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Feature Story June 26, 2003
 
Elite versus Elitny
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
Page 3 of 9
 
The real losers, of course, are the Indonesian factory slaves. But what would they be doing if they weren't being exploited by The Gap? Look no further than Indonesia. Since the crisis in 1997, the periphery is teeming with bloodthirsty separatist movements, while the Javanese heartland is pulled deeper into anti-American Islam, and the whole thing is dotted with tiny oligarchy settlements and multinationals trying to suck as much profit from the place as quickly as possible before it all explodes. So those Old Navy slaves don't have a lot to look forward to if, by the grace of the good anti-globalization activists, or the will of Islamic xenophobia, their plant is shut down. That would be, of course, even more disastrous, leading to more Islamic terror recruits, and therefore the need for more American soldiers drawn from Old Navy's lower-middle-class clientele--which, if you think about it, is good for Old Navy's business, since the US government isn't likely to shut down the Army and employ cheap Islamic serf labor to man our nation's defense. Lower-middle class soldiers are good for their money, so long as they don't die before they pay the bill. The government pays the Army soldiers to fight the Indonesian terrorists; the money gets wired home to wives who use it to buy Old Navy goods in order to purchase something like a middle-class life at a lower-middle-class soldier's wage. And as Sam Elliot says, "I guess that's the way the whole derned human comedy works."
Anti-globalization and anti-consumerism: elitist, sure, but it’s still right!

Anti-globalization and anti-consumerism: elitist, sure, but it’s still right!

What should the Left's answer to this be? For now, they're attacking globalization's one tangible benefit in the eyes of the struggling classes: The Gap and Old Navy's affordable class-leaping offerings. It's idiotic and only serves to further alienate the Left from their natural audience, the economically disadvantaged (or rather, the economically fucked). Hence, the charges of elitism. Whatever the Left's strategy in combating this, it should NOT by any means try to invoke the lower-middle-classes' pity for Indonesian slave laborers. They are Islamic, for chrissakes; the enemy. Won't work.

The rightwing oligarchy and its mandarins explain away globalization's savage effects on the lower classes as all part of prophet Adam Smith's wonderful plan for humanity. Or, negatively, the American Right seizes on the affordability of the goods produced overseas to attack Leftist critics for being elitist snobs because they are dismissive of the value of cheap middle-class-quality goods to the lower classes (a fair charge against the Left, though the Left is right to be elitist here) and because the Left wants to interfere with the hallowed "free market" which they claim is economics' equivalent to "pure democracy." This is an insane lie, evil quackery, the separation of human behavior from the hallowed "market."

For the right wing, lying has no consequences. Whatever they say about the proponents of globalization, no one has accused them, America's oligarchs, of being elitist. Only the natty leftwing critics are elitist. Which matters, because if that vicious feudal wage-price-war cycle I described ever reaches its logical conclusion, forcing workers to actually pay factories for the right to knit Old Navy sweaters which are then given away, with cash bonuses, to customers, someone will have to pay for it. History shows that when things turn bad, it's the elite who tremble most.

What makes a purge of the last remaining remnants of the feeble Left almost plausible is the fact that, as I said, they're the ones trying to convince the downsized Americans that it's immoral and distasteful to shop at Old Navy, it being a Gap store and all. Hell knows what the Left would like Middle America to wear: Bob Marley white rasta cottons and red/yellow knit cap? Thrift store outfits? That sounds way too complicated for most of us. At least at Old Navy they make it easy. Cheap and easy shopping -- about the only legal pleasure left in America.


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Ames
Browse author
Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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