The chaos and disorder in the world created by capitalism are increasing exponentially. That constitutes a very serious problem for the elites who till now have been able to stave off the inevitable loss of power by alternating so-called democratic regimes with more openly authoritarian ones in the mainstay of their homebase, the US, and by the deployment of a huge mythmaking apparatus. The signs are multiplying, however, that the propaganda bubble may soon burst.
By Gui Rochat | Patrice Greanville [print_link]
We have seen openly punitive regimes like that of Reagan and Bush whereby the encroaching restrictions are freely imposed onto the public, alternating with seemingly more permissive administrations like those of Carter, Clinton and Obama, but who in essence reign through the same dire measures adopted by their “conservative opponents” while carefully coating their actions in liberal propaganda. That these regimes participate in equivalent oppression is not so easily grasped by the public at large and even successive disappointments in the present center-right-”liberal” administration are hardly conducive to allowing insights in what lies behind the velvet curtain. PHOTO: Bill Clinton “explaining” his administration’s policies toward Wall Street, a continuation of Bush-Reagan policies behind the mask of fabricated populism. Off-camera, throwing the requisite soft-ball questions is media eunuch, CBS News “Political Correspondent” Bob Schieffer, who also helms Face the Nation.
Thus kept believing in the structure of this injurious capitalist system through alternating governmental punishment and small rewards, there appears little hope or desire in the populace for a complete overhaul of the rotting underlying foundation, which means a full debunking of status quo propping ideas. Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti, among others, have pointed out that the country was established from the start as an imperium with the large property holders in charge, land ownership being the prime capital in the eighteenth century, and who promptly legislated into being a secure federal system for concentrating all power at the top by piecing together a constitution that protects their interests. (President Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark out west on their “voyage of discovery” back in 1804 fully with the intention of consolidating power coast to coast in keeping with America’s founders instinctive notions of manifest destiny.)
In truth, the elites are neither “liberal” nor “conservative,” as the terms are understood by the people, because they needn’t embrace any labels. For most members of the ruling class, allegiance to Republicans or Democrats is far more a question of whim and taste than actual ideology. The party labels are in essence meaningless. All that matters is that every federal policy should strengthen and safeguard their power. In that sense they are—and have long been—(the Great Depression forced their hand)—militantly conservative of all privilege.
Thus, since the only real interests served in our passably “democratic” societies are those of the upper strata (actually oligarchic republics), it has little sense to engage in the usual political squabbling that these societies offer in place of true representation. Little human oversight is necessary to keep the political structure intact because it functions largely on autopilot. This is the result of careful planning from the beginning of the Republic. Since then, every government put into office has had as its preeminent mission the protection of privilege against the unwashed masses, the real barbarians at the gates. This elitism is imbued in the system itself and silently accepted by most power players as a necessary evil.
Groping for solutions
Instead of allowing the wealthy folks in the Senate to keep their luxurious perches to blather away every day about various subjects of only demagogic importance, an exercise that only confuses the public and diverts attention from their true job, which is to legislate pseudo democratic laws that primarily benefit their masters—the national and international plutocracies—a situation replicated with few exceptions in the House of Representatives (sic), the citizens must now undertake a complete overhaul of the government in order to start a regime of genuine representation of citizens’ rights in America. This is not just long overdue. It is grotesquely overdue.
That this is not a utopian vision is evidenced in the growing and deserved dissatisfaction with government. While we disagree with the Republican Tea Party on multiple grounds and its essentially reactionary and utterly hypocritical agenda (the “Tea party” is just a rebranding of Republican shock-troops), it’s hard to argue that the turmoil they generate is only a product of thinly veiled racism, or yet another spasm of libertarianism. The discontent with government is profound, and while much of it has been planted in the brains of these folks by the GOP/Right’s noise machine and its shameless distortions, not to mention the toxic brew of deceitful myths enveloping the consciousness of practically all Americans, no lie can travel far without finding some fount of replenishment in what average folks term common experience. The fact is that the American government in the last quarter century—on just about any index we care to look—has become the least democratically responsive of all developed nations. Americans by and large get little in return for their tax money, and nothing for their blood. PHOTO: Empire servants: Former US Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld speaks with his chief speechwriter, Marc Thiessen, prior to giving reporters an operational update on Operation “IRAQI FREEDOM.”
The task is therefore to reduce, refine* and even eliminate participation in a voting process that consistently yields a Congress which —surprise!— like the assembly of high-ticket prostitutes they are, apparently responds only to those who can afford them. Thus properly “elected” according to the traditional rules of the game, such representatives soon proceed to put their legitimating imprimatur on the siphoning off of the national wealth into the hands of those who, protected by a wall of favorable laws and police, by now coldly control the whole nation.
The road out of the false New Canaan
In keeping with the above logic, one of the first obstacles to be removed is the exceptional commoditization of the voting process whereby candidates are advertised to the public as mere products. This approach, sanctified as “the American way,” prevents clear thinking on the part of the electorate and blocks serious discussion on any important issue. Instead of choosing the candidate who can shout the loudest and can pay for innumerable misleading advertisements on television, and other media, hypocritically stating that he/she approves of their statements, the public should be able to look at the would-be public servants without all the layers of artifice facilitated by professional liars. As we might expect, the media are only too happy to charge for every political advertisement they can get, but it’s obvious that this obscenely corrupt system remains in place only because it suits the moneyed interests it automatically favors, the media make no fuss about it, and no one has yet mounted a substantial attack. The solution is equally obvious: To stop the malfeasance implicit in this practice, advertising for candidates up for election must be free or fully paid for by the federal government. Considering the nefarious consequences for American society of allowing private financing of “the people’s champions”, public financing could easily become one of the greatest bargains in our history.
