The New Social Contract — and Why You’re Not Part of It

by John Atcheson, June 11, 2013 by Common Dreams

Excerpt

People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both. – Benjamin Franklin

It was, I suppose, inevitable. For 225 years, we stumbled toward freedom and held tyranny at bay with a simple piece of parchment. Yes, the Constitution is a less than perfect document. But until recently, we rode the tide of history, moving steadily in the direction of greater freedom. But it was always and only five pieces of brittle parchment. Merely as strong as the men and women – citizen and leader alike – who claimed to cherish the values it espoused. Now, fear makes us weak and it threatens to shred that delicate parchment, and usher in an era of tyranny. Indeed, it is well on the way toward doing so. The Constitution was built on a principle arrived at in the Enlightenment: the simple notion that the governed and those who would govern, essentially entered into a social contract. An agreement about how we would apportion and share power. Over the years, we adopted a broader definition of who that social contract included and built protections into the document to assure that we honored them.

But today, in the home of the brave, fear trumps freedom. In the name of security, a massive and patently illegal surveillance program that would make George Orwell’s 1984 look low-tech, reaches into our living rooms and infects our national discourse.

The Constitution…with no power except the integrity of those who signed it and the power of the ideas embedded in it…Wars were fought to protect these freedoms; men and women died, were wounded, and disabled guarding these rights from foreign threats…After 911, we began to construct a security state…Less than 3,000 people died on 911. This is about what we kill with cars on a slow month, and about what we kill with guns in a slow year. Since then, even using the most expansive definition of terrorist killings, less than 100 more have been killed by terrorists, including the 3 fatalities in Boston this year.

Put another way, over the last decade, terrorism – even including 911 – has killed an average of about 20 people a month, compared with 3000 to 4000 a month from cars, and 300 from guns.

How can we hold dear the grossly exaggerated freedoms in the Second Amendment, while gutting those in the Fourth Amendment, when the result is to kill more than 10 times the number of people as terrorists do? But more importantly, how can we give away freedoms so cavalierly, when the threat we face is so small?… tyranny has already been visited upon our land – it came from within, in the form of corporate hegemony. Perhaps the constant drumbeat about the terrorist threat is merely cover for the fact that the social contract has been rewritten since Reagan. No longer is the compact between the governed and the government – it is between the corporations and the government.We are now one nation, under corporations, for corporations, by corporations…At any rate, there’s a new contract in town, and you’re not part of it, and that’s why your rights are diminishing.

Full text

People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both. – Benjamin Franklin

It was, I suppose, inevitable. For 225 years, we stumbled toward freedom and held tyranny at bay with a simple piece of parchment.

Yes, the Constitution is a less than perfect document. But until recently, we rode the tide of history, moving steadily in the direction of greater freedom. But it was always and only five pieces of brittle parchment. Merely as strong as the men and women – citizen and leader alike – who claimed to cherish the values it espoused.

Now, fear makes us weak and it threatens to shred that delicate parchment, and usher in an era of tyranny. Indeed, it is well on the way toward doing so.

The Constitution was built on a principle arrived at in the Enlightenment: the simple notion that the governed and those who would govern, essentially entered into a social contract. An agreement about how we would apportion and share power.

Over the years, we adopted a broader definition of who that social contract included and built protections into the document to assure that we honored them.

But today, in the home of the brave, fear trumps freedom. In the name of security, a massive and patently illegal surveillance program that would make George Orwell’s 1984 look low-tech, reaches into our living rooms and infects our national discourse.

The Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788. It was only 5 pages long, written on paper so thin you can almost see through it with no power except the integrity of those who signed it and the power of the ideas embedded in it.

On December 15, 1791, the States ratified the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. Another single sheet of paper-thin parchment – it extended individual freedoms and further limited government’s power. Here again, the parchment had no power except the power embedded in a vigilant, brave, and freedom loving people.

Over the years, blacks were freed and given the vote; women were enfranchised; government’s power further constrained.

Wars were fought to protect these freedoms; men and women died, were wounded, and disabled guarding these rights from foreign threats. Yes, many wars were fought for reasons of imperial or economic hegemony, not defense of the freedoms in our system of government, but many were.

After 911, we began to construct a security state. We took razor blades to the parchment and excised freedoms we had hitherto died for. Warrantless wiretapping; systematic eavesdropping on a massive scale; even imprisonment and execution of America citizens without due process.

Why?

Because, it made us safer from the threat of terrorism, we were told. That’s what Bush said; that’s what Congress – especially Republicans — stated (until it gave them an excuse to bash Obama – which apparently means more to them than security); and that’s what Obama claims now.

