Archive for the libertarian Category

New studies show babies have basically decent impulses and are strongly driven by moral imperatives

Posted in analysis, anarchism, anthropology, books, class, common ground, consciousness, democracy, elite, empowerment, freedom, Hobbes, inspiration, Kropotkin, libertarian, libertarian socialism, must-read, people's movements, philosophy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, psychology, reading, science, social theory, sociology, the world's other superpower, truth with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2013 by jtoddring

More research shows once again that compassion, empathy and mutual aid, and an instinct toward cooperation, are innate in human beings, confirming what the great Russian biologist and anarchist philosopher Peter Kropotkin had already amply demonstrated over a hundred years ago, in his monumental work, Mutual Aid. My but our cherished ideological self-deceptions die slowly.

The dark view of human nature presented by Hobbes and many others, is still alive and well, despite the growing mountain of evidence to the contrary. The ideology of social Darwinism, hatched by Herbert Spencer, and not, emphatically, by Darwin himself, still holds considerable sway, especially among the power elite, to use C. Wright Mills term, who use this grand self-deceit as a rationalization for their callous and frankly sociopathic behaviour.

But, as Chomsky has said, the great majority of people have basically decent impulses. Since this is the case, and since those who gravitate to positions of great power tend to be power-mongers and sociopaths, far more often than altruistic benefactors or true leaders, we should question our learned obedience to government and other elites and power structures, and trust our own common sense, and ourselves, far more.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/11/as-babies-we-knew-morality/281567/

J. Todd Ring,
November 18, 2013

Occupy Wall Street: The emerging global pro-democracy movement, where it stands, what it means, and where we go from here

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, civil liberties, class, common ground, consciousness, conservative, conservatives, constitution, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, currency, democracy, democratic deficit, ecological crisis, ecology, economic collapse, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, fascist, Feudalism, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, human rights, imperialism, inspiration, labour, left, liberal, libertarian, libertarianism, Media, media analysis, money, must-read, oil, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, political theory, politics, politics of oil, psychology, resources, right, right wing, social theory, sociology, sovereignty, sustainability, the right, the world's other superpower, Uncategorized, war, war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2011 by jtoddring

The Occupy Wall Street movement, which has already become a global grassroots populist pro-democracy movement, if we have eyes to see, has clearly already won a broad and growing base of support. What is needed now, I believe, is to further clarify and crystallize the issues – and I would say that many people now realize that the central issue is the question of whether we live in a plutocracy or a democracy, whether we have rule of the people, by the people, for the people, or rule by the super-rich 1% and the corporate elite. The second urgent task is to further broaden and build the emerging world-wide pro-democracy movement, and create a popular coalition that can reclaim democracy from the ruling corporate masters who are looting and pillaging at will, and who have usurped far too much power, politically, economically, and in the media. To this second aim, this brief reflection is geared. Unite the people now.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, or more accurately, the fast-growing global pro-democracy movement, has broad support from progressives, the left and labour, considerable support from students, youth, the environmental and peace movements and the liberal centre, and also, although it may be surprising to some, considerable support from the grassroots right.

What many do not understand is that the grassroots right is increasingly wary of and outraged by the same ruling corporate elite that the left has fought against for generations. A growing number of people who consider themselves conservatives are now highly aware that big business and the super-rich have taken over the political process as well as the economy and the media. They are not happy about this fact, to say the least.

There is common ground here, between left and right, liberal, conservative and progressive, and we should not be fooled by the corporate-dominated and corporate-owned media who always want to spin and sow division among the people. The power-hungry have always known that divide and conquer is the best and first line of defence of their vested interests and imperial powers. We should not be surprised when the corporate-run media both inflames and also inflates and exaggerates the divisions which do exist, and severely downplays the common ground that could unite the people. When the people unite, democracy will rule, and the ruling elite will be deposed from power – the elite know this very well, and therefore do everything they can to sow division and discord among the people. Do not let them win!

*

At the level of the grassroots, many people are fiscal conservatives, and many fiscal conservatives realize that spending $1.5 trillion a year on imperial wars, the military-industrial complex and CIA black ops – and this is the figure that has been acknowledged by the U.S. government, by the way – is completely unsustainable, and is in fact, economic suicide. While there are major differences of opinion and views between right and left, there is also strong common ground – common ground that is routinely overlooked, and that is vital that we acknowledge and come to realize. Many fiscal conservatives realize that the vast sums spent on war and empire are leading to a collapse of the currency and a bankrupting of the nation. Many also realize that it is the vested interests of the corporate elite – the big oil companies and military-industrial contractors, for example – that drive the wars and the imperial hubris and sheer insanity.

The grassroots right and conservatives are not as out to lunch as most liberals, progressives and people on the left tend to believe. Neither right nor left has a monopoly on truth, on intelligence, or on moral high ground. The sooner we realize that none of us are infallible, that we can learn from one another, and most importantly, that we have a strong basis of unity in common ground, the better.

If the left and progressives and liberals can get over their long-standing self-righteousness and presumed superior moral high ground and intelligence, they will find that they have allies in surprising places. If the right will overcome their habitual paranoia and rabid, overly zealous partisan hatred and hostility toward the left, and realize that the vast majority of people on the left today are neither Stalinists nor statist authoritarians, they too will realize that they have allies in surprising places. We need to realize this now: there is common ground; and unless we find it, we are all in for a very dark time ahead. Divided we will fall – make no mistake about it.

The right and the left may forever disagree, and disagree strongly, on many major issues; but when it comes to the core issues, the most central and fundamental of issues, most people on both right and left are in favour of constitutional democracy, limited powers of the state, civil liberties, freedom and authentic democracy, and are opposed to any form of elite rule. This fact, and this common ground, is critically important for us all to realize now.

*

On another line, many on the grassroots right and many who would call themselves conservatives, are libertarians. Traditionally, libertarianism has been a term that has been co-opted by the libertarian right. The libertarian right has traditionally been wary – rightly so – of excessive powers of the state; and it has also traditionally been laissez-faire, or willfully ignorant, as to the dangers of excessive powers in the economic realm. But this has been changing over the past two to three decades, and libertarians that were or are conservatives or rightist, have begun to realize what Thomas Jefferson knew very well two hundred years ago: excessive concentrations of either economic or political powers will result in tyranny.

A growing number of libertarians are now highly aware that in order to preserve constitutional democracy, civil liberties and freedom, the corporate elite must be pushed back, and firmly reigned in. Again, there is a good deal of common ground here between conservatives, liberals, progressives, right and left now, at least at the level of the grassroots.

Of course most politicians are partisan zealots: they have to uphold the charade that they represent widely differing views between widely differing political parties, and to mask the fact that both of the major political parties in the U.S., and most of the major political parties around the world, are bought and paid for by the same ruling corporate elite.  As George Carlin put it, “The politicians are there to give you the illusion that you have a choice. You don’t have a choice – you have owners. They own you. It’s a big club folks – and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the club. And by the way, it’s the same club they use to beat you over the head with every god-damn day, telling you what to think, what to believe.”

We are presented with a false set of choices, and asked to choose between corporate lap dogs A, B, or C. More and more, the people are aware that this is no choice at all, and that the entire system is failing us, and has been co-opted, high-jacked, by the same 1% who control and dominate the global economy and the major media, and are pillaging the earth and the people.

It is time for the people to fully see through the smoke screen, to recognize that the central question at hand is whether we have a plutocracy in which the richest 1% rule over the rest, or whether we have government of the people, by the people, for the people, and to reclaim our democracy, our lives, our world and our future.

*

Environmentalists are coming to realize that there will be no serious action to protect our environment or save our collective asses until and unless we depose the ruling corporate powers from their dominance over the political process, the economy and the media – that is, until we the people take the power back and reclaim our democracy and our future.

The progressives and the left generally realize that there will be no justice and no authentic democracy until and unless the people reclaim their power, take back their democracy, and push the corporate elite to the side, reigning them in and allowing decisions to be made, as they should and must, by the people, and not by the super-rich.

The labour movement is coming to realize that perpetual rear-guard action is necessary, but entirely insufficient to create a just and equitable society – that the goals of jobs, decent working conditions and pay, and a decent life for all, are impossible to attain until and unless the people reclaim their power and their democracy from the corporate elite who have usurped these.

