Being comfortable with what is most familiar to them, people are slow to realize that things are no longer what they used to be. In America, the Democratic Party has failed to offer working people an alternative to the Republicans. The only way democrats can win elections is to be more republican than the republicans. Few liberals have drawn a line in the sand and fought vehemently for the ideals they espouse.
It was not this way when the specter of socialism posed a credible threat to capitalism in America less than a century ago. But now the people are no longer permitted to speak of such things in public. Organized labor is dead as a revolutionary force in this country. The red menace was replaced by the ghost of Bin Laden, national security, and irrational fear of Islam. Thank god we have George Bush, Barack Obama, and the military industrial complex to protect us from democracy.
While voting is hailed as the cornerstone of American democracy, it is useless as a vehicle of change. American democracy does not exist. It never has. Nevertheless, millions of people will go to the polls this week and deceive themselves into believing that meaningful change is possible within the established order. They naively believe that the corporations that are running the country permit them to decide how trillions of tax dollars are spent. Like innocent children in the presence of a pedophile, they believe that those in power give a rat’s ass about what we, the people, think.
We live in a bizarre country where incredibly irrational events are a daily occurrence. These events would astonish visitors coming from a planet where justice and reason prevail, where the laws of physics and thermodynamics apply. But not here where the legal fiction known as corporations have the same rights as people but none of the responsibility of citizenship. Corporations and their CEOs routinely murder people en masse in the name of profits, but when has a corporation ever been executed by the state? When has a corporation ever served a prison term? Have you ever read about a corporate charter being revoked?
This year’s West Virginia coal mine disaster and the BP oil spill provide recent examples of systemic corporate mayhem and murder. But who cares? It is business as usual. The oil and coal must be kept flowing. The money must keep flowing into the coffers of corporate CEOs. The lives of the miners and oil roughnecks are as replaceable as cogs in a machine. The system rolls on. Markets, not justice, or ethical systems of conduct define value and thus behavior in capitalist cultures.
The supreme court, like all of the other branches of government that are supposed to provide checks and balances to limit abuses of power, is awash in corporate money. It, too, is owned and operated by the wealthy and their multi-national corporations. In its infinite wisdom the Supreme Court has declared that corporate donors may now purchase outright the candidates of their choice and that money is free speech. There will be no paper trail to trace which corporation bought which public servant. We, the people, are irrelevant. We are not part of the equation anymore, if we ever were.
Those in power permit us to vote in elections that provide nothing more substantive than the illusion of choice. The people are allowed to choose from a small field of war-mongering corporate fascists and capitalists whose sole purpose is to increase the wealth and power of the ruling elite at the expense of the working class. It is a game of predator and prey designed and operated by sociopaths. The super-rich have no empathy for the people whose lives they destroy. Annihilation is a sadistic form of amusement to them. Do the bankers lay awake nights worrying about those whose homes they foreclosed this morning? Not a chance. They are too busy counting their money and dreaming about who, and what, they can buy with it within the confines of their gated communities.
Capitalism is a game that only the privileged are permitted to play. Workers are no more than plastic chips in a game of chance. The people are never permitted to deal the cards.
We are told that voting is democracy in action, that it is our patriotic duty as citizens to elect politicians to office, our duty to choose between the pro-business men and women that were pre-selected for us by multi-national corporations. This is our role in the political apparatus of America: to sanctify the choices that have been made for us by those in power, to give the substance of reality to the illusion of participation. It is we who give it the appearance of legitimacy by participating in a system that does not permit real change.
Without thinking, millions will do their duty and then return to the safety of the TVs’ tiny light to vegetate and marinade, their minds benumbed with entertainment, advertisements, and outlandish propaganda. Unwilling to make trouble, they will do whatever the oracle tells them to do; they will believe whatever it tells them to believe. They will become all that it tells them to be, nothing more, nothing less.
The inert masses will continue to go wherever the herd goes, following the prompts given them by the men with the electronic cattle prods: the makers of video games, cell phones, Fox News, iPods and SUVs. Mystified by how bad things are, the people expect change from a system that does not permit transformation. Capitalism empowers money and those who have it, not people like us. We aren’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. Welcome to oz.
The only way out, if there is one, is organized and sustained class struggle against capitalism.