The Sycophantic Culture

Have American culture, two political party government and institutions become sycophantic?

Once an adult takes his or her place within an organization, public or private, the dynamics of human interaction and reaction begin based as much on human emotions, weaknesses and biases than on fairness, objectivity and merit. The expression, “go along to get along” is almost an unsaid national slogan for many Americans. A sycophant is “a person who seeks favor by flattering people of wealth or influence” according to Webster’s New World Dictionary. Sycophants do not make waves or criticisms.

A sycophant will never criticize or correct his superiors, being careful to be fawningly pleasant. The stakes are high: paychecks, pay raises and promotions. Government itself easily makes the people subservient with its power of force always at the ready. George Washington said government was not reason or logic, but force. The threat of a police state which is often denied or rejected by the mainstream media is nonetheless a real prospect given ever more stringent laws and immense resources allocated for security at the state and national levels, fostering sycophancy and subservience. Too often Americans may confuse criticism with impoliteness.

A military officer and author Colonel Douglas Macgregor blames the military for a sycophantic culture for failures in Iraq and wasteful spending in dubious weapons systems has said, “It’s a very sycophantic culture. The biggest problem we have inside the United States Army today – and in the Department of Defense at the senior level, but also within the officer corps – is that there are no arguments. Arguments are [seen as] a sign of dissent. Dissent equates to disloyalty.”

It is becomingly increasingly clear sycophantic culture embraces both the military and civilian sectors of society. Its depth and pervasiveness may well be an indicator of political and managerial leadership more interested in gluing itself to influential groups having access to wealth and power than to the real interests of the American people. The institution of our national government, the U.S. Congress, has clearly abdicated its role of checks and balances and has frequently become a cheerleader for the executive branch in the country’s wars from Vietnam to Iraq.

A whistle blower may save millions of dollars in government expenditures or expose malfeasance in government but more often than not higher levels in the government bureaucracy try to retaliate through performance reviews, unreasonable work schedules or harassment of a million cuts. The bureaucracy rarely embraces a whistle blower’s criticisms, for the status quo is primary. The status quo of management is paramount. Real change or reform may well mean a diminution of power in lower budgets or paychecks and a change in personnel.

In his book Another Century of War? Gabriel Kolko wrote, “Those who become leaders of states are ultimately conformists on most crucial issues, and individuals who evaluate information in a rational manner-and therefore frequently criticize traditional premises-are weeded out early in their careers.” Perpetual conformity creates failure. Is maintaining the status quo more about power and privileges than effective, fair and efficient government, and education? Are educational institutions fostering sycophancy? The American government plays enormous favorites with legislation often providing resources for those who play the game as dictated by political leaders. Those politicians who defy their leaders by criticizing adverse legislation face being ostracized or undercut in the political process.

Sycophantic behavior begins early in the educational system. Criticism is usually unwanted by institutions. The perks, benefits and privileges of power are too important to tolerate criticism, especially anything that diminishes budgets and power. People who criticize are often disparaged, for they are labeled complainers or whiners. Intolerance of the views of others, including critics of the status quo is an indicator that sycophancy is alive, well and possibly pervasive. Is there a link between sycophantic behavior and dishonesty? In trying to please or gratify someone a sycophant may be untruthful or deceitful. Too often criticism is not tolerated because those in charge do not want change or it appears their authority is being undermined, breeding sycophancy among subordinates and co-workers. Change is often anathema to those in power and those who are subservient and unquestioning are most desired and hired in bureaucracies.

Many major U.S. cities have been labeled “drop out factories” because they have high school graduation rates of less than 60%. Are educators and elected officials unable to solve this ticking time bomb of increasing high school dropouts? Or do they really want to solve the problem? Or will they just allow the ever expanding criminal justice system take care of potential miscreants leading us closer to a police state in order to protect us all? How long will it be before another problem morphs into a major disaster, like the Iraq war, lack of supervision within the financial industry and lack of a national high speed rail system?

