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
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Corporate Oligarchy or People’s Democracy: Countering the Elite Agenda
I'm posting this article to examine an illustration of left/liberal thinking in the US. While agreeing with the general thrust of Baraka's argument, I view it as tainted with capitalist ideology, and as such, is deficient both as an analysis of society today and as an advocacy of action. I express this criticism with reluctance because it is probably the best that can be expected from anything like a major internet website on the current left in the US, or much of the world, for that matter.
I make this criticism of the article because the times require it. The left must no longer hedge their criticisms of existing social arrangements in order to be popular. Yes, I know that the political consciousness in the US is so deformed from centuries of indoctrination; however the dangerous state of our biosphere which has been under attack for so long that it is now so unstable that it is threatening the very existence of humans and other species. Time is running out, if it's not too late already. Extreme weather events that we are currently witnessing are only relatively mild warnings compared to the far more horrendous events that lie in our future.
People who are aware of the dangerous state of humanity--I think Baraka is one of them--must no longer hedge their arguments against capitalism. Notions of social justice has not succeeded in defeating capitalism, but sheer survival must now suffice. Certainly, there is no longer any alternative but to attack it head on. We simply must get serious about it if there is to be any chance of survival.
Okay, what do I mean about his analysis as being "tainted with capitalist ideology"? The ideology of "democracy" and their fake institutions of "democracy" have always been used by capitalist ruling classes to keep working people from rebelling against their rule. So, forget about any notions that "democracy" is being "captured by the corporate and financial elite" because it has never existed.
Since the beginning of civilization when societies began having the ability to accumulate surplus value and store it, we have witnessed one ruling class after another. What we have most recently experienced as "bourgeois democracy" is a fake version of real democracy which people have aspired to for many centuries. Capitalist ruling classes have given us this fake version to pacify this yearning. However, we must not take it for anything like the real thing: complete control by all people over all institutions of their societies.
In the early days of civilization a small minority of sociopaths (people who were inadequately socialized for any number of reasons) soon took control of the surplus wealth. Initially, they simply relied on superior weapons, but soon they discovered that indoctrination worked so much more efficiently. They quickly subverted religious doctrines to support their rule, and later all kinds of other doctrines were proliferated.
Our current supporting ideology includes notions about democracy such as democracy equals elections, the virtues of the "free market" (capitalism), and vague ideas about the virtues of endless consumption expressed as the "American way of life". Today's sociopaths are more powerful than ever before and are drunk on their accumulated wealth and power. They will kill us all if we keep fighting back with reforms and with polite arguments that won't upset people too much.