JR'S Free Thought Pages
Some Discursive Thoughts on US Politics and the Rotting Corpse of Democracy
Do Humans have a Future?
by Johnny Reb, March 25, 2016
"The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth". - H. L. Mencken
"At present, those who have power dread a disturbance of the status quo, lest their unjust privileges should be taken away. In combination with the instinct for conventionality, which man shares with the other gregarious animals, those who profit by the existing order have established a system which punishes originality and starves imagination from the moment of first going to school down to the time of death and burial". - Bertrand Russell
The American Charade
Ah, the holiday weekend commemoration of the Easter Bunny fable! I wonder if workers still get "Good Friday" and "Easter Monday" as paid holidays now that unions are dead, in their death throes or have been completely bought off by the financial oligarchs and pirates who now rule the planet?
In the US primary presidential candidate freak show leading to the fall election, surely Bernie Sanders is the best candidate not only for the vast majority of Americans, but for the rest of the world as well. For entrenched wealth and Wall Street corporate criminals, not so much. But despite describing himself as such, and as I have tried to explain in a previous piece on him, he is not a socialist. At best he's a social democrat, a significantly different political creature from a democratic socialist. The social democrat is a caring capitalist - if such a creature is possible - who wants to impose ethical standards and civilize the hydra headed capitalist monster. But he's no genuine socialist, a person who wants to replace capitalism with something more just and ethically uplifting.
If Sanders was a socialist - like, for example, Dr. Jill Stein of the US Green Party (who has not announced she is running yet) - he would not be in the Democratic Party. I'm referring to that other big business casino capitalist party of imperialist war in the ruling Republican-Democrat duopoly that represent the interests of mafia banks, financial swindlers and massive exploitive multinational corporations.
Both Republican and Democratic candidates, not unlike those in the Liberal and Conservative parties in Canada, are basically robotic mascots of wealth and corporate power, bought and paid for lap poodles employed by power elites.
Ralph Nader, who ran in 2000 and by far the superior candidate at the time, was only able to garner about 3% of the popular vote. Elections in our faux democracies are all about money and power in a venal culture of narcissism and greed. Every four years the citizen is granted the ludicrous privilege of choosing between two or more multi-millionaire courtiers and dupes of the financial and corporate oligarchy.
"When fascism comes to America it will wrapped in the flag and wearing a cross" - Sinclair Lewis
Democracy, at least as I perceive it, has never existed - and likely never will. Democracy is a concept that means whatever some power source wants it to mean. The Nazi leaders of the Third Reich and Mussolini's fascists defined their imperialist terrorist regimes as "democratic."
Take the United States government for a more recent example. Despite the claims of its political leaders, certainly what exists in that country cannot under any stretch of the imagination be called a democracy. The United States, with 5% of the population has 25% of the world's prison population, a fact on its own that defines what it really is. Moreover, in the name of "democracy promotion abroad", the United States, in the real name of a profit driven corporate capitalist imperialist world order, bullies and deposes democratically elected leaders and failing that, bombs their countries into the stone age.
In the name of freedom and democracy, the US dropped millions of tons of bombs on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, more tonnage than all combatants during World War Two. People are still suffering in those countries with mutilations, birth defects and other infirmities resulting from chemical agents such as napalm and dioxins in the form of Agent Orange that carpeted the countries.
The supercilious United States governing elite and their compliant Western allies seems to have confused themselves with the Christian deity that it continually invokes and worships with the divine right to control, reward and punish with impunity.
The word "democracy" can be traced to Plato's Republic (like those countries in the West today, ancient Greece was certainly not a democracy). It's origins can be traced to the Greek word δημοκρατία (dēmokratía), “rule of the people”. Then as now, it was supposed to be in direct contradiction to ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratia), that means “rule by an elite”.
Although dictionary definitions of democracy are often unhelpful, they all include the notion of "government by the people", or as expressed by Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg Address, "government of the people, by the people and for the people." Sorry Honest Abe, you lied. Replace "people" by "rich" and you describe exactly what we have - and always have had. The title of my diatribe included the phrase "rotting corpse of democracy", which assumes there actually exists or existed a democracy at one time that is presently failing. I hereby apologize for this glaring non-sequitur.
The predominance and hegemony of wealth and power (the present depraved incarnation being corporatist casino capitalism) has rendered what little democracy that has periodically broken out as basically inert. When have our politicians ever cared about what John Q Public thinks? Never. Am I being too gloomy, you might ask? Optimism, it seems to me, is only possible within the confines of your friends, family and community. How do you exercise any control over the capitalist Godzilla, which has become a global hegemonic monster, deemed as the only ideology under which humans may live and flourish? Surely if we behaved as selfish capitalists with our friends and family, we'd be ostracized? Do we not all behave as socialists within these limited realms?
