Monday, October 8, 2007


Call me fatalistic. Call it the impatience of youth if you want, but I'm 63. I think it is having lived all those years that has imposed on me an unwelcome sense of mortality and the ability to see the signs of impending death. I refer to our democracy, which, to my dismay, is likely to pass into memory within my lifetime.

The signs of morbidity are clear--fear is rampant, our President is allowed to rule by edict, our privacy is being invaded in ways we can't even imagine, our government operates within a tight veil of secrecy, we can now be jailed forever without charge or trial, the violent stifling of peaceful dissent is becoming an acceptable norm, and corruption and thievery are rarely penalized. And our government always, always lies to us.

I have come to believe that we, all of us on the "left", are wasting our time by wallowing in an overkill of outrage, because we're way too far behind events.

Every day new revelations of lies, deceit and hypocrisy assail us. Every day unearths yet more egregious assaults on simple decency and justice. Every day we see more examples of our government working against the best interests not only of us citizens but those of the whole world, in its unquenchable drive for total economic domination.Do we really need more examples to bolster that which is already painfully evident? We know that it's all wrong, what else do we need?

Nonetheless, we continue to learn these things and they fuel our outrage and we steel our resolve to get someone into office who will make the bad things go away. We blog for each other and write to the newspapers and complain to Congress and we tell 'em "Fix it!". Boy, do we tell 'em! And every so often a few more folks begin to understand the wrongness and immorality, and add their voices to demand change. And so what?

Enough people were so upset that the last election saw the Democrats swept into majority control of both houses of Congress. We rejoiced. Now, by God, now we'll have redress! Now things'll get fixed! Bush and Cheney gone! Bill of Rights restored! Corruption halted! War over! More jobs! Social justice! The long national nightmare is over!!!


To be sure, the Democrats have the power. They chair all the committees. They investigate, hold hearings, interrogate, subpoena and display their ire about things that only add to the list of crimes that we already knew about. And nothing happens. Subpoenas are ignored, demands for documents are denied, accomodations and back-door deals are made, and nothing happens. No impeachments, no arrests, no criminal charges, no nothing. We get lip service and it's business as usual.

Why is everything the Democrats do substantively meaningless? Because the Democratic leadership and the Republicans answer to the same masters, and it's not "The People". Money talks, and bullshit is what we're considered to be.

If you doubt this, note that the Democratic presidential candidates who have the most financing, and hence the most "credibilty", importance and press, have all three refused to commit to a withdrawal from Iraq before 2013. They are bought and paid for. Remember that the Democrats capitulate to Republican obstructionism over any legislation that might pinch the profit pipeline or rein in government abuses of our rights and freedoms Most importantly, impeachment, literally the only tool that Congress has to stop this gang rape, is "off the table".

And so who is listening to us? Our government has become like a church--authoritarian, not democratic. Those in power preach to the choir. They have their agenda and will lead us wherever they wish to go.They will not listen to the choir no matter how loudly they sing.When our government ignores our voices we have to awaken to the fact that we have no power.

We can rant, scream and vent, but the march to a fascist police state moves on without missing one jackbooted step.

We have a terrible cancer growing in our society, and though we might kill a cell here or there, it only creates false hope, because that fascist cancer already metastasized on the day Bush was handed the Presidency by the Supreme Court . We have to accept that the end of freedom and justice and decency is at hand.

That said, it's now time to decide. Will we all continue to scream until at the end we are reduced to whimpers, or will we fight in a meaningful way?

It may be possible even now to turn back this horror if we can organize massive, truly massive strikes against public services, and civil disobedience on a scale impossible to quell. If that fails, remember what the Continental Army accomplished for us so many years ago.

It's time to decide.


Oldfolio said...

The question of what to do bothers me as well. You may be familiar with Terry Pratchett’s somewhat more aggressive rendering of the old better-to-light-a-candle saying, “Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness.” Still, I’m not really sure what course of action could be effective in preventing our incipient fascism from becoming firmly entrenched.

Your civil disobedience suggestion is a good one, but large-scale resistance requires a leader (such as Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr.) and no such leader seems to be forthcoming. There seems to be enough wide-spread anger and frustration that a campaign of civil disobedience just might be effective if the anger and frustration could be organized. But, who will do the organizing?

Armed insurrection would not I think be effective—for a number of reasons. First, many of the leftist opponents of U.S. fascism are pacifists who oppose any use of violence to accomplish political ends. Second, the means to accomplish a successful insurrection are all possessed by the right (think Blackwater). Third, armed insurrection (if neither immediately successful nor immediately crushed) would likely plunge our society into a state of anarchy of the sort that Iraq is currently enduring. Moreover, a failed insurrection would serve as a pretext for stripping Americans of their few remaining liberties. Concerning the European uprisings of 1848, Engels wrote, “The fruits of the revolution were reaped by the capitalist class.” I’m afraid that is exactly what would happen here. The success of the American revolution was due at least in part to the fact that it was supported by a significant portion of the wealthy and ruling classes in the colonies. I doubt you’ll find support for armed insurrection anywhere among the wealthy and powerful of the U.S. today (not even from Warren Buffett).

Of course, I would desperately like to be proven wrong about any of the points I’ve made. I would especially like to see someone capable of leading an effective movement of civil disobedience step forward. Until then, I rant and curse the darkness, waiting to be silenced by my government for the crime of believing that the U.S. Constitution ought to be enforced.

