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

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Covert Operations [Part 1: Why This Article?]

by Jane Mayer from The New Yorker

This is an exceedingly important article for working people, especially activists, to read and understand. There is so much meat in it that I fear that I haven't the time to deal with it all. By "meat", I mean real political substance that will enable you to understand how political power is used in the US by the rich and powerful against the interests of ordinary working Americans.

Few ordinary Americans ever encounter this magazine except for maybe in medical offices. Physicians often subscribe to it because the magazine, like Vanity Fair, is oriented to the interests of the ruling class, and physicians by nature are very status oriented and like to identify with those of the highest status. (Some people regard physicians as little more than pimps for the pharmaceutical corporations.)

The ruling class is not a card carrying, monolithic group with a paid membership. They are tied together by their powerful influence on the society over which they rule, and their power is based upon the "ownership" of the all the important engines of the economy that creates "their" wealth. 

The members of this ruling class have always had their differences over how to manage society so that their rule over it is enhanced and to prevent threats to their rule. The right-wing of this class has always preferred to aggressively attack working people, while the liberal wing is more focused on preserving their class rule by avoiding needless confrontations with working people. The very appearance of this revealing article begs the question as to why The New Yorker ran the article. Let me offer an explanation.

The interests behind The New Yorker are more tied to the older, established ruling class (the liberal-wing) that really doesn't want to rock the boat too much by aggressively attacking working people while the capitalists like the Koch brothers prefer to be much more aggressive. Hence The New Yorker, alone among major publications (although not mainstream), has chosen to run an article of this nature to curb the influence of the right-wing. The Koch brothers, and many others of this right-wing ilk, have been attacking the Obama administration and other establishment Democrats so vigorously and successfully that the liberal-wing is beginning to see them as a threat to public order, as stirring things up to the point where there is open class war. 

These developments remind me of the latter days of the Weimar Republic in Germany when the German ruling class turned to the Nazis in order to control the working class more effectively. Well, we know what happened then, and the current US liberal ruling class also knows.

This liberal-wing in the US prefers much more subtle and sophisticated strategies that combine some social concessions in the forms of labor laws, social benefit-welfare programs, and regulatory agencies to lend the appearance of social justice. Obama and his administration fill that role exceedingly well. Because the ruling class as a whole has engaged in so much casino capitalism with such disastrous results, the liberal wing is trying to steer a very careful course that includes cutbacks with a lot of nice sounding rhetoric to keep their good ship "Capitalism" afloat. Hence, they fear the reckless behavior of the right-wing. And that is precisely why this revealing article appears, and in a source where few working people will read it.

(Part 2: What the Article Reveals will appear tomorrow)