Do The Oligarchs Have A Hammer In Their Pocket Or Are They Just Excited To See A Crisis?

By Lee Camp
Special for Consortium News

Leviathan monumental shocks currently pound citizens around the world. Shocks to our lives. Shocks to the economy. Shocks to our reality. Shocks to our families, our careers, what we used to view as our “normal.” The pain of these shocks hits us in many ways, not the least of which is being forced to have sex while 6 feet apart.

Welcome to the Shock Doctrine.

Many of you may know Naomi Klein’s best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine.” It was also turned into a hit movie I believe called “Fight Club,” but don’t quote me on that. The Shock Doctrine basically says that the rich and powerful — our rulers bereft of empathy or moral cores — exploit any crisis such as disasters, natural and otherwise, to force through controversial, draconian, profit-based, or flat-out, offensive policies and laws, while the majority of the populace are too distracted, stressed, and drowning in anxiety to fight back adequately.

To put that another way: When the shit hits the fan, rather than help people, the ruling thieves have a ball!

We’ve witnessed this tactic before:

Because our ruling elite fit in the farthest reaches of the sociopath spectrum, they do not see a horrific crisis as a time to help people. They see it as a time to get what they want.

And Americans have hardly faced a crisis as formidable as right now. Someone dies in New York City every two minutes from coronavirus, the Federal Reserve now estimates job losses could total 47 million, the unemployment rate may hit 32 percent and the National Air Guitar Championships have been postponed.

This. Is. A. Crisis.

Which means it’s prime time for the oligarchs to exploit the bottom 90 percent of us. The largest way they’ve used this catastrophe so far is to pass their $2 trillion giveaway to corporate America with little-to-no oversight. David Dayen at American Prospect calls it a robbery in progress, and they plan to viscerally excrete more soon.

Hardly a moment of discussion about this (central) bank robbery on our corporate airwaves stabs through the wall-to-wall virus coverage. Even members of Congress hardly dig into it — after quickly signing off on the bailout bill, they had to run home to take care of their mistresses’ blind perfumed labradoodles (or whatever it is the elite do when they aren’t destroying average people’s lives via toxic giveaways to corporate monstrosities).

Here are some of the other controversial policies and laws joyfully being slammed through in an orgiastic festival of exploitation at the top:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency has indefinitely suspended environmental rules. Indeed, the already weak-sauce EPA just all but disbanded itself. This shouldn’t surprise anyone seeing as EPA head Andrew Wheeler counts “former coal lobbyist” as his crowning career achievement.

With this change corporate America and fossil fuel companies may begin polluting with impunity, putting an end to the exhausting practice of pretending as if every time they dumped a million gallons of noxious chemicals into a river it was an accident. After all, their throats were hoarse from yelling “Whoopsy!” so often.

But look on the bright side — America will soon recapture our glory years when many rivers glowed bright with fire, highly flammable from such an effective polluting. I’m sure many Americans will feel their hearts swell with patriotic fervor when the rivers run red with the lively, acrid flames of feral capitalism. A festive sight indeed!

  • The Department of Justice wants to suspend certain Constitutional rights. Rolling Stone reports, “The DOJ has requested Congress allow any chief judge of a district court to pause court proceedings ‘whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation’…”

This means that as long as the courts yell the word “emergency,” they can hold anybody including U.S. citizens for eternity without charges or trial. What constitutes an “emergency,” one might ask. Well, let’s see: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, mud slides, Slip n’ Slides, viruses, black mold, termite infestations, bad cuts (especially in hard-to-reach areas), scrapes, bruises, polyps, bunions, rashes, fractures, sprains, twists, turns, tumors, tremors, trichinosis, in-grown crotch hairs, and of course hangnails. Emergencies are clearly everywhere! We better burn the Constitution!

  • The Trump administration has moved to steal the ancestral lands of a Native American tribe. The Trump regime (why are only governments in other countries called “regimes”?) said the Mashpee tribe in Rhode Island will be disestablished, 75 percent to help out Trump’s casino friends and 25 percent because Donald wants to end the primo champagne treatment America’s indigenous have received for hundreds of years. (Sarcasm.)
  • And there will likely be an attempt at privatizing some public schools. With schools out of session for months, the forces of greed will try to turn some into charter schools, just like after Hurricane Katrina. Transforming public schools – open to all of our children – into private for-profit institutions (generally far more accessible to the rich and the parasitic) is immoral and vile.