The peace movement is beginning to realize that imperial warfare will never end until the military-industrial complex and the big oil companies, and more broadly, the reigning corporate elite, are deposed from power, and the people reclaim their democracy.

The traditionally wishy-washy and banal centre is coming to realize that the middle class dream of a peaceful, reasonably just, free and democratic society in which they and their children can do well and prosper, is a dream that is systematically being destroyed, that the middle class is being eviscerated and is falling into the underclass, and that these goals and values briefly exposited above are by now an impossibility until and unless the people say no to the corporate giants and the financial elite who have overstepped their bounds and come to dominate the entire political process, the economy and the planet. The habitually somnambulent and deferential centre is beginning to awaken.

This is already a broad coalition of interests, people and movements, and it will be even broader when the grassroots left, right and centre realize that they have a common foe: and that is the super-rich 1% and the corporate elite who are destroying democracy, civil liberties, constitutional rights and freedoms, waging unending, murderous and economically bankrupting imperial wars, and endangering all our lives and futures by continuing to disregard the environment in the pursuit of short-term profits and rape and pillage economics.

On the right, there may be 10-20% of the population that is authoritarian and quasi- if not wholly fascist. On the left, there may be 10-20% that is naively, cynically or stubbornly elitist and authoritarian. The 60-80% of the people who are in between these two extremes of right and left prefer and strongly are in favour of constitutional democracy and the rule by the people – and opposed to rule by any kind of elite. This is the majority which we must now unite, and this majority which supports constitutional democracy and is opposed to any form of elite rule, spans both the left and right, liberals, conservatives and progressives. We can and must unite the majority now, and reclaim our democracy from the plutocrats and the – frankly speaking, and to put it plainly – crypto-fascists.

Act now. The time is late. And the time has come for a change.

Unite the people. It is time for the people to take back their democracy and to renew the world.

JTR,
October 19, 2011

Libertarianism, Anarchism, Socialism and Democracy

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, anarchism, Bertrand Russell, Chomsky, Jefferson, Kropotkin, libertarian, libertarian socialism, libertarianism, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, right, right wing, Ron Paul, social theory, socialism, sociology, the right, Thoreau on April 19, 2011 by jtoddring

Fundamental questions

And

The future of humanity on earth

Or,

Further reflections on political economy in the real world


The questions of philosophy, and in particular, political philosophy, are of course large: and the implications of our responses, vast, far-reaching, and profound. We must take a moment to gain, as much as we can, a fresh look at things. From this freshness of perspective, we can gain a basic clarity of view. It is that basic clarity of mind, combined with a basic and shared goodwill and a courageous spirit, that we shall prevail; that victory over injustice and tyranny, as well as the madness of ecological self-destruction, shall be won; and we shall have, as human beings on this earth, and our children shall have – even more importantly – a better and brighter future than any of us might have dared to imagine, or dream of. It starts with clear-eyed and honest, thoughtful reflection. It starts here, now, in this moment, as in every moment. The future is wide open, but to create out of this vast openness, and not out of precluded possibilities or blinkered, presumptive, shallow thinking and narrow prejudice, requires our full attention and our well-considered thought. Let us dive in. There is much to discuss, and much to reflect upon. We can afford, and must demand of ourselves, a few moments of reflection, or else we will continue to rush madly and headlong into our own enslavement and self-destruction – which is the path we are currently drifting upon, and drifting with increasing speed, toward that cliff which approaches now. Let us stop for a moment, pause, and consider or reconsider, our groundwork assumptions, in a little more depth perhaps than we are ordinarily inclined, so that we can muster the clarity with which to act in the greatest interests and for the greatest benefit for all, including for ourselves, for our children, and for our children’s children.

*

I heartily agree with Thoreau on most subjects, including his views on government: he is at once a far-sighted idealist, and also a very clear-eyed pragmatist, with his feet firmly on the ground. His thought is always refreshingly lucid, frank, honest, good-hearted and direct, and he is a definite kindred spirit. A quote from him will open this short essay on political philosophy:

“I heartily agree with the statement, “That government is best which governs the least” – and I would like to see it acted up to more readily and more completely; and I would extend it to say this: that government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that is precisely the kind of government they shall have.” (Emphasis added.)

Thoreau here makes it clear that he is a kind of grassroots Jeffersonian democrat, with strong anarchist inclinations. He goes on to clarify precisely what he means, however, in order that we have no confusion or misunderstanding in our minds: “But I would not count myself among the no-government men. I do not call, at once for no government, but at once for a better government. Let every man state what kind of government would command his respect, and that shall be one step towards attaining it.” In other words, anarchism is the long-term ideal, but men and women are not likely ready for it just yet. In the meantime, let us have the least heavy-handed government possible, and also the most noble that we can create. Thoreau is, in a word, eminently sane. (The very well-considered views of Chomsky and Bertrand Russell echo Thoreau on this point as well, and both are of a rare lucidity, generally speaking – though naturally no one is infallible.)

All forms of elitism and authoritarianism are based in the urge to control and repress. The impulse to control and repression is based, clearly, in fear. The problem with control complexes – be they in personal life or the political sphere – is that they tend to compound problems, and end up creating more problems than they solve. As the old sage and first philosopher of Taoism, Lao Tzu said, “If you want to control the cattle, move back the fences.” He continued to say, with emphasis, “The greatest danger is the excessive use of force;” “Trust them: leave them alone.” And, as Jefferson said, piercing the Hobbesian delusion to its core, “If you can’t trust people to govern themselves, how can you trust them to govern others?” We would be wise to ponder these statements at length, and in depth. Or as Chuang Tzu, the second major thinker and sage of Taoism has said, “You should govern a large country like you cook a small fish.” That is, lightly.

Jefferson, Thoreau, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and others of like spirits – such as Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Chomsky, Bookchin, Rianne Eisler, David C. Korten, Ron Paul, Kropotkin and Etienne de la Boittee – I would say, are all in a mode of mind which represents a basic clarity with regards to political life and human society. We might want to look more into these thinkers, for they have much to offer us today in light of our current social issues and global crises. We are running headlong into a kind of global neo-fascist corporate feudalism, and that spells the end of both freedom and democracy if we allow this trend to reach its chilling final conclusion. A little quiet reflection is sorely needed now, to avert disaster of the greatest magnitude, to defend over 800 years of rule by law and constitutional due process, to prevent us from being thrown back into “a more brutal age of empires” (as Zbig wishes for us), and most essentially, to secure a future of well-being and freedom for all.

*

From my own perspective, I would be happy, in the short term, with a form of democratic socialism, with the emphasis on democratic – and for this or any kind of democracy to be just, it must be a constitutional democracy or republic, with the rights and freedoms of all individuals enshrined in and protected by constitutional law. I would be even happier with an environmentally conscious social democracy, or what can be called a red-green democracy – again with the critical emphasis on constitutional democracy, freedom and civil rights for all.

With regards to socialism however, I would have to state clearly that questions of wealth pale in significance to questions of power. Therefore the vertical axis of political thought, which ranges between libertarianism and elitist authoritarianism, is far more important than the more commonly focused-upon horizontal axis of right and left. The vertical axis indicates relations of power, from decentralized to totalitarian. The horizontal axis chiefly emphasizes relationships, dynamics and distribution of wealth, from communal to hyper-individualistic. Wealth shapes power, if it is allowed to do so. The converse is also, and even more fundamentally true: the distribution of power determines the distribution of wealth. Therefore, if we are concerned with equitable distribution of the fruits of the earth or of our labour, we should be concerned first and foremost with the distribution of power. Libertarian socialists understand this; most Marxists and state-socialists seem not to. And in any event, and much more importantly yet, any society that claims to be just or free, but in reality concentrates power in the hands of the few while disempowering and making slaves of the many, is anything but just or free, no matter what it calls itself, or what grand rhetoric it invokes.

There are major questions with regard to economic systems, and above all, with questions of economic democracy, or the lack thereof, which fundamentally pertain to the subject at hand, but these are beyond the scope of this short essay. For excellent reflection, analysis and thought on these subjects, see Bertrand Russell’s Roads To Freedom, along with the writings of Kropotkin, Bookchin, Chomsky, Joanna Macy and Michael Albert.

