04 February 2010

Apologia and rethinking politics

I don't kid myself that I have many regular readers. Maybe none, in fact, although there are a few who look in when I call their attention to something, which I appreciate. I also don't kid myself that anyone is responsible for that situation other than myself.

Lately I ventured a few longish posts about an issue of what I think of as natural philosophy that has always interested me, and I got a bit of feedback, but mostly nothing, as I expected. If anyone cares to say they either like or don't like that kind of rumination, I would be interested.

I have also been pretty quiet about some of the recent rather discouraging developments in the political arena. The fact is, I'm deeply discouraged, and have lost most of my faith that Democratic electoral politics has a genuine capability, given the structural impediments of our political system, to effect change that actually makes peoples' lives better in meaningful ways.

I'm not saying those of us who believe that government should work for the people and not for the Morally Repugnant Elite (a phrase used in Haiti a lot that I think fits the bill here too)...should give up. I do think, though, that Joe Bageant is right when he says that our political parties and political system have been all but entirely hijacked by corporatist interests. Michael Moore says much the same thing, and it seems to me if you find him simplistic and annoying, you ought to examine what you believe in, because he represents a pretty clear statement of the actual interests of ordinary people, unfettered by propaganda. If we want, as I do (for example) to have a president who will reiterate Franklin Roosevelt's 1944 State of the Union address, in which he laid out his conception of a "new bill of rights," guaranteeing each citizen a job with a living wage, freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, a home, medical care, education, and recreation; -- and mean it, we have to act locally to change peoples' minds, and work long term to resist the undemocratic control of our government by moneyed interests. The recent Citizens United v. FEC case, which I am convinced is one of the most sweepingly regressive court decisions of the past century or more, will only make this that much harder.

But if there is any responsibility that free people simply cannot shirk, no matter how deeply entrenched opposing interests may be, it is to articulate, advocate, and work for change in the system of governance which we espouse to exist only by our consent. No matter how long it may take. And so, that is what we must do. We must state our views. We must vote accordingly. We must organize and contribute our resources to others and to organizations who think as we do. And we must resist the imposition of policy imposed by undemocratic institutions and systems, with efforts at change, and, when necessary and appropriate, with civil disobedience. Because it's a long, hard struggle ahead.
«We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.»
--Justice Lewis Brandeis

1 comment:

  1. I have been thinking about the old hippy days and so many of our age group that had that communal urge. Much of the time it manifested as drug and goofy idea ridden rural madness, but the urge itself was a portentious one in that the egregious dysfunction that now plagues our political/economic
    system now thirty years later can only be countered with the power of groups to bond and take care of themselves and their own needs. Not to say that we shouldn't, as you say, care about our government...we always ask "how can we halp the man who still suffers?", but we can not rely on it to provide nor to live up to its promise which may have been too glorious for humans to bear, I don't know. I appreciate what you write and enjoy the dialog.


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