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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Hyena Stopped Whimpering In The Night

I was just going to tweet about an Alternet piece on fast food marketing to kids and how difficult it's going to be for us to shield Sam from all that even though we have no TV and intend to homeschool.  But then I got to thinking about The Century of the Self, and the general pervasiveness and deleterious effects of corporatism in all our lives.

It's not just that corporations have lots of money which they are now free to spend influencing elections.  A big problem is that they've successfully cowed us, the People, the ultimate sovereigns, into thinking we cannot live without them and cannot stand up to them.

As psychologist Bruce Levine observes:

[H]uman beings can become so broken by the abuse of the corporate elite that they also are no longer set free by truth.

While certainly the corporate-controlled mainstream media does not report many important truths, the majority of the American people do know enough to oppose the war in Afghanistan, but they do almost nothing in response to recent troop surges.

Polls show that the majority of Americans actually support single-payer, Medicare-for all plan and even a larger majority support a public option, yet there are relatively few people on the streets protesting the Democratic party betrayal of them.
...
I wish the answer to restoring democracy was simply one of people getting more journalistic truths through a non-corporate media --and certainly I am all for that -- but I think that much more is required. We need to take a look at what forces in American society are breaking the American people from the ability to resist tyranny and dehumanization, and we must start considering what are the antidotes to this. At least that's what any psychologist or social scientist who gives a damn about genuine democracy should be doing.
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Stories of resistance to tyranny are great for the morale, so Howard Zinn did a great service by popularizing historical examples. These can be inspirational. A broken person and a broken people need morale. Inspirational models whom people can identify with can be energizing, and energy is exactly what demoralized people need.

It is important for people to know that yes there are historical examples of people rebelling against the elite. It is important, for example, for us to know that there once was something called The People's Party in the U.S. and a huge Populist revolt that scared the hell out of the elite in the 1880s and 1890s.

But historical truths are not enough because sometimes people say, "That's just history, now is different, rebellion isn't possible." That's why not only historians need to report rebellions but journalists must report current resistance to the ruling elite corporations and their political lackeys, current resistance to this "corpocracy."

O!  How truly doth that ring in mine ears -- having sung the song of History's lessons of blessed Liberty only to have the Melody drown'd out by the discordant Trumpets of Cognitive Dissonance!

Ahem.  Sorry.  Just getting caught up in some of the Revolutionary Era modalities.  These certainly are times that try men's souls.

Anyway, I think Alexander Hamilton summed up a corollary problem Levine identifies when trying to effect change:

Experience teaches, that men are often so much governed by what they are accustomed to see and practice, that the simplest and most obvious improvements, in the most ordinary occupations, are adopted with hesitation, reluctance, and by slow gradations.

So it's understandable, if not entirely easy to internalize, why people might resist improving a public good like healthcare even if it's in their own best interest, as well as society's.  Essentially it's human nature we're fighting against, and corporatism has made that struggle a bit more difficult.  Marx was wrong: religion isn't the opiate of the People; it's Nintendo Wii and Extra Value Meals.

The lengths to which people will go, however, to stop change that is good for them still does astonish me at times.  The Teabaggers are a case in point.  Not only are they against HCR, they actively fight it at the bidding of their corporate masters.

These are the same people who fear responding to the Constitutionally mandated Census, but have no qualms about Walmart, Google and others holding onto huge repositories of data.  These are the people who complain about taxes, but don't know they're lower under Obama.  These are the same people who support spending a trillion dollars (for the benefit of defense contractors) to kill hundreds of thousands of people abroad instead of spending a trillion dollars (to the detriment of insurance companies) to improve the lives of millions of people here at home. 

To their credit, at least they're going Howard Beale instead of just sitting at home watching Fox (okay, so it's because the network has instigated a lot of this).  And when they're not busy calling Barney Frank a 'faggot', advocating presidential assassination or crashing planes into IRS buildings, they're trying to learn from history, even if it is from Texan textbooks and Glenn Beck.

Still, it's funny and sad to see them embrace the Boston Tea Party when it was actually an anti-corporate demonstration.  As one of the real tea partiers noted:

While the inhabitants of Boston and the British colonies were thus exquisitively sensible to whatever they deemed hostile to their rights, resenting with equal indignation the most trivial as the most serious attack a resolution was taken in England, which if executed, would have given the victory to the government, and reduced the Americans to the condition to which they had such an extreme repugnance.

Their obstinacy in refusing to pay the duty on tea, rendered the smuggling of it an object, and was frequently practiced, and their resolutions against using it, although observed by many with little fidelity, had greatly diminished the importation into the colonies of this commodity. Meanwhile an immense quantity of it was accumulated in the warehouses of the East India Company in England.

This company petitioned the king to surpress the duty of three pence per pound upon its introduction into America, and to continue the six pence upon its exportation from the ports of England ; such a measure would have given the government an advantage of three pence per pound, and relieved the Americans from a law they abhorred. But the government would not consent, as they were more solicitous about the right than the measure.

The company, however, received permission to transport tea, free of all duty, from Great Britain to America, and to introduce it there on paying a duty of three pence.

In response to the unfair competition that corporate tax breaks created, patriots like Rusticus wrote in The Alarm:

Are we...to be given up to the Disposal of the East India Company, who have now the Assurance, to step forth in Aid of the minister, to execute his Plan, of enslaving America?...The Revenues of Mighty Kingdoms have centered in their Coffers. And these not being sufficient to glut their Avarice, they have, by the most unparalleled Barbarities, Extortions, and Monopolies, stripped the miserable Inhabitants of their Property, and reduced whole Provinces to Indigence and Ruin.

Nowadays people equating universal healthcare to slavery because we'll somehow be wards of the state (I. Am.  So.  Not.  Kidding.).  They'll even quote Samuel Adams to bolster their "argument":

Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!

Of course they omit the preceding admonition: If ye love wealth better than liberty...go from us in peace.  Well, they also forget that capitalist heroes like Adam Smith and Milton Friedman knew corporations weren't to be trusted to do anything but further their own business aims, so at least they're consistent.

As I've said before, it is a strange slavery where I am free to choose from more options for employment and personal fulfillment because I have healthcare.  And it is a strange liberty where I am required to work myself to death so that I might afford a doctor or medication or other treatment for me and my family.

The Framers understood that the General Welfare was important and that taxation was necessary to promote it, so they explicitly gave Congress the power to do both.  Education, roads, security, regulating commerce, protecting civil rights...this is why we have a government.

Yet somehow people have been convinced by a century of marketing that corporations whose sole purpose is to make money are more trustworthy than a government of the People, by the People and for the People, that the profit motive is humanity's purest driver, and that selfishness is a virtue.  They worry about other people, black people, lazy people, poor people, unemployed people, fat people somehow getting more healthcare than they deserve rather than burning the fat of their own souls.

That laughing you hear?  It's coming from corporate hyenas on their way to the bailed out banks...

ntodd

March 24, 2010 in Why We Fight | Permalink

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Comments

I think, based on my recent experience with dropping all processed/factory/feedlot food from my diet, that one must first sense that something is wrong in order to act on it, and that it can take a hell of a long time to even begin to sense that something is wrong.

But too many people, intelligence level notwithstanding, fail to act on that sense and only care when American Idol comes on, and it's only when something is REALLY wrong that they sit up and bother to notice that corporate food is killing them, for example, and by then it's too late.

Posted by: broudy | Mar 24, 2010 7:05:52 PM

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