My wife is so patient! Believe me; I understand the frustration some people express about some of my prescriptions to deal with the rise of the corporate state. Case in point... Yesterday we were having lunch and got to talking about the increasing level of corruption and oppression the populace is being subjected to as the result of the greed of the power elite. And as it invariably happens when we talk about this and I get to expressing my opinion about what we (the citizenry) should do, matter-of-factly, we ended up having a little bit of a heated "discussion." But don't worry, we patched things up and moved on to talk about other things within five minutes.
Here's the narrative I always put forward when I have this discussion with her (one that frustrates her, and rightly so): "Okay, so the ruling elite (.01 percent) is highly organized and are moving their agenda (policy priorities) forward in a very deliberate, organized, and systematic manner. Since we (the people) are exponentially larger than the tiny ruling elite, all we have to do is organize in likewise fashion (common understanding of the nature of the system; common agenda; highly-organized; strategic, disciplined, relentless and resilient) in order to defeat them and re-establish economic justice, the rule of law, and constitutional protections."
Now, hopefully I won't be accused of not trying to be self-aware when I say that when I talk about the "solution" with such nonchalant, matter-of-fact (easy) approach, and I see her expression of disbelief and frustration, I totally understand her reaction. "Don't you think people are trying?" "Anyways, WHO is going to lead such organized movement?" "The elite has lots of money; they nave armies, and generals, and top corporate executives; and think tanks; and the media." Those are some of the things she says... And I definitely know they are totally legit since I've heard similar reactions from others throughout the years.
Before I move on from this anecdote, let me share with you what I told her (paraphrasing) once things calmed down, and before we (thankfully) moved on to talk about something else: "Because of the dynamics involved and the nature of the system, things are going to continue getting progressively worst and the conditions that lead to oppression, subjugation, and exploitation are going to spread throughout society at an accelerated pace. We have no choice but to deal with this reality, one way or another. If we do nothing (effective) now and organize with the purpose of gaining sufficient strength to force changes and undo the corporate state, we (the people) will eventually face untold brutality and abuse, at which point the only viable reaction will be a disorganized outburst of rage."
I think this is a good segue to examine what happens when the level oppression reaches a certain point, or threshold. In a recent AlterNet article, senior editor Lynn Stuart Parramore wrote about a 2011 study (PDF) that found "statistical evidence that austerity policies are linked to explosive unrest."
Austerity sparks a vicious cycle: Political and social chaos that results from budget cuts tends to make the economic conditions even worse. With every additional percentage point decline in spending as a percent of GDP, the risk of unrest increases.The emphasis is mine
What many Americans don’t realize is that the U.S. has a blood-soaked history of austerity-related unrest, from the anti-rent and labor union riots of the 1830s that attended the bursting of the Jacksonian land bubble, to the Coxey’s Army protest of unemployed workers during the economic depression of the 1890s, right up through the various uprisings of the Great Depression. If you look closely at these incidents, you tend to find the government responding with inadequate aid and budget-cutting mania.
In the wake of the Great Recession, the Obama administration responded to widespread economic hardship with a stimulus package that kept the population from descending into a full-scale freak-out. But the package was inadequate, contributing to significant unrest, most notably the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations of 2011. Police buildup since 9/ll and a generally aggressive stance in the U.S. toward protesters may have worked to keep many would-be demonstrators at home since the crisis. But history shows that even the most brutal police and aggressive armies can’t keep the lid on when austerity becomes too severe.
But here's the thing about so-called austerity: It really has nothing to do with efforts to set the "financial house in order," or to "stimulate the economy" by propping up the private sector or incentivizing people to seek employment. It is basically the result of exploitative policies pushed by the ruling elite.
Here's how author and journalist CJ Polychroniou describes the effects of austerity in the age of "financialization," in a truthout Op-Ed: Actually Existing Capitalism: Wrecking Societies for the Benefit of Big Capital and the Super-Rich
In the age of "financialization," and particularly in the austerity-driven period following the financial crisis of 2007-08, the drive to maximize profit takes the form of absolute wage suppression and other means of exploitation, including the socialization of private losses, forcing the transfer of public assets to the private sector and creating debt peonage.The emphasis is mine
With the onset of the "financialization" of the economy (a driving force behind globalization and the shaping of the current and on ongoing neoliberal project), economic growth, employment prospects and the standards of living deteriorate significantly throughout the advanced industrialized world. This is easily proven by comparing growth and unemployment rates under the era of "managed capitalism" (1945-73) versus rates of growth and unemployment under the neoliberal world order (1979-present).
Here's my take, my interpretation of the situation: As these authors point out, the system has become predatory. I argue that the system itself has become "autonomous," a Frankenstein-type monster which has lost its ability to regulate itself.
Here's what feeding the neoliberal capitalist monster... First, think of every important area of government: National security (military, intelligence, surveillance, police); regulatory oversight; politics (legislation). The system has become so utterly corrupt that in each of these areas of government an eerily familiar ethos has developed: Government functionaries, on average, are seeking to cash in on their official duties by seeking employment with corporations that stand to benefit from both, decisions made as government employees, and influence-peddling (i.e, as lobbyists) once they leave office.
