Resistance to Empire – New Directions
American Grass-Roots and the causes of its dismal failure
Okay so now we understand all this empire building, you might say. We know we are screwed as a people, not just of the United States, but the whole world. Now what? Weren't revolutions phased out in the last century?
We witness that the entire world is impotent, unable to standup to the hectoring hegemons in Washington, either through direct intimidation, or through confluence of political self-interests, or through some expectations of sharing in the leftover crumbs from the spoils of war after the lions share is taken by the American corporate interests.
While there have been large protests both within and outside the United States, and the overwhelming world opinion is antiwar, these have had absolutely no impact on the devastation suffered first by Afghanistan and now Iraq, and more is to come.
Fortunately, the key to deflating and taming this bestial desire for world conquest of the hectoring hegemons – the secret sauce to the recipe so to speak – also lies within the belly of the beast.
To the first order, it is access to the US public opinion through access to the mass media. Is this a truism?
The same public who is presently rallying around the flag supporting the President, supporting the troops, saluting 'my country right or wrong', is an untapped vast pool of protesters just waiting to be galvanized into action, if only their chains can be made visible to them. It would present a nonlinear mobilization of protesters as within a month, the streets could be jammed with 50 – 70 million people angrily demanding the impeachment of their leaders, and even marching on the White House. The only way to reach them is to let them see the images, hear the voices, and shock and awe them with the naked truth of death, destruction, plundering, profiteering, corruption, and how the emperor was throned. The same model that brings them rallying to the flag ala ZB's threat perception and danger to “domestic well-being”, can be used to turn the tide against the monumentally criminal occupiers of the White House.
If we believe ZB that “democracy” is indeed “inimical to imperial mobilization”, then we have to turn to mass media to prevent such mobilizations. It is not sufficient to simply analyze and criticize the media, and then walk away expressing our inaccessibility to them. Rather, such analysis must be used to arm ourselves with understanding, perspective, insight, and new thinking “outside the box” so that we may perhaps exploit their own strengths for our purposes. It's the Aikido and Judo principles of self-defense!
The antiwar protagonists should not fool themselves by comparing the US antiwar mobilization with the world wide antiwar mobilization and pet themselves on the back just because they got a few million mobilized before the first bombs fell. In fact the mobilization dropped after the bombs started dropping! As if what is happening in Iraq now, and the profiteering, corporate globalization, and the election scam that brought them to power in the first place are not wars. In the rest of the world, the grass roots effort has brought out far more numbers than anywhere in the US.
For President Bush to respond to the antiwar protests by saying:
“It's like deciding – well I am going to decide policy based upon a focus group”
is not so surprising. If you think about it, the requirement of the task was 10s of million to march in the streets of America to effect policy. Falling far short of that, what is it but a focus group? At no time did the maximum size of protest in America even reach 1% of its population – even taking the average of estimates. About 2 million reportedly came out in Italy alone. The fact that 10 to 11 million marched on 15 February 2003 on five continents throughout the world was a good thing (We were part of that historic march), and perhaps a record for mass mobilization on a global scale for one common cause. But the fact that it was mostly outside America was its impotency. This I believe is one of the biggest problems facing grass-roots resistance in America. I do not believe that this is still very well understood as everyone congratulates each other on the size of the turnout. So what? It still was not big enough to get the job done. As I always teach my own kids, “good effort” was good in elementary school, in high school “it's only the results that count”, and in Olympics “only the gold counts”. Is what we are facing anything less than Olympics?
The main reason US antiwar protests sizes were smaller than in other countries is that their public are not shackled in the invisible chains like the Americans are. The ultimate goal is to stop the global conquest now, not to build a movement that slowly ramps up until we are in the tenth war that they are stopped – they will stop by then anyway because they would have done their deed, and all this may take less than a year to accomplish! Of course this isn't a soccer game, we lost this match, but we will win the next one, but using this as a metaphor, we must think we are in the World Cup finals today and there are no other matches, and we have to win right now. It is the life and death struggle. To say that people marching in the streets in America despite its climate of repression are as brave as those children taking the bullets in their heads in Palestine or babies born without eyes and limbs in Iraq due to depleted Uranium, is to belittle the suffering of those on whose behalf these protests are undertaken. There is nothing to clap about. We have to awaken the other superpower right now, break its invisible shackles now, and stop the emperor now, legitimately, using the constitutional tools of Bill of Rights, before they all get taken away by the Patriot Acts!