I would be happy with either a right-leaning or left-leaning democracy, whether it be conservative or liberal, republican or democratic, libertarian or progressive, socialist or capitalist, or any blend of the above, so long as it is a true and functioning democracy, with constitutionally protected rights and freedoms for all individuals, and above all, true rule by the people – unfortunately, such a thing is still very rare anywhere in the world at present: but this is certainly open to change, and change – real change – is coming, and is emerging now, rapidly, all over the world. The tide is turning in Latin America, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and also, though it is still gestational and yet to blow the lid off, so to speak, in North America and Europe. Real change is on the rise, I assure you. Freedom and justice are at hand. Democracy is coming.

*

To further clarify the fundamentals of democracy and political economy, let the following be stated and the subject matter elucidated. The word democracy is beautiful, meaning, from the Latin, demos kratos: people power, power to the people, power of the people, or rule by the people themselves. The word or idea of democracy must be clarified however, so that it is not abused or misunderstood. Most essentially, for a democracy to be just, noble and free, or even for it to be effectual, intelligent and to function at its best, it must be a constitutional democracy or republic, in which rule by majority vote is held in check and balanced against certain basic laws which are enshrined in a constitution, in order to protect the freedom, rights and well-being of all individuals, and in order that the voices of all may be heard and considered. Without such constitutional safeguards, democracy degenerates into that ugly description of its dark side or dark potential: two wolves and a sheep sitting down at the table, and deciding what to have for dinner. “Tyranny of the majority” is not just a phrase: it is often the reality. This is why democracy requires a constitution, with protection for the voices, rights, freedom and well-being of all individuals.

Another critically important note must be made here: that constitutional democracy and corporatism are fundamentally and unequivocally at odds. The one grounds power in the hands of the people; the other silences and marginalizes the people, nullifying any genuine substance to democracy, quietly or overtly eviscerating both democracy and freedom, along with the destruction of constitutions and rights, while concentrating all power, increasingly and steadily, by coup or slow stealth, in the hands of a reigning financial or economic elite. The one values, safeguards and upholds the well-being, rights and freedoms of all individuals, while the other is a deception: pretending that corporations are real persons, when clearly they are not, so that the corporate powers can trump and triumph over the people. In short, the rights and freedoms of individuals apply to real people, and cannot be applied to or appropriated by corporations. When the latter happens, democracy and freedom are dead or in peril, and nothing but slavery is on the horizon. Failing to understand this antagonism and fundamental difference between democracy and corporatism is the reason that democracy is in peril now (though many, amazingly, still do not realize it) and freedom is facing its darkest hour.

*

It must be emphasized, that while democracy is the best form of government – that is, rule by the people, and not by any self-proclaimed elite – for democracy to be at its best, or even to function properly at all, it must be bound to constitutional law. In order that democracy may function as the rule of the people, and do this in the best possible way for all, it must be open to the voices of all. This means that a constitution is required in order to provide the grounding of fundamental laws protecting, at the very least, the freedom of the individual from arbitrary arrest, detention, torture or summary execution, along with other basic freedoms and rights, such as the freedom of speech, freedom of thought and belief, and the freedom of expression and assembly of all individuals. Without such protections and safeguards to freedom of person, speech, thought, assembly and expression being constitutionally enshrined and upheld, individuals and minority groups can and often are silenced by the majority, and democracy becomes both far weaker and far less just. Without the safeguards of basic laws enshrined by a constitution which protect and defend the rights, civil liberties, freedom and well-being of all individuals, democracy reverts to a kind of crass and blind rule of the majority, which often and easily degenerates into a tyranny of the majority. For democracy to function well, the voices of all must be heard and not silenced or marginalized; and for democracy to avoid becoming a simple-minded tyranny of the reigning majority, a constitution must enshrine and defend and protect – even cherish – the well-being, rights and freedoms of all individuals. So when we say democracy, let us understand that this must mean constitutional democracy, and not simple majority rule, so that the well-being and freedom of all individuals is upheld and promoted.

It must also be emphasized that for democracy, freedom or justice to be real and to prevail, not only political power, but also economic power must be addressed. As Chomsky put it, cutting as usual to the very heart of the matter, “It is an axiom that power follows property.” If we allow economic powers to become so staggeringly concentrated, as they have over the past 200 years with the rise of the corporation, then we will naturally see the eclipse of both freedom and democracy, all justice will be gone, and we will, once again, be peasants under the boot of feudal lords. If this sounds familiar, it is because we have left unchecked for too long, the staggering growth of economic powers: we are now serfs, and are rapidly becoming slaves. It is not too late, but monopolistic or oligarchical, plutocratic powers of excessive concentrations of financial or economic power, must be checked.

The powers of finance, corporations and the economic realm in general, cannot be permitted to continue to encroach upon, dominate, or functionally eviscerate the democratic process, as they are doing now. This is a basic requirement for democracy and for freedom, as well as for justice – in fact, given the ecological crisis, it is a requirement for any future for humanity at all.

If Tom Paine were alive today, he would be urging revolution, now as then. And he would not be speaking in denunciation of a king, but of a far more grotesque, more pervasive, and all-encompassing form of tyranny than King George could ever have imagined. He would be speaking truth to power, and urging us to resist, to defy, and to overthrow that unjust, undemocratic and tyrannical power which is oppressing and exploiting us, and holding down the freedom, creative power, imagination and true potential of humanity. The power he would today be decrying and urging resistance and revolution against, is the new money powers of the corporate aristocracy and the global corporatist empire, which has arisen over the past 200 years, and which now threatens to swallow up the dreams of humanity, along with our freedom and civil liberties, our democratic process and governments, our wealth and potential and very future on earth.

Thomas Jefferson saw this danger 200 years ago: the very real, and even then, imminent danger of “the new monied aristocracy” and rising corporate powers usurping the powers of the people and of democratic government, and leaving in their place a new kind of slavery and tyranny over the earth. We have failed to listen for nearly 200 years, and so are at a very dark hour. We had better listen now.

*

To further state my own views as to political philosophy, I would say that I am libertarian, or more simply put, anti-authoritarian. I am not opposed to the term anarchism, but prefer the less misunderstood term of libertarianism, since the elitists, globalists, authoritarians and corporate propagandists have made such a successful attack on the term anarchy that it immediately strikes fear in the hearts of otherwise intelligent people, rendering them blinkered bleating fools, incapable of any kind of rational thought.

It is a libertarianism of the left that I am speaking of here, and not the laissez-faire capitalism which constitutes right-wing libertarianism. Right-wing libertarianism is an oxy-moron, as far as all evidence and logic would indicate. Socially or fiscally conservative libertarians must understand, as many do, that both economic and political powers can and do threaten our basic freedom and well-being; and therefore, it is imperative that both political and economic powers be kept in check and within certain bounds, so that freedom, democracy and the well-being of each and all can be secured and promoted.

Presently, big money is a far greater threat to freedom than is big government – and while I am a fan of neither, I am interested in choosing my battles intelligently: first things first. Reign in the corporate elite, restore the rule of constitutions and democracy, return the power to the people, and then we can go from there.

In order to accomplish these most critical and urgent aims, the people must unite: this means that we must begin to realize that the primary battle is not between left and right – it is between freedom and democracy on the one hand, and the rule by an unchecked and anti-democratic, arrogant and tyrannical, self-serving elite on the other.

The real battle is not between liberal and conservative, nor left and right, but between the people and the would be “masters of the universe.” Let’s get things straight: if we do not come together on the fundamentals – the preservation of freedom, democracy, and rule by the people, there will be nothing left to debate, for we will all be slaves, and democracy shall be no more. It is time for the people to unite. Unite!

*

We could also call left libertarianism by other terms (hopefully, without frightening too many people into irrationality, or into fits of rage or frothy-mouthed vitriol, or glazey-eyed unthinking presumption, or name-calling stereotyping, or bleeting group-think, or asinine guilt-by-association absurdities, or glib, smug, thoughtless reactionary jingoism, or else into a terrified grab for the remote control and the soft pain of somnambulant self-medication through the great grey tube of the tv and the virtual enslavement system of the mass media trance – the shot in the arm of the digital opiate). To speak in broad terms, a libertarianism of the left can also be described as, or at least closely related to, that which has been called variously, libertarian socialism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism or democratic communitarianism. To put it most simply and directly however, let us say that left libertarianism is most readily and easily, and also most accurately understood, as this: grassroots democracy, with an emphasis on sharing, cooperation and mutual aid.

