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 Lapp√©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The surprising new class politics in the Midwest

by E.J. Dionne Jr. from The Washington Post via The Cap Times

I am featuring this mainstream media article as an illustration of reality management by the US ruling class. Here we have The Cap Times newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin, where the class war has been raging between Governor Walker and public sector unions, offering its version of what has been happening during this confrontation. 

This editorial which is clearly in support of the Democrats and unions, is very typical of what passes for "progressive" politics in the US. For my foreign readers, I must make clear a couple of facts about US politics that is implied in the article. 

First, all mainstream discussion assumes that the Republican Party defends the interests of wealthier people while the Democratic Party defends the "middle class". Americans have been led to believe that everyone between the rich and those in prison are "middle class". Second, under this conceptualization it follows that everyone in this great "democracy" is represented by political parties except for those in prison--hence, this lends legitimacy to their claim that a democracy, or if pushed a bit, that a representative form of democracy exists in the US. Hence, the writer's use of the concept of "class politics" instead of class war. The governing class has relied on this formulation to inform all of its mainstream media coverage of political and economic events, and the vast majority of Americans believe this mythical construction of reality.

The reality is that both parties represent the ruling class. They only represent different strategies to promote their interests. While the Republican party directly pursues policies favoring those who essentially own the US economy and profit from it, the Democratic Party poses as a champion of the "middle class". It is very much like the "good cop/bad cop" scenario you find frequently in Hollywood crimes stories. Thus, when Republicans win most of the seats in Congress they wage all out class war, when Democrats win they always "reach across the Aisle" in the spirit of bi-partisanship and end up supporting basically the same policies, although a little more disguised.

Notice that The Cap Times bills itself as "Your Progressive Voice". In fact, this primary Madison newspaper is about as far left as you will find in a significant US city. But the sad fact is that the political spectrum in the US has since WWII gradually shifted far to the right. 

The main periods of shift happened first during the McCarthy period in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the ruling class went on the attack to purge all vestiges of militancy and leftist thinking in labor unions, academia, and the media including the Hollywood film industry. Then, beginning in the 1970s, neo-liberalism raised its ugly head to remove all significant restraints on business to pursue profits within and without the US. 

Now, because the ruling capitalist class has gone global, it no longer needs American workers except for the armaments industry and to serve in its armed forces. Public service workers and public spending are the last remaining targets. 

Finally, this article sourced from The Washington Post and carried in the Madison newspaper illustrates another reality about how centralized information processing is in the US. There are two major newspapers in the US that set the tone and the limits of "legitimate" coverage of events: The NY Times and The Washington Post. They are intimately tied to the ruling class and shape how nearly all media coverage is reported in lesser newspapers and news outlets.