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 30, 2015

Orwell at the UN: Obama Re-Defines Democracy as a Country That Supports U.S. Policy

Click here to access article by Michael Hudson from CounterPunch.
A century ago the word “democracy” referred to a nation whose policies were formed by elected representatives. Ever since ancient Athens, democracy was contrasted to oligarchy and aristocracy. But since the Cold War and its aftermath, that is not how U.S. politicians have used the term. When an American president uses the word “democracy,” he means a pro-American country following U.S. neoliberal policies, no matter if the country is a military dictatorship or its government was brought in by a coup (euphemized as a Color Revolution) as in Georgia or Ukraine. A “democratic” government has been re-defined simply as one supporting the Washington Consensus, NATO and the IMF. It is a government that shifts policy-making out of the hands of elected representatives to an “independent” central bank, whose policies are dictated by the oligarchy centered in Wall Street, the City of London and Frankfurt.
Hudson places too much emphasis on Obama's UN speech in which the latter he re-defines "democracy". Obama is, of course, merely following the script handed to him by his capitalist class handlers like all the other presidents since John Kennedy. Kennedy was determined to follow a more independent foreign policy and thus was assassinated. Elsewhere Hudson accurately indicates that this concept of "democracy" has been used by many other presidents in recent history. ("When an American president uses the word “democracy,” he means a pro-American country following U.S. neoliberal policies....") So, there is nothing unique about Obama.

Beginning in the 1930s Orwell saw many applications of propaganda to serve the interests of power. No doubt he compared his direct experience in Spain's civil war, in which he fought, with the coverage provided by those allied with Anglo-American capitalists, fascist capitalists, and the Soviet Union. They all had their own interests and their own agenda with regard to Spain, and their media reflected those interests regardless of the realities of the conflict. To people like Orwell the Spanish Civil War was both extremely disillusioning and revealing.

With the ascendancy of the overwhelming power of the US after WWII, the ruling capitalist class saw a huge vacuum that they could fill. Over the years since the war, those foreign capitalists who followed the lead of the US were integrated into what has become a US-led Empire intent on global domination. 

Meanwhile the technology of propaganda was perfected and its usefulness increased. It was seen as a cost-effective way of not only managing opinion of their domestic populations, but taming and co-opting opposition all over the world. It's use was not confined to news reporting, but to all ideological institutions, especially to entertainment and education. Hollywood movies were distributed all over the world carrying many subliminal messages selling the American way of life, a largely mythical construct suggesting materialist values of consumerism and a fake version of "democracy".