The government is marching very quickly and very strategically to contain the only other power that the emperor really fears! The 350 plus page Patriot Act 1 document did not just come about overnight, any more than ZB's framework of global conquest just magically materialized from thin air. It was introduced within a month of 9/11, and approved hastily by Congress in October 2001 without any debate. Nor did the 60 plus pages of the clandestine Patriot Act 2 come about in response to any real developments in this fictitious “war on terror”. This is the most insidious piece of proposed legislation, that if passed, will strip a United States citizen of their citizenship, even when born in this country, if they are found to have contributed to any organization that the Justice department has labeled terrorist!
This is at least three orders of magnitude more perverse than Senator Joseph McCarthy ever dreamed he could be, and to my knowledge has never been done in any modern nation regardless of how despotic it might have been. It was mercifully leaked to the press as it was being circulated in the inner power sanctums of Congress, the majority of its members only hearing about it after it was leaked, and that was the same day that the nation went to “Orange Alert” or whatever is that next color level designating impending threat. A threat from whom, the patriot within? Given the speed of this oncoming juggernaut, how can the antiwar protagonist simply contend with it as “growing a movement”? Can you hear the “Jewish voices for peace” or “International ANSWER”, two of the many active antiwar organizations being labeled terrorist in the near future? How many will continue to work in it?
That is the only purpose behind all the Americans forfeiting their civil liberties with these insidious new laws – for the sake of keeping in check the very few who will invariably always dare to raise their heads in genuine patriotic protest. The only thing unpredictable about them is one never knows how contagious they might become and how quickly the “disease” might spread – as it did during Vietnam, where it took years after President Kennedy first initiated the reign of terror on ideological grounds, to reach its climax during the Nixon second term. The Pentagon and all the Zionist think tanks lining the streets of Washington D.C. witnessed it too as evidenced in ZB's book itself. Restating his earlier quote from Chapter 1:
“Public opinion polls suggest that only a small minority (13 percent) of Americans favor the proposition that 'as the sole remaining superpower, the US should continue to be the preeminent world leader in solving international problems'. ... Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat. .... More generally, cultural change in America may also be uncongenial to the sustained exercise abroad of genuinely imperial power. That exercise requires a high degree of doctrinal motivation, intellectual commitment, and patriotic gratification. ... Mass communications have been playing a particularly important role in that regard, generating a strong revulsion against any selective use of force that entails even low levels of casualties.”
What we see today is nothing but Machiavelli 101 updated for epoch – I don't understand why people don't just see it immediately? And those who do see it, why don't they realize the implication that they have very little time to mobilize at the grass-roots as the barrier to such mobilization is continually going up?
Look at Iraq, despite the overt despotism of decades by its murderous ruler, its people could not do anything, while at least 99% of them were fully aware of his misdeeds, and the majority opposed him. Do the people in the United States think that the Homeland security department consolidating all the security functions under one umbrella is going to be qualitatively different in its logical conclusion from the Baath party security apparatus in its ability to curb dissent and any opposition to the regime? In fact, it will be worse in this country, because the American public is already Prisoners of the Cave! This country is now becoming the new Germany, except that there is no rival of it. Indeed, in 1936, Hitler also consolidated its police functions for the first time in German history as a prelude to the Nazi police state. Just as ZB believes that the window of opportunity for the US to exercise its hegemony is limited to 30 or 40 years, the window of opportunity for their domestic detractors is also limited to before the next presidential election of 2004, and perhaps a lot sooner!
The linear paradigm of the “Vietnam protest model” of grass-roots mobilization, is very tactical, and seems to require a very long time constant to reach critical mass in a society that is invisibly chained. I do not believe that for the realities of warfare today, this fictitious “war on terrorism” can be fought by tactical grass roots activities alone in the US. The relatively short duration of intense “Shock and Awe” high tech campaigns from the air, with very few US casualties, as opposed to the years of sustained bombing of Vietnam with thousands of young Americans coming back in body bags, which was the main catalyst for the success of the antiwar movement at the time, limits the effectiveness of grass roots.