The capitalist nation state, as with other authoritarian socio-political arrangements throughout history have been abysmal failures in generating real bottom-up democracy. Stability, solidarity, love, compassion, caring and egalitarianism are possible only within a community of direct input and interaction with others. Capitalism panders to the worst of human instincts and yet we expect unwavering solidarity and stable caring communities to be the upshot of such a debased ideology that promotes acquisitiveness and "every man for himself". In our capitalist nation states human beings are mere cogs in an ideological machine. We are collectively reduced to either commodities and slaves (as in the workplace) or insatiable consumers of superfluous "stuff" relentlessly marketed by voracious corporations. This is what we have become. And anyone who questions this morally and intellectually bankrupt life is considered crazy or in need of rehabilitation. For the American and European masters of capital, any country that challenges this enlightened Western hegemonic capitalist world order is simply subjected to economic destabilization and "regime change" or failing that, "democratization" by the full force of American and Western European military might.
Sadly, most people are so indoctrinated and locked into their petty anti-intellectual lives of quiet desperation, obsessed and distracted with amusing themselves to death and self-lobotomized by cell phones and other superfluous technology, they are incapable of thinking for themselves. Too many cannot even think at all, let alone think critically; many simply refuse to think. The intellectual life can be quite distressing. Scepticism, real thinking and facing realities, after all, is hard work and may have a detrimental effect on your golf game. Was it T S Eliot who said that "people cannot bear very much reality"? Surely we are not so lacking in intellect and imagination that we cannot think of alternative ways to live?
And if you think that our young people are going to change this morally bankrupt world, just take a look at them as they walk to school like trained gerbils, atomized zombies wired up to their over-priced redundancies called i-phones. "Oh, the US military just orchestrated another coup in a rogue country where democracy broke out and bombed the crap out of another recalcitrant enemy of corporate profit. But who has time to be bothered by such inconveniences and irrelevancies? Damn it, I almost forgot to text message Ralph that I scratched my ass during math class!"
The Trump Card - Does it Matter?
Donald Trump, a pampered silver spoon asshole with a third rate intellect, is probably the president Americans deserve. They elected the village idiot George W ("God told me to invade Iraq") Bush twice, another pampered silver spoon moronic jerk. And what a colossal calamity this semi-literate loser was! The fact that Manchurian candidate Obama, an intelligent likeable man, has had eight years in the White House, but has changed nothing, shows it matters little who is president. All form, no content.
Clinton, Trump, Sanders or Scrooge McDuck - it matters little who is president in America. After all, major decisions are made not in parliament or congress, but rather by obscenely rich conservative elites in their penthouse corporate suites and in decadent annual retreats like Davos, Switzerland. The monarchical masters of the universe all fly in to the meetings in Davos on their multi-million dollar private jets. Once settled into their lavish castles, they will decide how to carve up the world for themselves as they plan the next profitable imperialistic war in which their docile unthinking slaves in the working class will fight, be maimed and die.
Like all conservatives, Donald Trump - or Hilary Clinton - could care less about millions of struggling working people or the worst off in American society. Yet, like all political leaders and elites in the West, they claim to be god fearing Christians, as they plan the next military coup or invasion of a resource rich defenceless Third World country.
In fact, like most privileged pampered rich sociopaths, Donald Trump has nothing but contempt for them. But many will believe their foul bullshit and vote for him. Keep the hoi polloi indoctrinated, ignorant, docile and servile is the standard conservative playbook. The bellicose bitch Hilary Clinton may be worse than Trump. She's the flag waving mistress of war behind the bombing of Libya into oblivion where, as in Iraq and Syria, a vicious civil is now raging. US imperialism in the name of improving the balance sheets of their corporations as it condones torture and drone warfare or, if deemed necessary, sending in its vicious nuclear armed military to trash a countries infrastructure and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people is an integral part of American style "democracy". The hypocrisy and arrogance of President Obama's remarks about US style democracy during his recent Cuba visit boggle the mind, especially given the history of 55 years of bullying, attempted invasions, assassination attempts on Fidel Castro, blockades, embargos and the mere existence of Guantanamo.
Unavoidable Cynicism, Pessimism and Despondency
I've thought about it many times and have now reached the point at which I may decide not to turn up for the next pointless election. Why participate in a pathetic and disgraceful farce? In the past several elections I've invoked the "lesser evil principle" and cynically cast my vote for the candidate who I thought would inflict the least damage. There was a time during a period of youthful enthusiasm when I was hopeful and even tentatively optimistic about a better future. But I've generally thought that faith and hope were for suckers and the deluded. People in positions of power have invariably promoted hope and faith to their subordinates (not for them of course, only for the fools they indoctrinate into submission). Yes, in my younger and more optimistic days I did have a glimmer of hope for a more rational and just world. But I've never understood why anyone would want to have faith in anything. Surely reality and the unpleasant truth is preferable to the comfortable lie.