During a recent Moyers & Company broadcast, chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, Mark Leibovich, talking about his new book This Town (how money rules Washington, DC) pretty much said the same thing:
[cowardise] [i]t's rewarded in Congress. You everything about the Congressional system, whether it's leadership, whether it's how money is raised, is going to reward cowardice. The true mavericks are going to be punished in some ways. If you are going-- if you want to build a career outside of office when you're done, when you're voted out as a lobbyist, as a consultant, as many of them do, you are absolutely in-- you are absolutely encouraged not anger too many people. Not--The emphasis is mine
That right there is the genesis of the perversion of government; the essence of the Corporate State. Politicians and government functionaries have ceased being public servants, and have instead turned into corporate hacks who curry favor with their future employers while they are in office, and who use their influence (peddling) on behalf of corporations when they leave office--in the name of profiteering.
That system is now fully entrenched, and I argue it is utterly unable to self-regulate.
If that is the case, we should expect increased levels of exploitation and oppression as the kleptocratic capitalist system continues to seek ever expanding quarterly profits from dwindling resources (both human, and natural).
What does that means? If you think about areas of your own life, whether it is work/employment/career, education, the natural environment (clean air, clean water, safe habitat), housing, leisure time, civil rights, constitutional protections, freedom itself, as time goes by, eventually they will all be impacted negatively as the result of the predations of the Corporate State.
And going back to my main argument, once things get bad enough (cross a certain threshold of oppression/austerity), then people lash out (riots) in desperation.
And getting back to recurring discussions I have with my wife (and others) about this topic, the question I always pose is: If we know that this is the trajectory we're heading towards, and we know what the end-game is (widespread suffering and upheaval), what is preventing us from rising up now in organized peaceful resistance to avert that outcome?
Now, before I'm accused of being (too) disingenuous, let me acknowledge that probably the number one obstacle to the formation of the type of highly-organized social justice/resistance movement is that not everybody accepts these premises. There is a huge segment of the population who still think that the system can reform itself; others think that the system is working just fine; yet others acknowledge that there are some serious problems, but that most of them can be addressed at the ballot box.
When I talk about the need for a highly organized, strategic, cohesive, disciplined, focused, and resilient popular resistance movement, people ask me to define what I mean by that... To answer that question, the first word that comes to mind is "militancy." I know some people recoil when they see that word, but for my purposes, what I mean by militancy is "highly organized, strategic, disciplined, and focus." Remember, my thing is to act now while we can still do so in peaceful resistance, in order to hopefully avoid future violence once things get really bad and people can take it anymore. So like I've indicated throughout all my previous writings, I never advocate violence of any kind.
But here's where it gets interesting. There are those who do acknowledge (what I believe is) the true nature of the system, but don't think peaceful resistance would work, and hence don't think that there is anything that can be done to rise up against oppression by the corporate state.
I argue, to the contrary, the corporate state doesn't necessarily fear pockets of people rising up in violent resistance, since it expects it and it is fully prepared to deal with it. What the corporate state fears the most (and works really hard at preventing) is a large-enough segment of the population (3 to 5 percent) uniting in solidarity under a common understanding of the true nature of the system, and organizing in sustained peaceful opposition.
Since this diary got a little long, I will elaborate further on this subject in my next one, but in the meantime, let me share with you a very simple tactic, which would be just one out of thousands of others that could be used against the corporate state.
Activists would deploy this tactic nationwide with two key conditions: It would have to be strategic, and enduring (sustained for days, weeks, months, or even years if need be).
Anywhere "targeted" politicians went, they will always run the risk of seeing protesters holding this sign:
Wall Street Criminal Racketeering Cartel
Anywhere Wall Street top executive went they'll run the risk of seeing protesters holding this sign:
Corporate Media Conglomerate Propaganda
Target all national media headquarters, starting with MSNBC, FoxNews, CNN, CBS, ABC, and arrange for activists to picket their headquarters seven days a week for the foreseeable future, holding signs like this:
Here's is the thing about these tactics... They are conceptually easy to deploy, and even though they are peaceful tactics, if they are widespread, relentless and sustained, they could serve two powerful functions: one would be reaching the public at large, with the effect of educating and recruiting people to the cause; the other one would be a psychological warfare tactic against the targets.
Finally, if you use your imagination, you could come up with hundreds of peaceful tactics that if done in a highly coordinated, strategic, disciplined, and sustained manner, I guarantee you it would put the fear of God on the oppressors.
You know why? Because once this level of organization of potentially hundreds of peaceful tactics are deployed all over the country, then a real threat to the corporate state is implied, projected.
Again, I will elaborate further in my next diary... In the meantime, those who would like to share their input as to how they would go about organizing a highly cohesive non-hierarchical (peaceful) popular resistance movement, please visit my book project webpage and click on the red button to submit your ideas/feedback.
And of course, and just to clarify, never ever give up one inch on the political process. I never encourage anybody not to exercise their right to vote or participate in the process. It may be compromised at this point, but we need to stayed involved, and so let's keep up with the mission of electing more and better Democrats to public office.
I'll leave you with this (revolutionary) video by Calle 13. Most of it is Spanish, but the words are very powerful. It talks about how corruption and propaganda are damaging society, and about how people are waking up to what's happening and rising up in opposition.
We live in the world that your propaganda made, but when you think you are strong, you are weak. Your lies tell us the truth we will use against you. Your secrecy shows us where we will strike. Your weapons reveal your fear for all to see. From Cairo to Quito a new order is forming. The power of people armed with the truth.
-- Julian Assange / Calle 13 multi-viral
If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning.The emphasis is mine
They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.
The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must pay for all they get. If we ever get free from all the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and, if needs be, by our lives, and the lives of others.
- Frederick Douglass