Note that only after millions died in Vietnam and tens of thousands of US casualties, did it stop the war. Plus its focus of antiwar implies it is activated only when the actual physical combatants are facing off in the battle field. And that is how it is presently implemented. The problem is not just in the battlefield, it is the global conquest, of which war is only a component, the others are being played out behind the scenes, off the radar screen, in corporate board rooms, around oil wells, in election voting machines, in the children wards in Iraqi hospitals, and in wreaked civilizations. What price empire? In his book Is there no other way? – The Search for Nonviolent Future, Nagler discusses some thought provoking ideas on how nonviolence as a society value system and as an all encompassing philosophy can end wars. While perhaps something the Americans as a society may aspire towards in the long long run, the realities on the ground are quite compelling and demand an immediate call to pragmatic action now.
New Directions in Resisting Empire
The short to medium term requirements are obvious. It is to reach the comatose and hibernating peoples of the United States right now. I believe it can only be done through television and other mass media outlets. In order to win this war, the protagonist have to commandeer access to the mass media. There is no other solution. Below is one direction to pursue. There might be other approaches as well.
Buy time slots on prime-time and local television channels to run infomercials
Air professionally made infomercials on prime-time television every day. Air them on major networks, as well as in local markets, in prime time slots, as well as late night slots and day time slots. Feature the prominent voices of dissent, along with a host of other poets, artists, and scholars. Include footage from Al-Jazeera and AbuDhabi TV. Use Tony Robbins and Bose Infomercials to gain an understanding of the professionalism that is needed to execute this. It cannot be just a simple intellectual conversation with some prominent but platitudinous gadfly, like Noam Chomsky as in “Power and Terror” for instance, which only an ardent fan can sit through and ends up preaching only to the converted! It must be made as engaging to the ordinary mainstream public as “Bowling for Columbine” was.
Get prominent Hollywood producers and directors to make them. Seek professional media advice and consultation on how to best market truth. What a society this has become, that truth now has to be packaged and marketed like diapers before the public will buy it!
Think like a business man for generating big bucks needed to finance the above
Preach to the influential and rich millionaires to get them to see their invisible chains too. Not all of them are greedy oil barons, they are people just like you and me, except with a lot of money that can fill the coffers of a “peace and justice fund” for a non linear amplification of the message. Develop business plans and talk to investors. Think of this cause as a product that needs selling, and the ROI being good conscience, freedom from chains. This is what the Christian Evangelist do all the time on TV, as they seek to collect donations to relocate more Russian Jews to Palestine.
Targeted infomercials that attract donations from different segments of society by targeted marketing is a known art form today. Seek out big donors including foreign donors.
Pose legal challenges and force legal battles all the way to the Supreme court
When the corporate media will fight back refusing to air the infomercials, sue them in federal and state courts, simultaneous and multi-fold law suits, making the cost of not airing the infomercials very high. So high in fact that for their short term profit horizons, they will rather not enter into the ideological war. So the first point here would be to win by making the cost high and to stay on the airwaves continually staying in touch with the public. But more strategically, force a legal battle that can perhaps eventually lead to freeing up the air waves from the clutches of corporations, and the making of new laws for media ownership that will entirely serve the primary function of the news media as a watchdog for democracy!
Employ the best legal minds in the country just like Microsoft does when it fights the government.
Win over influential high profile individuals for nonlinear amplification
Focus on specific media individuals and get them to see their chains. Though it may take a gestalt shift to get them to jeopardize their big bucks careers, use any means necessary to motivate them. Target day time talk show hosts, late night comedy hosts, etc. Yes it is true that the higher ups make the decisions, but if the person in front of the camera the American public sees everyday and in many cases love, can be made to break their chains, things can happen. Conscience can be a wonderful ally and we see this occur all the time. Just recently, a high ranking diplomatic staff member from the US mission in Greece resigned, stating reasons of conscience. What would it take to make Dan Rather break his chains now that he has seen them?
