The self-perceived “patriots” that stormed the Capitol are the fish swimming in a lake polluted with industrial runoff so that the factory owner can live on a nice hill far away.
Hamilton Nolan, America Is Built to Feed Us Poison, In These Times, excerpt January 2021
Capitalism is the theory that everyone acting for their own naked good will produce social benefit in the aggregate. America in 2021 is a counterexample.
This orientation, sunk deep into our collective bones, naturally produces a legal, political, and social structure to support itself. That structure looks like what we have now. It makes it permissible to lie about climate change in order to make money, to lie about government health care in order to make money, to lie about scary hordes of immigrants in order to make money, to lie about progressive taxation in order to make money, to lie about public education in order to make money, to lie about anything to make money, or to build a career as a functionary who smooths the way for all of these lies. It is what determined that slavery is good, because it makes money, and then built an entire racial mythology to justify that position that was so powerful it still afflicts us to this day. It is what has determined that moral bankruptcy is okay as long as it wears a nice suit. And what does that crowd of brain-fried “patriots” storming the Capitol have to do with any of this? They are the fish swimming in a lake polluted with industrial runoff so that the factory owner can live on a nice hill far away. Our toxic system has toxic byproducts, which poison many people. But never the winners.
There are other ways to organize society, you know. We have never tried them. Maybe we will one day. Or maybe we’ll just keep on passing out from that poison periodically, until the time comes when we can’t recover.
HAMILTON NOLAN is a labor reporter for In These Times. He has spent the past decade writing about labor and politics for Gawker, Splinter, The Guardian, and elsewhere. You can reach him at Hamilton@InTheseTimes.com.