JohnDWoodSr said...

Oldfolio, as usual your comments are better than my posts, but dammit, you let me down. You were supposed to shred my analysis, tell me where I'm wrong, and set me down in a field of sunlight and flowers.Your comments about what course of action we should take mirror my own thoughts--I just threw those options in because I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel. Nonetheless, you have spurred me on to another blog post, which I'll do as soon as I can compose something semi-coherent. Emotionally, I'm waging a battle between principle and pragmatism and it's making me nuts.
Incidentally, Terry Pratchett occupies a lot of space in my library. I'm glad you referred to him. Regards.

Anonymous said...

Secession is a possible strategy. If the federal government lost all credibility with the people then it might be possible for a populist to come to power in a state. From there, the movement would have additional resources on which to draw including the National Guard. From that point it might be possible to lead other states to the same conclusion. Assuming the movement could beat out the discredited national parties in that given state (by any measure easier than winning a national election), the only option for the Federal Government would be to use military force to crush the rebellion similar to the civil war. The only difference I would think is that during the civil war the citizens of the northern states didn't consider their government nearly a corrupt and discredited as today so a crushed insurrection may not go as planned, particularly if there is continued resistance. I imagine you would rather restore freedom to the republic rather than gain freedom by the end of the republic, I know I would, but it may be too late for that.

JohnDWoodSr said...

7:00 anon, secession has certainly crossed my mind.In my desperation-induced dream state, I picture all 50 states of the union seceding at once, leaving the fascists and their enablers in charge of exactly nothing.I really appreciate your comment. Thanks.

kintu-li said...

Thank you for a great post. I'm a new visitor and will certainly return.

One factor that hasn't been mentioned is one that I think is important, because it could be the source of a "tipping point" one way or the other.

That is, the apathy of the average person to the changes going on. It seems to me that as long as people can still go shopping in an ocean of goods, go to movies, sports and concerts, watch TV and play video games (oh, yes, and go to bars and have sex), the quantum energy needed to put populist reaction in gear won't be there. Maybe when the average family has to deal directly with oppression, it might cause an uprising. My hope would be for it to be always peaceful civil disobedience and dissent.

But the police are so scary, now; always appearing in armor with their faces hidden.* It seems just as likely to me, that we could see just the opposite reaction in the public. People will become more sheep-like and accept what is dished out to them, even as Blackwater patrols the streets and family members are put in detention camps.

Well, we'll see. There are many many ways this could go. Other factors that could step in: the economy, rebellions in high places, etc.

*Cops with covered faces is a bad idea. It encourages the wrong kind of behavior in policemen. "Peace officers" should show their faces. Face shields can be transparent. Our government should be, too.

JohnDWoodSr said...

Kintu-li, I thank you for the compliment on my post. It might not be first-rate writing, but it is from my heart. Your observation about the complacency of the citizenry is, unfortunately, correct. Pardon the pun, but it may be that our proletariat needs to take a few "lumpens" to awaken them. I will try to address most, if not all, of the issues raised in this series of great comments in future posts.
Stay tuned and help out.

Realist said...

Secession? HELL NO!

There is a serious problem with the idea of states leaving the existing nation and becoming one themselves. Even if successful, each new government would be subject to takeover by extremist opportunists, turning what had formerly been one of the most democratic places on Earth into the Balkans West. States would go to war with each other, especially over natural resources. This returns the problem to that of armed insurrection, for which there are plenty of good reasons to avoid that scenario.

In addition, unless all 50 states were to secede as one, those out first would be subjected to George W. Bush channeling the Abe Lincoln of April 1861. He would turn Blackwater loose on those states "in rebellion" against the "legitimate" government of the United States - an interesting turn for a Connecticut Yankee-cum-Confederate wannabee.

As much as I doubt there is much time left to save what remains of the American democratic republic from the rapaciousness of corporofascism, we cannot abandon the rules in order to save them. It's going to take the people caring about what they are losing in sufficient numbers to achieve this goal, and mass-movements have a terrible history, as the comment concerning the 1848 revolutions correctly notes.

Until the themselves feel pain, they won't care at all. As Phil Ochs noted when outraged by the violent murder of Kitty Genovese occurring literally in front of her neighbors - who did nothing - "It's really doesn't interest ANYBODY outside of a small circle of friends."

It would make a wonderful epitaph on the gravestone of the Great Experiment.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that these conjectures are appearing on a public board...a place that can be read by ANYONE! Do you people really think that you can plan an insurrection on the internet? Don't you realize that the internet is the modern day's answer to football? It syphons off frustration and anger. It gives people the illusion of 'doing something!' Have you noticed how many scandals and outrages have gone unpunished? Their strategy is to let us talk and bitch, then to just ignore us. Yes, folks! You are F'ed! Do you feel better talking about insurrection and secession?

Get involved in mainstream politics!! Take a lesson from the Christian Right's handbook and GET INVOLVED, but do it locally and within legal channels. Run for school board. Run for selectman/woman. Run for Mayor. Make a difference in your neighborhood!

Yes, volunteer in schools and hospitals. Make yourself heard where it can make a difference! And then, MAYBE, we will get back to the democracy we all thought we had. Or did we?

JohnDWoodSr said...

Anon @ 8:42, You are right, except that you assume we still have the luxury of time.We, all of us, wish the time needed to effect change by working within the system was available, but all of the pieces are already in place, through executive order and legislation, to end our democracy instantly.