It may be my naiveté of the realities of American mainstream media control that perhaps leads me to think of the nonlinear approach of using the system against itself. Having seen my kids practice martial arts for the past six or seven years, I am inclined to believe that using the opponents strength against them isn't just an invention for self defense in rice patti fields. I think it is possible to overcome the media hegemony. It's all in the execution and the skillfulness of the combatants, as any martial arts demonstration will inform us. I refuse to accept the premise that rich and influential cannot be made into allies for peace and justice, if nothing else, then at least allies of convenience. If the Crusading Christians can work together with the Zionist Jews in an alliance of diabolical convenience against the Muslims, why can't the grass-roots work with the rich and famous to break into the media monopoly? Why can't Bill Gates or George Soros or some Arab prince, be convinced to set up a Television channel like Al-Jazeera in America? If there can be a CBN, why can't there be a GBN (Grass-roots Broadcasting Network)?
The “person-hood” of the corporations that gives them the tremendous influence with the law makers can itself be used for the purpose of peddling a different message too. I think that in this battle, one is only limited by one's imagination.
Longer term Challenges
If this immediate battle is ever won, the protagonists in the future have to begin thinking like the deep Neocon strategic thinkers in Washington, with 5, 10, 20, 50 year domestic and global strategic horizons. They have to attack the source of the disease, not just its symptoms. The main ideas developed in this essay revolve around control of mass media and the influence of corporations on US foreign and domestic policy. I believe these are the twain root godheads of all subsequent tyranny at the hands of the United States, both domestic and international. The protagonists need to focus their energies on these two genetic roots instead of wasting their time and resources on all the leaves and branches:
I.1: Wrestle control of mass media public airwaves away from the for-profit corporations;
I.2: News Media as an independent public service serving only the interests of the peoples of the Republic is as important as the independent judiciary serving only their own judicial charter and remaining apolitical
Many evils are simultaneously mitigated by focussing on the airwaves and the rights to populate it with any content along with the concomitant social responsibilities that must accompany it. A legislative focus on amending the FCC licensing requirements for broadcasting on all frequency bands in America if made pre-conditioned upon x-hours/week of gratis community service, of which an equal amount is apportioned to all campaigning for office – from local to presidential candidates – easily solves the boondoggle of campaign financing, equitably reaching the “populist democracy” constituency by all candidates, and perhaps even efficaciously seeing a third party in the White House because of it without needing deep pockets and co-optation to the king-makers with their 'suitcase full of cash'!
Thus either work on new laws to prevent ownership of the media by the military-industrial complex that ends up co-opting the watchdog function when the 'dog' has to watch its own owners to prevent a crime, or make judicious and strategically well thought out amendments to existing laws that can potentially have non-linear paybacks. This has to be fought in the courts, in the legislature, and along multiple simultaneous imaginative fronts, from suing the individual journalist for treason against the state, to their parent corporations on provocative grounds, to populating the election campaigns and offices of Congressional leaders with justice minded staffers and student interns who can seed such thoughts and advocacy in the election campaigns and endeavor to make it part of the political platforms.
This battle cannot be fought in the legislature alone exclusively, as the legislature is complicit with the corporations and special interests, and entirely co-opted by the hands that put them there thus posing a general bootstrapping problem. Well, as a society that is relatively advanced in the high-tech principles of engineering and technology, bootstrapping problems are usually solved going 'out-of-band' and thinking creatively 'out-of-the-box'. Thus noting that while there is an 'incestuously self-reinforcing' system at play in the legislature, the judiciary is relatively immune, except perhaps through common ideological alignment of having been appointed by Republican or Democrat Presidents. But I dare think that this argument of ideological sympathy is a red herring and entirely specious (see below). This battle can be seeded in the courts for the most efficacious approach to genuine and peaceable transformation in the laws of the land! It does however require strategic thinking and a penetrating focus in the babysteps needed to get there. Big staid money can only be co-opted through big thinking and egregious surprises.
Also important in the longer term, and perhaps more importantly, the ability to efficaciously monitor the watchdogs themselves, that they are honoring their Charter awarded them by the Constitution as the fourth pillar of Democracy, is required. And beyond just monitoring, to also hold them publicly accountable via some tangible 'detriments', or 'punishments' if you will, that is commensurate with the grave national responsibility and charter that the watchdogs hold. Grass-roots Organizations like “If Americans Knew” are already monitoring the biased coverage of various local and national newspapers on the subject of Palestine-Israel with compiled statistics and data up the wazoo, and yet so what? It has had zero efficacy in its impact in making any change in the coverage. All efforts that lead to zero measurable and impacting change in the behavior of those being monitored is a waste of time. I am sorry for being less than impressed by all the gut-feel induced 'good efforts' that actually end up leading nowhere! Monitoring without teeth is as useless as a whittle-less tooth brush!