Group think is a cousin to sycophancy. Generally in employment process those who are perceived to think similarly or the same, evince similar gestures or use like-minded terminology to the hiring authority are usually employed. The recent almost criminal irony in the current financial system is that average citizens who have poor credit ratings are sometimes denied employment because it adversely affects their character profile for employers while the credit worthiness of tens of thousands of unreliable mortgage assets were labeled highly credit worthy by credit rating agencies. Now, if there were a semblance of justice those financial managers involved in these fraudulent credit ratings would be disbarred from employment in financial industry.

Max Horkhemier in his book Eclipse of Reason wrote that most people in society need to “identify themselves with its more powerful surrogates—the race, fatherland, leader, cliques, and tradition. For them, all these words mean the same thing—the irresistible reality that must be honored and obeyed.” Fear is engendered and taught by institutions and family from childhood to adulthood to conform and in doing so a critical measure of rationality and objectivity is submerged or in some cases obliterated.

A glaring example is the Iraq war approved by the United States Congress. The United States Senate also became a rubber stamp for the President of the United States. Instead of independently using its enormous powers to confirm the dire predicament of the threat against us, the Congress sycophantically accepted the judgment of the executive branch without question violated the system of checks and balances that is an integral and essential component of the Unites States government. The Congressional “debate” on the war was brief and rapid approval to use force against Iraq was provided in a resolution. The so-called free press was unable to question adequately the quest for war, for many believed it was unpatriotic to do so, an example of sycophancy, not patriotism.

In his article “Five Years and Counting: Ten Unpleasant Truths About the Iraq War,” Stephen M. Walt writes, “Congress never debated the war in a serious way and it continued to back Bush’s policies long after their failure was apparent. Mainstream media institutions like the New York Times and Washington Post smoothed the path to war by parroting the administration’s sales pitch and giving abundant space to pro-war cheerleaders.” He concludes, “The implication is deeply troubling: if Americans do not learn from this experience and hold those responsible accountable, the Iraq debacle will not be our last.” In a government that spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually for security and intelligence the dissenting voices among elected and appointed officials appear to be absent all adding to the sycophantic culture for those in elected office whose duty is to uphold and apply our system of checks and balances.

The current economic crisis in the country is a the result of group think including a lack of financial oversight over the Stock Market and banking industries. Another example of group think sycophancy was granting the executive branch the authority to invade Iraq by the Congress. The lack of progress on a high speed rail network in the Unites States by the national government is another example of group think. Europe and Asia have had high speed rail systems for decades, while the United States as one of the wealthiest countries in the world neglected this vital transportation system by subsidizing through myriad ways the airline and automobile industries for political purposes. Both the Congress and the Presidency have worked in group think unison to deprive the country of a high speed train system. They have worked in unison in being the cause of the financial meltdown through either lack of oversight and regulation of financial markets, chronic and immense national debt and annual deficits. The legislative and executive branches have been unable and unwilling to reverse this ominous and irresponsible financial trend.

Elected officials en mass have not wanted to buck the system, go against conventional thinking and prevailing governing policies among their political party leaders. They generally practice “go along to get along” in group think as their foremost trait within their political parties, generally obeying the leadership unflinchingly, for they dare not risk the consequences. In the case of our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she advocated “obliterating Iran” in the defense of Israel when she was a U.S. Senator. Her admonition did not apply to any other country and her controversial and reckless statement was not challenged by her colleagues in the Senate, for they overwhelming agreed with her. What would Americans think if a high ranking official of China had said their country would obliterate the United States if it interfered with its actions against Taiwan? Would such a statement by a Chinese official be considered controversial and reckless? Of course it would. Would that Chinese official be held in high regard and would we want to negotiate with that official if she became their Foreign Minister?

