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A New Focus for Progressives

By       Message Laura Stein     Permalink
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The Urgency of Progressivism

Thomas Frank's brilliant analysis of neo-con goals and strategy in New Statesman: "The Plot Against Liberal America" is a most important read for those who feel strongly about retaining the Republic in a meaningful way. Really. If you read only one article in a periodical this month, this should be the one. One very disturbing outgrowth of his description of neo-con activities is the understanding that they have managed to relocate power away from national, representative governments to interlocking mega-corporations.

Looking at the current political landscape I see multiple examples of their success: supra-national banking structures, the much less representative European Trade Union, the redefinition of national regulation of industry as "unfair trade", the wholesale ability to steal elections, the privatization of natural monopolies, media consolidation and corporatization, the privatization of armies, and more. However, their dreams of controlling untold wealth can never be realized because, in the process of changing economic power equations, they are destroying the middle class that provides almost the entire market demand necessary for the maintenance of wealth. In other words, they've shown that they can grab the whole pie for themselves, but by doing so they're dramatically shrinking the pie.

This behavior, emerging when the most power-obsessed of the human race are not sufficiently checked by their community, is so irrational that it can only be understood as a kind of lizard-brain cancer of male dominance. "I don't care if I have less, as long as I (defined as my select group) am the only one who can have things and everyone else has to beg me for scraps." At this point I can hear a subset of readers saying, "So Marx was right and capitalism is leading to an intolerable consolidation of wealth which will inevitably bring on the revolution resulting in the ownership of the means of production by the workers. I'll just sit back and let everything play out for the best."

History doesn't support that prediction. For the most part, fascism, including the consolidation of wealth, has led to more fascism, sometimes to a crash in the standard of living lasting for centuries--a Dark Age. Given the extent of our planet's overpopulation, and the knife-edge of environmental catastrophe upon which we're teetering, the level of destruction and suffering resulting when our more reasonable and enlightened structures have completely lost control is hard to imagine. It is in this context that I feel such desperation when I see Obama's complete lack of understanding of the global "trade" agreements (he thinks they're about trade), and his apparent belief that the ultra-powerful both can be placated, and are superior to/smarter than those who want power widely distributed. I may be wrong, but I see progressivism as more than a nicer sort of politics. I see it as our species' only hope.

Start of solution - countervailing steps

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In the spirit of not doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, I would like to suggest a change of emphasis for progressives from promoting its current worthy agenda to addressing the underlying tilting of the playing field by those powerful interests successful up 'til now in opposing that agenda. This is not a theoretical exercise; I specify four doable measures below.

Since ordinary citizens are dealing with fallout from a long-term, well-funded neo-con attack on the structure of representative gov't, the only effective progressive response is to push back on structural issues. I suggest this avenue rather than expending all resources for the election of the least objectionable candidates from a declining pool to a weaker and weaker gov't: A good FIRST step is to impeach the heads of an administration who make a policy of violating the Constitution via signing statements. A good SECOND step is to establish election integrity by requiring voting & tabulating machine code oversight by representatives of the campaigns of all nominated parties, and civil service non-partisan election boards at the state and federal levels. A good THIRD step would be to repeal those provisions of the current "trade" agreements that claim supremacy over national law. A good FOURTH step would be to take steps against the current consolidation of the media and re-instate the Fairness Doctrine, to allow non-corporatist voices and opinions on MSM.

Support of these measures must be expected of candidates looking for backing by progressives. [Impeachment can take place post-term.] This year progressives should let it be known that signing on to Kucinich's impeachment proposition is a necessary pre-requisite for support. Progressives also need to highlight their support of the seven members of Congress who did.

Core progressive issues like universal healthcare, economic justice, and ending wars for capitalist expansion will gain no traction without winning the above structural victories, no matter their popular appeal. Without those structural changes, as soon as progressives approach success on an issue, a corporatist MSM will erode popular support, neo-con collaborating voting machine companies will remove key Congressional supporters, and/or neo-cons will find a way of spending/stealing enough that corporatist MSM and politicians can claim these measures are unaffordable.

I know that many of you are caught up in pre-Convention activity now, but starting this debate need not be excessively time consuming, and the sooner we unite to clip the wings of the neo-cons, this less we will have to undo and the more likely we will be able to succeed.

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My main issue is citizen empowerment. I have seen that private citizens generally oppose corruption, (cronyism, giveaways to mega-corporations), and military adventurism. The overwhelming majority of us support civil liberties, secure elections, (more...)

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A New Focus for Progressives