Sooner one recognizes the importance of the hard-core engineering principle of 'efficacy of effort' to produce real working and useful systems with measurable utility and not just merely 'laudable good effort' that produce absolutely nothing except perhaps the 'stroking of the ego', and sooner it is employed as a principle for social reconstruction and for inducing measurable change, sooner will we begin to see genuine transformation occurring.
Thus in the final analysis, in the absence of such monitoring efficacy, it makes no difference to the news organizations because ultimately, they are not accountable to the American public. There seems to be no current mechanism available to make them accountable, for they can eventually always hide under the umbrella of “freedom of the press” as they conceive it, and when even their antagonists attempting to hold them to account haven’t quite understood what that means, such monitoring becomes a moot point.
The first phase in this long term agenda of responsibly reclaiming the airwaves as a public commons and as an efficacious watchdogs on the corridors of power in order to make a “populist democracy” work, is to initially focus on mechanisms like the aforementioned strategic battle fronts before the judiciary to get the communication and broadcasting laws re-crafted.
The 'accountability of the watchdog' aspect however is a much more theoretical debate that will necessitate amendments to the Constitutional framework itself, much like the system of checks and balances that supposedly exists for the other three pillars of Democracy. Without such a system, just relying on the voluntary good judgment of the media to execute their charter is as meaningless as expecting the President of the United States to make fair decisions without any checks and balances imposed upon the office. And this is even required after the President is actually publicly sworn in, for executing the Constitutional Charter faithfully. Whereas there is no such swearing in before the public for the newsmen for faithfully executing their own Constitutional Charter. And we can see how efficacious such 'swearing in' is for keeping the President reined!
Thus note that not having for-profit corporate ownership, or having the right set of laws and formalisms on the books to permit open airwaves, by themselves do not solve the problems of accountability. Accountability requires a 'closed system' of checks-and-balances, not an 'open-loop system' that has no 'modulating feedback control' (borrowing geek speak from principles of engineering). This aspect is something that the Constitutional scholars are more competent to get their teeth into than the ordinary activist given to street demonstrations. However, without these courageous activists leading the public demand for such Constitutional accountability to be created, even in the streets if necessary, nothing will transpire.
Note that there is a fundamental difference between the independence of the judiciary, and independence of the journalist. Anyone can be a journalist. Even I claim to be one (amateurish, investigative, not affiliated with anyone – i.e. independent). If I ever choose to get formally employed in the news media and get an official business card, I become a bona fide “professional journalist” overnight as far as the world is concerned. Whereas a judge obviously is under much more scrutiny, has many more legal and academic requirements even to become a judge, and when he or she comes up for confirmation to higher benches, there is even Congressional scrutiny and affirmation or denial of recommendations for appointments by the legislative body (that is itself presumably elected by much scrutiny by the polity). Thus at least in theory, the governing structure that selects judges enables much pruning along the way – which is both good and bad of course. But just as being a qualified and certified doctor in the medical profession is mandatory over the theoretical abstraction of allowing any quack to practice medicine on unsuspecting patients, the judge’s profession has that structure that lends them much credibility for both competence in their profession, as well as independence from external pressures and manipulations. The structure enables them to solely adjudicate based on their conscience by virtue of guaranteed appointments where they don’t have to worry about where the next meal is going to come from if they go against the grain. In America, it is non-trivial to co-opt a judge, or the judiciary in general.
There is nothing like that for the media. Just about anyone can own and operate a news organization given sufficient funds – that is more a criteria than any academic or intellectual prowess, or self-asserted claims to integrity, morality, or competence. The morality for the news organization is entirely defined by the morality and world views of the owners of the news organization. If a journalist or reporter does not fall within the broad purview of the imperatives that fall out from such morality, they cannot survive very long in that news organization, or make a great deal of impact even when they do limp along. The freedom of the press is defined by those who own it – only the New York Times is honest enough to openly proclaim it in every edition of their newspaper in the upper left hand corner of the front page: “All the News That's fit to Print”. Its editorial staff, itself carefully chosen by the Corporation, entirely determines what’s fit to print. But in reality, this is true the world over, whether it be for Al-Jazeera Television, corporate funded Public Television like the PBS, Government funded public news organization like the BBC, or the grass-roots publicly managed non-corporate network of Pacifica and its affiliates throughout the United States of America. Indeed, there is even less scrutiny in the grass-roots organizations – for it is by definition funded and managed by ordinary peoples from the public, whereby its 'plebeian democracy' defines their morality. One ought not to forget that it was indeed just such a public morality that also killed Socrates. These observations are not a critique, only statements of truisms that are open for all to see.