It is hard for anyone of sound mind and good heart to argue against such a position as this: Jesus meets Jefferson, you could say; or the Buddha meets and meshes with the Enlightenment values of freedom, equality, solidarity and democracy. Left libertarianism evokes our better selves, our higher impulses and thoughts and motivations, and aspires to our highest values as human beings on earth: love and compassion, freedom and democracy, mutual aid and caring, justice for all, and a basic instinct towards peaceful coexistence, cooperation and sharing. Who dares denounce such values openly? I dare them to profess aloud that they despise these things.

Are these values and views out of touch with reality? Are they childishly naive or whimsically idealistic? Hardly. History shows that such a view as this, which is deeply sceptical of all forms of excessive concentration of power in society, is the most lucid, the most sober, and the most prescient and prudent. One need not be an optimist about human nature to agree with a left libertarian view. If one is sceptical about the darker potentials of human nature, then one should all the more be a democrat, and, a democrat in the populist sense, the Jeffersonian sense, or the libertarian sense, for we have seen all too often, too repeatedly, and too gruesomely, that power does indeed corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Therefore, if we are sceptical as to human nature, or at least as to human fallibility, as Hobbes was, we should, unlike Hobbes, be rational, and prevent any one person or group of people from acquiring too great a power in human society. This means, taken to its logical conclusion, that we are strongly in favour of grassroots participatory democracy, constitutional checks and balances and limits on all forms of social power, including, not only political power, but also economic and cultural power, such as media powers or church powers or financial or corporate powers, so that freedom can prevail, and so that no one group or individual can dominate the rest, and so that tyranny, exploitation, oppression and injustice can be averted and avoided, to every extent possible. In short, if you are a democrat, and are rational and lucid, or have given the subject clear-eyed and in-depth thought, then you are a libertarian democrat, or a grassroots democrat, or a Jeffersonian democrat, however you wish to phrase that basic clarity of mind.

This does not mean that one must be socially or even fiscally conservative with regards to political economy or political philosophy. What it means, is that all forms of excessive concentrations of power are regarded with a serious scepticism, and that freedom and democracy are valued, not only in rhetoric, but in policy and action.

To be a true democrat, one must value, in thought, speech and action, democracy and freedom – that would seem to be self-evident, but alas, it is rare. What this entails is this: to be a true democrat (or republican) one must be anti-authoritarian and anti-elitist. And to be a consistent – or one could even say – an intelligent democrat, one must address not only political power, but also economic power. To address both political and economic power, along with a valuing of freedom, justice and truly authentic, substantive participatory democracy, requires one to be both a democrat and also a libertarian. Anything other is simply self-contradictory, irrational, or else either disingenuous or flatly undemocratic.

“‘Rugged individualism’ has meant all the ‘individualism’ for the masters, while the people are regimented into a slave caste to serve a handful of self-seeking ‘supermen.’ America is perhaps the best representative of this kind of individualism, in whose name political tyranny and social oppression are defended and held up as virtues; while every aspiration and attempt of man to gain freedom and social opportunity to live is denounced as ‘un-American’ and evil in the name of that same individuality.” – Emma Goldman

As Chomsky so aptly and cogently summed it up: “You’re either an aristocrat or a democrat.” There is no third choice, in reality; and all aristocratic sentiments and notions are anti-democratic and ultimately tyrannical, if not simply mad. The aristocratic notion of political philosophy or ideology amounts always and most essentially to this one simple-minded thought: I, or else me and my buddies, should rule supreme over all. The infantile grandiosity and megalomania should be readily self-evident to all. To be a genuine democrat is to resist and reject all such notions of elite rule, in favour of a genuine rule of the people, by the people, for the people. In short, you can choose freedom and responsibility, which are a package deal, or you can choose a childish dependency upon a supposed benign parental figure of elite rule, and hope that your slavery is pleasant, or at least not too damaging. I would say in conclusion, we are left with a choice of sanity or madness, and the path of democracy and freedom is the only path aligned with the former.

J. Todd Ring,
March 17, 2011
http://www.jtoddring.wordpress.com
Prajnaseek on Youtube

See Chomsky, Bertrand Russell, Rianne Eisler, Bookchin, Kropotkin, Aldous Huxley, Erich Fromm, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Emerson and Thoreau for similar views on society and political philosophy.
(See the Nolan Chart for the four dimensions of political philosophy – there are more than two.)

A Short Rebuttal of Hobbes

Posted in anarchism, anthropology, civil liberties, class, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, democracy, democratic deficit, empire, empowerment, fascism, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, Hobbes, human rights, imperialism, Jefferson, Kropotkin, libertarian, libertarian socialism, libertarianism, Mussolini, neoliberalism, philosophy, police state, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, resources, social theory, sovereignty with tags , , , , on April 26, 2008 by jtoddring

Freedom, Democracy and the Delusions of Power

For all his faults and the faults of the endeavour he was involved with, Jefferson was right on the essential point, in terms of political theory, which is the rebuttal that lays waste to Hobbes, the fantasy which still imprisons our minds and world, and that is: “If you can’t trust men to govern themselves, how can you trust them to govern others?”

Here is a succinct critique of the Hobbesian confusion over power in society, which still affects our world profoundly and pervasively, and from which we had best awaken, and quickly. Power games are nothing new. They are millennia old. It is imperative that we understand them, particularly now, as old patterns are morphing into new and darker guises.

Hobbes wrote nearly 400 years ago, around the time of the English Revolution, well before anthropology was born as an academic discipline, so he might be forgiven for his complete lack of understanding of human society, but his prejudices have become ours, his mistake our mistake, his confusion our own, and we are forced to deal with him, jaundiced, cynical and pathetic as his views may be. He wrote that life before civilization was “nasty, brutish and short” – something he surmised, and which anthropology has now thoroughly disproven, but the premise of his entire political philosophy none the less. He argued that human beings need a strong and powerful central authority to keep them from tearing each others’ throats out. Just who this authority might be, considering he did not trust people with power, was the lunacy to which Jefferson alluded. Moreover, it has been the rise of hierarchical power structrues in society that has brought unending war, conflict and systemic violence, not its absence, as the anthropological evidence now has shown. Still, we must deal with Hobbes, though we should have listen more attentively to Jefferson, and put this deluded figure on a dusty shelf where he belongs, along with his tragic ideas. Hobbes felt that if there were not a strong central authority powerfully constraining human beings, then we would instantly return to barbarism and a “war of all against all.” His fearful assumption and resulting notions of power in society have since pervaded all of Western society, and with the globalization of Western media, culture, and neoliberal political ideology and economics, Hobbes’ delusions have now pervaded most of the world. This specter haunting the world must be put to rest once and for all.

The core premise that I am addressing, the premise that you can’t trust human beings, is the root of the Hobbsian fallacy. There are strong reasons to disagree with this premise, and I do, but let’s accept it for the moment for the sake of argument. Assuming, for the moment, that you can’t trust people, who then, do you propose to govern people? The argument put forth by Hobbes, and accepted by so many scholars, politicians and business men, though it is clearly ridiculous, is this. You say you don’t trust people, therefore you give some people enormous power. This should strike us as patently absurd, if not simply delusional. If you do not trust people with a little power, the power over their own lives, then why would you entrust them with overwhelming great power? Is not Lord Acton more sensible here? “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I think there is a great deal of confusion surrounding the issues of power in society, and the implications – as we have seen in Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, China, Russia, Cambodia, and across the “Third World” in so many brutal, soulless, self-serving dictatorships – are extreme.

It seems to me that if you are afraid of people, if you take it as a basic assumption that you cannot trust people, then you have basically two choices – assuming there is no place to go to get away from people, or that you choose not to do so.

