We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, June 24, 2016

Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age

Click here to access article by Paul Street from CounterPunch. [A note was added to the commentary at 6 PM Seattle time.]

Wow! Street give us so much in this rather lengthy review of musical production which is being heavily subsidized by the rich so that every kid in the New York area will see it. I can imagine that all the schools, especially the public schools, will be herding their students in mass to the local theater to attend this performance. It is a musical play done to rap music that transforms American history into pure capitalist indoctrination about one of the key "Founding Fathers", Alexander Hamilton. 
Hamilton agreed with Jay that “those who own the country ought to govern it” – govern it in accord with their own specific class interests, sold as the general interest of “all classes of people.”
In contrast to this fake version of American history, Street gives us the true history of the antidemocratic capitalist founders--and I bet that you never received this lesson in the schools you attended. He also sees Obama's presidential performance as essentially continuing this Hamiltonian love of the rich and powerful, but in a slicked up version that comes with a shiny veneer of virtuous concern for ordinary Americans. You see, the science of "public relations" did not exist back in Hamilton's day. 

(Note: there is one slight error in his otherwise accurate history of the period. Ordinary revolutionary soldiers were paid in scrip called "Continental currency"--Street referred to this paper money as "bonds"--while officers, of wealthier backgrounds, were paid in gold. The British during the American Revolutionary War also printed up volumes of this money in order to undermine this currency. After the war as the soldiers returned home, they found that this money was nearly worthless or about 5%-10% of its face value. In a desperate attempt to put their former economic lives together they began selling it at these rates in exchange for gold or silver. Meanwhile Hamilton and his friends decided that the new government under the Constitution would honor these scrips at face value, but they didn't let anyone know except their friends and relatives among the rich set. The latter made a killing on buying up this nearly worthless scrip and later selling to the government at par value. So you see, our early "Founding Fathers" established a grand tradition of fleecing ordinary people of their wealth. 

My history is based on books by Charles Beard, the noted historian and political scientist of the early 20th century, in his seminal work, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution, and his book entitled Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy.)

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