Monday, November 12, 2012

Propping Up A Rotten System Is The Liberal Curse

Image: Occupy NH Primary
One of the the greatest dangers of the thinking error I call "false dichotomy" is the misperception that a loss for one "side" is a win for the other. The multi-billion dollar professional sports industry exists partly to distract us from the killing and enslavement necessary to support our lavish, unsustainable lifestyle, but mostly as a strategy to enforce the notion that dichotomy is fundamental to understanding the modern world.

Potential thinkers fall prey to the error early in life, and are then severely handicapped when it comes to thinking about nuances, or analyzing situations where black vs. white thinking does not apply.

Public education in this country -- at most locations anyway -- reinforces the notion, teaching over and over again how the colonies rebelled and threw off the chains of tyranny imposed by monarchy and colonialism. Our side won!!!

Never mind that the U.S. is essentially the heir of what was at the time the most rapacious of global imperial powers. We're a white supremacist, genocidal, upstart colony riding on the (now subsiding) wave of immense material wealth got by stealing the continent from indigenous tribes. Treaties and other forms of law were used to trick and dispossess our land's former inhabitants, epidemic disease was willfully induced, and brute force relocation was used against the survivors. You can see it as the final act in the old play of Rule Britannia, or the first act in the new play of U.S. global hegemony.

These thoughts are in my mind as Thanksgiving approaches and I am digesting the news about CIA director and ex-general Petraeus resigning over the sort of martial infidelity that shocks no one in this day and age. Compared with acting like a teenager in the oval office with an intern, Petraeus' dalliance seems positively dignified; at least his paramour was an adult with a real job.

It just seems amazingly coincidental that a CIA outpost in Benghazi, Libya was recently overrun and several of its staff killed -- including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, who was there for reasons we have not and likely will not hear honestly explained. If you've studied history much you know that competition is fierce at the highest levels of rich, predatory empires of any sort. And right now who's in control of military aid flowing from Libya to militants in Syria, which lies along the path to defeating Iran for control of the Persian Gulf?

The dichotomy I'm interested in is the one between spending tax revenues for corporate welfare (buying expensive weapons systems that are the biggest polluters on earth, for instance, or letting hugely profitable entities like oil companies operate virtually tax free at our expense) or spending tax revenues actually taking care of people. As we've seen from the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, which has been like Katrina but with cold weather, government no longer even makes a pretense of responding to people's basic needs. Ditto wealthy organizations like the Red Cross with their own powerful elites.
As the so-called "fiscal cliff" approaches and progressives make ready to cave on reducing the entitlements that are the last safety net for so many in the U.S., I want to go down fighting for economic justice. I respect the Occupy Sandy folks who are exhausting themselves delivering the disaster relief not forthcoming from government by billionaires, but I also know that getting drawn into propping up a rotten system can be a sinkhole for energy and morale.

It's like I heard an activist say in a video organizing students to promote Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel: Palestinians are not a downtrodden people in need of charity. They are a dispossessed people, in need of justice.

Charity is so much more polite and less challenging, generally. Timid types can participate without fear of being disruptive to the genteel veneer hiding violent repression. Fundraisers where everyone has a nice meal are so much more enjoyable than getting arrested and brutalized by police for exercising the right to speech and assembly, for example.

Coming together for mutual aid can be a powerful movement builder.

But a movement is only worth building if its ultimate aim is to remove the underpinnings of a venal and corrupt system.

Here are anti-austerity protesters in Spain early this autumn. Let's make our own government fear this kind of public rejection of government by and for the wealthy, and austerity for the rest of us.

1 comment:

chrisrushlau said...

To call Palestinians "a people" is to segregate them from "the Jewish people" and thus legitimize Zionism. Elsewhere than in the Israeli state in Palestine and the US, peoples do not have rights or feelings; only persons do.