And I’m saying that from a place of deep concern for our society, not because I like kids. I don’t like kids. Not a fan. They’re sticky and tenacious and high-pitched and they ask questions you can’t answer like,”Why’s the sky blue?” and “Why does the moon follow us when we drive?” and “Why are they named the Mario Brothers if it’s Mario & Luigi? What’s their last name?” and “Is the anteater the only animal named after what it eats?” At some point during this gut-wrenching inquisition I generally break down into incoherent mumblings of deep self doubt.

These are just four examples of obvious Shock Doctrine spoils. Along with the trillions of stolen money pilfered by way of the “bailout,” this will amount to quite a nice bag of booty – but that’s not enough. The neo-liberals and neo-cons will continue their disaster thievery for some time to come.

But shocks to the system can be used for positive change as well. For example, workers have been uniting in a way not seen in decades, and the possibility of a general strike hovers just over the horizon. Suddenly average workers – people stocking shelves, delivering packages, driving food cross country, caring for the elderly – have been told they are “essential” to the beating heart of American life.

Meanwhile we all now recognize that hedge fund managers, CEOs, corporate lawyers, marketing execs, sports entertainment sales specialists, and professional boardroom fluffers are not essential. They are overpaid courtesans, empowering a flailing consumerist death march, empty calories for an obese and slovenly pseudo-existence.

The current strikes and worker solidarity are due to the fact that the shock of the outbreak has woken a lot of people up. Citizens who have slept through these matters for years suddenly see the big picture. In fact, a new poll shows nearly 60 percent in of the U.S. believe the political system is designed solely to serve the rich and powerful. Sixty percent of Americans now understand the problem. We must use this shock to the system to benefit the people rather than the rich and powerful leeches getting plump off the blood of minimum wage workers.

As Margaret Kimberly wrote recently, “A return to normalcy is the opposite of what we need. This is a moment to think about what should be the new normal and what should be jettisoned forever. “

Now is the time for great change because when things are back to “normal,” it’s too late.

— If you feel this column is important, please share it. Also, Lee Camp’s new book “Bullet Points and Punch Lines” is available at and his standup comedy special can be streamed for FREE at

  1. And all five of them totally worthless half assed self serving POS who will do nothing for the American people. Very low income housing??! See? Useless

  2. This is weird. What do Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris have in common? They have all taken campaign donations from Wall Street law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison. Buttigieg and Klobuchar endorsed Biden one day ahead of Super Tuesday I and Booker and Harris endorsed Biden ahead of Super Tuesday II. Add a 10% machine vote pad and you can see how a guy barely alive and functioning, totally owned by Wall Street, can be propped up and made to look like a living presidential candidate. Just tell the elitist dummy what to say.

  3. Thank you, Lee, you continue to express the Progressive, people centered movement in an easily understood manner and you are a funny person also.

  4. The entire thing is a tragedy for the working class. People who worked to build 5-star businesses are loosing everything and my brother and I are two of them.

  5. Union organizer Jane McAlevey told Michael Moore that her colleagues have been organizing teachers, nurses, and Amazon workers (!), and strikes are going to break loose in Jan 2021 (regardless of who is elected). Time to purchase your yellow vest.

  6. I’m ready for the revolution that the Democrats said we didn’t need after Bloomberg stepped in and infused them with unlimited cash to oust honest people who are willing to fight with us and for us.

  7. The pandemic looks like a wake-up call and an opportunity to activate enough people for social change until the next oligarchy rises again (see history). However, the desire of the (pecuniary emulating middle class) to return to the lethargic comfort zone is still stronger.

    Many more deadly catastrophes reaching the value-misguided oligarchy supporting classes are necessary to change that. With climate change kicking in, we are on the best way to get there, in a few decades.

    Social movements have increased after WWII, but have also solidified nostalgia-delusional conservative groups against changes (with the help of corporate owned media).

    This pandemic could turn into a great exercise to prepare for the collective impact of coming catastrophic waves. With hope to build a social system that accepts changes, and a constitution that keeps information/education powers separate from politics, and that does not allow most wealth in the hands of a few.

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