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The Yoke of Washington and Wall Street

category north america / mexico | anarchist movement | opinion / analysis author Sunday January 21, 2018 10:08author by David Van Deusen - The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective Report this post to the editors

An Excerpt From On Anarchism: Dispatches From The People’s Republic of Vermont

What follows is an excerpt from the new book On Anarchism: Dispatches From The People’s Republic of Vermont. Dispatches contains works written by David Van Deusen, and in some cases with the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective. Jeff Jones of the Weather Underground wrote the forward. This excerpt is from Neither Washington Nor Stowe: A Libertarian Socialist Manifesto. the excerpt is the full table of contents for Dispatches.


On Anarchism: Dispatches From The People’s Republic of Vermont,
By David Van Deusen
Chapter II: Theory
Neither Washington Nor Stowe


The Yoke of Washington and Wall Street

“For Vermont, of all people, would be the most miserable, were she obliged to defend the independence of the United Claiming States, and they at the same time at full liberty to overturn and ruin the independence of Vermont.”
— Ethan Allen

The United States of America, and much of the remaining world, operates above all else according to the rules of capitalism. Under capitalism, the basic goal of society becomes the private accumulation of wealth for the elite few. In other words, the major institutions of society value the production of goods and services that are capable of generating a maximum amount of profit. What is best for the common good is often obscured by what is considered best for economic consumption. With such, working people (who are by far the vast majority of the population) are seen simply as a necessary resource for corporations and private owners. Instead of viewing workers and small farmers as equal members of the broader society, the owners and bosses see us as no more than a necessary resource in the field of production. In a word, we’ve become akin to the machines- we’ve become objects of exploitation.

Our labor is used not as a means to uplift society as a whole, but as a tool to make a select few very rich. On the job, we are often compelled to work under the near dictatorship of the boss. Even when we work for ourselves, we are still dictated to by the wealthy that hire us, the corporations who subcontract us, as well as the ebb and flow of the capitalist economy. In short, we are compelled to engage in work in order to create a massive overall profit that we will never see, and if we don’t like it, and we speak up, we face the likelihood of being fired. The schools teach us that this is democracy. For forty to sixty hours a week we live under a dictatorship in our workplaces, and this is acceptable?

Insofar as social and economic policy is concerned, the federal politicians, who are usually bought and paid for by the rich, don’t ask what we think or what we want. Instead they take into account the “needs” of the owners. They pass legislation that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer, and adopt trade agreements that translate into the foreclosure of family farms and the relocation of factories to countries and states where workers have even less rights, and where wages are even lower than they are here. And again, these politicians write laws that allow the rich to skip out on paying their share of taxes, and instead rely on us working class folk to foot the federal bill. And what do we receive in exchange for such taxes? Healthcare? Affordable housing? Free higher education? No. Our money is used, by and large, to subsidize the corporations, and to build bombs and tanks that are deployed at the whim of the President and in the interests of the elite.

Even in the larger picture we are being screwed by the out of state corporations and the feds. While we struggle to get by on the sweat of our labor, our raw materials (milk, timber, granite, produce, tourist monies, etc) are, on the one hand, shipped out of state for refinement and then shipped back to be sold to us at a profit that we will never see. On the other hand, much of the accumulated capital, from among other things, the tourist industry is carpeted off to banks and rich people who have never even stepped foot in the Green Mountains. In this way, Vermont has the same economic relation with the U.S. as that of a colonial possession. Just as the American Colonies (and much of the world) came to understand such a colonial relationship to be detrimental to the social, economic, and political well-being of their citizens, so too do increasing numbers of conscientious Vermonters.

In essence, the federal government demands that we provide them with money, send our children to die in their wars, sacrifice our rights for the profit of the few, and to do so without complaining. This is the directive of Washington DC and Wall Street, and this is the yoke which is placed over the neck of the working people of both Vermont, the rest of the nation, and much of the world. So do we learn to live with this yoke, or should we seek to break it–once and for all?