Well, OK. Let’s say that’s true. Does it justify jettisoning the constraints and protections that we’ve fought for? Does it warrant reversing the tide of history and rolling back the freedoms we’ve gained.

If we freely give away – out of fear – that which our attackers would have taken from us, don’t they win? Don’t we lose?

Less than 3,000 people died on 911. This is about what we kill with cars on a slow month, and about what we kill with guns in a slow year.

Since then, even using the most expansive definition of terrorist killings, less than 100 more have been killed by terrorists, including the 3 fatalities in Boston this year.

Put another way, over the last decade, terrorism – even including 911 – has killed an average of about 20 people a month, compared with 3000 to 4000 a month from cars, and 300 from guns.

How can we hold dear the grossly exaggerated freedoms in the Second Amendment, while gutting those in the Fourth Amendment, when the result is to kill more than 10 times the number of people as terrorists do?

But more importantly, how can we give away freedoms so cavalierly, when the threat we face is so small?

Are we a nation of cowards, willing to relinquish freedom at the first whiff of a threat?

The quote from Benjamin Franklin above called us to courage; the words and actions of our leaders today call us to cowardice.

One can’t help wonder whether the difference is because tyranny has already been visited upon our land – it came from within, in the form of corporate hegemony. Perhaps the constant drumbeat about the terrorist threat is merely cover for the fact that the social contract has been rewritten since Reagan. No longer is the compact between the governed and the government – it is between the corporations and the government.

We are now one nation, under corporations, for corporations, by corporations.

Perhaps the hoary threat of terrorism is meant to keep us from recognizing that. The fact that it also allows the government to tap your phone; observe your emails and otherwise poke its nose in your business, is just gravy.

At any rate, there’s a new contract in town, and you’re not part of it, and that’s why your rights are diminishing.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, an eco-thriller and Book One of a Trilogy centered on global warming. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News and other major newspapers. Atcheson’s book reviews are featured on Climateprogess.org.

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Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/11-4

 

Remembering Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Unmaternal National Matriarch

by Russell Brand (Actor and comedian) , Huffington Post, 04/09/2013

Excerpt

…When I was a kid Margaret Thatcher was the headmistress of our country…Perhaps my early apathy and indifference are a result of what Thatcher deliberately engendered, the idea that “there is no such thing as society,” that we are alone on our journey through life, solitary atoms of consciousness… I’m an adult now… so there’s no excuse for apathy.

…Norman Tebbit, one of Thatcher’s acolytes and fellow “Munsters evacuee,” said when the National Union of Miners eventually succumbed to the military onslaught and starvation over which she presided, “[We] broke not just a strike, but a spell.” The spell he’s referring to is the unseen bond that connects us all and prevents us from being subjugated by tyranny. The spell of community…

There were sporadic resurrections; to drape a hankie over a model BA plane tailfin because she disliked the unpatriotic logo with which they’d replaced the Union Jack (maybe don’t privatize BA then) or to shuffle about some country pile arm in arm with a dithery Pinochet and tell us all what a fine fellow he was. It always irks when right-wing folk demonstrate in a familial or exclusive setting the values that they deny in a broader social context. They’re happy to share big windfall bonuses with their cronies; they’ll stick up for deposed dictator chums when they’re down on their luck; they’ll find opportunities in business for people they care about. I hope I’m not being reductive, but it seems Thatcher’s time in power was solely spent diminishing the resources of those who had least for the advancement of those who had most. I know from my own indulgence in selfish behavior that it’s much easier to get what you want if you remove from consideration the effect your actions will have on others.

Is that what made her so formidable, her ability to ignore the suffering of others? Given the nature of her legacy, “survival of the fittest” – a phrase that Darwin himself only used twice in Origin of Species, compared to hundreds of references to altruism, love and cooperation, it isn’t surprising that there are parties this week in Liverpool, Glasgow and Brixton — from where are they to have learned compassion and forgiveness?

… If you behave like there’s no such thing as society, in the end there isn’t. Her death must be sad for the handful of people she was nice to and the rich people who got richer under her stewardship. It isn’t sad for anyone else. There are pangs of nostalgia, yes…What is more troubling is my inability to ascertain where my own selfishness ends and her neoliberal inculcation begins. All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish, that other people’s pain is not your problem, that pain is in fact a weakness and suffering is deserved and shameful… I do recall that even to a child her demeanour and every discernible action seemed to be to the detriment of our national spirit and identity. Her refusal to stand against apartheid, her civil war against the unions, her aggression towards our neighbours in Ireland and a taxation system that was devised in the dark ages, the bombing of a retreating ship — it’s just not British.

I do not yet know what effect Margaret Thatcher has had on me as an individual or on the character of our country as we continue to evolve. As a child she unnerved me but we are not children now and we are free to choose our own ethical codes and leaders that reflect them.