The word “independence” also bears more specific definition. In this context, as we compare it to the judiciary to claim the independence of the press to be the fourth pillar of Democracy, the independence of the judiciary being the third, the word “independence” must be defined to mean whatever it means in the judicial context. Thus for instance, my describing myself as “independent” as in “I am a part-time independent investigative journalist”, is not within that purview of independence, for I only mean by it that I am not affiliated with any formal news organization. Although I am not an expert, but I believe that in the judicial context it generally means (at least to lay peoples):
'to be free from external pressures of all kinds spanning the gamut of earning a livelihood to political arm twisting, in order to competently be able to analyze and adjudicate solely on facts and conscience.'
Additionally, all may claim a conscience, such as the Jury of Twelve in the American judicial system, but can all claim competence? Indeed it is not even part of the job description of a jury to be competent in anything specific, only in being free from bias. However in the press profession, as in the judicial and medical professions, demonstrated competence must be made the first standard for the journalist. And just as standards for measurable competence have been defined in all professions, so it must be too for the journalism profession which at present really has none, except perhaps a general college degree and the ability to write. There is certainly a lot more to it than that, the most important in my view being the ability to think and reason through obfuscation and mendacity of all the incantations of power in society – for that is the turf of the journalist if they are to be anything more than just glorified stenographers and actors on television.
Thus it is one thing to raise the slogan of “independence” of the media as analogous to independence of the judiciary, but quite another to implement such “reliable”, “accountable”, “competent”, and “free from the pressures of earning a livelihood” independence for the former. I do not have solutions for this. Only that such solutions must be devised somehow through a gestalt shift in our thinking and our assumptions about a) what is the meaning of the Constitutional protection for the “freedom of the press”, b) how to hold the press legally and judicially accountable for this legally granted Constitutional charter, and c) how to constitute the press profession so that it reliably and competently serves the needs of not just the immediate local society, but the greater global society as well.
Wrestle control of the rights of 'person-hood' away from Corporations and special interest Groups
These rights of 'person-hood', originally intended for human beings by the US Constitution, including the right to free speech, influence elections and new laws, have been adduced by the corporations to themselves. They now have a bigger say in making of laws that favor them then the electorate. “A corporation is a legal fiction” according to a rebellious ordinance passed in the Porter Township in Pennsylvania, see article by Thom Hartmann on the CommonDreams web site titled: “Americans Revolt in Pennsylvania – New Battle Lines Are Drawn” to see how one community is going about taking their rights back. This battle ultimately will belong in the federal courts. The side better prepared will win.
The Congress will do nothing until the influence of the corporate lobbyist is broken through the Supreme Court making new rulings.
One of the key investments that the protagonist must make is to develop a sharper understanding of how their system actually works, what its weaknesses are, and how it can be exploited for their purpose. The best chance for success is to defeat the system using the system itself! I do not subscribe to the idea of a French revolution in America. It cannot work here and nor is such a revolution very desirable as it will tear this society apart. Those who speak of revolutions only discredit themselves in the eyes of the mainstream. The goal should be to attract and build a bigger constituency in America by attracting the mainstream by way of exposing to them the misdeeds of their government, and not by wanting to destroy their society. No one wants that.
There is much good in this nation and its system of laws. The only reason many don't see it perhaps is because they have likely never lived in other countries. And of course there is also much that is wrong with the system. Can one not fix what is wrong without also fixing what ain't broke? One should not confuse marching in the street for impeaching the White House for its misdeeds, by making a show of force of 50 million people (even if such a sizable protest was possible), with being able to take 'rights' away from corporations. The two are entirely different things and the latter is a whole lot harder to do. No amount of marching alone is going to instrument its change. But don't pick up the garbage for months, jam the streets with millions of bodies, and argue in the court with skill and competence, reflecting the voices of the millions outside, makes a very compelling threat indeed. And a real serious threat always impacts Wall Street to Main street. It does not require the majority to participate, only a significant minority. And it is legal and constitutionally within one's rights. Whereas for a revolution to succeed, you need the majority of the population against the system.
