Could it really have come to this? Not just a whopping majority, not even 90% or 95%, but 99%? If we are talking about class warfare, we are talking of the likes of French and American revolutions magnitude, of throwing off monarchy magnitude, of the very separation of democracy from it's feeblest beginnings. Democracy was tried briefly in Athens 2000 and some years ago, and only reappeared at the pre-dawn of the 19th century. Here we go, at the dawn of the 21st century, still struggling with the concept. Why has it been so difficult for people to share power throughout the ages? The reason is simple - we as a species are extremely competitive with each other, out of biological necessity. We have really just not risen far out of our biological, natural roots, regardless of what either religion or science has to say about it. We have managed huge strides in science, to be sure, but we are much further behind in the humanities. Artists and philosophers have always suffered from how poorly most people appreciate beauty and reason, but now students and workers of every field are finding themselves educated for no reason, with no prospects for work out there. People are finding themselves saddled with debt, losing their health or their homes (or both), etc., and then literally paralyzed within a social fabric which is too rigid to move through, and too easily fallen out of. Political power is one's only weapon, and it has proven itself capable of throwing off monarchies and aristocracies, and has led to greater pride in our political systems when civil society finds itself empowered and middle classes have been allowed to prosper. When the middle class doesn't share in even the basic rewards that the upper class are afforded, or when the lower class is persecuted, there is unrest, there is a popular sense of injustice in the social order, and an energy and motivation builds up within the aggreived group. More often than not this motivation fails to lead to any useful adaptations in our behavior, and as most mutations are maladaptive, so is most behavior of individuals not properly exposed to the culture of their ecological niche. This seems to apply to the most social and political levels of our human experience as well as to the biological level. Surely democracy is among the least mature, finely-honed adaptation natural creatures have yet expressed. Culture may move faster than biology in leaps and bounds, but it doesn't perfect itself that fast. Science is virtually indubitable, because it has proven itself to be accurate to the highest levels known to man, which, epistemologically-speaking, is vast. Politics, philosophy, the humanities, these all remain securely in their dark ages. I think all of you here on Nexus must agree to the fact that religion overwhelmes men's minds to an absurd degree. Bad ideas of every sort exist out there in absurd degrees. Surely it stands to reason that our political systems are as grotesquely infected as our knowledge of the natural world? Our baby boomer generation grew up wealthier and better-educated than we did, but they left us a mess because they saw nothing wrong with a system which led to their wild "successes". They got fat and happy and didn't realize they were abdicating all of their social responsibilities, and standing by while the greedy individuals in society devised new ways to be sneaky and successful in their exploitation of the ecological niche. Ayn Rand Libertarians will tell you that being greedy and sneaky are always positive, adaptive traits because they are performed egoistically, with the individual himself the only standard by which value is measured - the self is the only standard of value, and the experiences of others do not even come into consideration. Apparently, the 1% are quite good at rationalizing their strategy, and stick with their jaws shut around their prey even in death. And look, I don't even want to be a 99th %tilers; I wouldn't care nearly so much about the interests of the absolute worst kinds of people out there as I do about the rights of virtually everyone in society (although perhaps I should be, if I were to be utterly fierce in my desire for justice, honor and loyalty). This is certainly because I belong to the group composed of virtually everyone, while I do not belong to the other group. In any case, there is certainly a power struggle, so Obama is correct that there is a class war going on between the middle and upper class. He still remains clueless as to how to manage that war, and he seems like he does not even belong to the movement, that he supports it only because he thinks it will be advantageous to him somehow.

As for organizing around a political message, Dylan Ratigan already has 130k + signatures on his petition to introduce a constitutional amendment getting the money out of politics, and though he needed only 100k to do so, he is trying to get as many people as possible signing it so he can go to Congress and show immense support for this policy change. I think this is the central message of the Occupy Wall St. protests, and I think it is a powerful message that can be used to really get people on the left organized politically. Eventually the movement has to emerge in a highly organized way, around a highly coherent message, and getting the money out of politics is the basic message and is something that can be pushed for by this President and Congress, or the 2012 elections can be a referendum on which politicians support the protest movement, whether that is Obama or whichever Republican comes out of that mess they call a primary. Whichever President gets elected, if they don't support it we (I obviously include myself with the movement) would have a major platform with which to form a major third party. I think we are all talking about Socialism here, honestly, so I don't think we should try to mince words either. Capitalistic democracy quickly turns into the capitalists/bankers plutocracy. We need to turn left, and that means continuing to work on developing our society to provide for more people. Ayn Rand libertarians will tell you that society shouldn't provide for its individual members, that they should all provide for themselves or, in society's eyes, they should all be shrugged and shaken off. Leave caring for them up to the same communities which have set them up to begin with. Above all, MAKE NO EFFORT TO ORGANIZE WITH EACH OTHER THROUGH GOVERNMENT. Government is for us rich boys, all the rest of you weaklings can wait outside and maybe we'll let you have our sloppy seconds. Well, I'm tired of getting treated shabbily by our society and then having no recourse, no way of fighting back against the system which is neglectful of us, no voice in the community which failed us. Let's get the money out of politics first, as DR says, and then we can at least begin to have our voices heard over the bullhorn of the greedy leader.

