You surely have seen the footage that went viral recently of United Airlines staff – or airport security or airport police (seems to have been a mix) – forcibly removing a peaceful passenger from his seat and dragging him off the airplane and brutalizing him in the process to the tune of a broken nose and two lost teeth. (if you haven’t, I have attached a video news clip above where you can watch the event and get additional info)
The current hoopla in the media is mostly about the outrage of violating the holy vendor-customer relationship and a little bit about the hubris of the United Airlines CEO and the corporation’s falling stocks. As usual, our establishment journalists completely skirt some of the more important aspects of the incident, namely how this event manifests the mentality shift that our country (and much of the world) has undergone since the heady days of the American Revolution, as well as the task our current state of affairs presents us with.
You may remember the famous words from the founding of our nation, “that all men are created equal.” Back in the early days, corporations also were tasked by the state to be useful to the people, not just maximize profit for their shareholders and CEOs like they do today.
Sadly, the American Revolution left one important task untouched: the ordering of property rights. Back then, property rights were so unlimited that even human beings could be other people’s property. That, at least, has been reined in since then, at least officially, if not so perfectly in practice. This isn’t nearly enough, however. What the unfettered property rights have done to us is exactly what resulted in that passenger being robbed of his bought airplane passage and brutalized for good measure.
The fact that slave masters and other rich folks were enabled to buy out our political processes with their ill-gotten money has resulted in a gradual shift from the “all men are created equal” and “liberty and justice for all” mentality to that of a corporate class society where most of us quietly accept that a handful of plutocrats – cloaked in the anonymity of their corporations – can set all the rules by which the rest of us must live our lives, even if, for many of us, it makes a dignified life impossible.
Most of us never question this outrage. We only allow ourselves a brief outrage when an excess like the one on this airplane occurs. And as long as we don’t feel the same outrage for an evilly-rigged system of lopsided laws, institutions, and property distributions, which ruin so many lives from the cradle to the grave, we will continue to be condemned to living ruined lives, with things only getting worse over time.
Were it not for the shocking video footage, many of us would probably just shrug our shoulders at the news of this case, telling ourselves it’s okay that companies push customers and workers around as they see fit. It’s just how the system works and what we are used to. That is how much we have been tamed over the centuries. There is the larger picture to be seen here, namely, that there are not only shocking, isolated incidents like this one, but that life, as a whole, has been chipped away at by the plutocrats and we had better do something about it.
In this case, we have an opportunity to prove to ourselves that together we are strong enough to overcome this evil system by turning a company like United Airlines into a showcase of the power of direct action, such as boycott and pressure on politicians to alter the laws against such blatant abuse of corporate power.
I can only hope that we will go further and use this as a stepping stone for reaching greater awareness of our systemic malaise and that we can – together – fight back and reshape the world into the image of liberty and justice our founders spoke of.
By the way, where in all this is President Trump, the member of the oligarchy who ran as a self-proclaimed, anti-establishment candidate? Why doesn’t he send a cruise missile into that CEO’s main palace? Oh, right, he’ll only do such things in foreign countries, where he can’t be summoned to justify himself in court. Somehow we tend to dismiss people and laws in other countries. Why? Because our country is so much more civilized and free? Well is it? How civilized and free was it for that passenger?
The sad thing really is that this event wasn’t a one-off. Our society is marked by a systemic disrespect for people. We currently hold lots of slaves in for-profit prisons, most of them never having had a day in court. Many of the rest of us work as a kind of wage slave. And then, as so many of us did last weekend (or shortly before), we get to declare and pay taxes on what little income our masters leave us with. I just had the joy of this ruining my weekend. The sheer plethora of loopholes created by people with economic clout for their benefit, so that I must spend countless hours negotiating all these rules which don’t apply to me… it’s disgusting and another symptom of a system ruined by those in economic power.
The traditional libertarian or “conservative” meme that such tax mess is the result of over-sized government and can only be helped by making government smaller is a canard which is also a symptom of our damaged national mentality, because, in reality, a government committed to the idea of equal rights for all and serving its people, instead of a handful of oligarchs, business lobbies, and a scheming political class, would not produce such a mess. This mess has been created by the unholy marriage of our party duopoly to our plutocratic oligarchy. The oligarchs make all the rules, whether they be the legitimization of forcibly throwing a peaceful passenger from a plane for the convenience of the airline or a tax code which gives huge advantages to the wealthy and harasses the rest of us.
This airline passenger was lucky. He will probably get to sue the airline (and airport and police or what not) and come out of it rich enough to retire. Many who have been brutalized worse in our broken society will never get any compensation. Most of us have grounds to be compensated for how the system has cheated us, maybe not bloodied our faces but ruined – or, at least, seriously hampered – our lives nonetheless; but we will almost certainly never see any compensation. Pretty much all we can hope for is to wake up politically, fight back, and improve conditions, if not for ourselves, then at least for those who will come after us. It’s why I write analyses and commentaries more or less daily and hope to find a few readers for ideas of betterment to catch on.