Kossack LaFeminista has a brief, excellent piece up on the Rec List (see: “To make lies sound truthful and murder respectable"), and it reminded me of one of our country’s better--and, perhaps, more underappreciated--writing talents, whose work I don’t read as often as I should: Michael Ventura, over at The Austin Chronicle. (h/t to Yves at Naked Capitalism)…
Letters at 3AM: That Word 'Oligarchy'
Oligarchy is upon us, claw and beak, and has been for some time
By Michael Ventura
Fri., July 11, 2014
…Oligarchy is upon us, claw and beak, and has been for some time.
Hard to see, because it is faceless. Hard to track because it is right in front of us, posing as the capitalism Americans believe in. Hard to fight, because legislators and judges get rich doing its bidding. Hard even to think about, because it is very hard to say out loud that the American dream is a goner. We don't know how to face that – or how to think about what comes next.
Four years ago – April 9, 2010 – I began a five-part series headlined "O Is for Oligarchy," which described the Oligarchy entrenched in America. It does me little credit to honk "oligarchy" four years before Piketty, Moyers, and Krugman. It was there to see before I saw it, but, as George Orwell wrote, "To see what is in front of one's nose is a constant struggle."
Oligarchy has no public face, but it has a subsonic voice that hisses and speaks constantly, a direct feed to all, awake or asleep, making everybody very nervous, for we hear it under, over, and within the national discourse. This is the sound it makes:
"You are all so fucking stupid you don't know the difference between social rights and civic rights – so let gays marry and soldier, but we reserve the power to arrest any gender without warrant and detain you without trial.
"Sure, freedom of speech, speak all you like, but we have the freedom to listen in, read your emails, and make ourselves privy to your dear private lives. If we decide you need to die, we've staked out that right, too, the right to kill you, without trial, without proof, anywhere in the world (even here). No child shall be left behind, but millions of kids shall be hungry every day, and we shall not allow this to be a political issue – neither party shall give it serious attention. We may raise the minimum wage to $10 or $11 because that's still not enough to live on, and it will keep you and your kids confined to the servile class. We'll give you medical care so long as we can wed the finance industry to government, and make for-profit health care and Big Pharma semi-official agents of the state.
"We reserve the right to make war anywhere, anytime, in any country, without the consent of anyone, and it's not about terrorists, it's about resources, and we profit while you pay for our military.
"Hey, it was proven that the Director of National Intelligence flat-out lied to Congress, but he kept his job. Torturers kept their jobs. Hucksters kept their jobs. How secure is yours?
"You can hardly spend a cent that doesn't, sooner or later, profit us…"
Here’s an excerpt from Ventura from a couple of weeks ago…
Letters at 3am: Oligarchy Blues
Without fair elections and a viable legislative process at federal and state levels, the republic no longer exists
Fri., June 27, 2014
....Question of the Era: Are you trapped in your vocabulary?: You don't know how to speak of the United States in any way other than what you've been taught? So you speak of the present as though it is the past and your answers are as antique as your questions.
Thomas Pynchon: "If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers."
Hold this truth to be self-evident: Without fair elections and a viable legislative process at federal and state levels, the republic no longer exists.
Votes for Democrats or Republicans may serve your ends in the short run, and good for you, good for you – but are your ends enough? Are you free?
Oh, let's suppose you're free, just so long as you stay in the little box you've created for yourself – but what do you bequeath if you can't or won't recognize or admit what has happened to you as a citizen of the republic that no longer exists?
Want to be free? I don't know the second step, but I know the first:
Stop speaking in terms that describe a previous generation's country.
If you want to change what is, speak of what is.
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