Not So Revolutionary

Conformists may have forgotten what 1776 was all about.
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Posted August 6, 2014 by GRAYSON HARPER in News
Guest

Grant Wood’s most famous painting features an iconic farmer, his prim daughter and a pitchfork. His most satiric painting is “Daughters of Revolution.” Three white-haired ladies pose with raised teacups before a re-creation of “George Washington Crossing the Delaware.” With their hatchet mouths and squinty eyes, they seem to gloat over the mere fact of their birth.

Wood completed the painting in 1932 when the country was deep in Depression, thousands out of work, homeless. Breadlines were common. Wood makes the point — still relevant today — that the robber barons surely had nothing to fear from the polite, pampered ladies of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who are about as far from real revolution as one could get.

I often wonder how a country so enamored of its revolutionary origins could produce so many obedient apostles of the status quo, which always aligns itself with wealth and power against those who have neither.

Case in point: Those who sided with the insurance industry against universal healthcare, including the so-called “Tea Party” Republicans, are known to dress up in the costumes of their revolutionary idols. But the kinds of revolutionaries celebrated by the DAR and the Tea Party arise from below, when the have-nots begin to suspect the political and economic cards are stacked against them.

This seems to be where we are now: record numbers of people in poverty, who, in spite of their best efforts, even working full time, still struggle to get ahead. Among them are many former middle-class people — nice, decent folk who woke up one day to find they couldn’t send their kids to college. Now many of them can’t even adequately feed their families or keep roofs over their heads.

In Detroit, where the price of tap water has soared and many are jobless, the city has cut the water off for thousands of people, mostly black, who can’t pay their bills — a move condemned by the United Nations as an international human rights violation.

Hard to believe this is the U.S.A.! In fact, it’s what happens when you have a small cadre of multimillionaires deciding the fate of the rest of us — which campaign to back, which member of Congress to buy, whether we’ll keep Social Security, and where the next war will be. Literally life-and-death decisions, driven largely by profit, not decency or ethics.

The result is a wholesale attack on the Commons — to wipe out pension funds, destroy unions, slash public education, and turn everything, even the right to clean water, over to corporations.

A stellar example of this mentality is Texas’ own Greg Abbott, candidate for governor and enthusiast for privatizing just about everything, including education. In 2011, Abbott supported $5.4 billion in cuts to Texas schools, costing about 12,000 teachers their jobs.

As attorney general, Abbott ruled to keep confidential the locations of dangerous chemicals, like ammonium nitrate, the stuff that blew up the fertilizer plant in West, obliterating dozens of homes, a school, and an apartment complex.

His campaign gets funding from the billionaire Koch family, which has interests in the chemical fertilizer business.

Clearly, the playing field is out of plumb. And it’s not apt to change for the better so long as those in power remain virtually indistinguishable from the robber barons they serve.

Nor can we expect much support from the likes of the “Daughters of Revolution” or the Tea Party, those stalwart celebrants of our first war for freedom, who, had they been there, more likely would have sided with the Tories.

There’s nothing particularly honorable or noble in polite conformity. It’d be hard to name a single positive change in our world achieved by that crowd. Conformists did not cross the color line to occupy lunch counters in Greensboro, N.C., in 1960, nor did they risk their lives registering blacks to vote in Mississippi in ’64. Conformists did not end child labor laws or bring women the right to vote. They had no hand in creating Medicare or Social Security. And just as they were absent in the marches to end the Vietnam War, they’re now missing in the struggle to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If somehow we manage to get workers unionized, to raise pay to a living wage, if we start making corporations pay their fair share and make college available to all, you can bet the conformists — the power brokers and their apostles — will be standing in the way, as always.

As most revolutions are started from below by people without wealth or power, so this one will be, too. The Occupy Movement was the beginning. Let the conformists stay home.

Fort Worth artist and writer Grayson Harper can be reached at poetreb49@gmail.com.


14 Comments


  1.  
    E. R.

    Yes, Mr. Grayson. This is the era of feebs. Especially here in Texas. Be careful they don’t show up your door with torches.




  2.  
    Anon Y. Mous

    “If somehow we manage to get workers unionized, to raise pay to a living wage, if we start making corporations pay their fair share and make college available to all, you can bet the conformists — the power brokers and their apostles — will be standing in the way, as always.” Hmm… I could have sworn that all the states who followed that ideology are obviously more successful than Texas… Isn’t that the primary reason people from conservative states are migrating to California, New York, Illinois, etc… Last time I checked businesses are fleeing Texas’ because of this…




  3.  
    Anon Y. Mous

    This article is obviously not biased…
    So anyways when will there be an article about Democrats like Wendy Davis being funded by people who are not from the state Texas? Oh that’s right! Never, how ignorant of me, I just remembered Democrats are perfect little angels who never do anything wrong.




    •  
      Grayson Harper

      Good idea–why don’t you write it?