The foreign policy of the United States, especially in the Middle East, has been mired in group think and obsequiousness for many decades by failing to be a neutral partner in negotiations. Presidents G. W. Bush and Bill Clinton declared one country to be our greatest and favorite ally, something one of our greatest presidents, George Washington, warned at length against making any country a favorite in his Farewell Address. The modern misperception is that George Washington’s views are anachronistic, outmoded and obsolete. The opposite is true. George Washington’s views break with traditional and age old traits of endless chicanery, subterfuge and double dealing in order to create a more balanced, even-handed and tempered foreign policy. It is our current foreign policies that are old, reverting to the ancient ways which often lead to ever more conflict and war.

In an article in Foreign Policy Stephen M. Walt wrote “… we are in trouble today because we have allowed a culture of corruption and dishonesty to permeate our institutions and pollute our public discourse.” Fear, subservience and sycophancy allowed a culture of corruption and dishonesty to flourish.

The voices of American neutrality and objectivity in the mainstream press have either been silenced through censorship or intimidated into sycophancy. Self-censorship has been evident in the so-called public airwaves of television networks where the majority of the American people receive their news. Only recently has there been vocal criticism from professional academics that our policy in the Middle East has been studded with missteps and perpetual disappointment. Where has the vigor of democratic debate been for several generations? Has it been stifled, muffled and muted? In a democracy why are there not alternative views presented in the public airwaves? Are alternative points of view less valid? Or are points of view that contradict the mainstream media’s opinions or views often being blocked and obstructed?

Group think and a Stepford style democracy have marked this era of American national political life in most domestic and foreign policies. New ideas, new ways of solving old problems have seldom emerged in a country which claims to be a citadel and fortress of democracy. The fact that the two major political parties without competition are cementing themselves to the government and the Constitution despite their failures in economically managing the country demonstrates a somnolent populace obediently sycophantic to the two party system. The U.S. Constitution does not mention political parties, therefore, there is no prohibition to other political parties, unless the current parties prevent it or make it extremely difficult which is the case today.

Do government and the educational system consciously remove critics and embrace sycophants? Has group think become a euphemism for sycophancy? Are our strongest potential leaders removed early in the educational process in order to maintain the status quo? Is society often left with those whose skills include sycophancy and pandering? Politicians excel in pandering by constantly telling the American people how great a country they have without creating and establishing meaningful and beneficial change in government programs, for example, in forestalling the current economic meltdown now confronting the nation.

Any society and its military is as only as good as its ability to not only perceive the truth but also use it as its basis for action. A nation of sheep is bred by sycophants. The sycophants are more a danger to society by creating failure than critics who often point the way to human progress and understanding.

Critics, not sycophants, will lead us away from dead ends to the reality of the world we desperately need to comprehend.

Henry Pilfian lived overseas for many years, served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and in the U.S. Peace Corps in Thailand. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Henry, or visit Henry's website.

16 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. bozh said on March 16th, 2009 at 9:40am #

    henry pelifian has taken a narrow look at how US society functions.
    a wider look wld reveal many causes for US wars and other shortcomings and not just the fact that gangs possess no pangs.

    what is a king, tsar, emperor, capo, et al but the head of a gang of men and women.
    every gang i know of, tho they go by different names, behaves/acts similarly or same. and the largest gang ever to have arisen thus far behaves like any mafioso gang.

    the gang in US is known as US gov’t. however, it does not function in a vacuum.
    e.g., US gov’t is a function of cults and worship of stars; its governance, health care, education, military/police/fbi/cia power, jurisprudence.

    thus, socalled sychophants, fear the might i’ve just enumerated more than their superiors.
    in short, people don’t make waves or even ripples because of dozens of factors and not just fear of a superior.
    a sychophant may even fear her/his spouse if s/he fears losing friends, job, or spouse. tnx

  2. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 16th, 2009 at 1:34pm #


    Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain. What It Takes, Richard Ben Cramer. Theodore Rex, Edmund Morris, The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman. 1776, David McCullough. Mein Kamp, Adolf Hitler. The Battle For Peace, Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz. The Business Of Winning, Robert Evangelista. Future Jihad, Walid Phares. The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren. The West’s Last Chance, Tony Blankley, Mastering The Rockefeller Habits. Praying for Money, Joel Osteen


    Besides my family, I have great interest in strengthening this country and our economy. Fixing our failing schools so we can better compete with emerging Asia and making health care more affordable through free market reforms. And, most importantly, winning the war against the jihadists to ensure that Americans are kept safe.

