On one of the discussion blogs, there was mention of a movement to not participate in the next campaign because of the disgust with our elected officials, specifically, not to contribute to any campaigns. There is a problem with this: If people stop contributing to campaigns, it will simply give the corporations total and complete power of who gets elected. And, as Ralph Nader suggested, they will support the most corrupt and easily influenced candidates, because those candidates will kneel to their corporate benefactors the fastest.
The Citizens United case that gave corporations corporate personhood and the right to participate in the election process did not give corporations equal rights, they gave them more rights than people. As individual live persons, we are limited to the amount of money we can contribute to political campaigns. Corporations are not, so they actually already have more power than we do.
Do we want this? Do we really want this?
And interesting piece was written by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., called What happens when you allow corporations to run our government? (http://www.aliciabaylaurel.com/robertfkennedyjr2):
What happens when you allow corporations to run our government?
What you get is plunder. And I have to say this, the American people have to understand that there is a huge difference between free market capitalism, which is a good thing because it makes us more efficient, more prosperous, and more democratic, and the kind of corporate-crony capitalism which has been embraced by this (Bush) White House. The reason they shouldn’t be running our government is because corporations don’t want the same thing for America as Americans want. Corporations do not want free markets and they do not want democracy. They want profits and the best way for them to get the profits too often is to use our campaign financing system which is just a system of legalized bribery, to get their hooks into a public official, they use that public official to dismantle the market place, to give them monopoly control, and then to privatize the commons, to turn over our Treasury, our air, our water, our public lands, our wildlife, our fishery, the shared resource of our society that give context to our community, that connects us to our past, that are the source of our values and our virtues and our character as a people, and we are turning that over, for profit, to these corporations.
We have to remember this, legally corporations cannot do good things. They cannot do true philanthropy, they can’t do things that are good for our country or for our community. When you see Wal-Mart bringing bottled water down to the Katrina victims, they’re not doing that to be good guys, they’re doing it because they think that over the long run the public view of them will be enhanced and that that will enhance their shareholder value and their dividend distribution. If they have another reason for doing it, any one of their shareholders can sue them and they will win that lawsuit. It is called wasting corporate assets. It is against the law in this country for a corporation to turn itself into a philanthropy. And if they’re caught doing it their board members will be punished and their shareholders can sue them.
We want corporations to be this way, to focus narrowly. We don’t want them to turn into philanthropies because nobody would invest in them. We want them to focus narrowly on shareholder value. BUT, we would be nuts to let them anywhere near our government because we designed them to plunder and that’s what they’re going to do to us if we let them run our country. That’s what they’re doing now. That’s why from the beginning of our national history, our greatest political leaders, Republicans and Democrats, have been warning Americans against the domination of corporate power.
Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, said that America would never be destroyed by a foreign enemy, by an Osama bin Laden, but he warned that our Bill of Rights, our Constitution and our treasured democratic institutions would be subverted by malefactors of great wealth who would steal them from within. Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, in his most famous speech ever warned Americans against a domination by the military industrial complex. Abraham Lincoln, the greatest Republican in history, said during the height of the Civil War in 1863,
“I have the South in front of me and I have the bankers behind me and for my country I fear the bankers more.”
Franklin Roosevelt, during World War II, said that the domination of government by corporate power is “the essence of Fascism.” Benito Mussolini, who had an insider’s view of that process, said essentially the same thing. He complained that Fascism should not be called Fascism; it should be called Corporatism because it was the merger of state and corporate power.
What we have to understand in this country is that the domination of business by government is called Communism and the domination of government by business is called Fascism. [emphasis mine]
Our job is to walk that narrow trail between free market capitalism and democracy, holding big-government at bay with our right hand and big-business at bay with our left. And in order to do that we need an informed public that is able to recognize all the milestones of tyranny.
To do that we need an aggressive and independent press that is willing to stand up and speak truth to power, and we no longer have that in the United States of America. [emphasis mine]
This is my concern and my argument in a nutshell. This is what I have been worried about with the simple-mindedness of the Tea Party and the stealth of Wall Street, who can easily use the TPs to achieve their agenda fully, which is to control government completely.
When that happens, We, the People, by and large, specifically the working class wage-earning Americans, become nothing more than serfs serving corporations owned by the wealthy.