Full text

Russell Brand

Actor and comedian

Remembering Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Unmaternal National Matriarch

04/09/2013

One Sunday recently while staying in London I took a stroll in the gardens of Temple, the insular clod of quads and offices between The Strand and The Embankment. It’s kind of a luxury, rent-controlled ghetto for lawyers and barristers; there is a beautiful tailor’s, a fine chapel, established by The Knight’s Templar (from which the compound takes its name), a twee cottage designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and a Rose Garden, which I never promised you.

My mate John and I were wandering there together, him expertly proselytizing on the architecture and the history of the place, me pretending to be Rumpole of the Bailey (quietly in my mind), when we spied in the distant garden a hunched and frail figure, in a raincoat, scarf about her head, watering the roses under the breezy supervision of a masticating copper. “What’s going on there mate?” John asked a nearby chippy loading his white van. “Maggie Thatcher,” he said. “Comes here every week to water them flowers.” The three of us watched as the gentle horticultural ritual was feebly enacted, then regarded the Iron Lady being helped into the back of a car and trundling off. In this moment she inspired only curiosity, a pale phantom dumbly filling her day. None present eyed her meanly or spoke with vitriol and it wasn’t til an hour later that I dreamt up an Ealing Comedy-style caper in which two inept crooks kidnap Thatcher from the garden but are unable to cope with the demands of dealing with her and give her back. This reverie only occurred when the car was out of view. In her diminished presence I stared like an amateur astronomer unable to describe my awe at this distant phenomenon.

When I was a kid Margaret Thatcher was the headmistress of our country. Her voice, a bellicose yawn, somehow both boring and boring — I could ignore the content but the intent drilled its way in. She became leader of the Conservatives the year I was born and prime minister when I was four; she remained in power till I was 15; I am, it’s safe to say, one of Thatcher’s children. How then do I feel on the day of this matriarchal mourning?

I grew up in Essex with a single mum and a go-getter Dagenham dad. I don’t know if they ever voted for her, I don’t know if they liked her; my dad I suspect did, he had enough Del Boy about him to admire her coiffured virility, but in a way Thatcher was so omnipotent, so omnipresent, so omni-everything that all opinion was redundant.

As I scan the statements of my memory bank for early deposits (it’d be a kid’s memory bank account at a neurological Nat West where you’re encouraged to become a greedy little capitalist with an escalating family of porcelain pigs) I see her in her hairy helmet, condescending on Nationwide, eviscerating eunuch MPs and baffled BBC fuddy duddies with her General Zodd stare and coldly condemning the IRA. And the miners. And the single mums. The dockers. The poll-tax rioters. The Brixton rioters, the Argentinians, teachers; everyone actually.

Thinking about it now, when I was a child she was just a strict woman telling everyone off and selling everything off. I didn’t know what to think of this fearsome woman.

Perhaps my early apathy and indifference are a result of what Thatcher deliberately engendered, the idea that “there is no such thing as society,” that we are alone on our journey through life, solitary atoms of consciousness. Or perhaps it was just because I was a little kid and more interested in them Weetabix skinheads, Roland Rat and Knight Rider. Either way I’m an adult now and none of those things are on telly anymore, so there’s no excuse for apathy.

When John Lennon was told of Elvis Presley’s death he famously responded, “Elvis died when he joined the army” — meaning, of course, that his combat clothing and clipped hair signaled the demise of the thrusting, Dionysian revolution of which he was the immaculate emblem.

When I awoke today on L.A. time, my phone was full of impertinent digital eulogies. It’d be disingenuous to omit that there were a fair number of ding-dong-style celebratory messages amidst the pensive reflections on the end of an era. Interestingly, one mate of mine, a proper leftie, in his heyday all Red Wedge and right-on punch-ups, was melancholy. “I thought I’d be overjoyed, but really it’s just… another one bites the dust…” This demonstrates I suppose that if you opposed Thatcher’s ideas it is likely because of their lack of compassion, which is really just a word for love. If love is something you cherish it is hard to glean much joy from death, even in one’s enemies.

Perhaps, though, Thatcher “the monster” didn’t die this week from a stroke; perhaps that Thatcher died as she sobbed self-pitying tears as she was driven defeated from Downing Street, ousted by her own party. By then, 1990, I was 15, adolescent and instinctively antiestablishment enough to regard her disdainfully. I’d unthinkingly imbibed enough doctrine to know that, troubled as I was, there was little point looking elsewhere for support; I was on my own. We are all on our own. Norman Tebbit, one of Thatcher’s acolytes and fellow “Munsters evacuee,” said when the National Union of Miners eventually succumbed to the military onslaught and starvation over which she presided, “[We] broke not just a strike, but a spell.” The spell he’s referring to is the unseen bond that connects us all and prevents us from being subjugated by tyranny. The spell of community.

