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Abu Ghraib was not about 'a few bad apples' and neither is our two-party Vichy regime.

By       Message Alan MacDonald     Permalink
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With all the recently hyped euphoria about ‘change’ in the 2008 election campaign there is, unfortunately, the same suspension of disbelief that allowed Americans to look beyond the ugly Abu Ghraib torture and hope, against the reality of lies, that “it’s just a few bad apples”.

It was not just “a few bad apples” at the core of Abu Ghraib, and it’s not “just a few bad apples” at the core of this Vichy American government’s veneer-thin façade over the underlying two-party global corporatist Empire.

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Most Americans seemed to have been distracted beyond reason that the ugly torture and photos of perversions that occurred at Abu Ghraib might be as the Bush administration lied; “only the crimes of a few bad apples”. 

Perhaps one can not totally blame the American people for being predisposed to accept convenient lies about their country so visibly torturing prisoners in direct contravention to the Geneva Convention, US law, and the Nuremberg Tribunal, rather than face the bigger and even uglier truth that their country’s government is, at its very core, a criminal empire.   After all, Americans have recently had to ‘look beyond’ innumerable acts of their government’s criminal behavior including; the launch of an unjustified aggressive, pre-emptive, and imperialist oil-war abroad that has killed thousands and cost billions, the un-Constitutional spying on our fellow Americans at home,  and the thuggish suppression of our own Justice Department, Supreme Court, and even Constitution.

Hannah Arendt presciently warned of, and correctly diagnosed, the real ‘core’ of such criminality by a government when she said, “Empire abroad (always) entails tyranny at home” --- a diagnosis seconded by Ben Franklin and other of our founding fathers.

But there has been a somewhat wishful hope, one might even say a suspension of disbelief, during this 2008 presidential election season fanned by the flames of MSM hyperbole about the TV ‘excitement’ of democracy, that lures Americans to ‘look past’ the criminality of the Bush years and to want to believe that all this criminality, warfare, lies, looting, and tyranny might have been the cause of only “a few bad apples” at the bottom of only the Republican barrel --- but it is not.

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It’s not a ‘few bad apples’ of the Bush regime, anymore than it was a ‘few bad apples’ at Abu Ghraib that are responsible for this tyranny of empire.  Instead it is, at the core, the entire façade of this two-party Vichy government and the Vichy media power behind a hidden corporatist empire itself.

The reason that such a pessimistic, but realistic, assessment is justified is that both corporatist parties and most of the institutional defenses of our former democracy have proven themselves lately to all be ‘bad apples’ --- to their very core.

As evidence that it’s not just “a few bad apples” of the Bush Republican right-wing that are causing our system of democracy to rot, I would refer to Al Gore’s fabulous 2007 book, “The Assault of Reason”.

Throughout most of the book Gore does a superb job of chronicling and explaining the vast criminality, lies, fear-mongering, propaganda, and perversion of our democracy’s checks and balances that the Bush radical right-wing regime has accomplished in so short a time.  Coincident with this criminal indictment Gore very accurately diagnoses the moneyed ‘core’ of a less visible corporatist power structure behind government which has secretly paid to literally ‘privatize’ government to its advantage and the disadvantage of any sense of ‘public good’.  In fact, Gore makes as accurate and damning an analysis and indictment as I have ever seen of the uncontested advantages that a moneyed ‘faction’ of corporate power has in perverting democratic government and exposing its “absolute contempt for the very concept of any ‘public interest’”.  [My only wish is that Gore had gone the extra step to define this alignment of corporatist power as more than simply a ‘faction’, but to call it by its more historically accurate name --- an Empire].

Gore continues on, in chapter eight, “Democracy in the Balance”, to suggest the key elements by which a healthy opposition party in our democracy could, and presumably would, block the non-democratic usurpation of government power; primarily through the dual checks and balances of oversight hearings and Congressional measures like filibuster.  The reader can easily see from Gore’s reference to the November 2006 elections and change of power in the Congress that he wrote this portion of his book with the fond hope that the revived Democratic Party majority would use these techniques to effectively blunt the rule of such a dangerous corporate ‘faction’ (or empire).

Unfortunately, as we all know now, and as Gore did not at the time of his writing in early 2007, the Democratic Party majority utterly failed in any respect to blunt this corporatist ‘faction’ by any of the methods which Gore had hoped.  In fact, any critically truthful assessment of the Democratic Party’s actions since assuming even a marginal majority in 2006, would have to conclude that instead of using any of the measures that Gore well understands from his Senate experience, and which he had hoped for from his party, the Democratic Party instead must be judged as either entirely gutless --- or actually complicit with the ’faction’ (corporate empire) that Gore has defined.

I had previously given the latest Democratic Congress the benefit of the doubt and hoped that they were ‘only’ gutless, but now I find that any serious assessment of 2007, particularly taking into account the Democrats appetite for K street corporate campaign cash, suggests strongly that a bipartisan number of those ‘bad apples’ in the barrel of our government are blue.

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Unfortunately, it appears certain that the ‘few bad apple’ excuse about Republicans being the only ones caving to the corporatist ‘faction’/empire controlling our government is as inaccurate as the ‘few bad apple’ theory applied to Abu Ghraib.  And while it might break Gore’s heart as a loyal Democrat, I strongly suspect that if he is as honest and sincere as he is now on all topics, he would have to admit that any serious fight against the very corporatist ‘faction’ of un-democratic power that he has himself defined in his book would have to be fought by people, and with levels of commitment, closer to those of Ralph Nader or Dennis Kucinich’s following, than by anything resembling the fully corporate-controlled, mainstream Democratic Party.

Fighting the global corporatist Empire that has already taken over our government, and is hiding behind the façade of this sham “Vichy America’, is going to have to be done by non-conventional political battle, and will not gain anything from either party’s barrel of rotten apples --- and I suspect that Mr. Gore knows that and would still jump at the chance to be part of a more serious and revolutionary solution.


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Retired Director of Product Strategy NEC now teaching HS part time.

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