An article caught my eye on MSNBC today, with the sub-title “We’re the first generation to say that voting is worthless.” What a wonderful and important concept! It’s nothing new for us, but kind of surprising to see on a corporate media website and written by the New York Times, I’d say. The article connects the dots between many of the revolutions and protests around the world this year including the current Occupy Wall Street campaign, even hinting at the futility of capitalist democracy. But before I lavish too much praise, it’s not as if it isn’t lacking some of the dots that should have been connected.
In typical corporate fashion, some jabs were given at workers’ unions; and the giant union protests in Madison, Wisconsin this year were unfortunately plunged down some free-market memory hole. Also of noticeable absence was a complete lack of WikiLeaks or its role in fomenting some of the rebellions seen this year. But the idea that capitalist democracy is a worthless distraction made to pacify a bribed middle-class is not your typical MSNBC/New York Times writing subject, and suggests that the message is becoming harder to ignore. The more this message is dispersed the better, I think.
And it seems more and more of the world is waking up to this idea: “But even in India and Israel, where growth remains robust, protesters say they so distrust their country’s political class and its pandering to established interest groups that they feel only an assault on the system itself can bring about real change.” Music to my ears! With corruption so bald-faced and aggressive at levels not seen in decades, this game being played is becoming more and more dangerous for Power. The people who are supposed to be placated by their precious ballots are being forced to understand that none of the choices they are being presented with are worth believing anymore. And it’s making them angry.
Does this mean the status quo is is about to get curb stomped? I certainly hope so, but unless efforts we are seeing at home and abroad are maintained and or increased we could see these exciting developments die. Most importantly, we need to spread the concept that change cannot be won through voting in a capitalist democracy with candidates that are marketed to us as products with a fuck ton of small writing at the margins.
The Occupy Wall Street protestors have had a rough time of it so far, and I think that speaks to their potential for change. If ineffectual, the protestors would almost certainly not be beaten, harassed, or attacked. The liberal culture might even co-opt their ineffectuality and make it their own, as is seen all to often within protest movements that wither and die. We can take heart (no easy task, watching the brutality against these brave innocents) knowing that we are scaring power, and hope that these voices aren’t silenced. Ironically, our society advertises a celebration of protesting the status quo – as long as one keeps it cosmetic. As soon as protest is born of an action that has the potential to cause change, those pretenses quickly fall away. As we’ve seen several times in the recent past like the Battle in Seattle, Anti-War protests leading up to the Iraqi Invasion/Occupation, and the latest being the Occupy Wall Street protests; when the working classes’ protests become mobilized to an extent that Power sees a potential for destabilization of the status quo – we see the so-called freedom and liberty of the state instantly wash away.
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I saw this article on Gawker recently. A $25 dollar fee (not a tax when it’s against the poor) may be imposed on anyone wishing to visit an inmate in Arizona’s prison system – in order to finance a background check against the visitor! Quite amazing the lengths to which our leaders will go in order to solve our multiple budget crises, no? Surely we should all be grateful at the sacrifices being made so that we can all enjoy the society we have built together and not have it fall into financial ruin! Sarcasm aside, this is another example of Power using “the debt” as its most powerful asset. Instead of ending the practices leading directly to the so-called budget crisis Arizona (and the United States as a whole) is facing, our leaders instead use the deficits as reasons to further the progress of funneling society’s wealth upwards. After all, with the poor representing most prisons’ populations, who do they think they are going to be collecting these “fees” from?
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Ten years have passed since 9/11, what do we get to mourn this? We’ll get lots and lots of flag waving I’m sure. Probably some mosques will be vandalized. Solemn speeches reminding us to “never forget” what happened. We’ll get romanticized images of soldiers fighting. We’re also going to get scared. I’m writing this before going on vacation, but I’m sure there will be “credible threats” coming from everywhere this weekend. We’ll need to be panicked to believe that anything that has occurred these past 10 years was done to make anyone besides the already powerful any safer.
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The names I see surrounding on this Labor Day weekend are my enemies. On a weekend that exists to commemorate an American tragedy against our fellow workers (despite American capitalism’s efforts to erase that from our collective memories [best encapsulated for me by Apple's iTunes Labor Day Weekend Movies featuring only movies about pregnancy and child bearing]) I am still continually bombarded with these name. The names, or brands. Everything that surrounds me right now as I sit on my couch and eat junk food (I eat whatever I want on Sundays) is tagged with the brand of companies that have spent their entire personhood trying to grind my fellow workers to a streamlined pulp.
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