Those strikes were confusing to me as a child. All of the Tory edicts that bludgeoned our nation, as my generation squirmed through ghoulish puberty, were confusing. When all the public amenities were flogged, the adverts made it seem to my childish eyes fun and positive, jaunty slogans and affable British stereotypes jostling about in villages, selling people companies that they’d already paid for through tax. I just now watched the British Gas one again, it’s like a whimsical live action episode of Postman Pat where his cat is craftily carved up and sold back to him.

“The News” was the pompous conduit through which we suckled at the barren Baroness, through newscaster wet-nurses, naturally, not direct from the steel teat. Jan Leeming, Sue Lawly Moira Stewart — delivering doctrine with sterile sexiness, like a butterscotch-scented beige vapour. To use a less bizarre analogy: If Thatcher was the headmistress, they were junior school teachers, authoritative but warm enough that you could call them ‘Mum’ by accident. You could never call Margaret ‘Mother’ by mistake; for a national matriarch, she was oddly unmaternal. I always felt a bit sorry for her biological children Mark and Carol, wondering from whom they would get their cuddles. “Thatcher as mother” seemed, to my tiddly mind, anathema; how could anyone who was so resolutely Margaret Thatcher be anything else? In the Meryl Streep film, it’s the scenes of domesticity that appear most absurd. Knocking up a flan for Dennis or helping Carol with her algebra or Mark with his gunrunning are jarring distractions from the main narrative: woman as warrior queen.

It always struck me as peculiar, too, when the Spice Girls briefly championed Thatcher as an early example of Girl Power. I don’t see that. She is an anomaly, a product of the freak-conomy of her time. Barack Obama interestingly said in his statement that she had “broken the glass ceiling for other women.” Only in the sense that all the women beneath her were blinded by falling shards. She is an icon of individualism, not of feminism.

I have few recollections of Thatcher after the slowly chauffeured, weepy Downing Street cortege. I’d become a delinquent by then, living on heroin and benefit fraud.

There were sporadic resurrections; to drape a hankie over a model BA plane tailfin because she disliked the unpatriotic logo with which they’d replaced the Union Jack (maybe don’t privatize BA then) or to shuffle about some country pile arm in arm with a dithery Pinochet and tell us all what a fine fellow he was. It always irks when right-wing folk demonstrate in a familial or exclusive setting the values that they deny in a broader social context. They’re happy to share big windfall bonuses with their cronies; they’ll stick up for deposed dictator chums when they’re down on their luck; they’ll find opportunities in business for people they care about. I hope I’m not being reductive, but it seems Thatcher’s time in power was solely spent diminishing the resources of those who had least for the advancement of those who had most. I know from my own indulgence in selfish behavior that it’s much easier to get what you want if you remove from consideration the effect your actions will have on others.

Is that what made her so formidable, her ability to ignore the suffering of others? Given the nature of her legacy, “survival of the fittest” – a phrase that Darwin himself only used twice in Origin of Species, compared to hundreds of references to altruism, love and cooperation, it isn’t surprising that there are parties this week in Liverpool, Glasgow and Brixton — from where are they to have learned compassion and forgiveness?

The blunt, pathetic reality is that a little old lady has died, who in the winter of her life had to water roses alone under police supervision. If you behave like there’s no such thing as society, in the end there isn’t. Her death must be sad for the handful of people she was nice to and the rich people who got richer under her stewardship. It isn’t sad for anyone else. There are pangs of nostalgia, yes, because for me she’s all tied up with Hi-De-Hi and Speak and Spell and Blockbusters and “follow the bear.” What is more troubling is my inability to ascertain where my own selfishness ends and her neoliberal inculcation begins. All of us that grew up under Thatcher were taught that it is good to be selfish, that other people’s pain is not your problem, that pain is in fact a weakness and suffering is deserved and shameful. Perhaps there is resentment because the clemency and respect that are being mawkishly displayed now by some and haughtily demanded of the rest of us at the impending, solemn funeral are values that her government and policies sought to annihilate.

I can’t articulate with the skill of either of “the Marks,” Steel or Thomas, why Thatcher and Thatcherism were so bad for Britain, but I do recall that even to a child her demeanour and every discernible action seemed to be to the detriment of our national spirit and identity. Her refusal to stand against apartheid, her civil war against the unions, her aggression towards our neighbours in Ireland and a taxation system that was devised in the dark ages, the bombing of a retreating ship — it’s just not British.