      •  
        Anon Y. Mous

        I will leave that to the journalist who wrote this, if you want to point out flaws, do it for both sides, not just the side you dislike…

        Of course you (Harpster) would never imagine of doing such a horrible thing, no one needs to be informed about how democrats receive funds.




        •  
          Grayson Harper

          Well, Mr. Mous, if you leave it up to us corrupt journalists to write something that meets with your approval, I’m afraid you’re in for a lot of frustration.

          Here’s how it works: writers don’t always write what you think they should write, they write what they want to write. This may come as a shock to you, but I don’t want to just write for people who already agree with me, so if what I wrote makes you that angry, then I feel like I’ve done my job.

          But I suppose you can continue to howl over it, if it makes you feel better, or you could sit down, write your own essay and submit it somewhere. Maybe you can get Rush Limbaugh to read it or Fox News.

          Sincere best wishes.




  4.  
    rcdcac

    Before Bohner and his boys broke for their summer vacation,nothing was accomplished except providing more funds and more bombs for Israel to rub out Hamas and tunnels and little boys and girls in Palestine. Media and the potus respond with criticisms such as ‘very disturbed’ and ‘highly bad’. AIPAC and the Jewish bankers own America . Israel wants Hamas and Palestine obliterated so that the giant cache of natural gas in Palestine can be pumped out and used by Israel. Boycott locally any and all Jewish establishments and stop allowing Fox news and those organizations to brainwash




  5.  
    Stoutimore

    Hi Harper, doing a little logic here, but stay with me; you can do this. You say most Detroiters who’ve had their water shut off for non-payment are black? Well, duh. Wikipedia says Detroit is 82% black. It stands to reason that most Detroiters who’ve had their water shut off are black. Matter of fact, most who’ve NOT had their water turned off are black, too. That is, race has nothing to do with it.

    You say water rates are too high in Detroit? Sure, when a large part of the users don’t pay their “fair share”, the rates increase for everyone else. That’s how “free stuff” works. I’m surprised you Libs haven’t declared water a civil right. Universal healthcare? Free contraceptives? Obama Phones? Why not free frigging water? Call it H2Obama! I can see Obama now, promising: “If you like your old water plan; you can keep your old water plan. Period.”




    •  
      Grayson Harper

      This is pretty funny stuff, Mr. Stoutimore. Maybe you should write a column or have a radio show. Actually, the U.N. has declared water a human right. But you probably don’t like the U.N., either. You’re still pretty funny, though, I have to admit. I slapped my knee over your Obama jokes. Maybe you should submit some of your stuff to Fox News.

      Best regards.




  6.  
    Wayne Harpster

    “Those who sided with the insurance industry against universal healthcare, including the so-called “Tea Party” Republicans, are known to dress up in the costumes of their revolutionary idols. But the kinds of revolutionaries celebrated by the DAR and the Tea Party arise from below, when the have-nots begin to suspect the political and economic cards are stacked against them.”

    Oh seriously, now! How many people do you really think dress so. I suspect not too many but that’s secondary. The insurance industry has never had it so good as they will with Obamacare. How else do you imagine they could have a guaranteed income, promised tax dollar bailouts if they get in trouble, a captive client base.

    “I often wonder how a country so enamored of its revolutionary origins could produce so many obedient apostles of the status quo, which always aligns itself with wealth and power against those who have neither.”

    That is a very strange assertion considering the tea party movement began as a revolt against the enormous bank bailouts that were supported by status quo politicians from both major parties. If you’re looking for obedience to the status quo, look no further than those modern “liberals” who have followed Barrack Obama from an anti-war, civil libertarian candidate speaking against the imperial presidency of George Bush to a more-Bush-than-Bush president who conducts more foreign wars, has grabbed more power for the office and has embraced the security / police state that Bush was so fond of.

    I don’t take much disagreement with your assessment of the state of the nation, or with your characterization of Greg Abbot who is hardly a tea party creation, rather a good old boy network corporatist politician. And, of course, the state of the nation is, in fact the result of status quo politics, hardly something you can blame on tea party people in tri-corner hats — if you can actually find one.




    •  
      Grayson Harper

      Good comments, Wayne.

      The Tea Party was largely the creation of the billionaire Koch Brothers to counter the threat of public health care, and so, as you say yourself, the insurance companies have never had it so good. I couldn’t agree more. The Tea Party continues to support very right-wing corporatist candidates. So it’s hit or miss. Also, my comment, “I often wonder how a country so enamored. . .” etc., is largely true beyond tea-baggers, so I put it in.

      But I do appreciate and welcome your perspective.




      •  
        Benny

        I just now read this Grey, (Sept.19, 7:33 A.M.) I am certain you will be rewarded in Heaven. I wouldn’t expect much here Foat Wuth. Killer thinking & writing. These Baggers & Startle- Gram child- journalists commenting here are way out of their league.





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