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Commentary Last Updated: Oct 15th, 2008 - 01:24:25

Fight back like our grandparents did in the Rebel �30s
By Dennis Rahkonen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 15, 2008, 00:16

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The U.S. economy -- and, by extension, the entire global capitalist system -- is doing a slippery-footed balancing act on the high precipice of absolute disaster.

Nothing like what we�re seeing has happened before.

Decades of compounding contradictions, all arising from the illegitimate belief that private profit should take precedence over human need, have come home to roost.

Spreading indebtedness, both institutional and personal, is sending �payment due� notices to varied yet interdependent sectors of society, but recipients plainly don�t have the means to make good.

Many seem baffled by what�s occurred, and have that deer-in-the-headlights stare. They�re in a daze, waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it certainly will.

However, there�s no real mystery to this startling turn of events.

Today�s economic breakdown is the result of our woefully misled country having long been run (and run into the ground) by a political/financial elite that judges this nation�s health only by its own prosperity, never mind the deplorable status of the overwhelming, wage-earning majority.

Public welfare and the common good are forced to take a backseat to an irresponsible minority�s abysmal greed. The quality of life in Everytown, USA, is cruelly being sacrificed so that the super rich luxuriating in their exclusive, gated communities can party on, paid for by both our tax money and their ill-gotten, expropriated wealth.

That�s more than just an ethical travesty. It�s a crime against America, ironically perpetrated by those who�ve often prattled most about patriotism, and who are fully deserving of the solution expressed on a protest placard at a recent Wall Street demonstration: �Don�t bail them, jail them!�

But the damage has already been done. It does little good to close the corral gate after the escaped horse has galloped away and disappeared behind a distant hill.

The consequences will be lasting, and brutal. Very hard times are coming, bringing pain not experienced since the Great Depression to many millions of our fellow citizens, and to our own fearful families.

It�s imperative, therefore, that we prepare for the worst eventualities.

Community activists, and all fair-minded folks with dedication to social service, should begin studying the populist organizing techniques and instruments from that grim era, namely militant councils of the unemployed, coordinated hunger marches conducted from coast to coast, and �penny auctions� in which members of battered neighborhoods would jointly purchase cheaply sold, foreclosed homes, and then turn them over to their original owners. A mass push for public works also needs to immediately begin.

Plus accelerated union organizing.

Not to mention a call for thorough nationalization (under popular, democratic control) of all monopoly entities carrying out rapacious exploitation of the working class.

During the harrowing trials and tribulations of the desperate 1930s, it was the American people themselves, guided by progressive leadership, that brought necessary change. Everything from Social Security to unemployment insurance and school lunch programs emerged from that period of titanic struggle, as did federal insurance for ordinary citizens� bank savings accounts.

FDR enacted the New Deal not so much out of personal belief in its worth or virtue, but to prevent a revolution if government didn�t act.

In the months ahead, we�ll have to replicate that populist pressure to save ourselves.

At no time in U.S. history did ordinary men and women decisively show that ours is a nation of, by, and for the people -- not capitalist thieves -- as they did in the Rebel �30s.

That decade (together with the Turbulent �60s) provides a model for rising from below, to win broadly beneficial advances for all.

The lessons learned, and the tactics employed back then, definitely must be repeated now.

Dennis Rahkonen of Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the �60s.

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