The Yoke Within

“It overwhelms the individual from birth. It permeates every facet of life, so that each individual is, often unknowingly, in a sort of conspiracy against himself. It follows from this that to revolt against this influence that society naturally exercises over him, he must at least to some extent revolt against himself.”
— Michael Bakunin

As if it wasn’t enough, to have the federal government and big business on our back, we also have foes closer to home. The greedy capitalists that own the resorts, the yuppies that we have to wait on, managers that run the factories; these are the daily reminders that we’re forced to work within the confines of the U.S. economic machine.

For example, let us take a look at the case of Stowe. Nestled on the busy thoroughfare of Rt. 100 and in the shadow of Mount Mansfield, this quaint village represents, to many of us working Vermonters, what is wrong with the current set up. Million dollar second homes for the wealthy of Toronto, Connecticut and beyond dot the hills. Workers from Morrisville, Hardwick and Elmore make the daily trudge to labor in the tourist shops that line Main Street, to staff the ski resorts, to manicure the lawns of the rich, and wait on them hand and foot at their catered parties. This Vermont theme park for mostly rich out-of-staters has grown so large in its scale of operation that hard working people of the surrounding towns cannot perform all of the necessary labor to keep the lazy rich people content. Hard working folk from Jamaica and other countries are recruited to staff the tourist industry. Young working people, who travel around the country working at resorts just so they can afford to ski or snowboard, sell themselves into a glorified form of indentured servitude for a season. Working people from around the country who immigrate to our Green Mountains for their beauty and quiet end up facing the ugly crowds of the tourist buses and their shrill chatter while ringing them up at the register.

In this poker game we see the workers whose cards leave them with only their wits to play the game, and the wealthy flatlanders always with a royal flush in hand; but there is another character whose hand is at play and who shuffles the cards to keep the deck stacked against the common Vermonter. That is to say, there is the local elite who own the hotels, the restaurants, the big landscaping companies, the real estate firms, the car dealerships. There is a local status quo in power in Stowe and Montpelier, in Brattleboro and Killington, and throughout Vermont who profit off the maintenance of this system of exploitation and inequity. While they play real hard at trying to maintain the image of regular good ol’ Vermonters just like everyone else, their interests (and profit margins) lie more in tune with the wealthy, both here and out-of-state, than with us workers, be we Vermont born and raised, or recent arrivals to the Green Mountains.

Here is the picture: A small dairy farmer signs off on the foreclosure of a family farm as old as the independent Republic of Vermont while an entrepreneur in Stowe celebrates the acquisition of a new shop at which common Vermonters will labor for poor wages to make him richer. A Vermont National Guardsman in Iraq gets blown up by a bomb while a member of The Cody family (owner of several Washington County car dealerships among other businesses) sits comfortably and safely behind a desk as a Four Star General in the US army. A carpenter hitchhikes to the jobsite because he can’t afford to get his car fixed until next week, let alone pay for the skyrocketing gas prices, while “caring” capitalists Ben and Jerry make a shitload selling their company to the multi-national corporation Unilever. Our good ol’ boy Governor Jim Douglas gives $350,000 of our tax dollars to the ski industry to subsidize their advertising costs while he scolds dairy farmers asking for a $500,000 investment to buy their own dairy processing plant. [*circa 2004] The liberal led government of Burlington does some remodeling to bring in department stores and fancy boutiques while a family in the old North End has to sell off their home because yuppies have driven up the property taxes.

There are, in fact, two Vermonts: one of wealth and privilege and one of hard work and sweat. If Vermonters have any chance of success against the forces of Washington and Wall Street, the battle must start in our own backyard against the business and political elite of Montpelier and Stowe. We must guard against the sly maneuvers of both the conservative and the liberal status quo in Vermont, and fight to win more power for ourselves in our towns and workplaces. Could our efforts ever cultivate a harvest hardy enough to withstand the strong, cold winds of Washington and Wall Street if we do not till our fields first? Can you start a good sugaring season without first cleaning out your sap buckets? The answer is no. There will be no victory over the enemy without before there is victory over the enemy within. For it is the privileged and powerful locally and their dupes who will stand as the first serious line of defense for the privileged and powerful classes in general. So do we bow our heads, mutter curses under our breath, and continue to subsist on the scraps they throw to us or do we dare to struggle and dare to win against the local elite?