I do not yet know what effect Margaret Thatcher has had on me as an individual or on the character of our country as we continue to evolve. As a child she unnerved me but we are not children now and we are free to choose our own ethical codes and leaders that reflect them.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-brand/margaret-thatcher-our-unm_b_3046390.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

The GOP Crackup: How Obama is Unraveling Reagan Republicanism

by Robert Reich, robertreich.org, January 25, 2013

Excerpt

…the GOP is doing a pretty good job annihilating itself….

The GOP crackup was probably inevitable.  Inconsistencies and tensions within the GOP have been growing for years – ever since Ronald Reagan put together the coalition that became the modern Republican Party….All President Obama has done is finally found ways to exploit these inconsistencies. Republican libertarians have never got along with social conservatives, who want to impose their own morality on everyone else. Shrink-the-government fanatics in the GOP have never seen eye-to-eye with deficit hawks, who don’t mind raising taxes as long as the extra revenues help reduce the size of the deficit. The GOP’s big business and Wall Street wing has never been comfortable with the nativists and racists in the Party who want to exclude immigrants and prevent minorities from getting ahead. And right-wing populists have never got along with big business and Wall Street, which love government as long as it gives them subsidies, tax benefits, and bailouts. Ronald Reagan papered over these differences with a happy anti-big-government nationalism….But Reagan’s coalition remained fragile. It depended fundamentally on creating a common enemy: communists and terrorists abroad, liberals and people of color at home…The 2012 Republican primaries exposed all the cracks and fissures in the GOP coalition…The 2012 election exposed something else about the GOP: it’s utter lack of touch with reality, its bizarre incapacity to see and understand what was happening in the country.  Think of Karl Rove’s delirium on Fox election night…Obama’s focus in his second inaugural — and, by inference, in his second term — on equal opportunity is hardly a radical agenda. But it aggravates all the tensions inside the GOP. And it leaves the GOP without an overriding target to maintain its fragile coalition…

Full text

Soon after President Obama’s second inaugural address, John Boehner said the White House would try “to annihilate the Republican Party” and “shove us into the dustbin of history.”

Actually, the GOP is doing a pretty good job annihilating itself.  As Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal put it, Republicans need to “stop being the stupid party.”

The GOP crackup was probably inevitable.  Inconsistencies and tensions within the GOP have been growing for years – ever since Ronald Reagan put together the coalition that became the modern Republican Party.

All President Obama has done is finally found ways to exploit these inconsistencies.

Republican libertarians have never got along with social conservatives, who want to impose their own morality on everyone else.

Shrink-the-government fanatics in the GOP have never seen eye-to-eye with deficit hawks, who don’t mind raising taxes as long as the extra revenues help reduce the size of the deficit.

The GOP’s big business and Wall Street wing has never been comfortable with the nativists and racists in the Party who want to exclude immigrants and prevent minorities from getting ahead.

And right-wing populists have never got along with big business and Wall Street, which love government as long as it gives them subsidies, tax benefits, and bailouts.

Ronald Reagan papered over these differences with a happy anti-big-government nationalism.  His patriotic imagery inspired the nativists and social conservatives. He gave big business and Wall Street massive military spending. And his anti-government rhetoric delighted the Party’s libertarians and right-wing populists.

But Reagan’s coalition remained fragile. It depended fundamentally on creating a common enemy: communists and terrorists abroad, liberals and people of color at home.

On the surface Reagan’s GOP celebrated Norman Rockwell’s traditional, white middle-class, small-town America. Below the surface it stoked fires of fear and hate of “others” who threatened this idealized portrait.

In his first term Barack Obama seemed the perfect foil: A black man, a big- spending liberal, perhaps (they hissed) not even an American.

Republicans accused him of being insufficiently patriotic. Right-wing TV and radio snarled he secretly wanted to take over America, suspend our rights. Mitch McConnell declared that unseating him was his party’s first priority.

But it didn’t work. The 2012 Republican primaries exposed all the cracks and fissures in the GOP coalition.

The Party offered up a Star Wars barroom of oddball characters, each representing a different faction — Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich, Cain, Santorum. Each rose on the strength of supporters and then promptly fell when the rest of the Party got a good look.

Finally, desperately, the GOP turned to a chameleon — Mitt Romney — who appeared acceptable to every faction because he had no convictions of his own. But Romney couldn’t survive the general election because the public saw him for what he was: synthetic and inauthentic.

The 2012 election exposed something else about the GOP: it’s utter lack of touch with reality, its bizarre incapacity to see and understand what was happening in the country.  Think of Karl Rove’s delirium on Fox election night.

All of which has given Obama the perfect opening — perhaps the opening he’d been waiting for all along.

Obama’s focus in his second inaugural — and, by inference, in his second term — on equal opportunity is hardly a radical agenda. But it aggravates all the tensions inside the GOP. And it leaves the GOP without an overriding target to maintain its fragile coalition.

