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Of Hamster Wheels and Men

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It is evident that the US or Israel is going to launch an unprovoked attack on Iran in the near future, just as it did against Iraq and countless other defenseless nations within recent memory. As a result, untold numbers of innocent people will die and huge sums of money will change hands. Both the U.S. and Israel will consolidate their power in the Middle East and injustice and death will follow in their wake. 

Bush’s co-conspirators in Congress are standing down, leaving little doubt as to whom they serve. As always, the mainstream media is preparing the way by serving as an organ of the Military-industrial complex by beating the drums of war and perpetuating lies. 

Outside of a small number of citizens, few people seem capable of plumbing the depths of our conundrum.  Under the umbrella of capitalism, business is the business of America, and death, inequity, and misery are its chief byproducts. Thus the rich are getting richer and the wealth generated by the producers is being concentrated into fewer hands than ever before.

War and class warfare are among the offshoots of capitalism. They are opposite sides of the same coin, like Democrat and Republican. Significant change will not occur until the people rise up in revolt and take matters into their own hands—a state of affairs that is virtually unimaginable. Nothing less than a fundamental paradigm shift from capitalism to a just an equitable socio-economic system is required. 

It is not difficult to know what kind of response the present threat demands of us—yet only a handful of thoughtful and courageous people will act appropriately against them. 

I am quite certain that indifference, apathy, belligerent nationalism, and dumb-foundedness are not appropriate responses to the cancer that is festering in the Pentagon, the halls of Congress, and America’s corporate board rooms and political think tanks.

I am willing to bet that the average American never contemplates the inequities that capitalism foists upon the world, or the unwarranted faith we have in the concept of private ownership, unregulated markets, and trickle down economics. This is a system that was created to serve the wealthy and to oppress the majority, and it is fundamentally predatory in nature. 

Championed by the likes of Milton Friedman, capitalism and private ownership is the holy grail of the American economic system, and they are considered beyond reproach even by those who barely survive under their ponderous weight. The nemesis of capital and privilege is an organized and mobilized citizenry. Throughout America’s short history, alternative political and economic systems such as communism and socialism, long associated with organized labor and radical unionism, have occasionally gained a foothold in the barren political landscape and, predictably, were thoroughly demonized by the mainstream media and its corporate funders. 

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Alternatives to capitalism have been tried but they have always been undermined by the US, which allows their critics to assert that these social experiments have been tried and failed. But left alone to evolve without outside interference, other socio-economic systems that serve people and the public interest might well flourish over for profit systems that promote private enterprise, which explains why so much energy and treasure is spent to undermine them.

Does anyone really believe that capitalism would be so prevalent today if it had been so systematically undermined by other governments as its counterparts? The playing field has never been level. Yet, despite such intense oppression, alternatives continue to spring up like undesirable weeds in capitalism’s well groomed garden. Left untended, the garden quickly reverts to its natural state, which, clearly, is not capitalism or public funded privatized wealth accumulation. 

Early on, working class Americans have been programmed to rail against any system that poses a threat to capitalism and its attendant Plutocratic rule. There was the era of McCarthyism in the 1950’s, and long before that the constant specter of the red menace that has always been associated with organized labor and other social justice movements. 

Any ideology that is opposed to capitalism has always been presented to the people as a threat to democracy itself, which is an absurd notion. Through propaganda and other distortions of truth, the interests of the ruling clique are widely perceived to also be the people’s interest. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Democracy is the greatest threat to capitalism and Plutocracy; and, as history attests, it is vigorously repressed by those in power, often by acts of state sponsored terrorism and militarism. 

Unregulated corporate power and the unbridled exploitation of land and people are as far from true free markets and democracy as anything can be. 

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Through the judicious use of lies and propaganda the corporate media, aided by the educational system, has successfully steered the collective American psyche away from the very ideologies that might potentially be our greatest benefactors.  The underlying causes of societal injustice, including the inequitable distribution of wealth and power, are thus kept safely out of the public conscience, beyond the pale of moral and intellectual discourse. Unregulated corporate power and free markets are hailed in the mainstream media as humankind’s greatest achievements. They are marketed to the very people it exploits as liberating, democratic institutions. 

The founding fathers recognized that an aroused and organized citizenry was the primary threat to the ruling elite. Organized labor, in particular, has always been perceived as a threat to the established orthodoxy. A democratic workplace would inevitably lead to a democratic society, and thus deny the strength of the ruling Plutocracy. 

It is remarkable that for more than 230 years the Plutocracy has not only successfully kept the majority of the people supporting economic and social policy that is detrimental to the people, they have also kept them from thinking about alternatives that could provide relief from the social and economic injustice wrought by capitalism—among them, universal health care and socialized higher education. The government is always waging a cold war against the working class people, whatever their country of origin. 

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Charles Sullivan is a photographer, social activist and free lance writer residing in the hinterland of West Virgina.

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