  3. Ron Horn said on March 16th, 2009 at 2:20pm #

    It seems to me that beginning and ending an analysis of the failure of current Americans to question or criticize authority by using the concept of “sycophantic” behavior only serves to describe the problem merely by using another term besides the often observed phenomenon of conformity in the US. It doesn’t explain anything.

    It seems to me that using the Marxist concepts related to the class nature of society really goes along way to explaining this phenomenon. If you have a ruling class, who by their relationship to the means of production, rule over that society, then you will always find sycophantic behaviors among those subject to their rule.

    The capitalists in the US as in other capitalist countries form a ruling class by the fact that they have institutionalized the idea of private “ownership” of the economy and they as a class “own” most of the US economy and have a very deep interest in maintaining this arrangement. This small group of people, capitalists, has devised a system that provides them with fabulous material rewards. They not only own the wealth that is produced by working people, but they own productive ideas and even life forms that have been created. Worst of all, they control ideas regarding their system through their concentrated ownership of the media, and through their control of education. Throughout all their systems of indoctrination they carefully cultivate ideas which support this system, and above all, the notion of deference to authority. As Woodrow Wilson put it so succinctly to the New York City School Teachers Association in 1909: “We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.” Of course with the increasing need for technologically trained workers, education has had to adapt somewhat—but the idea is the same.

    Now in the 21st century it often seems like this phenomenon is worse than ever. It seems to me that this is due to the ever increasing concentration of ownership of the media and the rest of the economy. Regarding the latter, there are a lot fewer people who can function as independent small businessmen and farmers than was possible in earlier periods of our history. Thus one goes from childhood obedience to obedience to authority figures in the workplace or the military. Almost the entire society is organized in a hierarchical fashion so that the ruling class can maintain control over all significant sectors of society. It seems to me that most people really never grow up in the sense that they can think for themselves and arrive at their own truths without the guidance of authority figures.

  4. Rodolf said on March 16th, 2009 at 5:09pm #

    July 20th 2008

    The first ever American Human Development Report launched on July 17, 2008, by Oxfam America, finds that although the US spends more per capita on health care than any other nation in the world (5.2 billion dollar daily), its citizens live shorter lives than citizens of virtually every western European and Nordic countries.

    The US has a higher percentage of children living in poverty than any of the world’s richest countries. The US ranked 34th in the survival of infants to age. There are huge gaps in living standards and quality of life among different US states. The US ranked 42nd in global life expectancy. Some Americans are living anywhere from 30 to 50 years behind others when it comes to issues we all care about: health, education and standard of living.

    Suicide and murder are among the top 15 causes of death in the US. Although the US has 5% of the global population, it contains 24 % of the world’s prisoners.

    The report concludes that even though the US is one of the most powerful and rich nations in the world, it is woefully behind when it comes to providing opportunity and choices to all Americans to build a better life.

    Despite an almost cult-like devotion to the belief that unfettered free enterprise is the best way to lift Americans out of poverty, the report points to a rigged system that does little to lessen inequalities.

