Tuesday, April 01, 2014

In the US, democracy is now a sham

[Guest post by Ray, just in time for April Fool's Day.]

The founding principle for this new form of government which emerged in the 18th century, was that the Common Man was the ultimate source of power. Citizen legislators would enact the laws and shape the nation’s destiny. But instead, our republic is now strong-armed by professional politicians. The two dominant concerns of these careerists are to STAY in power and to do the bidding of those who ENABLE them to stay in power. Anyone who doubts this statement might try explaining why campaign finance reform and term limits are perennially “off the table.” Actually, that is an understatement - they aren’t even in the building.

It is bad enough that the President, Congress and the Courts serve the interests of a minority that is so tiny that it is almost microscopic. What is even worse, is WHO that elite constituency is. It is exclusively THE BIGS: Big banks, Big corporations, Big agriculture, Big energy, Big pharmaceuticals, Big health care, Big high tech and the BIGGEST of them all - the military-industrial complex.

The “Vox Populi” – voice of the people is now as quaint and outmoded as telephone booths on street-corners. Even when there is a massive outpouring of disapproval for a policy - such as the enormous public outcry against Iraq Invasion 2 – the will of the people is disregarded. Instead, the “leaders” kiss the sterns of their financial backers. Ten million irate citizens cannot offset a single Halliburton.

But not only has genuine democracy vaporized, its putrid carcass is used against the ordinary person for whom it was initially conceived. Our demagogues give stirring speeches applauding our inalienable rights and the freedoms that our constitution protects. But at the same time, they barely whimper when a whistle blower reveals that the surveillance grid that is monitoring our behavior is beyond the wildest imaginings of Orwell or Huxley. And when the head of the Department of Omnipresent Surveillance admits that he lied to Congress, he is not prosecuted for perjury. Amazingly, he doesn’t even lose his job.

When the President signs the NDAA act which allows for “indefinite detention” of citizens without formal charges or without the right to a lawyer, it should be utterly clear that the boot of Soft-Core Tyranny is now on our neck. And that unchecked and almost unnoticed power continues to grow at an obscene pace. Examples of this are the militarization of small town police departments, the unending malignant growth of the Department of Homeland Security and the cessation of Posse Comitatus which keeps the military from being used as a domestic police force.

But even though our career politicians only represent the rich and the powerful, and even though they abet the steady erosion of our constitutionally ordained rights, it is even worse! That’s because despite making a mockery of democracy at home, they trumpet its virtues abroad. This is shameful Hypocrisy with a capital H.

What they are really trying to spread is not Democracy but Predatory Capitalism. They want to expand the sphere of influence of their financial backers who want greater market share in more and more markets. They do this through subtle intrusion via the IMF and the World Bank. Concurrent with this, they embrace the most corrupt and brutal local politicians they can find. The saying “He may be a genocidal dictator, but he’s OUR genocidal dictator” is not a punch-line in a joke. It is standard operating procedure for U.S. foreign policy. If this kinder, gentler approach fails, then the next steps are assassination or invasion. So the spreading of democracy leaves death, mutilation and destruction in its wake.

So, in conclusion, it appears to me that America is no longer a world-wide exemplar of how to sculpt a civilized society. Instead, it is far down the road to becoming a full-blown Corporate Police State. It has fallen so tragically, that it is now just a self-deluded leper strutting about the global stage - unaware that the theater has already emptied.


hawaiisolarchef said...

Those who are employed and who are getting government checks like Social Security are still holding on, but I am not seeing any real statistics about unemployment and such that I can trust. I think there are more people hurting, and who are going to really be hurting this summer, than there were during the Great Depression.
People are still denying the truth, because they don't want their illusion, that everything is going to be okay destroyed. They will continue to trust, that the Govt, will take care of them. If only they would take their rose colored glasses off, and accept the corruption, that is being done, right in front of them. At every intersection, there's a camera, we have arrived at "Marshall Law" in a mild form, but soon to be in full force. All because, most don't want to see the reality of our current situation. Our environmental issues and the Departments assigned to take action to defend our resources, are being paid off, and have no heart or conscience. Most are in for a very rude awakening, they've been warned, but have failed to heed the warning. Keep watching "Dancing with the Stars" soap operas, what ever it is, to AVOID REALITY.
Most will not know how to live like a pioneer, and creature comforts, and will not know how to act. The ones that scare me most, are the ones who are addicts, without their fix, they will be out of their mind, and they will not care who they hurt to get their next fix. Visit: Safe America For Everyone, by Bruce Beach. You can find you regional leader and get the information you need to rebuild your community. http://webpal.org/index.htm

God Help Us All.