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Comment by Steph S. on December 26, 2011 at 4:21pm

"Let's get behind this movement, and behind the primary concern of getting the money out of politics, and not let go of this idea until we have what we want! It's just that simple."
Yeah -- I would agree

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on October 8, 2011 at 6:22pm

Corporatiions are people too. They have freedom to "influence" our government just like you and I. It is an even playing field. See if Exxon-Mobil infringes on your freedom to contribute.

I could not agree more. The notion of democracy is utterly overcome as things stand. It is a first step. Even John McCain used to support the notion.

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on October 8, 2011 at 6:04pm
In case you were unaware, I got my BA in philosophy and think that it is our only hope, so it had better not be a dead end. I am very much a frustrated idealist as well, and my optimism is given a hardy challenge constantly, but I do think there are ways to effect change. This Dylan Ratigan has got me excited again, he started talking about how much our country is becoming a plutocracy, and all the ideas I had about leftism started coming to a real head. He suggested a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics, and I was like, hell yeah, that's exactly what we need to do first! Just then the Occupy Wall St. movement broke out, and now I've got lots to say. Dylan Ratigan has been like a prophet, and all the ideas we have been shooting around on A|N these past few months and even years suddenly got a huge source of support from the occupy movement. We aren't just a couple of leftist crackpots muttering under our breaths, we are a large and growing portion of the population with real and deep concerns, things that strike us on a very deep and personal level. It has become so obvious that we are living in a broken system right now that even Obama seems like a centrist and an establishment figure to his own base. There are people out in the streets every night all over this country, and you aren't optimistic? What does it take to get people optimistic in this country? Well, perhaps a real agenda with a very specific focus: get the money out of politics! Step 1. We can figure out where else to go from there after it's passed, but if we can't get even this passed, we have no hope of getting anything else that we want. It's just such a basic, fundamental concern for a democracy that it isn't turned into an auction sold to the highest bidder. Let's get behind this movement, and behind the primary concern of getting the money out of politics, and not let go of this idea until we have what we want! It's just that simple.
Comment by Glen Rosenberg on October 8, 2011 at 4:34pm
I'd be pleased to pick up a running dialogue or be a springboard for any of your myriad ideas. Where we differ is in optimism and perhaps activism. When I was young there was a period I read philosophy voraciously. I realized or at least believed it to be a dead end. And my view of man is so negative that at best I am a frustrated idealist. I want to see civilization advance but I dont fundamentally see any way to effectuate change.
Comment by Jedi Wanderer on October 8, 2011 at 1:12pm
Well we should perhaps pick up a running dialogue and see how much else we agree on, since I am similarly struck with what you have to say as well. I have had exactly the same ideas, and run around them a dozen ways in my head, to come to the same conclusion as you - big ideas with possibly profound consequences which are so far off from being realized that when you try to tell it to others, all you get is blank stares. Yeah, a panel show, a government-sponsored website/education program, a hierarchy, citizen participation in government on a broad, vigorous level, and dozens more ideas from the little to the grandiose, and no outlet for their expression, no reward or even appreciation for the effort my mind goes to thinking about how best to form our sociopolitical organizations from education and schools to health/athletics to the best possible redistribution of resources for the benefit of mankind. A quick glance at the problems of this world and the immense power/influence one needs to make a difference is disheartening, for one thing. But why must it be so? Is there no way to better organize politically? Is there no path, no strategy for directing our motivations towards healthier, more adaptive results? The only answer I can come up with is that we have simply been cut off from public participation, our money is the only thing that gets us anywhere with other people, our ideas hold no traction whatever. So either we need a new strategy for introducing ideas into the social domain, or we have to just contribute monetarily to society and keep our heads down and hope that, if we just hold ourselves to the highest standard of industry, the systems we've got will get us through the obstacles we face. But this is clearly not the case, when one looks honestly at the new global problems we face, the game-changing consequences of inaction, and the current cultural memes in place to get people through their lives, socially and individually. We as a species do not seem up for the task. So we need to get involved in politics, we need to change the system, or else we'll have done a worse disservice to the next generations as the previous ones have done to ours. And to me, this requires government resources, it requires taxing the rich and funding investment in the people on both the long and short-term levels, it means making bigger and bigger changes, with increasing speed, then we have ever been used to before. We've got to speed things up. And clearly there is room for improvement, when one considers the effects of religion alone, so there is a lot of reason for hope. But we are quickly running out of time.
Comment by Glen Rosenberg on October 8, 2011 at 11:06am

Did not finish The Leviathan, your rant was a breeze. I am stricken with confirmation bias  having agreed with much of your writing here and elsewhere.

The underlying problem in government is man. For every Bernie Sanders there are one hundred Michelle Bachmans. Impure motives. And the old axiom of power corrupts is timeless. It is a problem that spans divine right monarchy to democracy and everything in between.