  5. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 16th, 2009 at 7:31pm #

    This country is dumbed down. US voters voted for Democrats. What US voters should’ve do, was to vote for Ralph Nader, The Green Party or the Socialist Equality Party, the Mariguana Party, or even the Royalist Party

  6. Tennessee-Chavizta said on March 16th, 2009 at 7:50pm #

    Hey my friends, what we need is a United-Front of small alternative political parties in this country as an electoral strong option for 2012, or 2016. But time is running fast and if the left in USA doesn’t unite into a United Socialist Front of small socialist parties, the right-wing lunatics, a far-right wing fascist leader might take over in 2012. At least we are a bit better now than with an ultra-right wing lunatic from the Republican Mafioso Party

  7. Deadbeat said on March 16th, 2009 at 9:35pm #

    I think that is hyperbole. What is needed is analysis not fear-mongering or utopian vision such as lately that has been discussed here under the guise of Henry George and land-rent. The power of Marxism is in its analysis of relationships and people who are now being faced with increasing misery understand their powerlessness. What is missing building the kinds of organiztions that can help them build solidarity. Unfortunately, what I see is a desire to keep the masses confused. I think the American people are tired of the right and there is no real indications that American will learch in a right-wing direction like they did in 1980. They are aware of the effects of Reaganomics and that wealth has been redistributed upward.

    I think most American are confused as to what to do. All you have to do is go on You-Tube or even, what left of them, union meetings to get a pretty good understanding of the mindset. Three generation of cold-war (anti-left) sentiments, living the so-called “American Dream” and the Ronald Reagan motif of “rugged individualism” are difficult cultural brain-washing to expunge.

    Most people still get most of their information from “mainstream media” who job it is to maintain the propaganda and there are still many Americans who are managing in the way to hang onto their little slices not to want to “sacifice” themselves or their family of that sliver. I think many American understand what’s wrong but giving a choice are not “suffering enough” to change anything. I think this condition will lead to more demoralization and apathy and “dropping out” than the kind of “activity” needed to yield a “fascist” leader.

    The question then is how to reach these people. Clearly the Obama campaign was important to demostrate that the desire to alter course is there. The problem as I see it is that there is NO coherent force on the Left to present an alternative. Once again I’ll point out that the Left squandered a golden opportunity in 2003 when people got active against the War on Iraq and the “Left” fearing the specter of a real focus in the Israel question defused that energy. Had momentum been maintained against that war the economic question would have been raised and that energy would be there now. Another opportunity missed was that demonsration against the Sensenbrenner bill and the energy provided by the immigration movement. That energy could have coaleased with an anti-war movement again would have been powerful. But alas the vacuum especailly due to the failures of the “Left” is why people galvanized behind Obama. So IMO being angry at Obama fails to examines and analyse the Left own missteps, problem and especially betrayal and the role it is playing to maintain confusion and stunt solidarity.

    Also with regards to Nader, he has his change in 2004 and such “Left” personalities like Glen Ford, Michael Albert, Chomsky, Zinn, Michael Moore, et. al all supported the Democrats. Nader had a real chance to build on his 2000 campaign. He was side-swiped by such “Demo-Greens” and phony leftist like Medea Benjamin. In addition, Nader choose not to campaign as a Green which meant the field was open for a slob like David Cobb to fill that void. This kind of confusion and lack of coherance is not going to bring people over to the Left. Therefore the Left was extremely weak in 2008 producing a void that was filled by Obama.

    So what should the Left do? T-C calls for a united socialist front. But how can happen? There clearly doesn’t seem to be any coherance on the Left to make that happen. I think this is because the people who claim to be on the “Left” are too “elitist” to make that happen. They are not living and especially not engaging where the real revolutionary forces are. The real revolutionary force is where you’ll find the most oppressed folks, the most oppressed communities. The people who have lost the most and who have nothing to lose. The people who I described representing the “Left” has got something to lose and therefore IMO lack the will to really demand and seek change. These supposed “folks on the Left” can complain about Obama all they want but essentially Obama represents their material interest.

  8. Monkismo said on March 16th, 2009 at 10:30pm #

    I’m sorry, but if you think the poor in America are a revolutionary force, I can only imagine that you don’t spend any time around them. Does anyone seriously believe that the poor in America would rather see the system change than cling to the desperate hope to drive an Escalade, wear a Rolex, live in a McMansion, or have servants of their own?