And if you think this can’t happen, look at how quickly the U.S.S.R. failed in the ’80s. From the 1960s, when Kruschev slammed his shoe on the table in a discussion with JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis when we thought the future of this planet was on the brink to less than 30 years later, when the wall came tumbling down in Berlin, is a very, very short life cycle for a government that once was a feared world power.
What has sustained the U.S. through many wars, including a civil war, is not its people, or its flag, or its pride, it is an idea encapsulated in a document called the Constitution. It is the idea of Individualism (the moral worth of the individual), where, during the Age of Enlightenment with Descartes, Spinoza and Newton, the power of the individual was promoted.
Because it was a value system rather than a set of shared beliefs, there are many contradictory trains to follow. As Outram notes, The Enlightenment comprised “many different paths, varying in time and geography, to the common goals of progress, of tolerance, and the removal of abuses in Church and state” (Dorinda Outram, Panorama of the Enlightenment (2006) p 29 ). In his famous essay “What is Enlightenment?” (1784), Immanuel Kant described it simply as freedom to use one’s own intelligenc (Blissett, Luther (1997). “Anarchist Integralism: Aesthetics, Politics and the Après-Garde”. http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/ai.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-18). More broadly, the Enlightenment period is marked by increasing empiricism, scientific rigor, and reductionism, along with increasing questioning of religious orthodoxy.
Historian Peter Gay asserts the Enlightenment broke through “the sacred circle” (Gay, Peter (1996). The Enlightenment: An Interpretation. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0393008703. ), whose dogma had circumscribed thinking. The Sacred Circle is a term used by Peter Gay to describe the interdependent relationship between the hereditary aristocracy, the leaders of the church and the text of the Bible. This interrelationship manifests itself as kings invoking the doctrine “Divine Right of Kings” to rule. Thus church sanctioned the rule of the king and the king defended the church in return.
Zafirovski, (2010) argues that The Enlightenment is the source of critical ideas, such as the centrality of freedom, democracy, and reason as primary values of society—as opposed to the divine right of kings or traditions as the ruling authority (Milan Zafirovski, The Enlightenment and Its Effects on Modern Society (201) p 144 ). This view argues that the establishment of a contractual basis of rights would lead to the market mechanism and capitalism, the scientific method, religious tolerance, and the organization of states into self-governing republics through democratic means. In this view, the tendency of the philosophes in particular to apply rationality to every problem is considered the essential change (Lorraine Y. Landry, Marx and the postmodernism debates: an agenda for critical theory (2000) p. 7 ). Later critics of The Enlightenment, such as the Romantics of the 19th century, contended that its goals for rationality in human affairs were too ambitious to ever be achieved (Thomas D. D’Andrea, Tradition, rationality, and virtue: the thought of Alasdair MacIntyre (2006) p. 339 ).
When you read about the Age of Englightenment and Paine’s Age of Reason, which gave rise to the revolution through the concept of empowering individuals and to the idea of self-governance, which is the ideal behind our Constitution, it becomes clear that the recent rewriting of history, believed by Bachmann and other social conservatives, that America was originally a theocracy is absolutely wrong. The Separation of Church and State was extremely important to the Founders, because memories of religious persecution in their homelands were real and immediate. The principles of self-governance depend on personal responsibility, and personal responsibility was the fruit of the ideals that came from the Age of Enlightenment and the Age of Reason, because by giving man personal power, they also gave man personal responsibility.
We know that dictators and strong men do not start out being openly so. They start out, like Fidel Castro, as saviors of their country from some other “force” that was painted as or was truly seeking to destroy their country. In Castro’s case, it was the mafia. In Stain’s case, it was Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. There is always a boogie-man when a strong man takes over a country.
It makes sense that, in a country where Capitalism is so closely aligned with democracy, that corporations would seek to equate capitalism with democracy, then replace democracy with capitalism altogether. In the Republican Party, this transformation is almost complete.
But capitalism is Darwinian — the market has only one purpose: to make money — and only the strong (rich and powerful) survive; the weak (working man with rights) perish. Democracy is the polar opposite: it is all about empowering individuals to participate in the forces that control their lives and their destiny, particularly in governance.
If we do not understand that these differences are important ones, and we allow the forces behind corporations to completely control our government, we will lose our democracy and our power very quickly.