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, October 30, 2013

Two parties, one system

Click here to access article by Richard D. Wolff originally from The Guardian via the Brecht Forum. (Note: I am posting this from the Brecht Forum because I like their headline better than The Guardian's.)

Back in the 18th century the emerging capitalist class had originally held out the carrot of a "social contract" and the "rule of law" (of course, they have enforced the laws only against ordinary people--unless the crimes were committed against others among the ruling class, some recent examples: Bernie Madoff and Michael Milken), and  to entice the vast majority to support their struggle against the rule of monarchs and aristocracy. Hence, they set up political parties for the hoi polloi to choose among capitalist sponsored candidates to provide the illusion of choice, the illusion of "democracy". (Over time to reduce costs, our US capitalist masters reduced these parties to only two.) Unfortunately, most ordinary people took the bait (or were forced to), and since then we have seen nothing but exploitation, poverty and riches, wars, etc.

Following WWII we in the US had the only major intact industrial country in the world, and because of this we experienced unparalleled levels of prosperity. However, we also saw the dismantling of militant labor organizations and leaders who had accomplished so much on our behalf during the 1930s. And, we failed to notice an emerging empire built on militarism, subversion of governments, mini-wars, sponsorship of corrupt allies, and the construction of a powerful financial-industrial-military complex that has brought us where we are today: a "new normal" launched by the evolution of capitalism into its neoliberal stage. The origins of this evolution is described in more detail by Wolff:
Recent political gridlock, shutdowns, etc suggest a "new normal" has arrived. Political combat between the parties has become more intense and intractable, because capitalism has changed since the 1970s. By then, the post second world war boom in western Europe, north America and Japan – and also anxieties about the USSR, China, and their allies – had lofted real wages and government-funded social services far above their levels in capitalism's global hinterland, especially Asia, Africa and Latin America. Capitalists in western Europe, North America, and Japan were therefore eager to evade both the high wages and the taxes they faced.