    Even minor efforts at social change like environmentalism remain boutique trends for the middle class, ignored by the poor and working classes. Meanwhile, fads of dumb consumption and meaningless symbols of status like Bluetooths and Land Rovers are ubiquitous, even in my working-class neighborhood.

  9. dino said on March 17th, 2009 at 1:42am #

    A sycophantic culture?The question supposes that still a culture exist but i believe that only a material culture and a lot of propaganda take the place of the culture.The fact that one like Bush can be called the leader of the free world says enough.
    A book written by a Julien Benda in 1930,The Betrayal of the Intellectuals,explained how then the intellectuals betrayed the rationalism of Descartes,Kant for mysticism,spiritualism,romanticism.Today happens the same.I am sure that a lot of thinkers could today to understand the evenings in a rational way on the ground of material interests,and class interests which are disputed.In my eyes Chomski doing that better than all.But they ,the rationalist are outnumbered by an army of propagandists which has to its disposition whole media and which change the essence of the struggle which has very concrete purposes in a clash of civilizations or religions or even between gods, so the betrayal of intellectuals is going on.

  10. davidgmills said on March 17th, 2009 at 6:59am #

    Monkismo, you are right. I don’t see the American poor being much of a revolutionary force. Even our desperately poor still have the American dream in their heads. They could win the lottery tomorrow. They could become an NBA star or an American idol or the next Bill Gates. As long as they have this dream, as far fetched as it may be, they will not revolt.

    Even with the rise in homelessness and tent housing, there is still plenty of shelter for everyone in the US. The US housing industry overbuilt. Even if unemployment continues to rise, it won’t be long before those living in tents will become squatters in vacant housing and adversely possess their homes. Many already have started squatting. The owners of the property won’t care once the owners have lost their equity and can’t sell. And then all the squatters need is food. As long as there is no real famine in this country, even the poorest of the poor will get enough to survive. Once you have food and shelter, why take the mortal risk of violent revolution?

    And there really will be no real structural change without a violent revolution. That is what it takes. It takes an American Revolution, a French Revolution or a Russian Revolution to really bring about the change that would satisfy most of the people on this board.

    So forget Nader or Kucinich. Forget new parties. Their kind, and any new parties they could ever form, will never achieve power through civil political means or the ballot box.

    The best you can hope for non-violently, is very slow incremental change. Maybe over a hundred years of incremental change, one could look back and see significant non-violent change. But if waiting a hundred years is not your thing, your option is a violent revolution. And that is not too likely to happen with people whose goal is to get a blue tooth.

  11. Brian Koontz said on March 17th, 2009 at 7:20am #

    Sycophancy is a rational response for the individual in any hierarchical situation. It’s a recognition of power relations – and the more extreme the relations (the larger the difference in power) the more frequent and more extreme the sycophancy produced as a result. The only way to eliminate sycophancy is to eliminate hierarchy.

    In reply to Monkismo:

    “I’m sorry, but if you think the poor in America are a revolutionary force, I can only imagine that you don’t spend any time around them. Does anyone seriously believe that the poor in America would rather see the system change than cling to the desperate hope to drive an Escalade, wear a Rolex, live in a McMansion, or have servants of their own?”

    Very few Americans are truly poor. Most “poor” in America are part of the global middle class. From a revolutionary perspective the problem is not that the poor in America fail at revolution, but that there are barely any poor to revolt.

  12. russell olausen said on March 17th, 2009 at 8:43pm #

    Anybody who thinks dissenters in the U.S. will end up under one giant ethical umbrella, think again. Just as likely, 10,000 splinters will form, under religion, race, age, sex, occupation, wealth, you get the idea. I suggest fortifying the notion of a loyal opposition with scope to effect real change. That would include periodic change of all leadership positions as there is nothing like long tenure to nurse the prospects of corruption.Unfortunately, many members of a society are not fit to do any thing but follow,however your system of entrenched privilege is clearly worn out.Please for the good of the world, find a new umbrella soon.