Unknown said...

Frankly I hear nothing new from your comment but I am reading "Kennedy" by Ted Sorensen and the impression of "3rd World countries" back then was very anti-american and suspicious. The Americans were perceived as a strong right wing imperialist power out of the Gilded Age always interfering in others affairs selfishly. Kennedy was doing a lot to change that impression with Peace Corps and helping honestly to develop democracy and accepting other governments regardless of their systems(lets ignore Castro), letting them be themselves and not preaching our system.

Reading the chapters about civil rights the southern democrats and northern Republicans always had together a large conservative majority. Kennedy's progressive agenda would have never gotten through without his assassination. He would have never been reelected anyway due to the civil rights stand and because he was original, rational and made many enemies among all sectors of traditional power. This was an idealistic attempt to turn back the tide of history towards empire warned of by Eisenhower in his Farewell address. The immediate backlash against this came from Goldwater then Reagan, Friedmann's Chicago Boys economic theories and later Boomer cynicism destroyed all of this and we are back to the Gilded Age II with neocolonialism. Nixon had to go off Gold standard(even Kennedy was having serious problems) and rely on Petrodollar and USA is practically bankrupt and all other nations are following its example by deficit financing with "funny money". So being idealistic and then disappointed or cyncial as in your article is wrong thinking. I frankly think a small country that lives in its budget and has no large military can be really democratic (Denmark, Holland) but USA, Russia, China ... no way. If you want to spread an ideology or a culture like Rome did then you have to corrupt and destroy yourself. Religions spread and dilute themeslves too. It is ok to believe in something but better to keep it to yourself and be an oppressed minority so that it has real meaning and burns in your breast. When everyone believes it becomes mundane like "democracy" and "Freedom" nowadays. It is a modern reliigion accepted by all and corrupted and meaningless. Elections are manipulated by ads, campaign contributions. Politicians work for corporations, not for constituents. Most people don't go to vote,etc.

Just my 2 cents.

Razer said...

Ray was reading my mind, or my post yesterday at Tumblr where I illustrated this:

    "What is even worse, is WHO that elite constituency is. It is exclusively THE BIGS: Big banks, Big corporations, Big agriculture, Big energy, Big pharmaceuticals, Big health care, Big high tech and the BIGGEST of them all - the military-industrial complex."

    "2012 Follow the Money Chart for “Who owns the US government?

For the most part the military-industrial complex… and thanks to Obama’s Fascist (perhaps the inverted version) government forcing private health insurance on Americans instead of federally funding it by simply ending JUST ONE stupidly murderous war, the “Health Care Insurance” industry and Pharmaceutical industries that depend on insurance to pay for their murderously expensive ‘medicines’ are trending on the chart as well..."

My donkey said...

That the United States of America is -- or ever was -- a democracy is a popular myth taught in schools and reinforced by mainstream media throughout the country.

In fact, the US political system was designed by a group of rich white slave-owning men (the "founding fathers") as a constitutional republic whose laws implicitly and explicitly supported the interests of rich white slave-owning men. Here's a succinct overview of the historical situation and where we're at today.

Other popular myths involve a man named Santa Claus, a mammal named The Easter Bunny, and an entity named God.

Rejecting the Santa and Bunny myths requires the emotional and intellectual maturity of a 6-year-old, so most of us are able to handle it. But casting out the Democracy and God myths requires the smarts of a 10-year-old, which is why many of us never quite manage it.

Anonymous said...

