Archive for the right wing Category

US government shutdown, and other fairy tales and examples of political theatre

Posted in American politics, analysis, banks, Barack Obama, Canada, Canadian politics, Chomsky, collapse, consciousness, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crash, crisis of democracy, debt, deficit, democracy, democratic deficit, Democratic Party, economics, economy, elite, empire, empowerment, far right, fascism, fascist, fiscal conservative, freedom, geopolitics, health care, imperialism, money, neo-feudalism, neocon, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, Obama, police state, policy, political economy, politics, propaganda, psychology, Republican, Republican Party, right, right wing, sociology, the right, truth, U.S., war, war on democracy, wellness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2013 by jtoddring

I’m not sure what to make of the hoopla going on in the US right now. I’m inclined to think it’s all just political theatre, as Gerald Celente calls it, designed to distract the people from the real issues – the central one being, who controls the government and the nation? Wall Street, the big banks and largest corporations, or the people? After all, both of the major parties are controlled by the same six big banks, the private banking cartel which is the Fed, the military-industrial-security complex, Wall Street and the biggest 500 corporations on the planet, so what is this charade really about? As Celente said, it’s WWF – the World Wrestling Federation: it’s all scripted; it’s all political theatre. They all work for the same people.

Some Americans, mainly on the right, and mainly the rich, want to shrink government and abolish social programs that help and protect the poor, as well as the middle class – and half of Americans are now living below, at, or just above the poverty line, so that means 50% of the American people would get badly shafted, and far more would be badly hurt.

Some Americans – the overwhelming majority, well over 70% – favour public, universal health care, such as Canada, Britain, Europe and most of the civilized world has. But Obamacare is nothing of the sort. Obamacare is Romneycare – Obama simply took Romney’s package and made it his own. Obamacare, like Obama’s entire presidency, is designed to appease and sooth the masses and post-pone real political action, popular uprising or social unrest, while continuing the facilitation of the rape and pillage of the nation and the world by the largest corporations and the wealthiest 0.01%. What is amazing is that more people do not yet recognize these facts, although a great many, and a growing number do. The Obamacare package averts public, universal health care, which the people want, props up a crumbling private, massively subsidized for-profit health care system, and will put even more money into private, for-profit health insurance and health industry corporations, with dubious benefit to the people, if any. So the entire debate is dishonest to begin with, and radically out of joint with reality.

Furthermore, for those who want to cut government debt and spending, it should be noted, and made clear, that one of the best ways to do that, along with ending war and de-funding the massive military-industrial-security complex, the imperial storm troopers, the goon squads and the surveillance state, is to switch to a public health care system. (See Chomsky for a clear-headed and honest analysis of these points.)

The for-profit private health care system of the US has been shown repeatedly to cost far more than the public, not-for-profit health care systems of Canada, Britain and Europe. So once again, the debate is a farce; is filled with deceit; and again, radically out of sync with reality.

In the face of all of this, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I tend to worry greatly for the American people, as I do for human beings and all life on earth generally; but I trust they will resolve these problems. In the meantime, I pray, and will do all I can to seek out and share the best information and ideas I can find – from the left, right, centre, and anywhere I can find them.

Will the government shut down? Hardly likely, it seems to me. If it does, it will be disastrous for millions of people – even though the US government is the biggest criminal syndicate on the planet, next to the billionaire oligarchs who control it, along with virtually every other nation and government on earth. But a shutdown of the US government probably would not last long in any case, and the big bureaucratic machine of the state will restart again, if for no other reason, than because the people who control it – the super-rich, the corporate and banking elite, rely on it as a cash cow, a welfare state for the rich, a constant source of dizzying subsidies, bail-outs and forced wealth transfers from the people to the ruling plutocrats (they call it a “stimulus” package); and as a protective hired thug which can be, and is being used to keep an increasingly unruly rabble and frustrated populace subdued and under control, so that the great global looting spree can continue unabated.

