The House I live in. True Stories, BBC 4, directed by Eugene Jarecki.
Posted by celticman on Tue, 15 Jan 2013
Deceiving and conceiving, what’s the difference? I thought about this as I watched this slow moving chain of destruction, called The War Against Drugs by Nixon, wreaking havoc across America. Ginsberg’s Howl does not do it justice, because there is none, not for poor people. At first viewing this looks about race, the demonization of the non-white population. This was graphically shown, time and again, by a mandatory sentencing policy that even a Supreme Court Judge says leaves him feeling uneasy. These throwaway lives are mainly young and black, but, as the film shows, and my old Communist teacher, the historian John Foster, would have immediately noted, was turn over the rock of race and scuttling about below it is that of class. In Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath Tom Joad, a dirt poor farmer is paroled from prison for homicide. He’s a Okie and white. Those were the good old days. Poor people got out of prison. Now they don’t. It’s that simple. Corporations have politicians competing for their favours. It’s a win-win. They’ll build the prisons in their district, providing much needed work and the system will fill them and keep this money making scheme intact. The House I live in shows that it is not ultimately about colour. It’s about class. One commenter put it in a way that even I could understand. It’s about getting rid of 15% of Americans. Lock them up. Another academic talked about the drug war as being a ‘holocaust in slow motion’. The framework was already in place. First, there was an identification of a group as being worthless. The Jews are the obvious example. But the Okies, the Chinese, the Mexicans, the Negro, the coloured, are others. The second stage, is creating a climate of fear, in sociological terms, a moral panic by the media, so that the other, the deviant, can be properly hated. In Britain, we have currently running on this double-bill the benefit scrounger and immigrants. The third stage is confiscation. Civil liberties are a luxury not afforded to the poor. Stop and search and confiscation of goods by the police as evidence of there being no evidence. In Britain there is a softly, softly approach. Poor people live in houses that are too big. Penalise them financially. Cut their benefits in real terms. Scrap access to lawyers and the law. Innocent people don’t need lawyers. The fourth stage is concentration. The Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust had something like a few hundred thousand people living with two square miles, or less. Prisons are the ultimate ghettoes. But run down housing schemes work just as well as holding pens. The last stage of the Warsaw Ghetto was annihilation. Death Row in the US is cost effective. But there are more subtle means. Paying poor people to have vasectomies or for women to be sterilised. Keeping a young population locked up also helps. But with an ageing population –including myself- perhaps the old poor should be sterilised out of existence before the young poor. The young can work, but when there’s no work, what use is either?