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Piercing the Simulacrum:

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Of Faux Democracy, Petty Tyrants, and Painful Realities


"The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims. The most perfect slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and unawaredly enslave themselves."

---attributed to Dresden James

A caricature of a man who has wrought havoc in virtually every endeavor throughout his miserable existence has found his calling. Exuding false bravado and contrived machismo, he has swaggered his way into the deepest recesses of America's collective psyche, fulfilling the inculcated need for a "manly" patriarch. Chest thumping, bullying, and ultimately unleashing the Hell of the Pentagon's death machine upon those brazen enough to resist conversion to the American Way, King George IV has succeeded the tyrant American Revolutionaries toppled over 200 years ago.

While the tyrant may be intellectually challenged, his court is filled with cunning Artful Dodgers like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Conscienceless people for whom guile, deceit, and exploitation are ways of being write his scripts and pull his strings. But ultimately it is George Bush, a morally bankrupt cur of a man, who gleefully issues proclamations and decrees that victimize the working class and the poor of the world. Bullies take such delight in plying their craft. Yet as vigorously as they have striven to realize the dream of the US aristocracy and reestablish an overt tyranny, Bush and his handlers have devoted equal volumes of sweat to maintaining the illusion that America is a "democracy".

Buoyed by a virtually omnipresent corporate media equally dedicated to spiritually and intellectually enslaving the poor and working class, sacrificing them as cogs in the corporate machine and as cannon fodder, and relieving them of their hard-earned dollars via irresistible lures of immediate gratification and an increasingly regressive system of taxation, a privileged class comprised of the wealthy, intellectual elites, and well-connected has become the "power behind the throne" in an oligarchy disingenuously portrayed as a democracy.

In November of 2003, George Bush assured his constituency that:

"It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world's most influential nation was itself a democracy."
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Serving up an even bigger "Whopper" to a nation of people conditioned to be addicted to fast food and clever sound bites, Bush proudly proclaimed in September of 2004:

"Because we believe in human dignity, peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy. No other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labor, to raise the status of women, or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace."

As is true with most concepts, there is no universally accepted or simple way to capture the meaning of democracy. However, Wikipedia offers concise definitions of the four fundamental types of democracy:

"Direct democracy is a political system where the citizens vote on all major policy decisions. It is called direct because, in the classical forms, there are no intermediaries or representatives.

Representative democracy is so named because the people select representatives to a governing body. Representatives may be chosen by the electorate as a whole (as in many proportional systems) or represent a particular district or constituency), with some systems using a combination of the two. Some representative democracies also incorporate some elements of direct democracy, such as referenda.
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Liberal democracy is a representative democracy (with free and fair elections) along with the protection of minorities, the rule of law, a separation of powers, and protection of liberties (thus the name liberal) of speech, assembly, religion, and property.

Conversely, an illiberal democracy is one where the protections that form a liberal democracy are either nonexistent, or not enforced. The experience in some post-Soviet states drew attention to the phenomenon, although it is not of recent origin. Napoleon for example used plebiscites to ratify his imperial decisions."

At best, the United States is an illiberal democracy. Which really is not too surprising. While the Founding Fathers forged a Constitutional Republic that incorporated many of the values of the Age of Enlightenment, the government they crafted was largely representative of a patriarchal society dominated by White male land-owners. Women had no right to vote, chattel slavery remained legal, the indigenous population was excluded, and the Bill of Rights was an afterthought that many of the Founders initially opposed.

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Jason Miller, Senior Editor and Founder of TPC, is a tenacious forty something vegan straight edge activist who lives in Kansas and who has a boundless passion for animal liberation and anti-capitalism. Addicted to reading and learning, he is mostly (more...)
 

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