if the criminal class has its way?
Here’s what’s coming:
There will be permanent mass unemployment. That’s already factored into every policy assumption. That’s why they’ve propagated the term and concept “jobless recovery”, wanting to drill the new norm into everyone’s heads, to normalize it and therefore pseudo-legitimize it by rendering it acceptable to a critical mass among the more servile elements of the populace. That’s why they clearly have no intention whatsoever of enacting a jobs program, and why they’re increasingly resisting the politics of having to extend jobless benefits. Permanent mass unemployment is their intent. The only tricky part is getting the sheep to accept it as the norm, the way they’ve accepted everything else so far.
Those who have jobs will suffer low wages, zero bargaining power, few or no benefits, nasty work conditions, and the constant threat of being fired as the penalty for any kind of dissent. This ideological enforcement is already advancing.
What’s left of the safety net will continue to be shredded, until it’s almost all gone. Public pensions starting with Social Security will be both austeritized away and privatized. Other public services like administration, police, fire, and all utilities will undergo the same process of gutting and selling off. All public property from parks to highways to courthouses will be privatized. Even if the judge himself is still nominally a public employee, he’ll be a tenant in a private building staffed by private mercenaries, from the court reporters to the bailiffs and marshals, and the prosecutors will also be private thugs.
There will be few non-privatized physical spaces left. You will literally not be able to physically move without “trespassing” except to the extent you’re an “owner” yourself.
These owners will set up tollbooths everywhere. Everything that used to represent the accumulated benefit of civilization itself, worked from the wilderness by the people’s endless toil, will be cast back into the black pit of a new barbaric wasteland of privatization. We’ll regress totally to the state of nature, except that this totalitarian wasteland will be far worse than the state of nature, as it will lack even the physical freedom of the primeval wildness. The new post-civilizational wildness will be a debtor concentration camp.
For of course almost no one will be able to pay to go through all the tollbooths he’ll be forced to endure just to function at all on a day to day basis. (Meanwhile those who can pay will probably be exempt.)
How can “society”, really just a vicious mining economy, function under these circumstances?
The answer is that we’ll all be terminal infinite debtors, not as holding “consumer” debt but as becoming ever more indebted simply as the price of existing in a fully privatized and enclosed antisocial death zone. The looming health racketeering mandate to purchase expensive worthless “protection” policies is a high-profile model example, but the same mandates will now exist everywhere, as the price of driving on any road, walking on any sidewalk, passing through any door (like to enter that courthouse, even as a litigant), even getting to see any official, getting to stand on any line, receiving any formerly public service at all, or even simply being able to move and speak as human beings were once able to do. Needless to say, the prices for all these things will be extortionate.
So the result will be that we’ll all become lifelong sharecroppers. We’ll be indentured into it as children. Employees across all sectors will be sharecroppers, no longer being paid for hours worked but owing future hours to pay off existing, compounding, impossible debts.
I’m not sure how it’ll work judicially. You’ll be in civil default, you’ll be permanently bankrupt and indentured to civil creditors. (The 2005 bankruptcy law
was model legislation here, but is still far short of what they intend.) They’ll restore criminal penalties for default and debtors’ prisons under hideous chain-gang conditions.
As you civilly default you’ll be administratively convicted of the crime of default as well. We’ll all be such debtors in limbo. So we’ll all exist in a state of terror, where at the whim of the state anyone can be arrested and thrown into the debtor gulag at any time. As the main terror mechanism they’ll randomly select x number for this treatment every month or year. And of course anyone who shows the slightest sign of getting uppity will be targeted.
So you’ll be indentured, tied to whatever job you have. Most of the future jobs in the fields or the mines, slaving with hand tools. (It’ll be post-Peak Oil, post-fossil fuels; whatever fossil fuels are still being mined or pumped will go only to luxuries for the rich and the maintenance of their power.) But all workers will be in the trap. Once in criminal default, you may be bound legally to your job and residence. Even we’re if not formally bound, trying to leave one’s job will certainly bring the arrest and condemnation, as it’s a sign of lessening conformity.
(BTW, the cops and soldiers will all be such debt slaves as well. You can imagine what that will do for their willingness to obey orders.)
Once in awhile your bleary exhausted eyes will look up and see a private jet. Your children won’t even know what it is, as we return to cargo cults, the only thing the slaves will have left in the end.