One choice, is the path of Hobbes: seek, cozy up to, or align yourself with some great power, in order to feel safe(r). But as we saw with Stalin, to name just one example, cozying up to power is no guarantee of protection, and as we see in all dictatorships or tyrannical regimes, of either right or left, seeking the protection of such powers leaves one in great danger from the very same powers. And seeking power oneself, when it is not a cozying up as a courtesan underling, or a mousy tugging at the coat tail for protection from above; when it is a grasping at the highest level of power, ie: becoming top dog oneself, this too is fraught with the greatest of danger, both from external and internal threats. The latter course leads generally to a life of paranoia, as it is always a reality that such power is impossible to guarantee, and even powerful emperors and empires fall to dust, invariably.

Therefore, the three variations on the first strategy – seek, serve/cozy up to, or align with a great power, is totally unreliable, and cannot ensure safety – far from it. In fact, this strategy opens the doors to even greater dangers.

The alternative to looking to power – your own or someone else’s – to protect oneself, which is the essence of the Hobbesian hypnosis, or delusion, is to disarm – both oneself and others. This is what Jefferson aimed to do, I would say. And this is the basic premise of classical liberal democracy. (Jefferson was simply more coherent and consistent with regard to such views than many others at the time or since – though he too had his contradictions.)

To make an analogy: if you are afraid of people, you can get a gun – better yet, become a mob boss, a big gun – or you can lick the boots of the mob boss who has the guns, hoping he’ll protect you, and won’t get angry for some unforeseen reason one day and feed you to his dog. This is basically the power-seeking/power cozying-up/protect me mister powerful man set of patterns. Become a mob boss, or lick the boots, or whatever else is required, of the mob boss, and hope this strategy keeps you safe. It doesn’t. And moreover, it should be repulsive to anyone to do either.

The alternative to becoming a mob boss, or licking the boots of the mob boss, is to eliminate the mob bosses – to disarm the threat. This is the basic gist of constitutional democracy, when intelligently applied, and particularly to that more robust form of constitutional democracy which is Jeffersonian democracy. Do not seek to gather power or align with centers of power, but rather, seek to distribute power and empower all, so that none have such excessive power that it could easily be abused.

To make another analogy, in a world where you perceive danger everywhere, as Hobbes did, you can start an arms race, hoping that great power will protect you, or you can work toward mutual disarmament. The former path is the one we have been on for some millennia now, and it has been a path of disaster. At this time, our weapons have grown so powerful that to continue down this path is a virtual guarantee of self-annihilation. The path of mutual disarmament is now the only viable path for human survival. This applies not only to the obvious aspects of disarmament, such as the universal elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, but to the more essential point of dissolving excessive concentrations of power in society, distributing power more broadly, and empowering all in equality, so that none have the means to terrorize or oppress others. Jefferson thus was far more sensible, more rational, and simply more sane than Hobbes.

Ultimately, the kind of elitist thinking which Plato and Hobbes represent, forms the basis of both feudal and fascist orders. Liberal democracy is antithetical to such notions, and libertarianism – left libertarianism, to be clear – is the most consistent application of this line of thinking which rejects elitist and authoritarian social structures. This is where Jefferson, for example, intersects with Chomsky. Jefferson understood the need to keep power decentralized politically in order to prevent its abuse, and understood equally well the need to place firm checks and limits on the powers of corporations, and what he called “the new monied aristocracy.” Jefferson, were he alive today, would be aligned with the libertarian left.

Chomsky put it remarkably succinctly when he said, ultimately, “you’re either an aristocrat or a democrat.” In other words, you either believe in rule by an elite, or you believe in rule by the people. The monarchies and aristocracies of feudal times were forms of elitist rule. The Caesars and Pharaohs and Babylonian kings represented forms of elitist rule. The theocracies of the Ayatollah Khomeini or the Taliban were forms of elitist rule. The reign of local thugs and war lords in parts of Africa is a form of elitist rule. The regimes of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Mussolini and Hitler were forms of elitist rule. And the emerging de facto world government, as the leading business journal, the Financial Times calls it, seated in Davos, Switzerland, is of course another form of elitist rule. All of these are antithetical to democracy, antithetical to freedom, antithetical to human rights, and antithetical to human dignity. They are a crude form of barbarism, masking itself, as always, as the salvation of the world. And there is now a powerful and dominant faction of the world’s business elite who want to create a most thorough form of elitist and authoritarian rule. We should shudder, and of course, defeat all such adolescent and dangerous dreams of self-deification. It would be very unwise to think that such infantile grandiosity, delusions of grandeur, or fantasies of total power have gone away, are a thing of the past, or can be dismissed as minor concerns. There are always a few who dream of complete domination, and will go to the greatest of lengths to attain their goal.

Plato became disillusioned with democracy after the council of Athens sentenced his teacher, Socrates, to death. Famously, he advocated a society ruled by philosopher kings. It sounds good in principle, but in reality it has almost without exception turned into a nightmare. Elite rule has almost universally brought oppression, tyranny, irrationality, stupidity and destruction upon humanity – over and over again throughout five thousand years of recorded history. Shall we try again? Have we not repeated this pattern enough? At present, the global business elite is planning the same routine, once more, and working fiercely and consciously to create Plato’s dream. They have decided that they are the wise kings, and want a global rule, with them in full control. Sounds like a recipe for total disaster to me, as I’m sure it does to most people. Yet here we go again. If we do not oppose the current trend, that is, if we do not reclaim our power, we will have a global feudal fascist order, and soon.

It is time we dispensed with our Hobbesian delusions, and decentralized power. Authentic democracy, freedom, human rights, and even human survival, now requires mutual empowerment and the dissolution of excessive concentrations of power in society. This would mean greater power for individuals, families, communities, states and provinces, joined together in federations of shared power and mutual aid and protection; and diminished power for national governments and large corporations. It would require firstly, however, a dismantling or opting out of investor rights agreements which transfer real power to unaccountable and undemocratic transnational centers of power, namely the global business elite. NAFTA, CAFTA, FTAA, the WTO, IMF, World Bank and SPP all concentrate real power in society in the hands of a few international business elites, as does the current global monetary system. All of these therefore are anti-democratic and incompatible with a future of social justice, democracy or freedom.

In order to decentralize power and reduce the possibilities for power to be abused or become oppressive – as Jefferson advised and even urged – the power of the nation state and national democracies must first be strengthened however, for it is the power of the nation state and national democracies which are one of the powers potentially available to people to fend off and reverse the growing concentration of power in the hands of a global investment elite. To save democracy, the global business elite must first be put in check, their powers limited and rolled back to a level where they can no longer dominate national governments, communities and the lives of virtually all of humanity. Once this is accomplished, and it will be, then we can look to decentralizing power further, in order to take democracy and freedom to new levels of maturation and fullness. I think I’m safe in saying that three of the thinkers I respect most, Chomsky, Jefferson and Thoreau, would all agree on this. First reduce the power of the global business elite, and return power to national democracies. Then we can talk about a future of sanity, sustainability, justice and peace. Until then, we are on the road to serfdom and slavery, if not self-destruction. It is time to take the power back.

Thomas Paine was right. The central issues of power in society are not so very complicated. Ultimately, it is largely a matter of common sense. The primary obstacles are fear, disempowerment and illusion. The answers therefore are clear. They are courage, empowerment and a basic clarity of mind. These three elements are all within our reach.

The future is in our hands.

J. Todd Ring,

February 13, 2008

Essential reading:

The Chalice and the Blade – Rianne Eisler

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

Mutual Aid – Petr Kropotkin

Escape from Freedom – Eric Fromm

The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de la Boitie

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Friere

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism – Max Weber

Powers and Prospects – Noam Chomsky

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Chomsky

Necessary Illusions – Chomsky

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Trilateralism – Holy Sklar

The Collapse of Globalism – John Ralston Saul

The Great Turning – David C. Korten

WordPress: Writings of J. Todd Ring

YouTube – Prajnaseek’s Channel

Ron Paul: It’s not utopia. It’s only a beginning. First things first.

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, American politics, analysis, CIA, civil liberties, common ground, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporatism, crisis of democracy, democracy, Dennis Kucinich, election, empire, fascism, FDR, freedom, geopolitics, Global War on Terrorism, globalism, globalization, human rights, imperialism, inspiration, Iran, Iraq, libertarian, Middle East, Mussolini, neoconservatism, Patrot Act, police state, policy, political economy, politics, Republican, Republican Party, Ron Paul, Roosevelt, U.S., war, war crimes, war on democracy, War on Terror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2008 by jtoddring

Ron Paul: Key policies for anyone who values democracy, freedom or peace

End the war in Iraq – bring the troops home now.

Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are the only two US presidential candidates who voted consistently against war in Iraq, and who would bring the troops home from that illegal, unconstitutional and bloody quagmire of malfeasance and pandering to corporate oil interests, immediately. With 70% of Americans now opposed to the war in Iraq, these are also the only two candidates who in sync with the views, values and voice of the American people. Incidentally, Ron Paul, with his firm and strong anti-war stance, has received more support from US military personnel and veterans than any other candidate.

No war on Iran.

Given the intelligence reports released this past December, showing Iran to be no threat either now or anytime in the near future, halting plans for risking what would certainly be a humanitarian and ecological disaster, and could easily be a conflagration that spins dangerously out of control, is a clear urgent imperative. Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are the only two candidates who unequivocally oppose a US military attack on Iran.

End wars of aggression.

“Improving” the world by force, “spreading democracy” through the barrel of a gun, does not work – even if, as evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates is not the case, these are the intentions of the political elite and the business elite who pull their strings. Wars of aggression are war crimes under international law. If the Nuremberg trials were held today, the results would be decisive: numerous high government officials, military brass and intelligence operatives would be hauled of in chains. Wars of aggression are furthermore unconstitutional and against the advice of the fathers of the American Revolution. Only Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich have shown by action, by their voting records, as well as their clearly stated policies, that such wars are an abomination to humanity as well as to any democratic nation, and must be decisively opposed, categorically and in principle.

“Military force is justified only in self-defense; naked aggression is the province of dictators and rogue states. This is the danger of a new “preemptive first strike” doctrine. ” – Congressman Ron Paul, September 4, 2002

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/3/vote_for_change_atrocity_linked_us

http://www.wanttoknow.info/powerofnightmares

Abolish the CIA.

As Ron Paul has rightly stated, the CIA has been busy for decades assassinating leaders in countries around the world, and for this reason must be abolished. Secondarily, as Ron Paul has also rightly and intelligently noted, being both honest and aware of geopolitical realities as well as history, the CIA’s actions make Americans and the world much more unsafe, due to the reality of what the CIA calls blowback. As Dr. Paul noted frankly, the CIA assassinated Mossadegh in 1953, (because he was going to nationalize the Anglo-American Oil company and return the oil profits to the people,) installing the much hated bloody dictator, the Shaw of Iran, and the Iranian people have never forgotten it. It led to the militant extremism of the Ayatolla, and still provokes hostility from many in Iran, decades later. Ron Paul has boldly and with intelligence, good reason, great courage and moral integrity, called for the abolition of that bloodied organization which has destroyed both hope and democracy around the world for over fifty years. Enough!

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=4028

http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Hope-Military-Interventions-Since/dp/1567512526/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200080001&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/CIAs-Greatest-Hits-Real-Story/dp/1878825305

http://www.amazon.com/Whiteout-Drugs-Press-Alexander-Cockburn/dp/1859842585/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200080038&sr=1-1

http://www.alibris.co.uk/booksearch?qwork=743852&matches=46&author=Simpson%2C+Christopher&browse=1&cm_re=works*listing*title

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=13922

Halt the destruction of liberty and democracy at home!

For anyone who has not noticed, democracy, liberty and the rule of constititutional law are under attack across the Western world, and particularly so in the US. The only candidates who have any integrity in terms of protecting constitutional democracy, freedom and civil liberties, are Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. These are the only two candidates who voted consistently against the rabidly anti-democratic constitution-shredding Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act. The rest talk a good sound bite, but action speaks louder than words. Look at their voting records. They either have no integrity, or no spine – assuming they have the intelligence to understand what is going on.

“The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“The domination of government by corporate power is the essence of fascism.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“Fascism, properly named, should be called corporatism, for it is the merger of business and the state. – Benito Mussolini

“Beware the military-industrial complex.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“There is never a reason that we have to sacrifice liberty for our safety.” – Congressman Ron Paul

Perhaps the most crucial thing about Ron Paul: he is uniting people across the political spectrum, across the United States, and now, around the world, in a fierce shout, backed by solidarity and action: No to war, yes to constitutional democracy, civil liberties and freedom!

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” – Thomas Paine

“Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.” – George Washington

No to tyranny. No to war. Yes to democracy and freedom under constitutional law. It’s not utopia. It’s only a beginning. First things first.

Get informed. Get involved. Google Ron Paul and decide for yourself.

If you like the poetry of the spoken word, listen to these tracks by a liberal and a former Obama supporter:

(My apologies for the formatting – will fix it up shortly.)

Ron Paul: The World Is Watching

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, American politics, analysis, Chavez, civil liberties, common ground, conservative, corporatism, crisis of democracy, democracy, Democrat, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, Dennis Kucinich, empire, FDR, fiscal conservative, Giuliani, Global War on Terrorism, globalism, globalization, imperialism, libertarian, libertarianism, people's movements, police state, political economy, politics, Republican Party, right, right wing, Roosevelt, the right, U.S., war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , on January 7, 2008 by jtoddring

As a Canadian, and a neighbour to the most powerful nation on Earth, I watch, as most Canadians and many around the world do, U.S. politics with trepidation and skepticism, and with the emergence of Ron Paul, with some hope.

I can tell you this. Many, many people in Canada and world-wide would be delighted and profoundly relieved to see a U.S. president come to office who decisively and firmly renounces imperial warfare as well as the rapid slide into a transnational police state of profoundly anti-democratic corporate oligarchy.

Every intelligent and informed observer now knows what is no longer deniable. The drift toward the destruction of freedom and constitutional democracy is conscious, deliberate, multi-national and definitely real. Ron Paul is the only US presidential candidate with any integrity in terms of these two most critical issues: protect constitutional democracy, and end imperial warfare. It is inspiring that he has generated such enormous grassroots support.

It seems Ron Paul has proven the power of the internet. Through the net, a grassroots political campaign can generate tremendous popular support, and also raise enough campaign funds that corporate boot-licking can be done away with. I sincerely hope he wins. And by the looks of polls and grassroots fund-raising, he just might. He gets it right on the two most critical issues. That makes him hands down the best candidate. The rest are sadly, corporate hacks. If in doubt, watch these two videos.

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/3/vote_for_change_atrocity_linked_us


or

It seems the world is indeed watching, and surprisingly, the support for Ron Paul has started to go global. While Clinton, Obama and other US presidential candidates inspire tentative hope at best, if not profound skepticism or dread aversion, Ron Paul is inspiring a passion for true democracy around the world.

I should say that I am not a supporter of the Republican or Democratic parties of the US, as they are two wings of the party of, by and for the corporate elite. This man, however, is an exception to the rule. In terms of rigid categorical thinking, and the ability to recognize exceptions to the rule, I think of a statement by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Ron Paul is an exception who merits strong support, whatever your habitual allegiances may be. If constitutional democracy is not protected, the possibilities for a liberal, democratic, or left-inspired future of solidarity and justice are narrowed. Wherever you are on the political spectrum, right, left, liberal or conservative, if you value democracy or freedom, take a look at Ron Paul.

I would prefer a New Deal populist democrat who realizes the need to get firm with the corporate powers in order to preserve democracy, freedom and the well-being of the people – someone closer to a Hugo Chavez, but the US presently has no such figure on the horizon. Given what we have to work with, preserving constitutional democracy against the encroachments of corporate power, and stopping the mad and potentially apocalyptic thrust of imperial warfare, become the most urgent of concerns. All other issues become secondary in light of these. I would even say that I think Ron Paul’s vision is very limited. It is still the case, however, that he is the only candidate in this possibly pivotal election that will uphold the basics of constitutional democracy and freedom from imperial or police state warfare. First things first.

