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Audacious, No Change

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By June Terpstra, PhD

The claim that common people govern ourselves in a democracy called the United States is a false claim. And the claim that common people can freely and fundamentally criticize our political and economic system and work to build one that is more democratic without reprisal is a lie.  Fresia, 1998

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Republican representatives and the US president who marketed himself on the need for "change" audaciously said in a statement yesterday that "Today, the Senate passed with strong bipartisan support a bill that's a win for American families, American businesses, and our economic recovery. This vote brings us one step closer to ensuring that middle class families across the country won't have to worry about a massive tax hike at the end of the year."   The 10-year price tag of this bill is $858 billion.   Democrats providing some theatrical drama to provide the illusion of debate chanted "Just Say No," in a closed door session.   

The men and women of congress , as elites within the public and private economy, seek mainly to protect individual gains for themselves and their masters.  They, like their forefathers, maintain a system which "the constant aim--that private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights" and where "...a majority of people who gain control of the house can easily be checked by men of property" (Federalist #51)

The people in congress making these decisions are defined and influenced by those with access to essential life sustaining resources and the stability of those resources over time. These resources include consumption capital, investment capital, skill capital and social capital.  They, like their forefathers, are the privileged class who legislate for themselves and their class stable and secure resources that they can expect to be available to them over time.   They preside over the working class, composed of those who have unstable and insecure resources over time, and the wretched who have no access to resources.

Who are the privileged and powerful?  Those who own the banks, corporations, factories, mines, news and entertainment industries and agri-business firms of this country are what are meant by the "owning class" or the "rich".  The "ruling elites" or "ruling class" are the politically active portion of the owning class.  They and their faithful acolytes and scribes compose the business roundtables, the business councils, the trilateral commission and the council on foreign relations, all organizations started by the Rockefellers, Mellons, Morgans and other economic royalists.

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From their ranks are recruited the secretaries of state, defense and treasury, national security advisors and CIA director, and indeed, US senators, presidents and vice presidents.  For the very top positions of the state, the ruling class is largely self-recruiting.  That is how the privileged and powerful operate. They denounce government handouts to the poor and needy, while themselves feed shamelessly at the public trough.  They denounce government regulations, and then rig the regulations to suit their own interests, otherwise known as corporate welfare. (Parenti, 1998)

The rules of this audacious con-game are designed primarily to transmit advantage and disadvantage across generations and are based on three principles.  The First, class structure has inter-generational permanence in other words if you were born rich it will be passed on to you and your children; if you were born poor poverty will be passed on. Second, there is no middle class anymore, and third, classes have conflicting interests.   Under capitalism it is not in the interest of the rich to care about the poor or working people.  These two classes of privileged and "other" people have fundamentally different and opposed objective interests.   When one class improves its situation the other class loses.  We, the "others" have been losing for a long time.  

Historically, there are two major events that combine to make what is called class formation (the formation of classes into collectively organized actors).  These are, class struggle (people who come together to develop practices for the realization of the mutual interests their group), and class consciousness (the understanding of this group of people of their social and economic interest).  Resistance can come from people in specific classes, power networks, and groups.  A key theme for social and economic justice is the responsibility of the politically conscious person to act in solidarity with others for economic, social and cultural justice.

While there are active sites of struggle found in the economic, political and cultural arenas, they are not making substantial changes needed.     Labor unions, once the primary alternative organizational force in countering corporate dominance are corrupted and weak.   Alternate power networks such as non-profit programs with a supportive base of privileged class allies, are tools of the elites.  

In fact, an examination of historical movements for change shows that the learning curve of the New World Order masters is way above that of those engaged in the struggle against oppression. Repeatedly, movements have been infiltrated and destroyed when groups began to effect real change.  Secret services such as the NSA, CIA, MI6 and the Mossad historically have developed front organizations to "front off" the innocents who unknowingly join certain social movement groups hoping that a different world is possible.  Many well-meaning people seek social justice reform work in non-profit, non-governmental or university programs hoping that change can come from with-in the system.

Another site of struggle historically has been in universities.   College students across the globe have formed revolutionary movements in struggles against oppressive external and internal regimes. A funny thing about knowledge and truth is that once people acquire some they are less willing to accept oppression. In order to counter this historical trend educational institutions themselves were designed to be centers of indoctrination. From 1952 to 1966, the CIA spent $3,300,000 on the national student association in an attempt to favorably influence the student community toward CIA policies. The CIA monitors faculty members under consideration for grants and recruits professors, administrators, and other covert allies within the university community for purposes of political control. The CIA also funneled 12, 442, 925 to labor, business, church, and cultural groups. One million dollars was given directly to "intellectuals, writers and artists." between 1949 and 1972, the CIA spent $25, 000,000 on mind-control and brain washing techniques. (Fresia, 1998)

What must we do to effect fundamental change for social and economic justice?   Gramsci, the Italian revolutionary and philosopher said that consciousness of a self which is opposed to others, which is differentiated and, once having set itself a goal, can judge facts and events other than in themselves or for themselves but also in so far as they tend to drive history forward or backward. To know oneself means to be oneself, to be master of oneself, to distinguish oneself, to free oneself from a state of chaos, to exist as an element of order--but of one's own order and one's own discipline in striving for an ideal. And we cannot be successful in this unless we also know others, their history, the successive efforts they have made to be what they are, to create the civilization they have created and which we seek to replace with our own . . . And we must learn all this without losing sight of the ultimate aim: to know oneself better through others and to know others better through oneself. (Gramsci 1971)

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This means questioning the basic schemata of how social roles and rules are determined for people such as the laws being passed and the policies in practice. This means aiming efforts directly at those who are the actual oppressors; learning to confront the reality of existence through critical thinking; and, creating a new identity for the people as members of self-determining human communities, in charge of history shaped by consistently questioning the historical consequences of activity being produced by oppressors while fostering activities produced by and for the benefit of the oppressed .  

Federalist No.51

Gramsci, A. 1971.   The Prison Notebooks

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June Scorza Terpstra, Ph.D. is an activist educator and university lecturer in Justice Studies, Criminal Justice and Sociology. She has founded numerous programs for homeless, abused, youth and oppressed people in the USA. She is presently teaching (more...)

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