The corporate state -- a system described by the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin as "inverted totalitarianism" -- is incapable of a rational response to the crisis. A rational response, especially after your uprising in Madison and the Occupy movement, would at a minimum include a moratorium on all foreclosures and bank repossessions, a forgiveness of student debt, universal health care for all and a massive jobs program, especially targeted at those under the age of 25. But the corporate state, by mounting a coordinated federal effort led by Barack Obama to shut down the Occupy encampments, illustrated that the only language it will speak is the language of force.
Revolutions, when they erupt, appear to the elites and the establishment to be sudden and unexpected. This is because the real work of revolutionary ferment and consciousness is unseen by the mainstream society, noticed only after it has largely been completed. Throughout history, those who have sought radical change have always had to first discredit the ideas used to prop up ruling elites and construct alternative ideas for society, which [today] means the articulation of a viable socialism as an alternative to corporate tyranny.
By the time ruling elites are openly defied, there has already been a nearly total loss of faith in the ideas -- in our case free market capitalism and globalization -- that sustain the structures of the ruling elites. And once enough people get it, a process that can take years, "the slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes quick, militant, and violent," as Alexander Berkman wrote. "Evolution becomes revolution."
This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left.
Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead, resort to force. It is their final clutch at power. If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the bureaucrats, civil servants and police -- to get them, in essence, to defect -- nonviolent revolution is possible. But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or what the state calls terrorism. And our backlash, if we on the left do not regain the militancy of the old anarchists and socialists, could be a right-wing backlash, a species of Christian fascism.
The people in Gaza deserve to be free. So do we. But do not look to our political mandarins for help, or expect anything but vaudevillian smoke and mirrors from the billions poured into our campaign circus.
We too are powerless. We have undergone a corporate coup d'etat in slow motion. It is over. They have won. If we want to wrest power back, to make the consent of the governed more than an empty cliche, we will have to mobilize, to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience to overthrow -- let me repeat that word for the members of Homeland Security who may be visiting us this afternoon -- overthrow the corporate state. And maybe, once we have freed ourselves, we can free the people of Gaza.