The only candidates that I have seen that inspire any sort of confidence in me personally, for the two primary reasons stated above, or for any criteria, are Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich and Republican candidate Ron Paul. Kucinich, like Ron Paul, is the exception to the rule. These are the only two that voted consistently against war in Iraq, as well as against the crushing of democracy through the Patriot Acts and Military Commissions Act. Both have won in all polls following debates – which shows where the hearts and minds of the American people lie. A decent Republican – yes Dorothy, there apparently is such a creature – and a decent Democrat – also a rarity: maybe these two should be running mates – it’s not the right versus the left that is most central, but democracy versus corporatocracy.
Ron Paul may be one more spark, and possibly a critical one, in a new global spirit of democratic revolution. Yes, I said revolution. what we need now is a new wave of democratic revolutions, world wide. Corporatocracy is taking deeper hold. Its credibility is shattered globally, thus it seeks to consolidate power while it can. What that entails should be obvious to any who know their history. Speak now, or watch the horror. Get informed. Get behind him. Support authentic democracy in the world’s remaining superpower, or bear the consequences. The choices are becoming rather stark.

Copy, embed and share these videos. Speak up my friends. The alternative is interrogation centers, destruction of democracy, and a brutally integrated global corporatocracy. Imagine Charles Dickens’ era, wedded to an Orwellian dystopia. This is where the global corporate elite are taking us. Ron Paul is one possibly major bulwark against the current drift, and a spark toward a world worthy of the future.

“Whether it’s the war against poverty, drugs, terrorism, or the current Hitler of the day, an appeal to patriotism is used to convince the people that a little sacrifice of liberty, here and there, is a small price to pay. The results, though, are frightening and will soon become even more so.”
– Congressman Ron Paul, December 9, 2003

Please watch these video shorts. The American empire is too powerful to ignore. We must take an interest.

Bill Maher’s new hero

Experience and knowledge with integrity: macroeconomics

Ron Paul Rising

Stop Dreaming

Lest there be any question as to the stakes:
Olbermann: The Death of Habeas Corpus

Related essays and posts:

Ron Paul: Honest Abe Lives
http://jtoddring.blogspot.com/2007/04/ron-paul-honest-abe-lives.html

An Outbreak of Democracy in America?
http://jtoddring.blogspot.com/2007/05/outbreak-of-democracy-in-america.html

My Buddy Obama
http://jtoddring.blogspot.com/2007/04/my-buddy-obama.html

On Libertarianism: Right and Left
http://jtoddring.blogspot.com/2007/04/on-libertarianism-right-left.html

Supplemental:

Earth 101: Essential Reading
http://jtoddring.blogspot.com/2007/04/earth-101-essential-reading.html

The Right Kind of Confusion: Conservative Divisions and the Collapse of the Right

Posted in American politics, Bush, Canada, Canadian politics, capitalism, Clinton, conservative, Conservative Party, conservatives, corporate rule, corporatism, debt, deficit, Democratic Party, election, FDR, fiscal conservative, Global War on Terrorism, Harper, Hilary, Hobbes, Keynesian economics, liberal, libertarian, Martin, Mulroney, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, New Deal, Obama, politics, Reagan, Republican Party, right, social conservative, Thatcher, Trudeau, U.S., Uncategorized, war on democracy, War on Terror on May 16, 2007 by jtoddring

The Conservative Party seems to be a strange mixture of competing and conflicting ideologies, as Devin Johnston pointed out in Countdown Until the Conservative Party Disbands Again. His post sparked reflections on the state of conservative parties and alliances in Canada and the U.S. Here are a few thoughts. To begin with, I think it’s helpful to distinguish some of the ideological or philosophical currents that are lumped together under the label of “the right” or “conservative”. The first that comes to mind for many is crass servility to corporate power, however, there is of course, much more complexity to the right than that.

One element within that loose category called “conservative” or “the right” is the current which comprises social conservativism. As Devin again, nicely summarized: “Social conservatism is the premise that there is one “right” way of living in a community and one “right” set of values, beliefs and ideals. Social conservatives advocate the suppression of the rights and freedoms of minorities through the state imposition of white male Christian heteronormative values. [In Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, it would be Arab male Islamic heteronormative values; and in both cases, class prejudice and class warfare are more than a little present – they are in fact central.] Classical liberals precisely reject any attempt by the state to dictate beliefs and values to citizens.” Well put. You could say it is Thomas Hobbes versus Thomas Paine.

Another current is populist, with strong values of grassroots democracy. Closely related but more emphatic in its wariness of centralized power is the libertarian current. Populists may be social conservatives, although there is an uneasy tension in this inherent contradiction; but any genuine libertarian will disavow state interference in the lives of citizens, including same sex marriage, de-criminalization of marijuana and other hot-button issues for social conservatives.

Classical liberalism places a high value on freedom, and distrusts what libertarians call the “nanny state.” Libertarians therefore have an uneasy alliance with the right, as the right is uncomfortably full of social conservatives who want to regulate everything from who you sleep with to how you brush your teeth. Libertarians can for these reasons be found forming alliances with the left when conditions are right. (No pun intended.) It is not necessarily that they are fickle, but more that they are looking for political representation within a system and political climate that is far more statist, centralist, elitist and authoritarian than they would like to see. Depending upon the policies – or promises – of the right or left, they may go either way, and this can at times be an informed and intelligent choice.

Thus, libertarians have more in common with classical liberals – or even left libertarians, who are in truth their estranged cousins – than with social conservatives. It is the espoused values of limited government, freedom, populism, and fiscal conservatism of the right that has attracted the support of libertarians, but if we look to the actual record of the right in Canada and the U.S. we can see that these values were only for public consumption, not for actual practice. Libertarians, populists, fiscal conservatives and advocates of freedom have been sold a bill of goods. More directly, they have been lied to.

The U.S. became the world’s biggest debtor under Reagan, who ballooned the debt to record levels with his tax cuts for the rich and corporations, combined with massive military spending, which is piped through the Pentagon system to form what amounts to corporate welfare for the military-industrial complex – all the while praising the free market, fiscal prudence and shrinking big government. Orwell would nod to Reagan’s handlers. Bush I carried on the tradition, and Bush II has pushed the debt up to $8 trillion – to the point where the dollar, the U.S. economy, and likely the U.S. government will soon collapse, as leading economists have noted with urgency.

All the while, throughout this spending spree by the right in the U.S., government got bigger and bigger, encroachment on personal lives and liberty grew, and erosion of civil rights and freedom is now at crisis point: the constitution itself is at question. It is not clear that democracy will survive in America. The merger of the state and corporate world has been taken to near complete lengths. Eisenhower’s warning has become stark reality.

Both of these trends – wildly indulgent corporate welfare, bringing the nation to the brink of bankruptcy, and grossly inflated powers of government encroaching on civil liberties and freedom – disgust and revolt the libertarians who have in the past supported the Republican and Conservative Parties.

In Canada, Mulroney took the conservatives into the realm of Thatcher, Reagan and neoconservatism – a flat betrayal of the history and traditions of the party. It was under Mulroney that the deficit and debt ballooned, while Trudeau is wrongly blamed. Trudeau and the Liberals faced recession and the OPEC crisis, Mulroney simply sold out the country to the corporate barons. I am no fan of the Liberal Party, but the truth must be told. It was not spending on social programs that drove up the debt, as the right wing media and “think tanks” (read corporate propaganda tools) convinced many to believe.

It was a combination of deliberate slashing of government revenues under Mulroney and successors (including Martin) by way of lavish corporate tax cuts, combined with the strong arm tactics of the international financial community which held our national debt and demanded increasing returns on “investment” by way of interest payments, which created the inflated deficits and growing debt. In the U.S. and Canada, as well as Britain and other Western nations, Keynesian economics and New Deal policies was blamed for fiscal imbalance, cynically and dishonestly, while the real culprit was welfare-state capitalism: hand-outs and tax breaks for the rich and the business elite – with a roll-back for ordinary people of all the gains made over decades and generations, with wages falling and social programs slashed.

This is the true story of the `80’s and `90’s in Canada: cut social spending by claiming a debt crisis – a debt crisis that was created consciously by slashing corporate taxes. It is a win-win situation for the corporate sector: greatly reduced taxes, and a disintegrating social safety net which means people are increasingly desperate and will work for less and less pay. Wonderful for corporate Canada. A tragic betrayal for the people of the country. And this scheme was authored and orchestrated by both Liberals and Conservatives from Mulroney on, all the while speaking of fiscal responsibility and loyalty to the people of Canada. Sickening deceit is what it is.