In hammering home the need for the rich to contribute a fair share in order to ensure equal opportunity, and for anyone in America — be they poor, black, gay, immigrant, women, or average working person — to be able to make the most of themselves, Obama advances the founding ideals of America in such way that the Republican Party is incapable of opposing yet also incapable of uniting behind.

History and demographics are on the side of the Democrats, but history and demography have been on the Democrats’ side for decades. What’s new is the Republican crackup — opening the way for a new Democratic coalition of socially-liberal young people, women, minorities, middle-class professionals, and what’s left of the anti-corporate working class.

If Obama remains as clear and combative as he has been since Election Day, his second term may be noted not only for its accomplishment but also for finally unraveling what Reagan put together. In other words, John Boehner’s fear may be well-founded.

http://robertreich.org/post/41456134467

Teaching People to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Middle Class

By Dennis Marker, AlterNetAugust 21, 2012

The following is an excerpt from Dennis Marker’s new book 15 Steps to Corporate Feudalism [3], published this year. In the text  below, Marker shares one of the steps he sees as central to the destruction of the middle class since Ronald Reagan took over. 

Mini-excerpt

…Teaching the middle class to hate their government was an essential part of the [conservative] plan… A middle class cannot exist without a strong government. This is because only a government has the power to stand up to the giant corporations of today’s world …Thirty years ago at the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the middle class basically appreciated and respected their government…the basic message of Reagan and the conservatives was that everyone would be better off if the federal government just disappeared. They were smart enough not to say this directly, however. Instead, they just landed one body blow after another without openly expressing their desire to destroy the government….

Excerpt

…Teaching the middle class to hate their government was an essential part of the plan to implement Corporate Feudalism. A middle class cannot exist without a strong government. This is because only a government has the power to stand up to the giant corporations of today’s world, or the powerful individuals and private armies of earlier times…If you want to put an end to the middle class and replace it with a feudal republic, you would need to change people’s perception of their government…

Thirty years ago at the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the middle class basically appreciated and respected their government and believed that living in the United States was good for the middle class. They took their status for granted. The connection between what was good about the United States and its government was clear to the American public … government is very different from what it was when Reagan took office. It is much weaker, no longer able to offer the protections or provide the services the middle class took for granted thirty years ago… And in its weakened state the US government has lost the support of the very citizens who depended on it the most, the middle class.

How did this happen? When Ronald Reagan got to Washington, he set out to convince the middle class that their government was their enemy, using his considerable powers of persuasion. The basic message of Reagan and the conservatives was that everyone would be better off if the federal government just disappeared. They were smart enough not to say this directly, however. Instead, they just landed one body blow after another without openly expressing their desire to destroy the government….

Full text

Your goal for this step is to figure out how to teach the middle class to hate their own government using a strategy that takes into consideration the political climate of theUnited Statesof thirty years ago.

Teaching the middle class to hate their government was an essential part of the plan to implement Corporate Feudalism. A middle class cannot exist without a strong government. This is because only a government has the power to stand up to the giant corporations of today’s world, or the powerful individuals and private armies of earlier times. It is the government that enforces the laws to protect the middle class from those who would like to become their economic rulers. That is why prior to the Industrial Revolution and the creation of the middle class all economies were run according to some version of the feudal system. If you want to put an end to the middle class and replace it with a feudal republic, you would need to change people’s perception of their government.

Obviously a government does not have to be on the side of its people, as can be seen by the existence of countless dictatorships and oligarchies throughout the world. Even the corporatocracy that currently exists in theUnited States falls far short of being on the side of its middle class. But US history shows that a government committed to serving its citizens can, in fact, help create and maintain a healthy middle class even in the face of powerful corporations whose only interest is maximizing their own power and profits.

It is like the story in old westerns of a big bad landowner who takes what he wants when he wants it, ruthlessly terrorizing a town without a strong sheriff. Any individual who tries to stop the landowner is beaten into submission or killed. The situation continues until the town finds a strong enough sheriff to regain control over the landowner and his gang. This is the Old West version of the feudal system. In westerns, the feudal lord comes first and the sheriff comes later. But in the United States of thirty years ago, the government was the strong sheriff keeping the late-twentieth-century feudal lords from taking what they wanted. As long as the government was supported by its citizens—particularly its middle class—no one could ride into town and steal what belonged to the people. But if the government were weakened or destroyed, a different situation would arise. The intent of the plan for Corporate Feudalism was to convince the middle class to fire their sheriff. And that’s just what happened.