The US government has handed the biggest banks and the global banking elite $14 trillion since the economic crisis of 2007-2008 erupted – enough to pay off the mortgages of every American, and every student debt and credit card debt, and all personal debts in the US, with approximately $13 trillion left to spare: which is enough to eliminate global poverty many times over, or, enough to eliminate global poverty, and create the global infrastructure for a truly sustainable society. Other corporate sectors are receiving smaller sums, in the range of a mere few tens or hundreds of billions of dollars a year, in regular subsidies, bail-outs and props. The six biggest banks now control a huge swath of the US economy, yet they are now fully dependent on on-going government subsidies just to survive. Their profits now are roughly equal to what they are receiving in regular government “stimulus” moneys, meaning, they would be forced out of business if they had to go without massive public funding from the government. This is to say nothing of the giant military-industrial-security and surveillance complex and its over $1 trillion annual cash flood coming from Washington and the Federal budget. Do we really believe that the same people who fund and control both of the two major parties want this gravy train to end? Think again. Not on your life.

No, the true rulers, the global business elite, need the US government, and will not let it be shutdown for long, if at all. So again, I am inclined to view all of this melodrama and hyperbole as so much theatre: bread and circuses, my friends, bread and circuses.

Keep the people divided – divide and conquer being rule number one for any good power-monger; and feed them bread and circuses to keep them distracted while their pockets are picked, and to keep their eyes diverted from the shackles and chains around their necks, wrists and legs. And sometimes, soap operas, sit-coms, “reality tv,” sports and celebrity gossip are not enough – political theatre is also needed; and so, it is provided.

The reality is, there are far too many pigs that are neck deep with their heads in the trough for the government to shut down for long. The ruling oligarchs simply won’t allow it, so let’s be real here, and keep such facts in mind while the hysteria mounts.

If the US government, or either of the major parties was truly interested in reducing the debt and deficit, then the on-going wars of empire would be ceased immediately and sworn off, all foreign US military bases would be closed, the military-industrial-security complex would be radically de-funded and the global surveillance and police state apparatus shut down, with savings of close to $1 trillion a year – which would mean that were is no more fiscal crisis.

If, in addition to this, universally accessible, publicly funded not-for-profit health care was brought in, further enormous cost savings would be made, and there would be a windfall of money available for real economic recovery, job creation, infrastructure and urgently needed environmental programs.

But none of this is on the agenda, none of this is even open to discussion, for the simple reason that the ruling class of plutocrats and corporate tsars and robber barons don’t want this, because that wouldn’t benefit them.

This is the real story; the rest, a mere charade.

J. Todd Ring,
September 30, 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!

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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.

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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.

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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

The system is broken: strategic voting, coalitions, and the political regime under which we live

Posted in activism, alternative, alternatives, analysis, Chomsky, class, collapse, common ground, communism, conservative, Conservative Party, conservatives, corporate rule, corporations, corporatism, corporatocracy, crisis of democracy, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, Democrat, elite, empowerment, Feudalism, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, good news, inspiration, left, liberal, Media, money, nation state, national democracies, Noe-feudalism, people's movements, philosophy, policy, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, politics, propaganda, reading, Republican, Republican Party, resources, right, right wing, social theory, sovereignty, the right, tipping point, truth on May 28, 2011 by jtoddring

While I can of course see the rationale for strategic voting, there is much to be said for voting with one’s conscience. When we consistently choose the lesser of two evils, our choices are reduced to evil, and the results are evil. When everyone holds their nose and votes, essentially, for one of the parties or candidates of the status quo, believing no other option is feasible or can succeed, this collective act of despair becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: and low and behold, all other options are nullified – by our own act of choosing not to support them.

Put the blame where it belongs: the dominant parties are ensconced through the powers of the major media, which are controlled by the business and political elite who are in turn in bed with the party elite of the major parties: if we had a free press, and not a propaganda system, the people’s representatives would more closely resemble in action as well as words the views and values of the people, the great majority of whom by clear and consistent polls wish for more justice, equitability, sustainability, peace and compassion in the land and in the world.

How does a new party or a minor party build itself to a major force in politics? Certainly not by people choosing between the lesser of two evils and voting “strategically.” I’d almost be inclined to say that voting strategically is voting idiotically, for it is a vote of despair, a fatalistic action that presumes no major change is possible. While this is not entirely true, there is a great deal of truth to that picture painted. Maybe we should trust our conscience and common sense more often, and leave the horse racing to the track. This is not a game: it is our future.