I do not think such battles as needed to “de-constitutionalize” the corporations can be waged by a grass-roots without deep pockets and deep financing, or by well intentioned people adopting extreme utopian positions that make little practical sense, such as capitalism is bad. Why is it bad? Only unfettered unregulated capitalism that has acquired the rights of “person-hood” and can influence domestic and foreign policies over and above the rights of the individual peoples is bad. I don't think small businesses are bad. I don't even think large accountable business are bad or even regulated multinationals are bad.
But multinationals exploiting foreign or domestic labor is bad. Privatization of public commons is bad. Putting essential services in the hands of the profit making private sector as opposed to leaving it as a national benefit for all citizens is bad (such as medical coverage in the hands of insurance companies rather than a non-profit social benefit as a public commons). Unjust clauses in the WTO rules are bad, having unregulated financial lending institutions are bad. But that does not mean all trade treaties are bad or all financial intuitions are bad. How would you Americans even buy a house without one? And what if the World Bank gave loans not as an instrument of economic hegemony through further indebtedness of poor nations where they are forever paying off interest on the loan, but as the purposeful altruistic arm of a true third world development agency? Well why is that not possible? Because these world lending institutions are purposely designed to serve that purpose by the state institutions – and their policies and agendas are set by the elite few who also cross pollinate the military-industrial complex of America. Thus reforming this infrastructure is going to take more than protest marches in the street by a dedicated minority of radicals.
It is going to take justice-minded people to come to occupy the same positions of power and authority that is presently occupied by the Neocons, the Zionists, and the corporate elite who only crave for profits at the expense of all else!
So fix what is bad and strengthen further what is good. One has a better chance of being successful working through the court system while simultaneously putting pressure on the law makers and doing local community level action, but all consistently aligned with the big picture strategies, rather than by the traditional grass-roots distributed and decentralized local actions alone. This battle needs strategic thinking and an arsenal of tactics, money, influence peddling, and constituency development in the mainstream. The protagonist stand a much better chance of achieving success in the courts than on the streets alone.
Notice how Bush won the White House? And what did all the anemic booing and pelting his inauguration motorcade with the contents of a good old fashioned omelet do (see “Stupid White Men”) except relieve the frustrations of a few and ruin several dozen omelets? Instead of the few thousand, imagine if there were two million blocking Washington streets a month earlier, and Al Gore's team waged a competent battle in the courts and in the press?
It might perhaps be my naiveté of the American judicial system that leads me to think that it is irrelevant that the judiciary might be appointed by one ideological side or the other. I do not believe they are corrupt, and having an ideological bent is not corruption. Who in the world does not have an ideological bent of one form or another? Only morons. Even robots have an ideology (see Isaac Asimov's laws for robots). Taking bribes, kickbacks, or cowering to political pressure is corruption, and at least that is how judiciary is compromised in dictatorships. Is there any evidence for it here? I don't know.
Two of the Supreme court conservative Justices (William Rehnquist and Sandra O'Connor) have been waiting to retire during a Republican administration so that their successors will be like minded, and they might indeed retire before the 2004 presidential election, and President Bush might nominate two 40 year old Neocon judges to these lifetime positions. Many argue that this is a bad thing. Well this is part of your system. If you think any one ideology should not prevail in the Justice system, you have to change the system, and not lament the fact that it is conservative dominated. At another point in time, perhaps it was liberal dominated? Aren't the two parties equally entitled to this privilege? All this talk of conservative judgeship is a red herring and self defeating, it is a fundamental characteristic of this form of democracy and if now you discover a flaw in it, just as many also feel there is a flaw in the electoral college system that enables one getting the popular vote to not become the President in a populist democracy, then the system is in need of adjustment, and not who at an given time gets the upper hand and the others lament it to their grave.