Thirty years ago at the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the middle class basically appreciated and respected their government and believed that living in the United Stateswas good for the middle class. They took their status for granted. The connection between what was good about the United Statesand its government was clear to the American public. For the most part, people believed the government was on their side and largely responsible for the high standard of living they enjoyed. Their government built the roads that made transportation easy. Their government made the laws and regulations that kept US workers safe at their jobs. Their government ensured that their food was safe. The labor strife that had empowered the middle class was now decades old, and the Vietnam War had ended, although not well. In many ways the United Statesof thirty years ago was a happy place, and most people understood their government’s role in keeping it that way. While there were problems, including the energy crisis, they seemed manageable. Not everyone was happy with everything the government did, of course, but there was general agreement that the USgovernment was the best government anywhere.

Then the US government found itself in the crosshairs of the brand-new Reagan Revolution with no way to understand why it was under attack and no way to defend itself. For thirty years, it took blow after blow. Now, while still standing, that government is very different from what it was when Reagan took office. It is much weaker, no longer able to offer the protections or provide the services the middle class took for granted thirty years ago—the same kinds of services that many European democracies have continued to provide for their citizens during the period of US economic and social decline. And in its weakened state theUS government has lost the support of the very citizens who depended on it the most, the middle class.

How did this happen? When Ronald Reagan got to Washington, he set out to convince the middle class that their government was their enemy, using his considerable powers of persuasion. The basic message of Reagan and the conservatives was that everyone would be better off if the federal government just disappeared. They were smart enough not to say this directly, however. Instead, they just landed one body blow after another without openly expressing their desire to destroy the government.

For example, Reagan attacked government workers, contending they were lazy, they wasted taxpayer money, and they involved themselves in issues they knew nothing about, like regulating large businesses and corporations. Within the first few years of Reagan’s election, the morale of the federal workforce plummeted as these employees saw their image shift from being considered public servants trying to make life in the United States better for everyone to being seen as lazy, despised bureaucrats wasting taxpayer money. Far from being a place where committed public servants worked to help the public,Washington,DC, became known as the place where crooks, thieves, and lazy workers stole taxpayer money for foolish purposes or their own personal benefit.

While federal workers had unions to protect their jobs, they did not have high-priced lobbyists and media consultants to safeguard their image. The unions representing federal workers came under the same harsh attack as the workers themselves, but the attacks went largely unanswered. The nation’s first movie star president had intentionally created this negative image of government workers, and he was convincing.

Following Reagan, other conservatives continued to lead the charge against the government, often using the same language the Reagan administration had employed. Few found language more effective than the Reagan one-liner, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” but they didn’t need to. The leap from John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” to Reagan’s cynical and supposedly frightening “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” had been successfully made.

In addition to waging a full-scale campaign against the government and its employees, the Reagan administration also implemented another practice that was equally destructive to the image of government—filling government positions with people who hated government, a practice that continues to this day. For those seeking to change theUnited States from a middle-class democracy to a corporate feudal republic, there are three major advantages to this practice. First, you give government jobs to your conservative friends and cronies. Second, you keep dedicated public servants who want to see government succeed out of government. Third, and most importantly, you have a cadre of conservative ideologues working inside the government to sabotage and destroy the government at every turn.

The advantages for conservatives of sabotaging and destroying the government are almost limitless. Looking at a few examples from George W. Bush’s administration shows why. Thirty years ago the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a government agency committed to protecting the public by monitoring the safety of toys and other products, made a positive difference in people’s lives. However, during George W. Bush’s administration conservatives who filled many of the civil service positions and all of the politically appointed slots did not believe the government should be in the business of helping to protect the public, and they did everything in their power to avoid carrying out their responsibilities. When Congress tried to give the CPSC more money to do a better job of regulating products imported fromChina, for example, the Bush-appointed agency head refused. She said they had plenty of money to do their job, although in reality they weren’t doing their job at all. Then reports started coming in about unsafe toys originating in China. People were outraged, as they should have been, and blamed the government. By failing to do their jobs, the conservatives were encouraging people to give up on their own government, which was exactly what conservatives wanted.

Thirty years ago, in an effort to make their point, conservatives often exaggerated the examples of government corruption and waste, but during George W. Bush’s administration scandals involving everything from toys to military contracting became the norm. And who were the perpetrators of most of these crimes against the United Statesand its taxpayers? They were government-hating conservatives working inside the government, placed there for this very reason. Each time one of these conservatives was caught in another scandal, the American public’s view of government deteriorated a little more. If you believe in a government that helps its citizens, this seems bad. But if you believe that the best government is no government this seems great, so the people who wanted to establish Corporate Feudalism couldn’t have been happier.

That was the plan used by Corporate Feudalists to convince millions of middle-class people to hate their own government. Did you think of a more effective way to accomplish this goal? Or do you believe the plan that was used was the most effective one available?

