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

Saturday, December 3, 2011

This Is What Conspiracy Really Looks Like

Click here to access article by Lincoln Stoller posted on OpEd News. 

Once in a while individuals are able to escape their cultural conditioning (also known as "brainwashing") that has trained them to believe that the political facade that surrounds their daily life is real. The braver ones, such as this author, wander behind this facade to find a totally different reality, and try to make some sense of it.

He concludes his essay with this statement:
This is the nature of our system which has private corporations buying influence in systems that are supposed to be democratic. This cannot be changed by singling out specific groups or erecting single-issue fire walls. This is not the result of a few rotten apples. It is the fungus of international corporate capitalism operating in the "fruit salad" of selectively democratic republics.
Although this is a good start, I don't think that he quite grasps the reality of today's governance issues. I don't pretend to have a monopoly of understanding of this reality, but I feel that I have had more time to explore it. 

As I see it, ruling classes which have existed for the last ten to fifteen thousand years--less than 2% of human history--have always erected phony systems of belief to justify their existence, their privileges, and wealth. The latest class rulers, the capitalist class, several hundred years ago first saw great opportunities to accumulate wealth and power under a system of private ownership of socially produced wealth that could be possible if existing property was not limited by the rule of the landed aristocracy. 

So, they had to usurp power from the latter class, and to do this they had to enlist the support of ordinary working people who they needed to fight in their armies. They appealed to them with all sorts of radical ideas about democracy, such as those espoused sincerely by Thomas Paine and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Once this was accomplished, first in the American Revolution followed closely by the French Revolution, the new capitalist class were stuck with all these notions of liberty, justice, and democracy. Thus, they had to erect political institutions that appeared to embody these ideas. Thomas Paine was henceforth ignored and died in obscurity. Fortunately, Rousseau escaped this fate by dying a natural death just before the French Revolution. 

To prevent any real liberty from happening, our benevolent (sarcasm) Founding Fathers (they have been deified) carefully limited the vote to only owners of large properties, and found that mixing people into large voting areas tended to dilute any real democratic pressures from below. (Remember that roads were poor and the means of communication was limited.) It has been taught to us, along with a lot of other garbage, that the system of checks and balances that is a part of the design of our government was to protect against autocrats from coming to power. The truth is, the new American ruling class led by Hamilton and the banker Morris had a terrible fear of citizens and designed the new government to protect them from the "unwashed masses". (Read Unruly Americans by Woody Holton and An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States by Charles Beard.) 

Since then we have witnessed the extension of voting rights to most of the rest of the population, but this was only allowed because the new ruling class had a tight grip on the media, education, and control over what political parties were allowed to participate. They never had the slightest hesitation to hire private hooligans (for example, the Pinkertons), the FBI, aggressive police forces, or even the National Guard (for example, the Kent State massacre) to insure that their interests and policies were protected.

What is now placed on the shoulders of mostly young people throughout the world is the necessity of finally fulfilling the democratic dreams of working people to emancipate themselves from class rule. This is a huge task to ask of any generation, but nothing less will insure the survival of the human race. Should they succeed, they will surely become history's greatest heroes.