Would it be better to vote for the devil if we thought he had a better chance of winning? Have we lost our reason and our faculties, our moral compass altogether? Politics is not about winning: it is about doing something virtuous in the world, for the benefit of all – or else it is truly a devil’s bargain, and we are both the prisoners and the captors ourselves. A vote is never wasted if it is the expression of our voice and true belief. Moreover, if it is an expression of our common sense and humanity, it would be a waste to thwart that and conceal it behind a shroud of “realpolitique” or imagined “realism.” When everyone defers to the present norm and the dominant powers, the present norm, no matter how profoundly abnormal or even pathological, becomes further entrenched, and real change, intelligent change, humane and sane and good-hearted change, becomes pushed ever farther off.

At the very least, we should make our views and values known, otherwise, democracy cannot function, and is reduced to a reification and endorsement of the existing structures of power and the dominant players. That scenario is dismal, to say the least. Let’s break it open. It is time to broaden the debate, broaden the discourse, and look to our options in a much wider field. The future is only as narrowed as our minds.

As to the dominant political parties in North America, they are all – Republican and Democrat, Conservative and Liberal – beholden to the corporate elite who rule this continent. Whoever wins of this pack of four cronies and lapdogs, we get corporate rule; and whichever of them wins, we get either the fast-track or the sugar-coated program for bringing us a global neo-Dickensian corporate feudalism in which the elite rule, the privileged servile few prosper, and the rest suffer in misery and disenfranchisement. If we are serious about social change, then we need to break out of this stranglehold. A coalition is one way to break the hegemony of the forces of corporate power and their political lackeys, and that is something I would like to see emerge sooner rather than later.

What I believe could work, is now truly viable, and perhaps is our only hope within the arena of formal party politics, is a coalition that spans left, right and centre: it would be a coalition of everyone who prefers authentic democracy and rule by the people, to corporate rule and the rapidly emerging neo-feudal order. I will leave that to the organizers and political strategists to ponder, and hope that the call does not go unheeded. Our future is waiting.

For myself, while I admire the best and brightest of party activists, representatives and candidates – few and far between as they are – I have very little faith in the existing electoral and political system, for reasons of money and media corruption, and so, choose to focus my energies elsewhere. The system is broken. Everyone by now knows it, and the polls world-wide show a dramatic and profound crisis of legitimacy and loss of confidence in the political and economic structures and powers that rule us. To change this, the media monopoly must be broken, and serious, major and fundamental electoral reform brought in. However, the existing media powers and electoral financing system benefits the dominant political players and parties, so they are not willing to do what needs to be done, hence, the broken system perpetuates itself, via a self-serving political and business elite who dominate the political, economic and media spheres which are by now fully intertwined and mutually reinforcing. Choice under this political-economic system is largely an illusion: a small elite rule, and have for a very long time. As George Carlin so aptly put it, “You don’t have any choice – you have owners.” Or as John Lennon said, “You’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.” Democracy is a dream yet to be fulfilled. (See C. Wright Mills, David C. Korten or Noam Chomsky if this is not immediately self-evident.)

A break must come somewhere, and the growing and deepening global crisis of legitimacy of the ruling powers and systems guarantees that it will come. Remember the collapse of the Soviet Union and the entire Communist bloc just a few short decades ago: when a crisis of legitimacy reaches its culmination, a breaking point occurs, and the game is over: the entire edifice collapses, and something new – depending upon what the people do, arises to replace the old order. “Let them eat cake” did not stave off the demise of the old regime. In fact, such smug and cold arrogance hastened the coming change, and every repressive action in defence of the old and dying system, fuelled the fires of the imagination, of indignation, and of revolution. Stay tuned, stay alert, and keep your good heart. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over `till it’s over.” Remember Ozymandias. This is not the end of history, and democracy is yet being born.

J. Todd Ring,

May 27, 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.

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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.

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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.)

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

What Must Be Done: When corporatism and Leninism have both failed – part one

Posted in activism, alternative, class, common ground, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporatism, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, empire, empowerment, end-game, fascism, freedom, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, history, human rights, imperialism, inspiration, labour, left, liberal, Martial Law, neoliberalism, peace, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, political theory, politics, right wing, social theory, sociology, the right, the world's other superpower, tipping point, war on March 5, 2007 by jtoddring


For a future (worth living) to be possible

With the clear and accelerating hyper-concentration of power in the world, primarily via the hyper-concentration of corporate economic and financial power, which now threatens to swallow any last vestiges of democracy, freedom and human rights, we clearly need a united grassroots citizen’s movement to restore and protect the basics: democracy, fundamental human rights, and freedom. If we fail to create such a united popular force, we will see the full emergence of a global corporate feudalism – a phenomenon which is already well underway.