Our poor old Canadian democracy started in Athens thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, it's last update was in the 19th century. The 19th was a good one, don't get me wrong. But that was a while ago and it doesn't seem to be running very smoothly anymore.

Our democracy is wonky, its out of balance, its creaking with age; it needs an upgrade.

Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Marshal Mcluhan had a plan and they put that plan in motion. The PET Papers don't have all the answers but they have some extremely excellent, important questions.

The major problem with our aged democracy is that it relies on confrontation. Our parliament has the loyal opposition. I'm sorry but that says it all. A 19th century view of the world created this current form of democracy. There is a very different view of the world now. Confrontation doesn't figure very high with any western civilized person.

So the democracy is old fashioned and has a world-view bias that threatens current world stability. No big deal right? Democracies have become stumbling buffoons. Mere parodies of our ancestors intentions.

Here is some required reading to understand the major themes that an upgraded democracy must respond to.

Canadian Philosopher and Teacher, Marshal Mcluhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

US Professor of Political Science, James C. Scott’s Legibility Theory.

US Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Langdon Winner’s Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought.

Our democratic world is in turmoil because western society has outgrown our ancestral democratic metaphor. The democratic feedback loop is too slow and linear. Our current loop generally involves partisan statements filtered through main-stream media which disseminates. Strategists compare live response and polling with filtered media response. Yikes! There is something large between our politicians and the people. That means that the determinations are no longer rapid or accurate enough because of our current processes.

The media is extremely important but in an upgraded democracy media can be more comprehensively professional. There is a vast array of reporting and analytical styles that can be explored with a democratic modernization.

Switzerland has upgraded their version of democracy. Xerox, a large US corporation has the ability to build an on-line presence. Please remember that Obama's people had a difficult time rolling-out an on-line initiative. Oversight of a corporation which makes stuff that works is good delegation.

Stephen said...

I would change "the military-industrial complex" to "the military-industrial-'security' complex". The 'security' agencies are huge now, and so big that I doubt anyone knows all of what they are doing. Congress funds them blindly. I put 'security' in quotes because one has to question whose security or what security is being referred to. I tend to think it's the security of the 1% that's really being looked after.

Razer said...

I agree entirely with "My Donkey". The "founding fathers" absolutely feared democracy (according to Richard Hofstadter, American Political Tradition) which they saw as the rule of the mob, reinforced by what had recently happened in France.

The US Constitution was intended ONLY to serve and provide national laws in the interest of the land owners and merchants. The Bill of Rights was for the 'rest of us', and if it hadn't been for the Penn delegation walking out of the constitutional convention with other delegations threatening to do the same there would be no "Bill of Rights"

Also note ever since that time, the US constitution is reinforced and modified to suit the needs of property and mercantilism, but the Bill of Rights in regard to those changes is often weakened by them.

Regarding what Stephen said. Add "Education" to that list.

The Military-Induistrial-Educational-Security Complex.

IMHO the "Security" part is really the despotism of imposed-by-necessity-of-foreign-intervention , and therefore adjunct to our military adventurism, the multitude of enemies we create, and at the bottom of the security state list-of-reasons-to-exist, the truly insignificant internal resistance to our Imperial adventurism and abuse of the nation's working class.

The Power Elite in America don't require a despotic security state to remain in control as long as Americans are easily fascinated by shiny things and can afford to buy them, but do require that 'security' to protect us from all the enemies we create in our Imperial extractive resources wars where we double-deal EVERYONE. You make LOTS of enemies that way. Hence "imposed-by-necessity".

Now when the economy in the US becomes so bad we can no longer afford to buy that 'shiny stuff' we're programmed to covet, despite the advertising... despite the slaves laboring in Bangla Desh sweat shops etc to deliver products our devalued money will no longer afford, THEN you'll see what Ed Snowden described as the 'flip of the switch to turnkey tyranny' using the same web tracking links currently used to market things at us, and full scale domestic suppression operations.

Jim Kemeny said...

