The news was everywhere: Having completed an ultra-secret analysis of the reasons why the nation had become ungovernable, the US National Security Agency has set about reorganizing the citizenry. The problem, they concluded, was the calcification of the policy stances and support structures of the two sanctioned political parties, which has resulted in a stalemate from which no winner can emerge. The day after the upcoming election, every registered voter will receive a letter assigning them to one of two new political parties, Red and White. All others will be initially assigned to the Blue party, and they will be wooed by Red and White to join their ranks. Because the policy positions of the new Red and White parties will not be aligned with those of the deprecated Republican and Democratic parties, instructional materials will accompany the assignment letter. Anyone requiring additional assistance in adopting their new political affiliation can report to a nearby FEMA camp where they can participate in a free two-week training workshop. Once the political landscape has been reformed in this way, the US will once again be a governable nation.
I'm kidding, of course, but I did participate in something similar when I was young, during the Cold War. In that event, the sides were assigned to prepare for an athletic competition, but the results were the same: adoption of an Us vs. Them mindset for the duration of the Color War, complete with justifications for why "our' side was superior to "theirs'. Unfortunately, the political Punch and Judy Show that is used to divert our own attention and to keep us from rebelling is just as specious, and it's been carried on for so long that people have grown to identify with their party in a much deeper and more destructive way.
When I read Rob Kall's list of aspects of government that Progressives oppose, it struck me that most of them were artifacts of the corruption wrought by the influence of money on governance. If bloated, unaccountable military and intelligence services, unresponsive legislatures, rampant privatization and so forth are all the effects of some unmentioned influence on the workings of government, then government is not the problem. Nor, since it has become corrupted by money, can it be the solution. And yet, that set of opposing sentiments are the core ideas of our two entrenched political parties: the right contends that government is the problem, and the left contends that it is the solution. Neither one is correct. What both sides see as a malfunctioning government is really a diversion. We've been induced to play an endless form of color war that has no redeeming value in order to keep us occupied, diverted, and relatively docile.
The question to ask, then, is why? Who is behind the charade, and how does it benefit them? As Ellen Brown, Greg Palast and others have pointed out, government is a plaything of big money. This should come as no surprise, because government wields enormous leverage over the lives, livelihoods and activities of the masses they are instituted to govern, and can extract wealth from those masses in the form of taxes. The people behind big money realized long ago that by nudging government in the right way, they could funnel some of that wealth into their own pockets.
And so, from humble beginnings in the prelude to the Supreme Court's decision in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, which granted some of the constitutional protections of people to legal fictions, corporations have insinuated themselves into the workings of government. It's been a slow, quiet process of inducing cities and states to grant tax concessions to companies in exchange for locating within their jurisdictions, of contributing to the election campaigns of legislators, of corporations and industry groups lobbying those legislators to do their bidding when crafting or voting on bills, of transforming regulatory bodies into protectors of the industries they were charged with regulating, and now, of inducing their captive election officials to change election rules to disenfranchise segments of the population so that they can even discard the costs of pretending there is a two-party political system.
The US has bloated military and intelligence agencies for the same reason those agencies are busily engaged in conducting wars across the globe: it is profitable to do so for the corporate beneficiaries of those activities. That is the rationale for all corporate activities. It is why international commerce has trumped governments as the pre-eminent force in the world, and why workers in one country have been pitted against those in another purely on the basis of the number of dollars in their paychecks, regardless of how many dollars it takes to buy a loaf of bread in each country. The world, at this point, has been reduced to merely being a means to big money's ends.
It was all going according to plan, until the seems in the facade began to burst. The world recently discovered that the intensely profitable system the moneyed class created is also dangerously fragile. Market prices on stock, bonds, real estate and debt obligations, which were touted as being a reflection of the balance of supply and demand, have been revealed to be heavily manipulated by the same people who benefit from that manipulation. And yet even when parts of their global manipulation schemes are exposed, those in power are never found guilty and punished, because the systems of justice have been perverted to prevent that from happening. Instead, some underling is targeted, and the people are encouraged to accept that as justice having been done. Bread and circuses, just like in ancient Rome.
All that, and yet we're arguing about the value of replacing the people elected by an intentionally broken electoral system, and about attempting to control those who control the government itself by asking our representatives to pass laws? A better idea would be to step back for a moment, and take a look at the entire problem.
When the financial crisis of 2007-08 broke out, and pressure was brought to bear on the US Congress to act, the threatened consequences of not complying was the collapse of the world financial system. The same specter has been trotted out again and again each time another crack formed in the facade of financial stability. It's always the same: what's at risk isn't the multitudes of citizens whose tax money is extracted by government for the benefit of the corporations that control it, but rather the ultra-wealthy who run those corporations. We, the people, are expected to sacrifice our own welfare for the benefit of those who have sucked us dry.
But how could that be? How could a collection of corporations act in unison like that? If they were truly each out to maximize their own value, why would they collaborate like that? The answer, of course, is that they don't. If, as Mitt Romney asserted, corporations are people, then what governs those corporate "people' are the big banks. Corporations exist in a monetary ecosystem governed by a cartel of central banks, headed by the Bank for International Settlements. The megabanks of the Basel Accord have, over time, installed central debt-money banks into nations around the world, and it is they who really control the shots. National governments are pawns to them, and the people within those nations do not matter at all.
So, then, what are we to make of the listed aspects of government that Progressives oppose? What effect will it have if we replace the people in office now with others? Could that do any more than a paint job in repairing the foundation of a crumbling skyscraper? If we did manage to fill the legislature with firebrands intent on fixing what is broken, could they overpower the unlimited money spent to keep the system as it is? The damage has already been done. The system is broken, and the Supreme Court has guaranteed that it stays that way. We're doomed. So what can we do?
The global financial system that teeters on the edge of collapse, lest we bow to endless demands for blackmail from people who are, knowingly or not, doing its bidding, is getting more fragile by the day. We know that the price of stocks and of various commodities is continually being artificially managed to keep up the appearance of stability, so it's foolish to invest in them. After all, that's one of the troughs that the uber-rich drink our hard-earned wealth from. We know that the big banks have only their own interest in mind, so don't keep your money in them; move it to local credit unions instead. The rightists always talk about starving government; we can starve the fiscal vampires of our life's blood.
When you're threatened with the collapse of the very same financial system that has stolen your savings, and maybe even your home, don't come to its defense. Ask the same question that the masters of the universe ask: What's in it for me? But don't stop there. Ask why should I put myself at risk to protect the bottom line of a corporation? What would really happen if the global financial system were to collapse? How would it affect me personally? How would it affect the homeless people in my city? How would it affect the rich, how would it affect the middle class, and how would it affect the poor? If they want your support for some action, don't accept vague answers or hand-waving.
Imagine then, that the worst that we're threatened with actually does come to pass. Imagine that the global stock markets have crashed, and everyone with money invested in them was wiped out, including cities, states, retirement funds and mutual funds. Imagine that international commerce has ground to a halt, and products from faraway places no longer reach the shelves in your local stores. There would be a lot of fallout, a seriously large number of things that would simply stop working. The federal government could collapse. You could lose power if the plant could not get fuel. The companies whose servers keep the commercial Internet alive could pull the plug. And so on, and so forth. But what would happen to you? What would your personal world be like that next morning?
I don't dispute that things will get ugly. It will. I've even written a series of short stories about it. But look around. Is merely tolerable good enough?