Perhaps the ultimate protest against the socio-political and economic order would be for no one to show up for our phony elections. General strikes or boycotts can be effective. What would our authoritarian coercive states do about it? Bring out the cops, military and other hired goons of the corporate state to bust heads? For an interesting scenario of such a non-participatory strategy for elections, read Jose Saramago's fascinating novel called Seeing.
Any expectation for real change in the world disappeared sometime in the 1970s and it's been a steady downward spiral ever since, both economically and ethically. The current oppressive economic neo-con cult that controls the planet is no better than religious dogma, mere articles of faith that funnel wealth into fewer and fewer hands. In the past thirty-five years our voodoo economic theories (the "trickle down" scam) have created a steady downward descent into injustice, venality, outright larceny and grotesque economic disparities that have likely surpassed those of the Dark Ages when religious and monarchical despots ruled and controlled all people, property and wealth.
A discomforting question for my Christian friends: Where are the socialist Christians such as a Tommy Douglas and Norman Thomas who embraced peace and justice of the "social gospel" movement, an uplifting egalitarian concept that has been totally eradicated from mainstream Christianity? Conveniently removed from Christian doctrine are Jesus' teachings against the "money changers", the vilification of the rich and supplications of giving all your worldly possessions to the poor. If Jesus were to return, as many American evangelical Christians believe, surely he'd be disgusted by what he sees. Moreover, he'd very likely be arrested as a seditious revolutionary socialist, terrorist or madman.
Christians Churches are now businesses that still pay no taxes, not unlike the many amoral multinational corporations that hide in offshore tax havens to avoid paying any tax in their countries of origin. The alpha male Xian God apparently has changed his mind and now wants you to be rich, and to do so without the nuisance of ethical constraints or the rule of law.
As is the case with Obama as compared to George W Bush, certainly Justin Trudeau is a vast improvement over the control freak authoritarian war mongering Xian Zionist Stephen Harper. Harper, along with Brian Mulroney, R B Bennett and John A Macdonald (all conservatives, by the way) is among the worst Prime Ministers in Canadian history. Pathological liars, bigots and totally corrupt, all four of them. One can count on one hand the political figures throughout history that are worthy of admiration. Most of the praiseworthy never held political office; many were simply "disappeared" or assassinated, anathema to capitalism and the status quo of piracy and profit of ruling conservative classes.
Stephen Harper has left an economic and ethical morass for the youthful and possibly naive Justin Trudeau. He's a very young man to become the leader of a country, but enthusiastic, likeable, charming and caring. But will he be able to make any substantive changes? I think not. The only hope I have for him is that he perhaps may be able to restore Canada's tarnished reputation abroad, thanks to Stephen Harper and his cabal of Bronze Age idiots.
Our Dubious Future
Most humans are likely unaware that 99.999 % of time since the origin of the universe has elapsed before we humans entered the stage. Many scientists claim we humans have reached the point of no return, that we are on the extinction list, caused primarily by our own folly, arrogance, self-destructive proclivities and denial of what is happening to the environment from pollution and global warming.
Some give us 200-300 years or less. Will our thousands of invented metaphysical fictions called "Gods "save us? Will the Universe care?
It's a tad distressing to contemplate the fact that 98- 99 % of all species that ever existed on earth are extinct. Humans may well be the shortest lived species yet since they are quickly destroying the ecosystem that sustains them.
SETI was established several decades ago on the premise that there may be intelligent life somewhere in the seemingly infinite cosmos of billions of galaxies. Perhaps the scientists who established this project were aghast at the fact that there was precious little intelligence on the insignificant speck in that vast universe called Earth. Our survival is tenuous at best, thanks not only to a serious lack of intelligence, but a lack of conscience and basic morality. Throughout human history this affliction is clearly endemic to people who hold power.
Stephen Hawking has often remarked on our glaring insignificance. We humans exist on a planet that is merely one of 8 planets in a solar system revolving about a sun which is one minor star, a star among 200 billion in our galaxy called the Milky Way. And there are about 100 billion galaxies.
Earlier, another great scientist and humanist, Albert Einstein, remarked that "there were two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity."
And from the words of Klaatu, the benevolent super-intelligent alien from deep space, in the great 1951 science fiction movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, who threatened the silly squabbling earthlings with annihilation because of their bellicosity, greed and endless wars, "I'm impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it".