COVID-19: Poverty Weaponized By Elite as US Eviction Crisis Looms

This is America, writes Caitlin Johnstone. This is what America is designed to be. The head of a vast, globe-spanning empire needs its rank-and-file citizens to be poor, powerless, and brainwashed at all times.

Worker installs security panels over windows after police evicted woman from her foreclosed home in South Minneapolis, 2009. (Tony Webster, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Caitlin Johnstone

CNBC News reports that Americans are looking at the possibility of up to 40 million evictions in the coming months as unemployment payments expire and a federal moratorium on evictions runs out.

“On Friday, the federal moratorium on evictions in properties with federally backed mortgages and for tenants who receive government-assisted housing expired.” CNBC reports. “The Urban Institute estimated that provision covered nearly 30% of the country’s rental units.”

“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel coordinator John Pollock told CNBC, adding that there were 2.3 million evictions in the entirety of 2016 and that “There could be that many evictions in August.”

Down and Out in Seattle. (Joe Lauria)

While ordinary Americans are worried about being evicted from their homes by the tens of millions, the nation’s billionaires are warning the nation of the dangers of communism. After recently drawing fire for repeatedly cheerleading last year’s vicious fascist coup of Bolivia’s leftist government, billionaire Elon Musk is now tweeting anti-Marx memes and warning that leftists are “losing the middle.”

I suppose we could take it as an encouraging sign that plutocrats are with increasing frequency feeling the need to go out and personally yell at the unwashed masses who are being slowly crushed to death by end-stage metastatic neoliberalism for their insufficient submissiveness to the capitalism god. They used to just have their PR people do it, so they must be at least a little nervous.

This is America. This is what America is designed to be. The head of a vast, globe-spanning empire needs its rank-and-file citizens to be poor, powerless, busy and brainwashed at all times, because a lot of power and money rides on keeping the riff raff away from the gears of the imperial machine.

I have traveled through the U.S., the parts that everyone ignores and Hollywood doesn’t show you, and I have traveled through many countries which are widely considered impoverished. It often surprises Americans when I say this, but the USA is largely a third-world country blanketed in first-world narrative. The way so many of them live compared to the bare minimum standard of living in other wealthy countries is absolutely breathtaking.

And this is entirely by design.

I talk about Establishment narrative control a lot here, and it’s important to remember that poverty in and of itself can also be a form of narrative control. If you keep a populace impoverished, toiling and constantly terrified of the possibility of losing everything due to a single turn of bad luck or ill health, you ensure that they won’t have the time and psychological spaciousness needed to sit down and examine, for example, why their elections never change anything, or what their nation is doing to other nations.

You also ensure that a critical mass of them will never be able to afford political influence. In a nation where you’re literally incapable of influencing government policy and behavior unless you have a certain amount of wealth at your disposal, depriving the populace of their ability to pool their money toward electing a government which combats income and wealth inequality. The donor class are the only ones who get a say.

Protesters linking arms to prevent San Francisco Sheriffs’ deputies from evicting elderly tenants, Aug. 4, 1977. (Nancy Wong, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

In a nation where money equals power and power is relative, you necessarily get a ruling plutocratic class which needs to keep everyone else poor in order to maintain their rule. If everyone is king then nobody is king, so if money makes you king in your society then you necessarily have to actively deprive the majority of money.

This is why I’m always dismissive of theories which insist that you can let the wealthy keep all their wealth and also provide enough for everybody. No, you can’t, because the wealthy have a vested interest in keeping everyone from having enough, and they use their wealth as a weapon to enact that agenda in the form of political influence, monopolistic tyranny, and mass media narrative control.

They use their wealth as a weapon. They use poverty as a weapon.

As long as human behavior remains driven by the pursuit of profit, we will continue to see steadily rising amounts of war, ecocide, oppression, exploitation and mass-scale manipulation, because those things are profitable and/or protect the interests of those reaping the profits. We will never, ever profit our way out of any of those problems. The pursuit of profit will only ever make more of them.

The wealthy are only wealthy because they found some clever way to insert themselves as unnecessary middlemen between consumers and the labor, skill, and/or talent which creates the actual thing the consumers are paying for, and skimmed most of the money off for themselves. That’s all “profit” ever is in large-scale corporate operations: it’s the money that parasitic middlemen were able to steal from the real talent and move into their own bank accounts.

This will never create a healthy and harmonious world. It will only ever create more suffering and dysfunction. Something better is needed.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.   Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books “Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and “Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.”

This article was re-published with permission.

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10 comments for “COVID-19: Poverty Weaponized By Elite as US Eviction Crisis Looms

  1. robert e williamson jr
    August 1, 2020 at 19:23

    You think things are bad now just wait.