There is sufficient room to wage a legal fight despite the judges' personal inclinations. To point to the judiciary for their bringing George Bush to power is also to not understand the poor fight that was waged by the Democrats. As I have argued earlier, it's the overall skill of the combatants, and how badly they want to win, that determines the outcome. The loss of Al Gore is squarely his own fault for the lack of adequate skills to match his opponents who were just better prepared. As a lay person only looking at other people's arguments and having no first hand knowledge of it myself, I am not convinced that the supreme court outcome was inevitable as many do. Assertions do not make arguments, arguments do. And I have not seen any compelling ones yet. It just seems that one team was exceedingly polished and competent, the other was a bunch of amateurs in comparison and failed to play the proper opposition role as envisioned when the two party system was established.
This is even more obvious when watching the PBS video documentary by Danny Schechter Counting on Democracy. If one side is stealing the election and the other is just standing by pretending to not comprehend and not mobilizing millions to pour into the streets of America like any decent political party worth its salt would do in any developing country, what do you expect? There is no innate law abidingness in politicians and political parties, only to what they can be held to account for, as evidenced even by the system of checks and balances designed by the founding fathers of this nation, and quite forthrightly admitted to by former President Ronald Reagan when he observed: ~ “I am told politics is the second oldest profession, it seems to have a strong resemblance to the first one”. Furthermore, watching the media's role in calling the elections makes it all the more important that media consolidation in corporate hands of the military-industrial complex not go through, and the pending FCC ruling defeated, as discussed earlier in the essay. I still don't see anyone showing much concern from the mainstream or the Democratic party organizing mass rallies!
There is clearly a systemic malaise in the American political and governing system.
But arguing for radical reforms to the system of checks and balances of how justices are nominated or presidents are elected/selected is not likely to make it happen in anyone's foreseeable lifetime, at least I do not think so.
Both parties are equally pragmatic, and equally politically expedient in their overall politics, neither has much use for idealism, for the pursuit of justice, truth, and fairness, and both are run by the institutional elite from the military-industrial-corporate complex of America. One is not holier than the other.
Effort will be better served in pursuing strategies and battles in areas where it can produce results and successes which mean something. Being able to have a protest of half a million but achieving no end other than that is “failure”. Understanding that distinction is crucial to waging a successful resistance to empire. Every tactic and every strategy must cause the empire concern. Whatever has been done thus far, President Bush has simply dismissed as a “focus group”. Instead of making fun of that comment, one must learn from it. Think Aikido and Judo – using the adversaries own strength against them. Or live in the Fourth Reich.
Where are the “ZBs” and the ”George Kennans” of peace and justice in the world?
According to some UN experts, only $9 Billion is needed to end world hunger and poverty as of 2003. The US appropriated $80 Billion from congress to kill people, of which it gave $1 Billion in cash and $8 Billion in loans to Israel. Imagine if Peace and Justice had a JINSA and AIPAC of their own and were this strong and had similar ideological allies in Washington? What if there was a PNAC report for bringing peace and justice to all the ordinary denizens of this singular humanity on earth instead of their conquest and enslavement for the benefit of the few? Surely this would be a different country! Nay, a different world!
Unfortunately it will be a different world – but not the desired one. Nor the one being planned in Washington and Tel Aviv by the insane murderers and megalomaniacs.
I believe that future rests in the hands of the ordinary people of the world as injustice can never become a fait accompli. Its eventual global redressing will happen, whether by hook or by crook, by a people unwilling to continue to endure the poverty, misery, depleted uranium, and imperial subjugation amidst the luxury and freedom of the privileged few. Before the world is pushed into that corner where the “fight or flight” response is the only response left, where death becomes the preferred option to economic slavery and humiliations and the world is mercilessly thrust into a global chaos by suicide bombers and popular uprisings, those with vision and wealth must step forward to counter the forces of exploitation, corporate greed, and imperial conquest by studying the methods and techniques of the antagonists, and effectively countering them in an ongoing and perpetual game of primacy on the “Grand Chessboard”.
Just as “Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization” in a “populist democracy” became a major consideration for Zbigniew Brzezinski which necessitated this Machiavellian orchestration of “war on terrorism”, the well organized and powerful hydra of global justice is inimical to imperial mobilization, should become even more of a concern, and a genuine impediment for all future Hectoring Hegemons and their infantile drive for imperial conquest.
There is no other way out as there will surely always be hectoring hegemons and their 'primacy imperatives', as “Hegemony is as old as mankind”!