Serious thought and action must be directed toward creating a broad-based citizens’ coalition to defend democracy, and to create the possibility, and the actuality, of a more peaceful, just, sustainable and democratic world. In order to accomplish this, some form of federation of citizen’s movements is needed. We do not necessarily have to join or form a particular political party, nor are party politics the central issue. What is required is a citizen’s movement, broad enough, empowered enough, bold enough, and sufficiently united across its diversity, to create the kind of popular pressure and initiative that makes change happen. The great accomplishments of our collective human history have come about in this way: leadership from below. We should not expect it to be any different today.

If we look to history, who led the changes in society brought about by the civil rights movement? People like Rosa Parks, the students who started the lunch counter sit-ins, the ordinary citizens who launched the Montgomery bus boycott, and the millions of ordinary people who stood up, spoke out and created the people’s movement that led to great changes.

Who led the movement for universal suffrage? The right to vote, first by non-property owners, then by women, was not gained by a decree from on high, but by the struggles of ordinary men and women working together to create change.

Who brought down the Vietnam war fiasco? Not JFK, who launched the bombing on South East Asia, not LBJ, who stepped it up, not Nixon or Kissinger, who took the aerial bombardment to literally genocidal levels, not the corporate elite who backed, armed, and heavily profited from the venture, and not the political “leadership” of the major parties. It was the grassroots, again. It took 14 years then, before a grassroots coalition could be built strongly enough to bring the war to an end. And should there be any doubt as to how the war ended, take the statements from then National Security adviser to the U.S. government, chief intellectual-in-residence to the political power elite of the United States, Henry Kissinger. He made it clear to his boss in the White house that in order to win the war in Vietnam, more troops would have to be sent, but if more troops were sent from America, stability could not be assured at home. The crisis at home, the crisis of legitimacy brought on by this gruesome war, the crisis precipitated by a great and powerful citizen’s movement that demanded an end to this unjust and horrific war, was at a level by the mid-70’s that the war in Vietnam became unsustainable. The citizen’s movement ended the war, as Kissinger himself admitted directly.

In European and North American history, who led and ultimately succeeded in the efforts to bring about a work week that is 40 hours, and not 80 or more, as it had been? Who led and ultimately succeeded in raising wages, first above starvation levels, then above meager subsistence levels, to a point where a decent life is possible – despite the roll-backs of the last twenty years? Who led and ultimately succeeded in ending the worst workplace safety dangers – something most people take entirely for granted? Who led and ultimately succeeded in the drive for social programs to benefit the old, the poor, the ill or injured? Who led and ultimately succeeded in giving the people of the Western world the standard of living we now have? Not the unalterable laws of capitalism – the barons of capital opposed all of these initiatives. Not the political elite – the political elite opposed all of these initiatives, until the public demand for them was so powerful it could not be opposed any longer, and the political elite took credit for a concession they had fought for years, if not decades or centuries. It was primarily the labour movement, along with other popular movements, that won the people of the Western world these gains.

Who broke the back of the biggest empire the world had ever seen – the British Empire – the empire that controlled two-thirds of the globe c. 1940? Not another military superpower. Not America, the now self-proclaimed global super-cop, judge, jury and executioner, exporter of “democracy” through the barrel of a gun. Not Superman, the Lone Ranger, extraterrestrials or some other fantasy rescuer. It was one little Indian of great stature, Mahatma Gandhi, and more importantly, millions of ordinary heroes.

Who initiated, led, and brought considerable gains for the earth and humanity with the environmental movement? Again, not the political or corporate elite, who fought these initiatives tooth and claw the whole way, only to take credit for every concession that they yielded to popular pressure. To be fair, there have been and are business people and politicians who have sought and contributed to positive developments in society and in environmental protection – of course – but the initiative and the pressure, the drive and the creative force has always come, almost without exception, from below – from the people themselves. It is no different now.

