Tag Archives: 99 homes

Review of 99 Homes – or, on Ruling Class Radicalism

On a rare following of the advice of others, I went to see Fury Road.  I hate reviews so much that I usually show up late just so I can miss them.  But one review caught my eye: for 99 Homes.  I’ll save you the description.

Even though it was the preview I’d be most likely to see, it still bothered me.  As I watched the family get kicked out of their home, I wondered: oh, is this a movie about how banks use shady legal tactics to foreclose on people who are actually paying their mortgages?  No … well, is it a movie about how banks ignore the laws and just kick people out without notice?  Is it about how people get mortgages they can’t afford and are stuck in an untenable situation?

No … well, what is wrong here?

And then it dawned on me.  The problem the movie is addressing isn’t any of these.  The problem is people have rules they have to follow.  Rules themselves have become unjust.

Here’s the deal.  And everyone who signs a mortgage understands it – or, they sign about 100 pages claiming they understand it.  When you get a mortgage on your home, it is not YOUR home.  The bank paid most of the money for it, and it is only your home provided you fulfill your end of the deal to pay them back their money according to a certain schedule.

If you don’t, and I fully understand there are plenty of people who don’t – there’s a whole legal framework the bank needs to follow before they can A) foreclose on the home B) evict you for living in what is now their home C) get a sheriff to come in and force you out of the house along with your furnishings.

Every one of those steps involves plenty of notification, and after the crash of 2008 there’s even more notification, and aid for those who face foreclosure.

The very fact that when the sheriff showed up, and none of them had any idea what was happening, well that just blew my mind with BS.  Did they not read their mail for the last year or two?  Did they not notice in their checkbooks that no debit was made to the bank once a month?

But I speak in vain here.  Because, see, this reveals a greater problem with politics in America.  I’ve been involved in the left when I was younger on a deeper level than I would ever care to discuss here.  But I was also well read about it.  And my idea of being on the left was to actually go into working class neighborhoods and listen to their concerns.

But time and again I saw people who came in and said all the fancy words to make themselves look cool.  At first I thought I could have a discussion with people like that, but then I realized they were really speaking from a different perspective – that of the well-off, who only sees the world from their well-off perspective, and has no intention of risking that privilege.

Marjane Satrapi echoed a similar concern in her book Persepolis.  Hanging out with a bunch of anarchists, they told her they were going to some Anarchist event.  Coming from an Iranian background of revolutionary communists and atheists, she thought she was going to some passionate demonstration against the injustices of the time.  Instead, it was a bunch of kids playing in the woods.

And that sums up the politics today – kids playing in the woods and fighting for a world where they have no duties or responsibilities.

The police brutality issue is an interesting one.  Remember Rodney King?  That was police brutality.  What are actual black people talking about?  Actual police brutality.  But what gets shown in the media?  Somebody hassling a cop, giving cops a hard time, and then getting their ass kicked.

This is not a fight for justice, it’s a fight for not having consequences for your actions.  And it’s baiting blacks to be the rebel anarchists well off white people want them to be, to fulfill their rebel fantasies.  Now, I’d like to think I’ve talked to enough black people in my life to know they’re for law and order, just like anybody in shitty neighborhoods do.  You meet a cop, they tell you what to do, do it.  If you want to break a law you feel is unjust, don’t resist arrest.

Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle can chime in a bit.

Go to a poor neighborhood, and see how well behaved people generally are in front of cops.  Yes, they know what happens if they don’t, but it’s also to distinguish themselves from the scum in their neighborhoods who so desperately need a baton shower.   Contrast that with somebody in a college town who gets pulled over, and they turn into Malcolm X.  Of course the cop has to sit there and take it or he gets disciplined.

I could keep on going – bitcoin, vaccines, Occupy, gay marriage, the Middle East …  behind every one of these issues of the day is the shadow of an actual issue.  But look more closely and what you’ll see is well off people wanting to escape the laws of society, even the laws of nature.

It’s the disease of every decadent ruling class since those ancient times when they were looking for the secret to eternal life.  And if you’ve actually read your Marx – it is a class problem, not a rules problem.