I have come a long way in three years. I was so naive. I couldn't wait to vote the Republicans out of office, so I registered myself as a Democrat and woke up at 5am to go stand proudly in line to vote for Obama. Like many of us since then, I now realize what a sucker I was. I had high hopes that Obama was going to nationalize the banks when he took office and start loosening the hold the bankers have around our throats. Well, that didn't happen, and instead he went after health care. We all know what he has and has not done since, with the latter more than overwhelming the former. So I got frustrated, as most of us have, that nothing changed with Obama. I got determined to educate myself and find out what the real problems are, and what the real solutions are.
I started watching a lot of MSNBC. At first, I stuck with Hardball with Chris Matthews. While that kept me informed as to what the two political parties were up to, I was far from satisfied. Then one day I tuned in a little early and caught a little of Dylan Ratigan. His personality turned me off a little at first, but the next time I saw his show I was mesmerized. Hooked. Here was a guy who was finally speaking about the real issues, the fundamental structural problems underlying the mess we are in. If you know the show, much of what I am about to say will sound like repetition, but these are what I think the real problems in America are.
There are 6 industries which own the US government, the military-industrial complex (e.g. Lockheed Martin), health care (Big Pharma, health insurance), banking, energy (oil, Halliburton), agribusiness (think Monsanto), and telecommunications (e.g. the phone companies that rip us off). The heads of these industries use their spectacular wealth to buy politicians. In fact, 94% of our elections are now won by the candidate who raises the most money. Obama was no exception. Yes, he raised more money from small donations than anyone had before, but he also raised more money from LARGE donations than ever before. Goldman Sachs was his single biggest campaign contributor in 2008. We all know that if a candidate tries to go against any of these industries, they use their fabulous wealth to take out attack ads so that they don't stand a chance (think swiftboating). As long as our two political parties play by the rules, they can divide up the country in any other, meaningless way they want.
They have a very cozy relationship, these plutocrats. The politicians look the other way while the rich engage in insider trading. They even call up their friends on Wall St. and give them insider information as to policy changes which have financial ramifications (and then engage in a healthy amount of insider trading themselves). Then the rich spend huge amounts of money in lobbying efforts to convince the politicians as to how the laws should be written. They have managed to rig, to their vast benefit, the tax code, trade policies, and banking regulations to siphon money from the American people and into their pockets. They pay lower taxes (or none at all) than average American individuals and businesses. They trade with countries like China which can make products far cheaper than we can make it here, eliminating American jobs while flooding the markets with cheap goods (think Walmart). But the banking "industry" seems to have benefited to even more egregious levels.
Our US government has allowed a $700 trillion, completely invisible and unregulated swaps market to exist without requiring all of these transactions to take place on a visible (and regulatable) exchange. There are no capital requirements, which means they can trade without having anything of value to put up as collateral. And when their bets go bad, the Fed just sends them a check to the tune of $29.6 trillion of our tax-payer money so far since the crisis began. And I thought we had a deficit! Where are we getting all of this money from? Are we just printing it?
Meanwhile 1 in 15 Americans now live in poverty. 18% of us are unemployed (that's the "real" unemployment figures), and that's not even counting the underemployed. Incomes are falling, debt is mounting. People are left homeless while foreclosed homes sit empty. Income and wealth inequality are at their highest levels since the Great Depression. Meanwhile our elections are being put up for auction and neither political party will stand up to these powerful ruling interests. If this isn't a state of unjust affairs, then I don't know what is. These are issues that shouldn't even be restricted to the left, we are all being oppressed. But while we on the left are waking up, those on the right are drifting towards a libertarian philosophy which plays right into the hands of the rich. With no government around, who could possibly stand up to the rich?
We need to retake our government, not break it down into uselessness. And we need large-scale structural solutions to address these mounting problems. We need systematic and system-wide changes to our democracy and our government. We need to weed out waste and abuse of power at all levels. We need to eliminate subsidies for oil companies and stop sending money without strings attached to the bankers. We need to break up the banking cartels so that never again will an institution be "too big to fail". We need real regulations on the banking industry, and that begins with having capital requirements and putting the swaps market on a visible exchange. If we change the way Wall St. does business, they will make money honestly and contribute real value to America rather than being fueled by the need to create more and more debt. We need to restructure debt to help out students and homeowners. And to that end I would suggest literally bailing out the American people. If we are going to print money, why not give it directly to Americans so that they can use it to pay off their debts to the banks?
We need to eliminate superpacs and overturn the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court that makes corporations people and money into protected free speech so that the rich can't talk more loudly than everyone else. We need a real energy plan, and we need to improve our energy efficiency so that we can approach a % in the 90's like other modern industrialized nations have rather than the 34% efficiency we are now sitting at. We need real environmental regulations, and we need to completely restructure our educational system so that we can keep up with the rest of the world. And we need to end privatized profit but socialized risk for the wealthy, and incentivize investment in America and it's people.
The political discussion has been framed by our politicians as being about ballooning debt. While certainly this is a huge problem, I am quite certain that if we address the real problems in America, our national debt problem will also be solved. If we stop war-mongering and being the arms-dealers to the world, we won't have huge costly wars to pay off. With an economy that puts people to work, our social programs will have plenty of funding to continue operations, keeping Americans healthy and financially supported throughout old age.