  13. hayate said on March 30th, 2009 at 7:32pm #

    Very interesting piece. I’ve noticed all my life how americans are extremely conformist, as a group. I have no quibbles with the article, but a point made by Monkismo is flat out middle-class, whitebread myth believing.

    “I’m sorry, but if you think the poor in America are a revolutionary force, I can only imagine that you don’t spend any time around them. Does anyone seriously believe that the poor in America would rather see the system change than cling to the desperate hope to drive an Escalade, wear a Rolex, live in a McMansion, or have servants of their own?”

    If one has only been around rednecks, one could conclude that, but if one spent any time around Black and Latino poor, you’d have to be deaf, dumb & blind to walk away with that impression. While these groups may have sycophancy issues of their own, they remain much less conformist than their middle-class white counterparts to the mcdonalds/walmart herd-think foisted by american society and the oligarchs running it.

  14. Eric said on June 1st, 2009 at 3:39pm #

    I like how the last post stated that the black and latino poor are less conformist (well they adhere to their own conformity, that much is obvious, and many often don’t come across as true free thinkers but that transcends race anyway).

    What I find funny are stupid white people who hold this same view so they sell themselves out and grab onto the identities (and unique herd mentalities) of the “minorities” and claim them as their own. They are so unable to find their own way of being that they grab onto the equally blind ways of others and try so hard to prove their identification with it. Ha, what a joke.

  15. Eric R. said on June 27th, 2009 at 7:02pm #

    A great observation. There is a need for stability in life, culture and politics as well as law. A legitimate amount of passive acceptance is required to live in a harmonious relationship with ones neighbors and co-workers however as a society there must be an awareness of the government and what role it assumes over its subjects.

    The constitution of the United States is a prime example of a required conformity to law. It may be changed by amendment not by popular opinion which lends it stability. The protection of the masses from a tyrannical government is only as powerful as the education required to recognize the dangers of that tyranny. As John Adams was quoted “Be not intimidated… nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.” Failing to instruct the future generations on the disciplines used to imbibe youth with complacency and submission is of great concern these days. It is of equal distress we fail to teach the distinctions between dissent and respect. Instead we speak of current affairs as if there were no history to reflect upon which illuminates the scenes we are faced with and attempt to use logic to assert our views. Debate is only as good as the foundations on which it is agreed will be common among the parties. In the US that common ground used to be the constitution and law. Today it is based on interpretation of law and a completely lacking moral thread which would support it. Given that lacking the constitution itself has no authority and those who should see the tyrants plotting away after their liberty are complacent in their roles as voters either winning or losing but neither knowing really what it is they have won or lost, just that they are part of one group.

  16. Melissa said on June 27th, 2009 at 9:16pm #

    Thank you, Eric. From what I have absorbed (comments) here at DV, not knowing what they have won or lost is at the heart of the problem. Here at this site, so much passion, such a hunger for human rights, beautiful visions of what could be for humanity . . . but they would wipe their behinds with the only legitimate and recognized protection, only solid and useful tool to express the will of the people -Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    I am owning those documents, it’s all I’ve got. I’ve seen enough of what can and is done when people decide the documents REPRESENT tyranny -a mantra taught in the indoctrination centers we call schools and fostered by disappointed and futile people.

    One common thread that runs through the comments is “we need solidarity”. Then everyone argues. “Solidarity to the working poor, solidarity in religion, solidarity in blah blah blah, insert your special interest or slim cross-section of society”

    Is it really so elusive? Under what in the world could people in the USA possibly unite, despite different opinions? Hmm. What is our common birthright? What is our common inheritance? What is this silver bullet that could be used to wrest power back from the oligarchy?

    Duh. They won’t have it. They want it gone. Let’s spin our wheels some more here, shall we?

    “Life is a tale told by an idiot . . . full of sound and fury, signifying . . . . . . . nothing.” -W.S.

    Peace, Resistance, Hope,