What we have in the Liberal and Democratic Parties, is a divide between traditional liberals and neoliberalism. Traditional liberals value freedom, democracy, and at least some measure of equality. Neoliberalism surrenders all values to one: compliance with the corporate masters. In the Republican and Conservative Parties, we have a similar division: between traditional conservatives and neoconservatives. Neoconservatives, like neoliberals – being two sides of the same boot-licking serve-the-man philosophy – have surrendered all values to the one over-riding principle: don’t bite, but fervently serve the hand that feeds you – that is, corporate America, or in Canada, Bay Street.

The conflict between social conservatives and libertarians within the broad realm of the right makes political alliances on the right tenuous at best. When you add in the split between genuine fiscal conservatives on the one hand, and on the other hand, neoliberals/neoconservatives (two sides of the same coin) who dominate the party leadership of the right in both the U.S. and Canada (along with all of the major parties), and who speak of fiscal responsibility while engaging in patronage, pork-barreling and corporate welfare to obscene degrees and in grossly hypocritical if not Machiavellian fashion, you have a potential rift that can quickly turn explosive. Witness the present meltdown of the American Republican Party. These divisions are tearing the party to pieces, and not even the most shrill and Orwellian fear-mongering or GWOT rhetoric can keep this machine from flying apart.

Social conservatives are fleeing the Republican Party, as are fiscal conservatives. Libertarians are simply appalled, and feel they have been lied to and betrayed. Republicans under the neocons have alienated the Christian right, the traditional conservatives and the libertarians. All that is left is a few scared suburbanites and the handful of super-rich who are the real constituency of the neconservatives. The party is disintegrating. The game is now open. The political landscape in the U.S. is shifting rapidly.

A maverick like Ron Paul could potentially seize on this disruption in the Republican Party, and capture support that would normally go to someone like Bush or Giuliani. With the Democrats making themselves the party of spineless non-opposition to the horrors and corruption of the neocons (Hilary and Obama being two cases in point), the dark horses like Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich actually stand a chance.

Not that I place much hope or even interest in electoral politics in the present or immediate future, believing that they are largely irrelevant by virtue of a general vacuity of both vision and courage, and viewing grassroots movements as the real source of social change, both historically and in the foreseeable future; but some basic sanity and human decency in the realm of parliamentary politics would be a refreshing change.

Getting back to Canadian politics, if the rhetoric versus reality chasm is exposed more thoroughly in the case of the Conservative Party, and the already existing internal divisions made clear, so that a healthy debate among conservatives can occur, the results will likely be the splintering of “the party” but also the resurrection of democracy among the right. That would not be a bad thing.

Basically, the Conservative Party in Canada, as well as the Republican Party of the United States, are parties of, by and for big business and the corporate lobby, but they have to get elected by voters, and not simply gather “donations” from the business elite to get elected; thus they have to lure social and fiscal conservatives, populists and libertarians into thinking that these parties actually have some substantial allegiance to something other than the pursuit of money and power through service to the corporate elite. This is the primary flaw and fatal internal division within the parties of the right: they are built upon a lie.

Of these five elements that we have identified within the right – social conservatism, fiscal conservatism, populism, libertarianism, and service to corporate power – it is almost without exception the one single principle of service to the corporate elite which consistently wins out; all other values are for rhetorical purposes only – they can, will be and have been dispensed with whenever they conflict with the over-riding principle: serve the masters.

Show the people the lie, and the façade falls apart. Then you have a party exposed for what it is: neoconservative, not genuinely conservative – which is a party of class warfare: serve the moneyed aristocracy, as Jefferson decried, and fool the people into serving themselves up on the altar of mammon.

Devin Johnston hits the nail on the head when he says, “At any rate, it is clear to me that the Conservative Party is a pathetic attempt to unite people who are in fact completely at odds with one another in order to destroy a common enemy: godless socialism.” (At least that was the case up until the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the official enemy.) It can be added however that polls in Canada as well as the U.S. show consistent and overwhelming popular support for socialist-leaning policies and views. There is in Canada and the U.S. overwhelming popular support for universal public health care. Overwhelming support for universally accessible education. Overwhelming support for a guaranteed social safety net to protect the poor, ill, injured, disabled and elderly from the ravages of an unfettered monopoly capitalism. An overwhelming majority – generally approaching 80% – believe that the economic system is inherently unfair, the gap between rich and poor is widening, and that the rich get richer while the poor get…..something other. (This latter point by the way is not socialist, but simply a matter of the intelligent or merely common sense observation of the undeniable facts.)

In a nation-wide poll of American citizens the core socialist dictum of “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need” was felt to be such a matter of common sense and common human decency, that over 70% of Americans believed it must have come from the U.S. Constitution. It was, of course, a statement made by none other than Karl Marx. This is why the New Deal policies of FDR in the U.S. Democratic Party and Trudeau in Canada, were so immensely popular: they approximated the ideals of fairness, justice, equality and compassion, even though they were watered down by virtue of existing within an fundamentally unchallenged economic framework of monopoly capitalism. The populace leans left, as it has for generations, while the economic system maintains power in the hands of the few, with the results that political parties have done more to serve the interests of the powerful than those of the people.

If the rhetoric is cut through, the popular support vanishes; and all that is left of the parties of the right in Canada and the U.S. is a servile allegiance to corporate America and Bay Street. Poke the balloon. The time is right to burst this bubble of delusion.

The only other prop holding up this rape and pillage party apparatus of the right is the scare tactics of the Global War on Terror; and that too, is failing. A whole other discussion would be necessary to dissect this campaign of state terrorism which is in effect, and by design, a war, not on terror, but on democracy. For the time being, let it suffice to say that this is not a war that the power elite – being the corporate elite and their political servlings – can win.

When it comes to dismantling the basic structures of democracy, disemboweling the safeguards of basic human rights and freedom, and nullifying a two-hundred year old tradition of constitutional democracy, they will fail. The values of democracy, freedom and human rights have been too deeply imbued in the people of the Western world for these to be given up without a fight – in fact, without a powerful resistance movement.

600,000 or more dead in Iraq to “fight terrorism” and “sow democracy” – in truth, as most now admit, to fight imperial wars for control of world energy supplies – this is terrorism at its finest; or most brutal. The anti-terrorist legislation of post-9/11 paranoia and propaganda, most notoriously the U.S. Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act: this is not the safeguarding of “our way of life” – this is not the “defense of liberty and freedom.” This is the destruction of constitutional democracy and civil rights. This is the criminalization of dissent. This is a Machiavellian lie of the greatest proportions. And this is becoming evident even to the staunchest defenders of the “war on terror.”

The propaganda war that upholds corporate power now, after the red scare days have passed – the tactics no longer effective with the absence of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc – the only rhetoric that upholds this fragile and crumbling edifice of corporate power, short of brute force itself, is the lie of the war on terror. Frighten the people, and they will support “strong leaders” and repressive measures at home, as well as imperial warfare abroad, disguised as self-defense. But the propaganda war is failing. Either there will be another terrorist incident, which will bolster the effectiveness of the propaganda, and again rally the people into supporting their own slavery, the surrender of their rights and freedoms, and the wars of empire around the globe, or the propaganda campaign will collapse, and with it, the power elite that serves, and is in power to serve, the power of the rich and the corporate world. The latter is not likely to be allowed to happen, so watch out for the former.

In the short term, a renewed campaign of what the political elite and agencies like the CIA call “political warfare” and “psychological warfare” – what used to be called propaganda when there existed a bit more honesty in the political arena – is likely to be invoked; and in the short term, there may yet be temporary, Pyrrhic victories for the corporate elite and their servants who present themselves as popular leaders of the right (or the center or left, a la Clinton, Martin, Blair). This is, or should be, a cause for concern. In the not too distant future however, and in fact, in the very near future, such Machiavellian machinations as are won by acts of great deception are unsustainable, and will collapse. They are indeed collapsing as we speak. We need to hasten the demise of these dangerous delusions – at least, that is, if we are at all alive to our human hearts and minds, and care not to see unnecessary suffering, madness or destruction on this small and beautiful, fragile planet. We need to break open these bonds of confusion, examine them, and tear them asunder. They will collapse upon examination. All that is required is the light of day.

 

J. Todd Ring

May 16, 2007

 

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