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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/8/19

Much Ado About Nothing: Asking Who Won the Political Debates

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By Edward Curtin

Le sovversive non votano - Emma Goldman
Le sovversive non votano - Emma Goldman
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e that alternative journalists would spend even a minute writing about the ongoing Democratic Party debates. They are meaningless and they are not debates. How many times do we have to go through this ridiculous charade before this can be accepted once and for all? The "debates" are farces, total theater, as are the Presidential elections. They don't matter. The political quiz show of duopoly is fixed. Discussing who has won is the height of absurdity. It legitimizes the system of oppressive duopoly. It is political "jeopardy," and only the fixers win when they suck us into watching and opining. One expects the corporate media to do their jobs and drone on endlessly about nothing, but not those who oppose this anti-democratic sham.

Emma Goldman is alleged to have said, "If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal." She was right then and is right now. With the exception of JFK, who was assassinated by the national security state when in his last year he radically turned against its war agenda, not one American president since has posed the slightest risk to the systemic power of the elites who own and run the country. If anyone ever did, they would not be on the ballot or in office. Here and there, a candidate running for the nomination of one of the ruling parties makes it into a debate only to be marginalized for bluntly attacking war policies e.g. Tulsi Gabbard in 2019. Those who enjoy the support of capitalism's invisible army (the CIA) and Wall Street's corporate merchants of death are allowed to present nuanced "anti-war" positions that their backers know are lies but suckers bite on in their desperation to believe that the system works e.g. Obama in 2008.

Because Emma Goldman opposed the U.S. war and conscription policies during World War I, she was charged and imprisoned under the Espionage Act in 1917, "for conspiring against the draft," a form of state imposed slavery. Like Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, she was punished for telling the truth to the American people and the world. To contemplate their confinement in these prison hellholes sickens the soul.

When I was young and was seeking release from the Marine Corps as a conscientious objector, I spent quite some time pondering prison life, something I was expecting and preparing for but surprisingly avoided when the Commandant of the Marines released me so I could "take final vows in a religious order." It was an outright lie, something I never mentioned in my C.O. application, but it allowed them to save face while getting rid of a troublemaker. Ironically, as a religious young man, I had often thought that the life of a Catholic priest or nun, in their respective celibate rooms in rectories or convents or monasteries, was similar to the life of a prisoner, and it struck me as very depressing. Even a few years in a federal prison felt more liberating, so I steeled myself for that possibility by reading Cleaver's Soul on Ice, and Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison, among others, and disciplining myself physically, mentally, and spiritually for what never came to pass.

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Now the world is our prison, as John Berger wrote in 2005 in a stunning article with the understated yet hopeful title, "Meanwhile." Because he was not caged by traditional categories of conventional thought but just wrote, trusting that words were winged creatures that rise and fly out of sentences into the unknown, Berger was able to discover truths that many feel but cannot articulate. Often referred to as a Marxist art critic, such a description fails to capture the liberated nature of his writing, even when he is describing how we are imprisoned:

"I'm searching for words to describe the period of history we're living through. To say it is unprecedented means little because all periods were unprecedented since history was first discovered".The landmark that I've found Is that of a prison. Nothing less. Across the planet we are living in a prison".No, it's not a metaphor, the imprisonment is real, but to describe it one has to think historically".Today the purpose of most prison walls (concrete, electronic patrolled or interrogatory) is not to keep prisoners in and correct them, but to keep prisoners out and exclude them".In the eighteenth century, long-term imprisonment was approvingly defined as a punishment of 'civic death.' Three centuries later, governments are imposing by law, force, economic threats and their buzz mass regimes of civic death".The planet is a prison and the obedient governments, whether of the right or left, are the herders [US prison slang for Jailers]."

At the heart of this prison system is financial, not industrial, capitalism, and the system of globalization fueled by the Internet that allows speculative financial transactions to be continually performed instantaneously. Speed is the essence of cyberspace, a placeless "place" that allows this worldwide prison system to operate. Space, time, nationalities, local traditions, and idiosyncrasies of any sort are washed away by this tyrannical flood of abstract power controlled by the jailers and their henchmen in and out of governments. This planetary prison's "allotted zones vary and can be termed worksite, refugee camp, shopping mall, periphery, ghetto, office block, favela, suburb. What is essential is that those incarcerated in these zones are fellow prisoners."

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The prisoners that are us are often just dimly aware that they are prisoners, but dimly is better than unaware. For the jailers also use cyberspace to misinform, confabulate, lie, confuse, and convince the prisoners that they are not in cells but are free on their cells and had better be on constant alert to protect themselves and get theirs, theirs always being some commodity, which comes in many forms, including political candidates, sometimes "new and improved" and sometimes just "bright and new." The prisoners are always free to choose more of the same, if they can be conned. While everyone "knows" these candidates sell themselves and that's what debates are about "if you liked that (one), you will like this (one)" the jailers create what Berger calls "a hallucinating paradox" that keeps the prison population believing that the rigged system somehow works for them since they are exceptions to the rule that renders others moronic suckers.