While public financing alone cannot guarantee a marked improvement in American legislation, as candidates remain embedded in a society drenched in pro-business propaganda, most people carry atrocious deformations in their reality-acquiring apparatus, and a long history of conservative, individualist values, the reform might still create a liberating opening for people of modest means and progressive backgrounds.
After more than two and a half centuries of intermittent popular revolts in the West it is clear that two factors promise results for changing society in the medium run: one aims at systematically neutralizing the props that protect the upper levels from the democratic agenda, things like the commercial media and a political class totally invested in the status quo, and second, the mobilization of the normally more progressive (and numerous) urban masses. Indoctrination is a friable entity because the more it stretches to cover the rationale of common life, the thinner its message becomes. Within the present societal disorder we experience in America and now throughout Europe, this presents seeds for rebellion—both spontaneous and organized—even among a public thoroughly lacking in the tools for accurate political analysis. The signs are becoming propitious because the official propaganda is getting quite stale and the people smell it.
The Obama gambit is a two-edge sword
With Obama in the White House the proverbial naive idealism of the United States population has been getting a fierce kick in the face, as the present presidency has been a definite catalyst for massive disappointment, some of it no doubt the product of Republican chicanery, always in abundant supply, but primarily the result of Democratic corruption, spinelessness and irrefutable complicity in the same plutocratic project in which the GOP has long distinguished itself. For many who until recently fiercely believed in the ability of the system to purge itself from criminals via the ballot box, the Obama victory and its aftermath have been a brutal eye-opener.
It is therefore entirely a question of time and of the uncontrollable chaos we see growing in all spheres, showing a sort of ebb and flow in the tides of popular revulsion. Hitherto, the corporate establishment forces have managed to reassert their power in every instance, but each round of conflict, whether clear to the public or not, has left more cracks in the edifice of legitimation.
What Chomsky mentions as common consent is getting scarcer and scarcer in the land, and the more the upper classes profit by the near destitution of many in the working classes (which is a real phenomenon already, though of course rarely shown by the media), the less acquiescence the propaganda for capitalism receives. After all, the elites are perfectly aware of the thin veil of deception that the capitalist system requires to operate, and how easily it can be torn by determined action, a vital fact, which, naturally, is carefully hidden from the subjected masses.
The Animal Farm is Us
Meanwhile, the establishment canon —as is true for all privileged regimes even in their dying beds— continues to be cheerfully pumped throughout the nation, as if nothing of substance needed urgent correction. Hence the masses are still taught the falsehoods that competition is always good, that only the fittest survive (or deserve to survive) and that greed is endemic in humans and therefore utopian to attempt to neutralize it, all in clear contradiction of what most anthropologists have found to be the predominant human traits. (For a discussion of this topic, see for example, “Does capitalism equal human nature?” http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_1823.shtml )
The new robber barons on Wall Street, the prime symbol of the capitalist creed, and the apex of the current global power pyramid, are vulnerable and they know it, despite the formidable police barriers and unseen surveillance cameras surrounding them everywhere. But there is no need to storm those bastions of modern privilege. Nor is it necessary to attack the offices of the federal government, imagining it a latter day Bastille, as such attacks (think of Tim McVeigh’s futile assault) not only endanger and victimize many innocent people, but, as the 9/11 events have proven, they can be quite useless and counter-productive due to their swift transformation by the elites into more pretexts to grab still more illegal powers and enlarge the already bloated machinery of repression.
We are well beyond the 1789 events in France or the 1917 ones in Russia, new modalities of struggle are coming to the fore and more still will develop in the coming decades. The very corporate press has reported —with increasing alarm—the rise in the number of more incisive and corrosive methods of popular “pushback” against what growing majorities perceive as a terminally rigged system, including a refusal to accommodate the law, a decline in the filing of tax returns, and a spreading repudiation of the voting for capitalist flunkies. (Such attitude has been historically pervasive among African Americans, for example.) No one can predict when this rejection of the capitalist dream will attain truly catastrophic proportions for the system and its chief beneficiaries at the top, but the signs of its coming are surely apparent.
A cultural historian, among other things, Gui Rochat serves as Senior Editor with The Greanville Post and Cyrano’s Journal Online (CJO). Media critic and occasional political economist Patrice Greanville is Editor in Chief of The Greanville Post and Cyrano’s Journal Online (CJO).
*Some people have proposed a strategy of supporting electoral campaigns of select people with proven progressive resumes, i.e., Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Kucinich, Nader, etc. These individuals would then create turbulence and embarrassment within the insiders’ club—Senate and House—and use their platforms to educate and mobilize the masses. They could choose to identify themselves with a new party label, say “New Lincoln Party,” or “Radical Democrats,” etc. Only in extreme cases, should the masses be induced to back “Presidential” candidates, as these are bound to be thoroughly vetted (and defanged) by the power elites. Let the Obama example be the only example we need to set a new course for American politics, away from the bogeyman behind “the Lesser Evil.”