The question that confronts us now is, will “the world’s other superpower” – as the business press, as well as the UN Secretary General has called the world’s citizenry – come together in sufficient unity to oppose the destruction of democracy and the earth? Is it going to be a bang, a whimper, or a shout of joy and determination that ends, not the world, but the world as it was – out of balance, out of harmony, out of time? If it is not a global citizen’s movement that is decisive in this question, then arguably it will be either a bang or a whimper. We cannot afford to let this happen. It must be a collective shout of joy, a determined and powerful “no” to violence, destruction, and the prey of the few upon the many – an emphatic “yes” to the future of life on earth. We must rally unity amid diversity now.

J. Todd Ring

March 2007

Part Two: What Must Be Done: When corporatism and Leninism have both failed

What Must Be Done: When corporatism and Leninism have both failed – part two

Posted in activism, alternative, Canada, Chomsky, common ground, corporate fascism, corporate rule, corporatism, crisis of legitimacy, democracy, ecological crisis, ecology, empire, empowerment, end-game, environment, fascism, freedom, FTAA, geopolitics, globalism, globalization, good news, history, human rights, imperialism, inspiration, Jefferson, left, liberal, Martial Law, NAFTA, neoliberalism, people's movements, police state, policy, political economy, political theory, politics, right wing, Security and Prosperity Partnership, social theory, sociology, SPP, the right, the world's other superpower, tipping point, trade, U.N., U.S., WEF, World Social Forum, WTO on February 28, 2007 by jtoddring


Building a World Federation, from the Grassroots Up

The U.N. is failing and in need of fundamental reform – people everywhere are rightly skeptical about its present and future role in the world. Corporate and financial power is clearly out of hand, to say it mildly, and great powers, in the traditional sense of powerful nation states, clearly also have to be reigned in. In this context, it is becoming clear to all that only the global human community, the people of the earth themselves, united in solidarity across our great and wondrous diversity, joined together by some few commonly shared principles, can reign in the unwieldy and anti-democratic, anti-ecological destructive powers which now dominate the earth.

The mood of humanity, if you can make such a broad statement, and I believe one can with a fair degree of accuracy (see the World Economic Forum global poll 2002), is one of deep concern for the future; deep discontent with the present state of global power, economy and relations; deep disillusionment with existing forms of power and institutions; and showing a clear and growing realization of the need to both deepen democracy, and simultaneously build bridges of world solidarity for mutual protection and creative action.

Can humanity agree upon a few basic principles, while allowing for mutual respect of our differences and diversity? I think this is not only a reasonable proposition, but one that has already been demonstrated. We have international agreements such as the Kyoto Accord, ratified by 141 nations, the Montreal Protocol on ozone depletion, ratified and implemented around the world, the Ottawa Treaty, banning landmines world-wide, ratified by the majority of the world’s nations, and the Geneva Convention, to name just a few examples of human agreement and consensus internationally. We have the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, for example, which the vast majority of the world have accepted as a basis for international unity and understanding.

The basic principles of freedom, democracy, equality, peace and sustainability are acceptable to the vast majority of the global village. It is only the rogue financial and corporate powers, along with an unfortunately large number of political elites from many countries around the world, and a relative handful of extremists, who cannot or will not accept these principles as binding. The populace, as a whole, and world-wide, in virtually every nation on earth, already accepts these principles as foundational for any decent human society. Agreement is already there. It is solidarity that is lacking. Alienation and division must be overcome. We already agree on enough to build a better world. It is the unity across diversity that is missing, but that is changing quickly.

Some form of world federalism is needed now. Before this statement can be misunderstood, it must be said that I am not advocating the further institutionalization of hyper-concentrated global power. We do not need any further centralization or concentration of power in the world – in fact, what is needed is a radical decentralization and democratization of social, political and economic power. At the same time, however, it is clear that we need a greater degree of solidarity and cooperation amongst humanity and human communities world wide. We need thus, some form of global federation in which power is democratically held and concentrated at the grassroots level.

After the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle of 1999, just such a grassroots-based global network of solidarity began to emerge. Individuals and popular movements world-wide began to recognize the need to respond to social and environmental issues in a more comprehensive, systematic and globally linked fashion, with greater international solidarity, across all lines of geography, issue-orientation, race, class, gender and religion. Seattle `99 was a watermark, a turning point. Since then, much has been done to create and develop such a decentralized, democratic and popular-based unity amid diversity: a global network of peoples’ movements. This phenomenon shows great promise. It may be the only thing that can reverse the trend toward hyper-concentration of global power, the destruction of human rights, freedom and democracy, and the destruction of our home on earth.

