Upstairs Downstairs: Libya and the new British Empire
Britain these days is more and more starting to resemble that famous old PBS series, “Upstairs Downstairs”. Shades of Queen Victoria! For example, Britain currently has all these posh folks in the drawing rooms of Knightsbridge and Mayfair drinking tea with their pinkies held out — while their used-and-abused servants downstairs in the slums of London and Manchester slave away for shite wages and no respect. And, in the background of all these modern strict divisions along class lines, Britain’s colonial empire still stretches from Afghanistan to Libya.
The only difference between 19th-century Britannia and today’s 21st-century Albion seems to be that the downstairs servants no longer know their places. The recent London riots proved that.
But the “Upstairs” contingency is still carrying on with a stiff upper lip, still imagining that scullery maids hang on their every word and that the London rioters were merely criminal thugs.
As for the new British Empire? Afghanistan in the 19th century and Afghanistan now? 200 years later and not much has changed. Colonialism. Shock-and-Awe.
And then there’s Libya. Sure we all hate Gaddafi — just like we all hated Saddam. Iraq folded and was plundered. And now Libya has become part of the White Man’s Burden too.
Have things changed at all from Queen Victoria’s day? Not so much.
PS: Who cares about Britain? Not me. I’m much more worried about the USA. With 5% of our population now owning 95% of our wealth, we’re obviously becoming all “Upstairs Downstairs” here too — only with a twist. Instead of lords and ladies only taking advantage of “the help” economically, American overlords are now taking total advantage of our working class — hearts and minds, body and soul. Over half of all freaking Americans these days seem to be almost begging to be exploited and abused.
Unlike what happened during Queen Victoria’s time over in Britain, what is starting to happen here in the United States today is entirely new. Our American working class isn’t just being economically used and abused, even though the easy availability of cheap labor does seem to be one of the goals of America’s new corporatist aristocracy. But from what I can tell, America’s corporatist leaders also have a dictatorship in mind as well as just a convenient new source of butlers and maids. Think banana republic. That’s never happened here before here — or even happened in Britain before either. Or at least not since the days of Prince John.
And the truly sad part of this new trend toward allowing corporatist Top Bananas to take over our federal and state governments is that no one seems to be willing to stop this from happening. And I see Libya as a pivotal turning point here. Now that a majority of countries in the Middle East are under the sway of U.S. corporatists, these new “Upstairs” lords have nailed down a strong position to suck more and more power and more and more wealth out of both America and the Middle East — and thus become stronger and stronger. And who is left to stop them now? Not the American “Downstairs”. They just sit back, go to tea parties and think that they also are holding their pinkies out — but are actually just bending over. We’re screwed.
American corporatists have traveled the world (on our taxpayers’ dime, BTW) and taken over all-too-many of its countries, adding one dictatorship at a time to their list of scullery maids. And Israel was the first to fall under their malevolent influence in the Middle East. No, it was Saudi Arabia. Or was it Iran, first given to the evil Shah with no strings attached?
Then the corporatists replaced do-able Iraqi leaders with Saddam, who started to exhibit a mind of his own and so then was replaced by various “provisional governments” who knew their place — downstairs. Afghanistan also became another American corporatist colony. And now Libya has just fallen to Exxon and BP via a dreary repeat of Iraq’s Shock-and-Awe.
And will America be the next country to go “Downstairs” — in every sense of the word? We have already entered our “Colonialism” phase. Will Shock and Awe be coming next — after having been touted as necessary in order to “protect civilians”?
The future of America is now at a crossroads. In another few years, the corporatists and oligarchs will have become too entrenched and too dangerous to ever overthrow at the ballot box. Think Hitler at the 1938 Olympics, gloating happily over how he had usurped power from all those gullible Germans. If we ever want to see a return to democracy, we must act now before the corporatist python’s hold on us gets too strong — and we wake up to find our kids out rotting away in “Downstairs” gulags in Ohio and Arizona and Chicago and New York. Shock-and-Awe. Colonialism. “Protect civilians”.
So. What to do to stop being swallowed alive by the oligarchy of “Upstairs”? Participating in the upcoming October march on Washington might be a start. If 20 million people show up, who knows? An American spring?
Eliminating electronic voting machines would be good. They have clearly been hacked. And let’s also either vote out or impeach every congressional representative or Supreme Court justice or president who supports war and/or Wall Street. Demand better healthcare, better schools, more jobs or else. Return manufacturing to the USA. Demand high tariffs. Bring our troops home and make them defend US, not corporatists profits. We’ll never see a dime of all the oligarchs’ spoils of war.
Next, let’s stop the so-called “privatization” of our resources, buildings, labor pool, national parks, education, prison work force, hospitals, banks, Social Security, etc. That’s all just one big corporatist scam to steal what is rightfully ours. Would you let a thief steal stuff from your home? No. But everyone seems to be all willing and even eager to bend over backwards so that corporatists can steal stuff from our government.
Also, there are currently many perfectly good laws on the books in our country that can and will defend our rights. Isn’t it time that these laws apply to the rich as well as the poor — to say nothing of the pure pleasure to be found in persecuting blatant war criminals. Did we or did we not have Big Fun at the Nuremberg trials?
Our very futures, our very lives and our children’s very lives are dependent upon what we are going to do in the next few years — while we still have a chance.
PPS: What do Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya all now have in common? Of course they have all suffered Shock-and-Awe. And colonialism. That goes without saying. But they have also become sources of incredible wealth for corporatists — and money pits where American taxpayers go to die.
According to economist Samer Araabi, “To continue to ignore the democratic aspirations of millions [in the Middle East], in the interests of misguided short-term strategies, is to doom U.S. efforts in the Middle East for decades to come.” http://rightweb.irc-online.org/articles/display/the_saudi_counter_revolution
Guess what, Araabi. You are wrong. What will really happen here at home is that America and Britain will continue to become more and more like the dictatorships and anti-democratic figureheads that they support in the Middle East — until both America and Britain, as well as all the various world-wide satrapies that they have already painstakingly created, will completely come to resemble “Upstairs Downstairs” at its worst.
Colonialism. Shock-and-Awe. “Protect civilians.”
PPPS: Americans know from first hand experience what it it like to be colonized — and yet they (not me!) are still ready, willing and able to do it to others. What ever happened to the Golden Rule in this country? Long gone.