 In a democracy or what passes for one an analytical and educated citizenry is indispensable. Religion and cycles of poverty and institutional racism make the above impossible. I despise political-speak and political debates. One only hopes to catch a glimpse of what the politician is all about as they dance and dissimulate. I want all presidential candidates to be publicly examined by a panel of experts. No advance notice of the questions. Ethics, History, Foreign Affairs, Domestic Affairs. If the candidate is incapable of passing a 7th grade US history test or answers a hypothetical like a sociopath hopefully the dopey public will downgrade the candidate. Maybe some of the candidates would be afraid to run for fear of being disgraced. (And what entertaining television!) And what an opportunity to educate the public. Talk shows could run with the issues and subject matter for months. I have a dream or at least a chimera.

Definitely believe my silly little idea could improve things.

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on October 8, 2011 at 7:21am
power to the powerful and shouting about how good we really have it. It is essentially a failure of imagination, and I wonder how many of these humanity can suffer before we are replaced as the dominant species on the planet.
Comment by Jedi Wanderer on October 8, 2011 at 7:19am
Thanks Glen! Didn't know if anybody would actually make it through that rant. You make some excellent points. Yes, the Libertarians want something akin to Hobbes' "state of nature", without realizing that it is "nasty, brutish, and short", and, as you mention, not really even a state of nature! The thing is, humanity thinks so highly of itself, when really the more one questions this premise, the more one is forced to admit that we have not risen quite so high as we want to believe of ourselves. We as a species have dominated our ecological niche to a point rarely realized by other species, that of total saturation. And we are proud of this! Ask the Mayans, or the former inhabitants of Easter Island, whether there can be too much of a good thing. Our problem is that reaching this point brings up philosophical questions which we are not prepared even to ask, let alone find answers to. We (you and I anyway) realize that in order for anything like social justice to exist, the general population needs to have some political power, some say over what happens to the average folks. We have only just begun our experiments with democracy, and as far as we have managed it, it has brought us fantastic rewards. On the other side of this coin is brute power, the same brute power that has led humanity to organize themselves around a simple formula for distributing power - give it to the king! This is what Hobbes was arguing for. He thought we should all just give our power to one governing body, and, while it was a terrible system, frought with all sorts of problems, he thought it was the best we could do, or else we would all devolve back into the "state of nature". Hobbes isn't mentioned in today's political discussions. In fact all mention of political philosophy is forced to the rarest moments of pundit sophistication. I wish there were brighter pundits out there, those who would stand up and shout "What, has democracy gone no further than Hobbesian monarchy? Can the power of the people do nothing to temper the power of the elite? Should we just hand over our swords to the one appointed man and be satisfied that we are not all at each other's throats? Because we might soon be nevertheless." Democracy means more than just the ability to choose who the one guy will be. It means political involvement at all levels of society. It means giving more people more power to organize their lives the way they see fit. And then, you might imagine, a multitude of very deep, seemingly intractable philosophical problems begin to arise. How do we go about doing this? Does this reorganization mean greater states power? Changes to the Constitution? Higher taxes? Bigger government? More beaurocracy? Can we actually manage to figure out ways to get people to do what we want them to without relying primarily on money to do it? That is, of course, why capitalism has been so successful as a strategy - money is one of the few things (aside from brute force, for example) that can really motivate people to do things for other people. It is a terrific tool/strategy for organizing people in a cooperative society. But money does eventually boil down to brute strength/power. We do need socialism, because we need a strategy for redistributing power. Of course, all government power, all political power, also ultimately boils down to brute strength. If we did not have overwhelming numbers, we would be in no position to demand better treatment from other, richer members of society. And therein lies another deep philosophical problem - what is social justice? What does social justice entail? Why? Based on what ethical principles? And of course most people aren't prepared to argue these questions on any more sophisticated level than that of their mythological constructs. No my friend, we as a species simply have not come all that far. There are even large numbers of ATHEISTS, here even on our site, that buys the garbage of the right, the Hobbesian justifications of giving
Comment by Glen Rosenberg on October 7, 2011 at 10:03pm

Good read Wanderer.

I dont know whether the Rand Libertarians see the hypocrisy in their political ideology. They want as much freedom to exploit the masses as possible. They proclaim the freedom of all citizens to prosper as if this can ever happen in a society of laissez faire capitalism.

Why should the masses accept a political construct which inevitably leads to disproportionate wealth in the elite and a legal if not legislative structure favoring the elite. The libertarians want what amounts to state of nature capitalism. But unchecked capitalism is anything but state of nature. The masses are duped into an organization which leaves them to struggle inspite of ample resources. THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN IN A STATE OF NATURE! The silverback or alpha may eat first but then the silverback or alpha is offering and risking more to the group. And they do not exploit or dominate the resources the way the elite do.

Unfortunately the masses constantly vote against their interest. They are swayed by platitudes and religion. Their analytical bent is that of a ripe grape.

There is no question that our current government is utterly corrupted by special interests. Congress is composed mostly of hoars. And we need some socialism mixed in with capitalism.

 

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