The shining star to emerge out of this growth of grassroots global solidarity is the World Social Forum. The WSF is not a body with any direct political or economic power. It is a gathering, a place of networking and bridge-building. It is a place for individuals and popular movements to come together to exchange information and ideas, to discuss and debate, and most importantly, to generate greater solidarity and cooperation among peoples, communities and movements world-wide for the creation of a better world. It is not a centralized power, but a place where decentralized, democratic grassroots constituencies can discuss, come to certain agreements as to shared values and goals, and together, without the need for a centralized authority directing them, in the spirit of equality, freedom and democracy, bring about greater cooperative and effective action for the benefit of humanity and the earth. Noam Chomsky recently remarked that the World Social Forum is presently the most promising phenomenon on the planet.

Along with 1) the pervasive global questioning and challenging of all forms of power in society and all previously held assumptions, 2) the emerging spirit of democratic citizens’ empowerment world-wide, 3) the increasing realization by humanity of the interdependent nature of our world, 4) the dawning awareness that unity and diversity are not intrinsically contradictory, but in fact can be mutually enhancing, 5) the rapidly developing and growing global solidarity among diverse peoples, groups, communities and social movements world-wide, and 6) the rapidly unfolding genuine human renaissance which is perhaps unprecedented in its depth as well as its breadth; I would have to agree with professor Chomsky: the World Social Forum is one of the most promising things happening on earth at this time.

Along with the World Social Forum, we clearly also need a renewal and a deepening of democracy world-wide, in individual communities, states, provinces and nations. And, I would say, in order for this to be possible, a federation model, rather than a model of centralized power, needs to be developed or restored: otherwise we have the outer forms of democracy, but the democratic forms hide the real nature of power in society, which is oligarchy.
This needs to be done at the local level – the level of communities – and also at the state/provincial level, the level of the nation-state, and internationally. We need, in sum, a decentralization and democratization of power in society, along with a corresponding increase in global solidarity and cooperation: we need a decentralized and democratic world federation of some form.

It must be noted that it is absolutely critical that not only overt formal political power be decentralized and democratized, linked in a global federation of democratic communities (and perhaps for a time yet, also nation-states), but also economic and cultural power. We must swiftly, peacefully, and absolutely decisively deal with the exisitng hyper-concentrations of media power, and the parallel and even more fundamental hyper-concentrations of economic power – in the hands of banks, financial institutions, large corporations, family dynasties, old boys clubs, and trade agreements and bodies that effectively concentrate global power in the hands of the international investment class (such as the WTO, NAFTA, the FTAA, the SPP and the WEF).

Although their vision and example was imperfect, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine both held a clear and sensible, and in some regards, a noble view of the world as it could be – as can be yet. Thomas Paine, the primary political theorist for the American democratic revolution, along with Jefferson, took his inspiration from the Iroquois Confederacy, not the ancient Greeks, as is commonly believed. The Iroquois Confederacy still offers perhaps the best model for the future of humanity. Five nations lived in peace in a grassroots, community-based federation for mutual protection and prosperity. The people of these nations lived with greater peace, freedom and authentic democracy than almost any other peoples before or since. Jefferson himself admitted that the new American democracy was a pale imitation of the superior, more free and equal, and more democratic form of government which he saw in these native communities. Despite their faults, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, along with the Iroquois Confederacy, offer us now among the best and clearest inspiration for a better world, as we together look to our future on earth, and together face the ominous and simultaneously hopeful trends of the present.

Jefferson saw it clearly: either keep political power decentralized and out of any one group or individual’s hands (beware the ostensibly benign oligarchs), or watch tyranny arise, and freedom, democracy, human rights and even decency of life, decay and die. He also saw clearly that if the increasing concentration of economic power in the hands of the corporations is not checked, democracy will be overthrown by stealth: consumed and digested by the dominant power of money. He was right on both counts. We are late in heeding his warning, but not too late. There is still time to rescue the dream of democracy from the threats which surround her. There is still time to found a beautiful and just, free and fair world for humanity on earth. It is not to late. But we must act now.

J. Todd Ring,
February 2007

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