    The results of King Flu Trump’s inaction and the paralysis of congress and it’s inaction dealing with this virus is tantamount to actively prosecuting a genocide against the poorest of Americans , the medical services community and Doctors, nurses, EMTs and firemen and we all should be able see that. Do not underestimate the repercussions this “bug” is inflicting on our country, the big picture is very scary.

    I’m of the opinion that what is much harder for many Americans to grasp is how the number of those who qualify as being poor in America is skyrocketing.

    This at a time when too many Americans are already sick and tired of the B.S. coming out of D.C..

    Everyone might want to keep a sharp watch on the trouble in the streets. At this moment people are dying and the officials are clueless to many of these deaths. But the numbers will not lie in the end.

    Once the poor start starving look out. I figure King Flu Trump will send his Homeland Security Thugs to go finish off the troublesome starving masses of poor. The ones who weren’t killed off by the Trump Flu!

    Caitlin has it right again. And King Flu Trump is O’ for, nada, unless we want to do “body counts” on dead Americans. He is posting some big numbers there.

    Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, wear a mask and stay home if it is at all possible.

    Thanks to CN

  2. DW Bartoo
    August 1, 2020 at 08:11

    Every person alive, living in the U$, has, whether they like it or not, “skin”, THEIR skin in what is going to happen, here.

    Who among us may rationally doubt that things will get really bad and then, very likely, much much worse?

    When millions are thrown into the streets, you might not care – because you are not one of them.

    When it gets bad enough that you are affected and, unless you’ve hundreds of million$, you will be feeling insecurity and the threat of financial ruin, who do you imagine will care about you and your fate?

    If you find that reasoning somewhat familiar, in an historic sense (eighty some years ago being a mere blip, historically), then you HAVE got an awareness of where we ALL are headed (be – headed?).

    Should you wait until the velociraptors are at your door, with that precious skin of yours about to be flayed and your dear self filleted?

    Of course, you could simply accuse the “enforcers” of exhibiting behavior that is “defeatist” and “too negative” …

    Make no mistake, things are very seriously amuck and there is no way of voting yourself out of a societal collapse in an empire of lying, cheating, stealing, and endless slaughter.

    Does anyone honestly think it can’t happen here?

    It is. Has been. For decades.

    And, it ain’t just Trump.

    “Full Spectrum Dominance” has been, you know, “the thing”, since before the end of WWII.

    And we, dear “normal”, regular, part of the “herd” humans, are merely sheepish fodder, our lives and well being do not matter, we are completely expandable.

    If you happen to be very “well off”, have your “holding” in New Zealand and own sufficient water rights, have your mercenary guard, AI and robotic servants galore, as well as sufficient “breeding stock”, then you and Elon can plan that thrilling trip to Mars while the Earth burns.

    Be prepared to eat your silver and gold, however, and to stuff it in the cracks to keep out the cold.

    Those are class acts.

    Got class?

    Even if you think you are safe things just might not work out so well for the ubermensch this time around, since there will be no Uncle Sugar to hire you all to run the intelligence agencies if that trip to Mars goes bust.

    Also, your guards, who have the guns and the guts to kill YOU, might have plans of their own.

    Just think, however, if you die with the most toys, then you still “win”.

    How clever you are.

  3. jimbo
    August 1, 2020 at 05:54

    One story told a while back by Randi Rhodes has stuck with me. Randi was visiting a friend in some small upstate New York town when she saw a broach she liked in a jewelry store window. When she told the jeweler she’d take it tears welled up in the man’s face because he hadn’t had an actual sale in such a long time. Randi told it so much better. It made me cry too.

  4. DW Bartoo
    July 31, 2020 at 19:51

    Once again, Caitlin Johnstone has clearly and compellingly caught and described the absolute gist of things, ongoing and historic.

    Doubtless, most writing and commenting here suffer, as does she, from a certain dis-ease, the acute awareness of the emiseration and impoverishment of other human beings and their communities.

    Caitlin’s description of the lack of time and thoughtful space for the desperate many to coherently consider the larger forces arranged against them is the best such layout I have ever seen.

    Let us, for a moment, ponder the capacity of those who DO have such privilege; for many of them, the ability to ignore what is going on is regarded as a virtue, as they brook no silly distractions, some may, however, inexplicably find themselves weeping when Barack Obama makes another speech.

    Often, these folks are referred to as the Professional Managerial Class, the PMC.

    They dominate the monopolistic corporations, the M$M, MITTIMATT,
    and academia.

    Occasionally, a few will tire of the “great game”, finding Jesus, as it were and rush to tell all in book form. Some escape Wall Street, some the military, and others the media.