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6 people are discussing this page, with 12 comments  Post Comment


Janet Supriano

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This one breaks my heart with the truth. There are some true friends here in this prison; distant in miles; close in spirit.

Thank you, Ed.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 3:37:23 AM

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Yes, the mock-debates are nothing more than a sham. Whomever is elected President will be controlled, they will be controlled. If they resist, they may well end up dead.

"There is a de facto 'secret government' operating nationally and internationally and involved in the highest circles of the US government, exercising an impact over domestic policies and economics ranging between extreme influence to, at times, outright control. This extreme influence to outright control naturally includes the Presidency. The de facto 'secret government,' much of whose intellectual - and financial - muscle are to be found in the New York office of the CFR, the great tax-free foundations, and certain international firms and corporations." - Mike Culbert: article in the Independent-Gazette published in Richmond, California on June 27, 1974 in reference to his discussions with Charles Colson (a member of Nixon's cabinet) on the almost total control of US presidents by the outside forces. (1974)

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 10:12:34 PM

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Right Ed! The two party system here is very much like the systems everywhere. JimGlover11 second ago

I would like to see a world wide effort of all nations and people to make peace and how to get it. Everyone says they want peace but how many are asking for it?

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 10:58:37 PM

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"How many times do we have to go through this ridiculous charade before this can be accepted once and for all?"

Did you want that in round numbers? Rounded to the nearest thousand?

"They are meaningless and they are not debates."

With all due respect, Ed, the problem is the framing of your question. Why would you assume anyone thinks they're meaningful, relevant, informative, useful, productive? Would you ask this type of question about Wrestlemania VIII "The Battle to the Death of the Monsters of the Mat"? Of course not.

1) Pro Wrestling is not wrestling. 2) The Debates are not debates (you said that yourself).

What evidence do we have of this? For starters, they appear on network TV. Network TV has two and only two functions: Entertain and make money.

The challenge for us who want meaningful debates is not providing proper forum and format. That's the easy part. The probably insurmountable obstacle is getting anyone to pay attention.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019 at 5:42:41 AM

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John, where does this Attention Deficit Syndrome (ADS) start?

Uterus, Home (parents), Educational Sys (schools), TV, communication

methods. LIFE?

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019 at 10:36:46 AM

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I'm sorry, I lost track of your question at 'John, where...' Everything after that was a blur.

Maybe, my friend, the deluge of distraction is purposeful, part of a tactical blitz to fragment our attention, disperse our sensibilities, divide our time, defuse and disarm effective thinking and action.

Whack A Mole Activism

Then again, maybe it's part of God's divine and mysterious plan. He's such a practical joker. It's hard to figure out which of the Ten Plagues is the funniest. I think I have to go with the festering boils. What a laugh riot! Squirt squirt!

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019 at 11:27:04 PM

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So exhilirating to read you " loud and clear", Jono, You've aided me in

training for the role of Job which I feel will become my star appearance.

Submitted on Thursday, Jul 11, 2019 at 12:10:18 PM

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Thanks, John, but my point is that there is nothing worth paying attention to; it's all a fixed game show that nevertheless tens of millions of people watch and discuss, and journalists, mainstream and alternative, write about as if it worth paying attention to. I argue that people should not pay attention to these debates, while you seem to want them to: "The probably insurmountable obstacle is getting anyone to pay attention."

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019 at 11:29:48 AM

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Ed, we've known it has always been rigged, but isn't it tiillating to fantasize

that it might not be so?


Love (enjoy) your participation in our agonizing.

Submitted on Thursday, Jul 11, 2019 at 12:16:32 PM

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Nelson,


Who knows? Maybe someday our dreams of fairness and justice will come true. Gratitude, Ed

Submitted on Thursday, Jul 11, 2019 at 1:20:07 PM

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That depends on our imagination and determination, i.e. constructive engagement. Criticizing the status quo is the easy part. 99.99999% of what appears here and other enlightened progressive forums is just that. Pot shots. Ooh! Really icky! Then what?

Submitted on Thursday, Jul 11, 2019 at 11:31:54 PM

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You took my last remark out of context. First I said ...

"The challenge for us who want meaningful debates is not providing proper forum and format. That's the easy part."

... which meant that there is a way to create a proper forum and format, recognizing it will be pretty much the opposite as its done now. In other words, Ed, it is easy to imagine with today's technology to set up debates which are potentially substantial, relevant, meaningful, and useful. But THEN (please pay attention, Ed) "The probably insurmountable obstacle is getting anyone to pay attention." Because people are distracted by a lot of nonsense, attracted by mindless entertainment, jaded by a long record of prevarications and treachery by our politicos, suffering massive pandemic ADD, compromised in their ability to think critically because our educational system has been reduced to trade schooling, etc.

Your advice is sound. We shouldn't pay attention to the phony debates as served up. But you offer no alternative and zero hope that the situation might improve. Admittedly, neither do I*. We agree to agree. Happy ending. Cue the orchestra! Let's ride into the sunset on white palominos.

*Though you could read what I've said as an appeal for the creative input of the brilliant people here at OEN on how we might attempt to fix or work around these obstacles.

Submitted on Thursday, Jul 11, 2019 at 11:28:04 PM

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