A Second Vermont Revolution

“Go your way now and complain to that damned scoundrel your governor. God damn your governor, your laws, your king, council and assembly.”
— Ethan Allen

So, what is to be done? We can choose a different way; a way that will allow our grandchildren to experience the independence, democracy, self-sufficiency, and natural beauty that are the gifts handed down from our common ancestors. If we choose this path to freedom, we can set our course in such a manner that our future will not be simply a still life of the past, but one that reflects new possibilities for equality, direct democracy, and social stability. There is no reason in the world that we cannot both honor the past, while paying homage to a future wherein all Vermonters are allowed, among other things, free access to healthcare, higher education, housing, childcare, and decent jobs. This is the trick; remaining true to our roots while capturing the spoils of technology and the potential of social cooperation. So what would such a Vermont look like, and how do we get there? Well, the seed of such a place is already in our hearts, and through such, has already begun to show signs of germination.

Back in the 1700’s, before Vermont was a state, we practiced a form of direct democracy through an empowered Town Meeting system. Imagine for a moment that the legislature didn’t meet in Montpelier. Imagine, in fact, that there is no legislature at all. Instead envision a system working throughout all the Green Mountains whereby all major decisions are made through local Town Meetings. Now of course one, or two, or even 30 Town Meetings don’t have, nor should they have, the power to impose their views on all of us. However, would it not be more representational of our collective general will if a majority of towns voted to pass a certain regulation, law, or resolution? Well, that is how the early years of Vermont were defined and that is how the great American revolutionary Thomas Paine believed it should be. In other words, we used to all get together in our different communities in order to discuss, debate, and publicly vote on all the big issues that affected Vermont as a whole. And if a majority of towns passed something, it was considered a done deal. And again, the way in which they tallied votes was to have representatives of every town meet in order to report what the majority of their community felt was best.

Of course, Vermont is a different place than it was back in 1776. No longer are the majority of us small farmers, and therefore our own bosses. Today, Vermont is a place where most of us work for someone else, and where the remaining farms have to struggle to remain viable in the larger capitalist world. In short, Vermont, like nearly everywhere else in the modern world, is a society divided by economic classes, and again by the interests of the large population centers, like Burlington, as opposed to the small rural communities. Therefore, the rebirth of our tradition of direct democracy would have to take these factors into account……..

[The rest of this essay can be found in On Anarchism: Dispatches From The People’s Republic of Vermont, By David Van Deusen, Algora Publishing, NYC, 2017. http://www.algora.com/539/book/details.html]

***

On Anarchism: Dispatches From The People’s Republic of Vermont
By David Van Deusen
Algora Publishing, NYC, 2017

Available direct from the publishers at: http://www.algora.com/539/book/details.html

Table of Contents

Foreword:
Red and Black in the Green Mountain State, By Jeff Jones of the Weather Underground… 1

Chapter I: History
The Rise and Fall of The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective… 5

Chapter II: Theory
Culture and Nothingness… 33
On the Question of Violence & Nonviolence… 53
Neither Washington Nor Stowe: A Libertarian-Socialist Manifesto… 65

Chapter III. Insurrection
Black Bloc Tactics Communiqué… 101
Anti-WTO Protests & The Battle of Seattle… 124
A:16 — A March On The Capitol: April 2000… 128
The Battle of Quebec City… 131
DC and the Twin Towers: A Battle Postponed… 136

Chapter IV: Organization
The Long Term Viability of Forming Workers’ Councils
(A Strategic Proposal To NEFAC)… 141

Chapter V: Workers
Montpelier Downtown Workers Union: Building Working Class Democracy,
One City At A Time… 177

Chapter VI: Secession
Vermont Secession: Democracy & The Extreme Right… 199

Chapter VII: On The Road
When the Levee Breaks: New Orleans, Katrina, & The People…211

Available direct from the publishers at: http://www.algora.com/539/book/details.html

Related Link: http://www.algora.com/539/book/details.html
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