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/teaching-people-hate-their-own-govt-core-project-destroy-middle-class

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/dennis-marker
[3] http://thefifteensteps.com/
[4] http://www.alternet.org/tags/middle-class
[5] http://www.alternet.org/tags/government-0
[6] http://www.alternet.org/tags/corporate-feudalism
[7] http://www.alternet.org/tags/reagan-revolution
[8] http://www.alternet.org/tags/george-w-bush
[9] http://www.alternet.org/tags/conservatives-0
[10] http://www.alternet.org/tags/consumer-product-safety-commission

Republican myths

From Bergdahl to Benghazi, Republicans fire up the scandal machine By Dana Milbank, Washington Post, June 4, 2014

The Self-Made Myth: Debunking Conservatives’ Favorite — And Most Dangerous — Fiction By Sara Robinson, AlterNet, April 25, 2012 The self-made myth is one of the most cherished foundation stones of the conservative theology. Nurtured by Horatio Alger and generations of beloved boys’ stories, It sits at the deep black heart of the entire right-wing worldview, where it provides the essential justification for a great many other common right-wing beliefs. It feeds the accusation that government is evil because it only exists to redistribute wealth from society’s producers (self-made, of course) and its parasites (who refuse to work). It justifies conservative rage against progressives, who are seen as wanting to use government to forcibly take away what belongs to the righteous wealthy. It’s piously invoked by hedge fund managers and oil billionaires, who think that being required to reinvest any of their wealth back into the public society that made it possible is “punishing success.” It’s the foundational belief on which all of Ayn Rand’s novels stand…Brian Miller and Mike Lapham have written the book that lays out the basic arguments we can use to begin to set things right. 

 Conservative Fantasies About the Miracles of the Market by Robert Jensen, Common Dreams, January 23, 2012  - A central doctrine of evangelicals for the “free market” is its capacity for innovation: New ideas, new technologies, new gadgets — all flow not from governments but from individuals and businesses allowed to flourish in the market…As is often the case in faith-based systems, reconciling doctrine to the facts of history can be tricky….thought of the long list of modern technological innovations that came directly from government-directed and -financed projects…without the foundational research funded by government, none of those products and services could exist…The larger context for this assertion of market fundamentalism is the ongoing political project to de-legitimize any collective action by ordinary people through government. Given the degree to which corporations and the wealthy dominate contemporary government, from the local to the national level, it’s not clear why elites are so flustered; they are the ones who benefit most from government spending. But politicians and pundits who serve those elites keep hammering away on a simple theme — business good, government bad — hoping to make sure that the formal mechanisms of democracy won’t be used to question the concentration of wealth and power.

Throughout history, the political projects of the wealthy have been driven by propaganda. There is no reason to expect that to change anytime soon, which means popular movements for economic justice and ecological sustainability not only have to struggle to change the future but also to tell the truth about the past.

Twenty Myths About Unions By Paul Jay, The Real News, March 23, 2013

Five Preposterous, Persistent Conservative Myths by Paul Buchheit, Common Dreams, April 2, 2012  With the mainstream media in the hands of the mostly conservative wealthy, it’s difficult for average Americans to learn the truth about critical issues. The following five conservative claims are examples of mythical beliefs that fall apart in the presence of inconvenient facts:
1. Entitlements are the Problem
2. Charter Schools are the Answer
3. Corporate Taxes Are Too High
4. Jim Crow is Dead
5. Poverty Is Declining Everywhere
6 and 7. Evolution and global warming don’t exist.
These are just too preposterous for words.

How Ayn Rand’s Bizarre Philosophy Made the New Right so Toxic By George Monbiot, The Guardian, March 7, 2012

Challenging the Republican’s Five Myths on Inequalityby David Morris, CommonDreams.org, January 23, 2012  - The Republican position on inequality rests on five statements, all false. 1. Income is Not All That Unequal – 2. Inequality doesn’t matter because inAmericaambition and hard work can make a pauper a millionaire. – 3. Income inequality is not a result of tax policy. – 4. Taxing the rich will slow economic growth – 5. Taxing the rich would not raise much money …

10 Things Conservatives Don’t Want You to Know About Reagan By Alex Seitz-Wald, Think Progress, February 6, 2011

23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism: Item #1 — There’s No Such Thing as a Free Market By Ha-Joon Chang, Bloomsbury Press, Posted on Alternet.org, January 31, 2011

Perpetual Growth Myth’ Leading World to Meltdown by Common Dreams staff, Common Dreams, February 20, 2012

Mocking the Right’s ‘Free Market’ Agenda Is Almost Too Easy — A Real Problem Is That the Dems Don’t Challenge It By Elizabeth DiNovella and Thomas Frank