The Contented Classes: When Will They Rebel?

by Ralph Nader edited by O Society May 12, 2019

For all the rhetoric and all the charities regarding America’s children, the U.S. stands at the very bottom of western nations and some other countries as well, in terms of youth well-being. The U.S.’s exceptionalism is clearest in its cruelty to children. The U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate of comparable OECD countries. Not only that, but 2.5 million American children are homeless and 16.2 million children “lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.”

The shamelessness continues as the youngsters increase in age. The Trump regime is cutting the SNAP food program for poor kids. In 2018, fewer children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP than in 2017. To see just how bad Trump’s war on poor American children is getting, go to the web sites of the Children’s Defense Fund and the Children’s Advocacy Center.

Trump brags about a robust economy—still, however, rooted in exploitation of the poor and reckless Wall Street speculation with people’s savings.

Trump’s pompous promises during his presidential campaign have proved to be a cowardly distraction. He claimed he would take on the drug companies and their price gouging. The hyper-profiteering pharmaceutical goliaths are quietly laughing at him. Worse, Trump continues their tax credits  and allows them to use new drugs developed with taxpayer money through the National Institute of Health free of charge—no royalties. Even though he talks tough, Trump lets these companies sell imported medicines manufactured in China and India with inadequate FDA inspections of foreign plants.

Torrents of Trump tweets somehow overlooked H.P. Acthar Gel, a drug produced by Mallinckrodt to treat a rare infant seizure disorder, which increased in price from $40 per vial to $39,000 per vial! Other drug prices are booming cruelly upward, while Trump blusters, but fails to deliver on his campaign promises.

For years our country’s political and corporate rulers have saddled college students with breathtaking debt and interest rates. Student debt is now at $1.5 trillion. Both corporations and the federal government are profiting off of America’s young. In no other western country is this allowed, with most nations offering tuition-free higher education.

On May 2, 2019, The New York Times featured an article titled, “Tuition or Dinner? Nearly Half of College Students Surveyed in a New Report Are Going Hungry.”

When you read the stories of impoverished students, squeezed in all directions, you’d think they came out of third-world favelas. At the City University of New York (CUNY), forty eight percent of students had been food insecure in the past 30 days.

Kassandra Montes, a senior at Lehman College, lives in a Harlem homeless shelter. Montes  “works two part-time jobs and budgets only $15 per week for food… [She] usually skips breakfast in order to make sure that her 4-year-old son is eating regularly” […]

via The Contented Classes: When Will They Rebel? — O Society

8 thoughts on “The Contented Classes: When Will They Rebel?

  1. As I commented already somewhere else to this post… contented classes never rebel – that can be held as a truism. Only when the very last hope has been exhausted and “everybody” is about to die can a rebellion succeed. As long as there is some sort of “contentment” – no revolution. Demonstrations aren’t rebellions, much less revolutions. When all and sundry are driven to put their personal lives on the line, no option, that’s when a revolution ignites. But for that ignition to even happen there has to have been very serious repression leading to it. It’s the repression that provided the spark for the explosion. Exploitation – current status – does not equate repression.

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  2. This is what really frustrates me about Nader, Sha’Tara. He only seems interested in organizing the educated classes. He says low income workers are too busy struggling to survive to be interested in organizing.

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    • Nader like u thinks blue-collar right and real left have a lot in common and ahould join forces. that is the opposite what u just said. Nader is one of the few real activists who works for change and is not a whore to the crooks and oligarchs

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      • Teri, I’m just referring to a comment he made to me in a meeting in 2000 telling antiglobalist activists we were wasting our time trying to organize low income people. I’m well aware of all the good work Nader has done – he was the one who instigated and and helped fund the anti-WTO protest in Seattle in 1999. This is why he was meeting with us to plan follow up organizing.

        I assume you are referring to his 2014 book Unstoppable, where he talks about his role in getting right and left wing groups collaborating to pass specific legislation. I’ve read the book several times, and I don’t really think he’s talking about reaching out to low income people and empowering them. In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard him directly acknowledge anywhere the class differences in the US or that these need to be directly addressed by the left to overcome the siren call of right wing Trumpism for low income Americans.

        I don’t know if you have ever read Deer Hunting with Jesus, but I would highly recommend it. The late Joe Bageant addresses the class issue directly, whereas, Nader, in my view, always skirts around it:

        https://stuartbramhall.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/deer-hunting-with-jesus/

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      • Hi Teri, my comment wasn’t anti Nader but specific to the term ‘contented classes’ It’s what might be called psychological thing. Rebellions are driven by hopelessness and an anger that transcends the natural fear of authority and the deadly repressive force it controls. As long as there is ‘contentment’ there will be no rebellion. Hope is also a drug that works against rebellion.

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    • I have to admit, though I’ve heard about Ralph Nader most of my life, and he was a big name in our environmentalist circles, I actually know little about him. I am definitely lower working class myself and I have a healthy distrust of intellectuals and academics, having rubbed shoulders with too many, so perhaps something in my environmentalist past turned me away from Mr. Nader. Like David Suzuki and others who make a successful living at preaching to the choir and the choir is willing to ante up. I don’t know. I do know this, that when the rebellion flares, these famous names will not be those in the leadership (even were they young enough to participate). Like Bernie Sanders, they would “sell out” to some aspects of the establishment, changing a rebellion into a revolution, i.e., round the mulberry bush we go again.

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  3. Trump is just the worst gutter-snipe liar and fraud possible. Total contempt for middle classes and below. Many americans are so impoverished they join the military to survive and end brainwahed and regretting it as the murder foreigners in the name of imperial blood lust, or work for slave wages to make contarctors rich.
    A working woman said to me
    “People will not rise up. They did not when hitler started being obvious. Most people don’t fight.. I hate fighting unless it comes to protecting my family. People are gentle and just want to be left alone. ”
    I would wager if something happened to her kids or grandkids or they were starving that bullshit attitude would change.

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