    I always wonder two things.

    What took them so long?

    Usually, they have made quite a “pile” or made senior grade BEFORE coming to enlightenment.

    Think about those human beings who, somehow, knew that all those endeavors (private equity, war, and propaganda) are violently destructive or about manipulating the many, and NEVER took part, never played the game, on principle.

    Why are they never listened to, never perceived as wise, of possessing a moral compass which society might well benefit from being exposed to?

    Obviously, the thoughtful, those given to serious, critical analysis are “weeded out”, are deliberately silenced.

    That is what Monopoly power does.

    It attacks and destroys any perceived threat.

    The middle class and the PMC haven’t the inclination to question – their paychecks ensure their disinterest.

    The 1% think only of MORE: money, power, control, and domination.

    Which are precisely the “interests” that the political class duopoly serves.

    They are no more “public servants” than are military armored goons.

    They all just follow orders.


    How does the truth, “the word”, as Ray McGovern put it, “get out?”

    Anybody got any ideas?

    How many of the “essential workers” will ever come across the words and thoughts of Caitlin Johnstone?

    How many of the poor have even the time or energy to read her words?

    And with whom might they discuss those words and ideas?

    How might the poor come to have meaningful access to critically necessary information?

    What will it take to nudge the middle class from their complacent complicity?

    A Great Depression amid a pandemic?

    Millions made homeless?

    Societal collapse?

    Repressive authoritarian “government”?

  5. Don K
    July 31, 2020 at 19:33

    Drugs, including alcohol, have ravaged America. Anybody that makes an assessment of poverty while leaving out the harm that individuals have inflicted on themselves has left out a big part of the story. I can’t take this article very seriously.

  6. Jan
    July 31, 2020 at 15:39

    Great photo of the I Hotel resistance. I remember that struggle in SF, back in the day. Lots more to come …

  7. AnneR
    July 31, 2020 at 14:12

    Ta Caitlin. To add to your summary of USA reality – might I include the following: the plutocrats and their bribed and corrupted cronies in Congress, MICIMATT and the WH (and it really does NOT matter which color face resides there) definitely need we the hoi polloi the poor and sociological working classes to be so pre-occupied with simply keeping from literally sinking into utter penury, pauperdom that we have no time, energy or interest in anything other than absorbing the Orwellian Newspeak of the day, decade; that we don’t pay attention, object strongly to our hard earned taxes going to the open maws in the MICIMATT – to kill, maim, destroy other peoples around the world and thus maintain buoyant war-machinery profits, rather than being used to ensure our access to the basic necessities of life: decent social, low rent housing, free medical care, free and excellent education and decent wages. To which you allude.

    But were it only the plutocrats and their best buddies in Congress etc., perhaps things might change, perhaps. But there is that sizeable swathe of the mid-upper bourgeoisie (a sort of “meritocratic” buffer between the potential mauling masses and the plutocratic ruling elites) which works so hard to deflect and distract any real, true interrogation, dissection, understanding of how this country actually operates, works and for whom in fact.

  8. DH Fabian
    July 31, 2020 at 13:08

    During the Reagan/Clinton era, consistent work went into pitting middle class against poor, workers against their “working brothers and sisters” who got phased out of the (long-shrinking) job market. That is where the battle lines were drawn years ago, and where they remain today. During campaign years, there are the routine Democrat gestures to the poor, to “stand in solidarity” — to protect the advantages of the middle class (and maybe something will eventually trickle down to you!). Throughout, the elite have rested back easy, observing.

  9. John R
    July 31, 2020 at 08:22

    Caitlin writes: “I have traveled through the U.S., the parts that everyone ignores and Hollywood doesn’t show you, and I have traveled through many countries which are widely considered impoverished. It often surprises Americans when I say this, but the USA is largely a third-world country blanketed in first-world narrative. The way so many of them live compared to the bare minimum standard of living in other wealthy countries is absolutely breathtaking.”

    In his domestic travel book “Deep South”, author Paul Theroux describes the extreme poverty he sees in his travels in the southeast US. He says that he’s traveled all over the world and seen extreme poverty in many countries and that includes the US (the worlds richest nation) where one would not expect to find the poverty usually associated with “shit-hole” countries. Well, I guess that makes parts of the US just that – a certified shit-hole country – even if you don’t see it.

    • Litchfield
      July 31, 2020 at 17:46

      Caitlin’s observation is true, if not particularly original.
      You don’t have to “travel throughout the USA” to figure this out.
      I figured it out for myself living in NYC in the 1970s and ’80s.
      Michael Moore made this point in Sicko.

      It certainly bears repeating, though.

Comments are closed.