This commonly happens when a global hegemonic power struggles to control the world. You get electronic espionage, you get the development of gulags, and ways found of getting round constitutions or laws. And when trying to fight what you might see as "the evil empire", often end up becoming one in the process.

1world1people said...

Soundtrack to the Global Struggle:

With your corporate bosses supplying your orders, you fight fire with fire while we wanna fight it with water...you corporate dictatorships pretend you're democracies...adam smith to rothschild it's all been a clever lie...2 choices now, revolution or genocide, but thanks to rupert murdoch(S) neither one will be televised....

Unknown said...

America gave up any pretense at democracy with 9-11; the people signed away their rights and privacy under the impetus of the terror the even produced in them; never a good time to sign anything! It is only a matter of time now; once gun control is a practical reality,and armed private citizens are all brought to heel, America will see clearly what sort of "Moloch"has been hiding in the shadows. Same goes for Canada.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe America was ever a democracy. The idea, to me, was simply a pacifier for the people while the powerful went about their business just as they always have. Personally, I was a devout believer until my military experience during Vietnam. I can still remember what a shock it was to my naïve ears as I heard tales of slaughter, torture and experienced my own meaningless as I realized I was simply cannon fodder for those seeking personal power. The old saying "new boss just like the old boss" should have been obvious in the late 1700s.

deb harvey said...

hi. USA never democracy. set up as federated republic, which may have been brought to a halt as an active reality by abe lincoln.
states may make a concerted effort to regain their sovereignty but must beware that all must hang together or surely hang separately.
tennessee's foray into independence will be tolerated only so long unless many other states stand up for their rights at the same time.
the gov't. is the author and protector of predatory imperialism, not capitalism.
plain capitalism is the simple exchange of atalent or product for a talent or product needed or desired by the participants. it is not the gutting of companies for whatever profit may be had by pirates calling themselves capitalists.
think this is the first time i have read this web log. enjoyed very much.

rapier said...

RE: The founding principle for this new form of government which emerged in the 18th century, was that the Common Man was the ultimate source of power. Citizen legislators would enact the laws and shape the nation’s destiny.

I have to disagree. Your vastly overstating the case as voting always had restrictions and the processes were designed make the results favor the elites. The semi sacred Founding Fathers in America were the most liberal of the 18th century bunch and they didn't want the rabble in power either.

I understand the attraction of this 'common man' rhetoric but it doesn't really square with the facts.

michigan native said...

The "bigs" only exist as long as there is wealth for them to siphon, just like a parasite.

What will the new wealth be in a resource depleted, post industrial US?

What was it before this anomaly of Petroleum Man took hold?

I am guessing that water will become more precious than gold, along with food, and family ties/connections to gain access to them in a new agrarian based, barter economy will mean the difference of life and death for many.

I can see where all of this talk about politics is in the end a gesture of futility and a waste of time. We all smoke on that opium pipe of fantasy and denial, but when the buzz wears off, we realize that no politician can replenish the natural resources needed for endless growth and thus our (temporary) spoiled way of life, let alone bring back the good old days.

It is clear that an attempt will be made to impose martial law in the US, but what will the purpose be? To maintain law and order or to collect debts from the 99% from the barrels of some 2 billion rounds of hollow point bullets? Will it be to make sure that people are fed, have shelter, and the basic necessities to survive?

If the response to disasters in third world countries which the US has now resembled, and if the US response to Hurricane Katrina is any indication, I suspect the former outcome. Be prepared to have your doors kicked in and have your gold fillings in your teeth knocked out with a rifle but as the copper wiring in your foreclosed entropy bunker is left to ruin, maybe your kidneys or other vital organs ripped out without anesthesia for those creditors who gave made you an indentured servant to a student loan that landed you a (temporary) job at the golden arches, or a serf working from sunrise to sunset in some form of neo feudalism.

Walt said...

No matter how we frame the past, the future looks bleak for the powers at be. We are going through a major transition (like we did in the 30's and 40's). Major transitions seem to end in wars. There will be a mess before things get better. Hopefully they will.

Gris Bosque said...

Vanity Land in demise?
more likely rebirth..