We are really running out of time. The changing environment is going to make all humanity come together, one way or another. We can come together now and make the necessary changes to our lifestyle and our society so that we can all live on this earth in peace, or the catastrophe to come will be marked by the most violence, starvation, and suffering the world has ever known. And the US needs to lead the way. When the catastrophe comes, humanity will largely blame Americans for it, and rightly so. There will be enough blame to go around, but the American people can do something about it now, while we still have time. If we do not raise our heads up out of the herd and take our country back from the oligarchs who hold us as slaves and hostages, the lion's share of the moral responsibility for the future of humanity will be ours to bear.
Dylan Ratigan sent me an email a few days ago praising his buddy, Deepak Chopra, as an invited speaker at some upcoming lefty event. I wrote back ( with more passion) to say that I could no longer trust his judgement about anything, if he fell for that greedy, sleazy, fraud, Deepak Chopra.
Ugh, and it was like some evil spirit heard you, because just after reading this response I went back to watch the second half of his last show b4 the break and who of all people does he have on as his last guest b4 the year ends but Deepak Chopra himself! Well like most people he is a smart person in one area but not so smart in others. He has got a good grip on politics, but philosophy is a realm which has apparently eluded him. DC was spouting his usual nonsense, DR asked some pretty novice questions but didn't sound like a moron.
As for "coming together", that was Obama's single largest failure, trying to be nice and bipartisan. We can never "come together" with assholes, these people who have traditionally been in power do not change, they cannot change. The only way is to come apart, to remove the rotten apples.
Some people here said of the death of Steve Jobs: "he should have cut that cancer out immediately". That would apply to those most of those who hold power.
Communism is still, and in my opinion, will always be, seen as a terrifying ultimate threat to "American Freedom". Socialism is, in the minds of the U.S. majority, its twin. Sandero's talk of capitalism and the means of production turn off and scare even, if not especially, those who suffer most under our present rigged system. The words we use in any attempt to organize the people into action on their (our) own behalf must take these prejudices into account. On the other hand, the Occupy Wall Street movement, because, rather than in spite of, its lack of leaders, lack of a single narrow focus, is attractive and nonthreatening to the majority. It has some chance of capturing the hungry hearts and ignorant minds of the deliberately uneducated majority.
These statement do not reflect my own ideas about socialism or communism. I'd just like Sandero to understand that any proposed upheaval in the way things are, if dressed in black pajamas, hammer and sickle banners, and tired 1930's revolutionary jargon will fail in this country. The general U.S. public will never identify with Sandanistas, Trotskyites, or any other failed communist revolutionary movement.
We must do something more original.
Dogly, read what I’ve said, here and elsewhere. I completely understand that the typical Amerikan is an enemy of humanity and that revolution is not possible in a first-world country. I also do not see communism as a doctrine or rulebook to follow, rather a science in which we take what has worked well, learn from mistakes, and forge a new synthesis on the way forward. Communism (as opposed to phony communism like Cuba, N. Korea, post-1973 China etc..) is hardly a relic of the past, a new wave of communist revolution is being led by forces all throughout the third world, but currently concentrated in South Asia, especially India.
Of course a fascist movement like the Okkupy movement will appeal to some Amerikans. The Okkupy movement telling Amerikans (with almost the entire population in the top 20% of the world in terms of wealth, with the entire population being parasites that live off of the blood of the third-world peoples, with any "gains" in income coming soaked in the blood of the third-world) that they deserve to have even more than they already do will sound good to them, but even then, even despite widespread publicity, they are unable to draw a crowd the size of some high-school football games. This is not to do with the fact that the leadership (leadership is the ideas that people are led by and will always exist in some form) of the Okkupy movement is racist as can be (see my blog post at the top of my page) and is very anti-science just like the Amerikans love, but it just goes to show the power the capitalist class dictatorship has over the sheeple. The Okkupy movement has done a tremendous service to the capitalist class by allowing them to parade a bunch of unscientific idiots in front of the media, call it a “left” movement, and instill more fear into their overtly fascist base, readying any further move to an overtly fascist regime whenever they feel that is necessary.
Introduction to the revolutionary movement in India (all from non-communist sources..I know how first-worlders like to hear from their suit-dummies):
http://www.archive.org/download/DocumentaryOnIndianMaoists_radioPac... - Excellent audio documentary from a couple years back.
http://www.countercurrents.org/roy220310.htm - Epic essay in India by award-winning author Arundhati Roy
As for "failed" communist revolution? What would you accept as evidence that you have been lied to about communism? Does the testimony of U$ college professors who actually lived in China during the highest point in human history (the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) mean anything to you? Or will you just continue to get your education about communism from people who clearly have an interest in distorting the truth?
Sandero, your post is in English. Who are you trying to appeal to if not Americans? Canadians, the English, the Irish? You seem to have written off all hope of change in the U.S. We are not all monsters. We are just dumb!
Notice I said typical Amerikans..there will be a few who go against their own class interests and stand in solidarity with the third-world. These are people who have demonstrated that they can do fine without an Amerikan lifestyle. You can also appeal to people's intelligence and to their hearts and some small percentage can be won to revolutionary science like that, but these numbers will never constitute a revolutionary force and attempting to lead these people to revolution is to simply invite a bloodbath. Not only will the capitalist class come down on you with vicious repression like they did with the Black Panther Party, but the labor aristocracy (that's the common people) will come down on you as well, because socialism will mean having less for these people, they will be made pay reparations to the third-world and will not peacefully accept the sustainable lifestyle that will be forced upon them.