Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Moderation in All Things

On one end of a continuum of theories of governance is Democracy, where the People rule. On the other is Plutocracy where the wealthy class calls the shots. In the public discussion of this polarization in the United States there are those who take a sort of middle position and confusedly think of themselves then as moderates. But is it a “moderate” position to compromise Democracy? The argument might be clarified if we put it in these terms: Democracy demands one person, one vote, Plutocracy demands rule by the rich and “moderation” offers a compromise where the vote is based on dollars, that is, one dollar, one vote. Somehow I don’t think this is what the Greek Philosopher had in mind, that moderation consists in taking a position sort of half way between the extremes. Not when these are false, set up to give the appearance that a violation of the principle of Democracy has parity with it, that Democracy is an extreme. Someone at the table declares they have a right to 100% of the meal so a “moderate” would accept that demand as valid but work out a compromise where that person ends up with only 90%. It is apparently unthinkable in respectable quarters of the U.S. but taking the view that a tiny minority should have disproportionate influence is an extremist position. It is the task of the mainstream media, on behalf of their wealthy and corporate owners, to obscure this simple fact.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Support the Troops Song & Dance

The drawing came out of an experience I had at a night club. A Nashville singer-songwriter had a Support Our Troops sticker on his guitar and stated how proud he was of his nephew for serving in Iraq and urged us to Support the troops – I wanted to shout, “Bring’em home!” but I allowed myself to be intimidated into silence. That failure haunted me enough to try to compensate with the drawing. The text below was printed on the flip-side of the drawing, a pocket-sized flyer I would hand out to folks at demonstrations. When I saw Bush or Support our Troops bumper stickers in parking lots I’d leave one under the windshield wiper. The situation has changed somewhat with Obama’s ascendancy to the throne but the pressure to exercise the violence option is pretty intense, whether that pressure comes from the defense industry, patriarchal ideologues or from within one’s own psyche.

The Bush Administration lied about the reasons for invading Iraq, claiming:

* that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and intended to develop nuclear weapons.

* that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda and was involved in 9/11

* Both of these rationales were discredited by the 911 Commission. Despite this the White House continued to portray the war on Iraq as a war against terrorism.

Administration officials advocated for invading Iraq long before 911 as part of their fantasies of empire. The real motives seem to lie here and in the oil riches of the region. War profiteering is a predictable bonus for the administration’s friends and allies in the Military and “Security” Industrial Complex. War is always an opportunity to shrink Democracy and accountability, highly favorable advantages when looting the treasury (since reading Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine I now assign this latter motive a more central role).

The Administration talked of “Freedom on the March” but that was transparent propaganda. Aside from the illegal invasion, measures contained in the Patriot Act and other Administration actions, such as ignoring a Supreme Court ruling on prisoner rights to legal representation, the torture scandal, dismissal of dissent at home and the alienation created by its arrogant relations to the world community put the lie to its pretense of promoting Democracy. The Wikileak revelations certainly support these contentions.

The Administration exploited fear of terrorism among the population to distract from its deeply undemocratic agenda. This agenda includes dangerous and expensive militarization, continued transfer of power and wealth to the already powerful and wealthy, and denial of environmental pollution that threatens the viability, even the survival, of our civilization. Administration policies harmed our standing in the world of nations and undermined our security by creating resentment and animosity toward our country. Obama, despite preposterous accusations (socialist, Islamicist, etc;), has made barely detectable change in Bush’s policies. The hysterical animosity toward him is amplified by Fox news, made easier by racism, the other mainstream news outlets and by his own betrayal of his base. The most zealous members of the ruling elite, via their media, reacting to modest reform as if it were revolution, are laying out a warning to all comers: threaten our privilege, profits and power, however mildly, and you will be demonized.