Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Leftism and Wrestling: Hard Times

The American Dream embodied the American Dream
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Even though capitalists and conservatives run and populate the wrestling business, as an artform, it lends itself to leftist ideals. This series hopes to show wrestling fans why they should embrace the left, not just for the sport/art, but also for themselves.

The greatest wrestling promo of all-time, in my opinion, is the one spoken by Dusty Rhodes in advance of Starrcade '85. It is known simply as "Hard Times," because that's what Ric Flair put on Rhodes and his family.
I don’t have to say a whole lot more about the way I feel about Ric Flair; no respect, no honor. There is no honor amongst thieves in the first place.
Rhodes was plainly and clearly talking about Flair, but the soliloquy itself could been a speech by a jilted factory worker speaking out against the people who took their job and outsourced it to a place where people work for not just a fraction of their wage, but for pennies on the literal dollar an hour. When Ronald Reagan took office, he started relaxing regulations and allowed companies to move the factories they moved from East Coast cities to rural America to Third World countries, where standards of living were low (and still are), and where right wing dictatorships ignore the squalid living and working conditions of its people to live high on the hog.
He put hard times on Dusty Rhodes and his family. You don’t know what hard times are, daddy.
Right wing publications like the Wall Street Journal and even centrist, peace-loving, fascist acquiescing rags like the Washington Post and New York Times will often run pieces showing how hard rich people have it by showing off where their money goes and how "little" disposable income they have left, ignoring the fact that so much of their expenditures go towards things they don't need, like country club dues, extravagant vacations, or even their mansion-level housing. For those people, the Ric Flair jet-setters of the world, "scraping by" means they have to settle for regular beef instead of Wagyu, or maybe they can only go to Ruth's Chris once a month instead of once a week. That's not hard times.
Hard times are when the textile workers around this country are out of work, they got 4 or 5 kids and can’t pay their wages, can’t buy their food. Hard times are when the auto workers are out of work and they tell ‘em go home. And hard times are when a man has worked at a job for thirty years, thirty years, and they give him a watch, kick him in the butt and say “hey a computer took your place, daddy”, that’s hard times!
If outsourcing is one devil, then the other one is automation. A machine doesn't need to be paid for its work, and installing, maintaining, and fixing a machine is far cheaper than paying a human being with escalating wage for 40 years. This situation wouldn't be a problem if jobs bubbled up from somewhere else to replace them or if the government or some other magic source guaranteed income for everyone regardless of if they worked for it or not. Sadly, only rich people seem to get the benefit of this guaranteed income via tax breaks, interest, and other unfair advantages over the poor and working classes, much like how athletically superior and physically gifted heels in wrestling still seem to cheat to ensure victory.

The famous speech is 31 and a half years old, and yet it rings even truer today than it did in 1985. Then, Rhodes was preaching the righteous news to a people that had not yet seen the devastating lows of a fully actualized Reagan economy and were still in store for an artificial explosion of wealth in the Dot Com bubble. It was, however, in service to a match where his victory would be short-lived, thanks to the most famous "Dusty Finish" of all-time. Now, however, someone could retrofit that promo for a working class society, angsty for change from dining in the alley on pork and beans to dining with the modern day equivalent of kings and queens. That person wouldn't have to change much.

So, why is it that Rhodes, one of the most galvanizing and popular figures in wrestling history, especially during his man of the people run in the '80s, can be so popular with conservative dickbags preaching such a leftist message of rebellion and seizing of wealth, by bringing down hard times by force. Rhodes is the quintessential babyface, right? Babyfaces are the people whom the fans want not only to cheer for, but emulate. In much of the same way, Steve Austin's character was similar. He may have been foul-mouthed, rude, and coarse, but he fought to take from the richest person in wrestling, character or otherwise, and keep it for himself by force. But Austin's oeuvre was more selfish. Rhodes, well, he was always a man of the people.
I’mma reach out right now, I want you at home to know my hand is touchin’ your hand for the gathering of the biggest body of people in this country, in this universe, all over the world now, reachin’ out because the love that was given me and this time I will repay you now.
And now, I reach out my hand to you, a wrestling fan, someone who cheers or has cheered people like Dusty Rhodes to seize the wealth from scoundrels like Ric Flair and repay you with love. Leftism operates on the same damn principles, except when the spoils of labor, the fight, the struggle are shared, they're more material. Socialism, leftism, love are all tenets at the heart of pro wrestling, which is why wrestling itself is so inextricably tied together with this social movement gaining strength in America and across the globe.

Hard Times promo transcribed thanks to Genius.