All the nationalistic drumbeating and free-market fetishism is nothing more than emotional blackmail and circular reasoning.

It is not only possible, but reasonable, to love this country and the principles upon which is it ostensibly built while decrying the myriad cancers that are eating us from within.

Critics of the Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Together Movement like to make many specious claims, and chief among those is that the protesters are “UnAmerican” and “hate this country”. This accusation is frequently leveled by those of a fascist mentality in order to shame and manipulate people into submitting to the plutocratic, imperialistic status quo. It is a red herring.

Consider this: if you gave your teenager a new car and that teenager trashed the car, would you not enumerate the damages and want them to be repaired? If you did this would it mean you hated that car or cars in general? Of course not. That is the definition of specious reasoning.

Likewise with those of us who are aghast at the damage greedy pillagers have done to our country and our world. It is precisely because we do love this country that we are so angry about the defilement others have subjected it to.

I Am Not The State

by masaccio

When will there be a memorial to the victims of the Oligarchy?

I am not the State. I am not the Government. I am not capitalism.

The social arrangements that constitute the State, the government and the economy are choices made in the past and put in place by others for reasons of their own. The arrangements have been modified over the centuries, by other people for reasons of their own. Over time, the arrangements, especially the economic arrangements, have reached the point where they seem inevitable.

They aren’t.

The Declaration of Independence makes this astonishing claim:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

There were no governments existing in 1776 for which this claim was true. States and governments and economies came into existence based on force and war, not based on the consent of the governed. Once stated, however, this claim took on a life of its own. Over the centuries, our ancestors have worked to make it as true as possible in their day.

The Constitution was designed to protect the interests of property-owners, to create an economy that protects the interests of the few rich people, the Oligarchy. The rich in each generation have worked assiduously to protect their advantages. They used their economic power to crush ordinary people. Think of the post-Civil War period, when depressions came regularly, financiers cheated people and used the government as a treasure box for their own advantage. As Howard Zinn says in A People’s History of the United States, each time the Oligarchy destroyed too many people, government did just enough to mollify the masses, just enough to keep people from revolting, and as time passed and people forgot why those changes were made, the Oligarchy found ways to evade them.

The principle that people create their government is lovely in theory, but ugly in practice. John Dewey made it operational in his book The Public and Its Problems, saying that the purpose of government is to protect people from the indirect consequences of the actions of others. This idea works well for small communities. Dewey talks about the Public, separate from the government and the state. Normally we are a collection of atomist individualists. A Public comes into existence when as a group we become aware of a problem, and seek a solution. The responsibility for carrying out those solutions is given to the government. The government and the Public together constitute the State.

Dewey notes that Constitution itself was designed to carry a group of small communities, small Publics, into a bigger whole. The Electoral Congress is a good example. It assumes that small communities will elect good people from their midst to select the best person to be president. The idea of state legislatures electing Senators to the supposedly more deliberative body is another example.

What happened to the idea of a Public protecting itself from the indirect consequences of the actions of others? How can we even begin to do that? John Dewey describes the problem as it existed in 1926:

An inchoate public is capable of organization only when indirect consequences are perceived, and when it is possible to project agencies which order their occurrence. At present, many consequences are felt rather than perceived; they are suffered, but they cannot be said to be known, for they are not, by those who experience them, referred to their origins. It goes, then, without saying that agencies are not established which canalize the streams of social action and thereby regulate them. Hence the publics are amorphous and unarticulated.

What was true in 1926 is true today. In the immediate aftermath of the Great Crash, there is no Public aware of the problem. The consequences of the actions of government are felt, not understood. There is suffering, but there is no understanding of why. The crash was the result of actions of a few, but there is no one to say who exactly did what exactly. Regulators cower. Legislators hide. Presidents abdicate their duty to enforce the law. The Oligarchy shouts its false problems and fake solutions through its control of the mass media, and channels inarticulate pain into conservative politics. The Oligarchs get away with all their stolen money safely hidden.

