For over two generations now America has claimed to possess the knowledge and the wisdom to formulate a potion said to cure most ills faced by nations and peoples of the world. It labeled this magic elixir, “Democratic Capitalism,” hawking it to the four winds with the help of a mighty military ready to make sure nation-audiences not just listen to the message but heed it.
These past few weeks, as a result of the far-reaching upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa, people taking to the streets saying “enough!,” some of us are starting to ponder here in the United States whether the potion this nation has been hawking, domestically and internationally, has anything to do, in a positive way, with the legitimate rights of people, human dignity and civil liberties; or if the entire thing has been nothing but a cruel hoax perpetrated by the followers of predatory “freak” enterprise, the form of capitalism which rules in America.
Much if not most of the story in those two Islamic regions, North Africa and the Middle East, remains to be written, and at this point we have no idea whether that story will have a single or multiple plots. Nor do we know beyond guesswork whether people took to the streets to remove tyranny, improve their economic lot, or both. And, perhaps most important of all, we have no clue as to what form of leadership will emerge in each nation, or even in the entire region, whether it will turn out to be secular or religious; and perhaps most important of all to the government of the US, whether that leadership shows its face as viscerally anti-Israeli or tolerant of the Jewish state.
Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the techno-social media were instrumental in placing people in the streets, even manning the barricades, but all revolutions to be successful beyond a week, a month or a year must have a well coordinated, hierarchical leadership in place, one that follows an ideology, something which hasn’t changed since Lenin, Castro or Martin Luther King. It won’t be any different in North Africa or the Middle East.
My focus today, however, is not about revolution in those regions, or the politics-in-progress that is taking place there which my contacts in situ tell me are certain to play havoc with past and present American designs on the geography which extends from Casablanca to Kabul. That’s a thing that will affect the empire; however, my concern here is purely domestic, and it affects troubled and unequivocally divided America.
During the past three decades, American Liberals, at all different levels of progressivism which make up that global term, have been telling the more abused and disgruntled groups in the population that they must remain working within the system to bring about change. If we work within the framework of the institutions that we have in place, change will come, if slowly, but it will come… according to them. That visible Liberal leadership kept reminding the neediest for the umpteenth time that change for the masses did not end with the death of FDR. Other leadership will emerge, it’s claimed by the leadership, one sure to bring legislative change, but it must be done using our present institutions.
But what Americans in the lower and middle classes have not been told by most of these Liberal figures is that the evolution that has been taking place is not one of societal change for the better, but rather one which has permitted the infiltration and takeover of all institutions by an unyielding Right that only believes in regressive change for the lower socioeconomic classes which represent four-fifths of the population.
Even organized labor has been eviscerated by following the work-within-the-system line that Liberal leadership has promulgated. As early as 1992, Ross Perot, a presidential candidate and conservative businessman, warned the nation of the flight of American jobs if either the Republican (George Bush, Sr.) or the Democratic (Bill Clinton) candidates were elected, both advocates of globalization and NAFTA. Unions’ rank and file followed both their leadership’s and the Liberals’ advice, voting for their own demise, not recognizing Bill Clinton as the opportunist he was, a stoolie for corporatism.
For Americans in the low economic third, their lives have gone totally bust. Three decades ago 20 percent of the household income was spent on food; that percentage has now doubled for that group. And the so-called Obamacare legislation passed a year ago is nothing but a sad reminder of Americans’ servitude to corporate interests, this time the pharmacology industry being the true beneficiary. And young people have the “privilege” to pay for their college education with loans guaranteed by the government – future taxes, racking up debt by the time they leave college of between $50,000 and $100,000; those with professional degrees even more. A debt foolishly expected to be repaid via jobs that won’t be there. The shameful list goes on and on.
Could it be that the American Liberal leadership telling the lower classes to call for change via the established institutions is nothing but a fifth column that Corporate America has in our midst to keep the masses docile, under control? No, not in any type of allegiance but, unfortunately, yielding the same ugly results. Or is it that past easy living has transformed Americans into a lazy, irresponsive society incapable of effecting change by a true call to arms, a popular revolution?
But I would be contradicting myself if thinking of a plausible popular revolt without a hierarchical leadership in place, particularly if one accuses the Liberal leadership, past and present, of unwittingly being Corporate America’s fifth column. America’s problems will not get a fix until an ideology based on social justice catches the imagination of most people, something not yet in the horizon. We are stuck without either evolution or revolution.
© 2011 Ben Tanosborn
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