Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans. The courts, in turn, when they are not increasingly handmaidens of corporate power, are consistently deferential to the claims of national security. Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media. Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media's reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks, by thinly veiled threats of the Attorney General and by their own fears about unemployment. What is crucially important here is not only the expansion of governmental power but the inevitable discrediting of constitutional limitations and institutional processes that discourages the citizenry and leaves them politically apathetic.I say this to stave off any complaints from deluded right-wing pseudo-intellectuals about a lack of perspective when I say that right now, at this place and time, it is capitalism that is the main problem facing humanity. This article from today's Common Dreams: "Capitalism in America: Giving Crazy a Bad Name While Subverting Democracy" provides an excellent overview of the problem.
Ever since Milton Friedman’s series of essays on Capitalism and Freedom, conservatives have tried to link democracy and capitalism into essential handmaidens. But as the evidence shows, it’s a reality-busting bundle that only a psychotic could love. Or believe.Read the whole thing. There's also some heartening evidence (once again) of the great good sense of the American people and how they support progressive policies in spite of the enormous brainwashing campaign directed at them.
The fact is, capitalism as practiced in America – far from being democracy’s handmaiden -- is anathema to freedom, and ultimately, impoverishing to the vast majority of its citizens.
And it’s driving us crazy.
From Democracy to Oligarchy: By any measure, the US is an Oligarchy, not a democracy. This too, is a result of our doctrinaire belief in unconstrained capitalism, which inevitably results in grotesque income inequalities, and – ironically – economic collapse. Pushed by an unholy alliance of true believers and rich special interests, we’ve tried unconstrained capitalism three times now, and each time it has obliterated the middle class, and wrecked the economy.Welcome to the New Dark Ages – where belief trumps facts; where wishful thinking beats realityThe facts show that pure unadulterated capitalism not only limits freedom and destroys the planet, it is self-extinguishing.But facts have little sway with the true believers. Like inmates in the asylum, the plutocrats keep pushing the very thing that will destroy them. Unfortunately, they’re taking us with them.
I'm spending too long with this fucking blogging. A few quick points:
stephen harper is a symptom of this degeneracy of democracy. I do believe that harper has brought his own horrid style to Canadian politics, imported from the Karl Rove/Dick Cheney school of brazen, shameless lying and corruption. I do believe that harper is particularly dangerous, but that he is still just a symptom of a malaise, and not the soul cause of it.
Milton Friedman was open in stating that capitalism was more important than democracy. He believed that democracy's power should be limited so that it would not interfere with the wealth-generating process of capitalist accumulation.
Reading the CommonDreams article, I could always hear the words of the lying fraud "slumberjack" from EnMasse. The idiot would respond to the voter apathy and alienation from formal politics as a good thing. They're not a good thing. "Slumberjack" cannot process and therefore cannot argue for an alternative vision once everyone sloughs off the sham of bourgeois democracy. Because "slumberjack" has no vision of an alternative of any consequence. In "slumberjack's" (and many other anarchists; hence my bothering with this nit-wittery at all) imagination, there will be a Golden Dawn when everyone's eyes are opened, and the oppressive elites are "overthrown" (picture a crowd of people tossing a figure above their heads and into oblivion) and, in the blink of an eye, there is no patriarchy, there is no racism, there is no religious delusion (including atheist "fundamentalists" compelling the religious to recant), ... all oppressions are overwhelmed and everyone goes to work in the same economic networks that sustain humanity's billions now. Except the system will be better because of freedom.
That ridiculous, nonsensical day-dream is "slumberjack's" vision. (If he has an alternative, he has always been free to describe it. But being forced to actually explain himself would be "oppressive" so he doesn't.)
We need to work with what we have. We need to respect it for what it is. We need to improve it. And we need to carry the majority with us as we do so.