We begged the government to correct the situation. We threw out the Republicans and replaced them with the only other party. We expected change, we hoped for change, and we got nothing. War, secrecy and police crowd control increased. The oligarchy used its monstrous economic power to cow every single government official into crass and craven submission. They put their lying lobbyists, their tool lawyers and pet seal economists to work destroying regulation under the weakling new laws. They increased their share of the income from the labor of others.

The government failed to protect us from the indirect consequences of actions of the Oligarchy. The Oligarchy is still trying to channel that recognition into politics, where it can control the outcome. That must not happen.

It is our turn to make the government an instrument of the governed, by our consent, just as our ancestors tried to do in their day.

I am not the government. I am not the state. I am not capitalism.

I am the 99%.

Original post on firedoglake.com

37 Responses to “Government of the People?”

  1. enshell ston says:

    oh, and i see you live in Canada. Please come to the US and see how good corporatism is working out for us. Please.

  2. Is this capitalism, or corporatism? An estimated 5,000 mercs will be working in Iraq after our military is reduced to 150 soldiers 1/1/12.

  3. حالا که دزدکی داری میخونی بگو ببینم پرونده ترور سفیر عربستان به کجا رسید؟ تونستید بندازید گردن مجاهدین؟ حیف باشه این همه هزینه

  4. I’m no Crusader. CiVil rights. If u r. A descendant of slaves in America please check IN!! BraZIl is. Eradicating skin tones

  5. los georato says:

    How are human rights not universal? Please explain why you say this I want to debate that opinion with you. Are not all people human beings and as human beings all equal?

  6. patrian and says:

    Wall street is full of crooks using their company black cards to purchase cocaine, hookers, and fancy cars for their hoes, although I can see where Schiff has a sense of reason, I can’t fathom a society where the overprivledged commit such atrotious acts.

  7. fourtaliga says:

    Well, it still sounds like a cult and makes the movement easily mockable. The repeating chants, the spirit fingers… I just think back to the hippies listening to Yellow Submarine stoned and thinking they were doing something sure it shows solidarity, but didn’t really accomplish much. I hope there’s this much solidarity when it comes time for voting and will actually mean something.

  8. coli tdagnelle says:

    Brothers and sisters-the time of austerity is upon us. Get used to living in the streets. Get used to having nothing-no education-no jobs-no heath care-no social security-no retirement-no home-no future. When the banks and republicans take everything that’s exactly what you’ll have-nothing!

  9. bnrspack dubledgins says:

    funny that you mention Disneyworld. that where Kim Jong son was going? If you think the Korean govt is all ponies and cotton candy then shame on you. What does Korea have to trade?????????? LOL
    Do you think govt is ready to open up to the world???? LOL
    You hate America dearly obvious but you really should find a new country to cheer for, Korea would crush idiots like you in one of their beautiful gulags. 😉

  10. The Chinese government continued to tighten its noose around critics of its rule on Thursday by raiding the home of a prominent human rights activist.

  11. love the comparisons. I feel bad to the haters in the vehicle for having provoked the rightfully so angry folks who threw the window breaking objects.

  12. wim slawrayee says:

    As soon as you criticize the right wing, and their corporatism, they say you´re attacking capitalism and that you´re a marxist.

  13. hale hoesentinn says:

    Yes, well, Secretary Clinton touts democracy in West Africa but the US Nigeria’s oil oligarchy and Egypt’s military dictatorship. –

  14. ruant kamastrami says:

    AP – The leaders of Senegal’s opposition led a long of cars to the capital’s central police commissariat to protest the detention of a human rights activist.

  15. Ironically, is living proof America is a republic where truly anyone can be elected, not an oligarchy run by secret elites.

  16. We were funding them and giving intel. Not only that, we have issued drone attacks that made that victory possible. It was unconstitutional. It needs to be a 3rd turn. Its the era of the We must make it happen. Ron Paul must win or Gary Johnson.

