As a progressive activist who has marched against many wars, I try to avoid militant rhetoric. But only “class warfare” accurately describes a situation in which 400 people control more wealth than the poorest 150 million Americans combined. If “class warfare” isn’t the richest of the rich fighting tooth and nail against unions and any tax increases while record numbers of people lose their homes, what is?
While the revolutionary spirit is brimming around the globe, progressive activists have been stymied by the seeming complacency of Americans in the face of this obvious inequality. Effective protest doesn’t mean more of the usual suspects making more of the usual noise, as with the mostly young, white anarchists who targeted Wall Street this past week. It means unexpected people doing unexpected things to disrupt the status quo and mobilize public will for change. If we’re at war, it’s time to escalate.
In a peaceful disagreement, you might write letters to bank executives or march in front of the Capitol. But what about in a war? Imagine millions of Americans withholding mortgage payments to banks that refuse to adjust underwater loans. Imagine divestment campaigns to pressure public pension funds and universities to pull their money from the private sector and put it into government bonds. Imagine students staging sit-ins to protest teacher layoffs. Imagine families who have lost their homes squatting in vacant, bank-owned properties. Imagine a nationwide call to arms, as passionately nonviolent but as violently passionate as the pro-democracy movements sweeping the Arab world. After all, according to the CIA, income inequality in the United States is greater than in Yemen.