  17. denekerio chard says:

    What the “elite” wants is an oligarchy, or should we say a military led by a small the 99 as 2 the 1% –

  18. It felt like a hollow interpretation of the Civil Rights Era. I have mixed race family that lived it. :/

  19. lis trees says:

    In fact most corps have policies to “observe” human rights but doesn’t stop them doing business in states that commit blatant breaches

  20. This Andrew Neil programme on Human Rights is terrible. Badly made but shows the terrible misunderstanding of Human rights by many

  21. azzo ramperson says:

    Following the event in Toulouse, wonder if same MET approach would’ve been allowed in the UK. After all it’s the same EU & human rights.

  22. The tyranny of a principal in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a

  23. lash saly says:

    Huffpost – The richest 20% of Americans control 84% of our wealth. We are an oligarchy pretending to be a democracy

  24. RAND PAUL endorsed MITT ROMNEY? Why? Has he sold his SOUL to Sheldon Adelson? The Koch Brothers? OCCUPY Wall Street? Ha-Ha-Ha. –

  25. The Sanders Firm, P.C., providing civil rights and civil service law solutions in New York City Are you ready to fight?

  26. mori minkel says:

    First, you have your old black folks always telling stories and talking about the slavery & the civil rights movement.

  27. An App That Shows Us Our Past To Shape The Future: Bahraini civil rights activist and blogger, Esra’s Al-Shafei …

  28. The man made the drug coffee to keep his workers confined in the shackles of corporatism that’s y I call it coffaine

  29. I dont have any issue wuth the human rights as a sit of rules, I just think those who draft it are bunch of coloniaist assholes

  30. griesac dani says:

    Bottom line: Mitt doesn’t believe in democracy, he believes in a type of elite oligarchy. The rich deserve to rule. …

  31. lobaro wiette says:

    Look at the picture, America. Don’t turn away, dammit. You scream about injustice in the NFL, but where were you when the Yankees were thrown overboard? Yeah, look at the picture! It’s not going away. No justice, no peace. NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE! DEATH TO THE OLIGARCHY! –

  32. kynthiwang yosh says:

    are you free on the eve of 10 December? We’d love you to join Sydney’s premier Human Rights Day gig!

  33. bagnier ney says:

    Jesus was not a friend of the rich. Camel through eye of a needle rich man getting in Heaven. Boycott

  34. I actually do know why: because we’re not an actual democracy, we’re an oligarchy controlled by corporations, some of who …

  35. choesc puring says:

    I’m not done with democracy and I’m not done with society but I am done with corporatism. Aaron identified what I would call systems.

  36. The political and economic failures of the south made it difficult for them to fight the war. Congress was almost completely ineffectual, arguing more about procedure and fighting each other than solving the real problems they had faced. Ironically the US constitution was explicitly crafted to have a very strong central government so that problems like these could be solved. With a weak government it’s impossible to organize and act in a timely manner. The economy was horrible. A chicken would cost $15 and soldier go paid $11 or $18 a month and other workers were paid like $6,000 a year. A barrel of flour at the end of the war was a $1000. Inflation and blockage had made it so people were eating one or two poor meals a day. Letters were sent by wives to their husbands in the field begging them to come back or their family would starve. You can imagine how impossible a situation this would be for the soldiers. Where was their greater loyalty, the new confederacy or family? This is why the south took to taking what they needed in good after while rather than accepting useless money.

  37. dicoll kamsia says:

    Arutz Sheva

    Egyptian security team to visit Israel
    UPI.com
    Israel’s Channel 2 said the focus of the talks included asking Israel to allow Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing to facilitate the entry of Qatari-donated building materials and to permit the of agricultural produce from the Gaza Strip to …
    Morsi to Send Security Delegation to IsraelArutz Sheva
    Human rights group adopts Hamas’ version of Gaza offensive, claims IsraelFox News
    Egyptian security delegation to visit IsraelYnetnews
    Algemeiner -The Electronic Intifada (blog)
    all 69 news articles »

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