By Johan Galtung
The Occupy Movement is a sign of US sanity. Leaderless makes it less vulnerable, immensely consciousness-raising, not insisting on any one single analysis or remedy–for the time being. People so concerned that they sacrifice some personal comfort–gaining togetherness and a sense of meaning, a gift for a democracy.
And what a sign of US insanity their touch with authority was: no leading politicians eager to preach or learn or both, but tear gas, pepper spray, evictions. In the 1960’s Vietnam era, Sec. of Defense Robert McNamara ultimately left his office to talk sense into demonstrators. It worked-the other way around. That the social worker from Chicago, Obama, did not, is a shame.
USA today: for, of and by, not the people, but the top 1%. And Congress, the twin parties, is not in-between but in the 1%. To call the USA a democracy is an insult to the word. The multi-party-national-election show is now on the road, but those elected will not be “accountable”–in the basic sense–to their voters, but to the corporate benefactors that pay for their campaigns.
Moreover, in good conscience, after the Supreme Court’s ruling that campaign money can be subsumed under freedom of expression. Watch out, violence is also an act of communication. Why not “subsume” it and all three forms of power, force, bribery, and ideas equalized as freedom of expression? The USA fights wars with carpets of bombs, gold and ideas, so why not also elections?
Democracy is a contract with the voters: “if elected I will try to enact my program.” That traitor to democracy, Obama, with a rhetoric of change, attracted the underprivileged–blacks, reds, Hispanics, women, youth, workers, and betrayed them all; but not his benefactor Goldman Sachs, favoring bailing them out way above stimulus.
He approved the extension of the Patriot Act, criminalized dissent, increased wire-tapping, spied on Muslim communities, maintained a “Top Secret America” with 1,271 government and 1,931 private organizations spying on citizens from 10,000 locations. He will prosecute the publishers of WikiLeaks, defends the confinement conditions of Bradley Manning, censored books written by former CIA agents, blocked publication of photos of US soldiers abusing prisoners, shields government from review, pleading state secrets, raids peace activists, uses solitary confinement (Quigley). He maintains the Bush rule, adding to it: Bush+. A megalomaniac, he sees himself as above the parties, leans toward the Republicans to get them onboard and enacts Republican politics. +.
He extended the Bush warfare from two to at least six countries, switching from overt Pentagon to covert CIA drones warfare, allocates $185 billion to “modernization” of the nuclear arsenal (Norway’s naiveté gave him a peace prize for his rhetoric to the contrary), holds a record in servility to Israel, engaged in an extra-judicial execution of Osama bin Laden, Al-Awlaki, and indirectly Qaddafi (“electioneering-by-assassination” Alexander Cockburn calls it; The Nation, May 30 2011); and, at the same time he presides over a de-developing country with decreasing livelihood by numbers of newborn babies dying, life expectancy for certain categories, the increasing number of families under the poverty line, many suffering hunger (maybe 16 percent of the population). What priorities!
Some predicted this from his past as a constitutional law professor: what is right is what the judge decides. As a politician: politics is what Congress decides. He is the lowest of US presidents in the use of vetoes, only 2. Roosevelt, indeed a politician, is No. 1 with 635 vetoes, 1 every 7 days (USA Today, 7-9 October 2011).
Robert Reich, in an excellent article “The Rebirth of Social Darwinism” (Nation of Change, 04 December 2012) asks “What kind of society, exactly, do modern Republicans want?”
Not a smaller government, as “most seek a larger national defense and more muscular homeland security”. Search and surveillance inside the USA. More prisons, more death sentences. Reich answers: they are not conservatives, but regressives: “they’d rather take the country backwards – before the 1960s and 1970s, and the Environmental Protection Act, Medicare, and Medicaid; before the New Deal, and its provision for Social Security, unemployment insurance, the forty-hour work week, laws against child labor–recognition of trade unions–the America they seek is what we had in the Gilded Age of the late 19th century”.
And that is where social darwinism enters as ideology, says Reich. William Graham Sumner was professor of political and social science at Yale, the university of Skull and Bones fame, “and brought Charles Darwin to America and twisted him to fit the times–life was a competitive struggle in which only the fittest would survive – and through this struggle society becomes stronger over time–governments should do little or nothing to help those in need because that would interfere with natural selection.”
Primacy to this vision of nature; no sense of structures with their iron grip of human destiny, nor of cultures of compassion. In addition, Reich compares quotes a century old, and more, with quotes from the candidates. This also applies to Ron Paul. He wants to save by stopping endless warfare, but also favors the repeal of Obama’s health care plan. When asked what advice he would give to a young man who had decided not to buy health insurance, but got into a coma: “That’s what freedom is all about: taking your own risks”.
The US choice is between cholera and pest. Any exit?
Maybe one. The Occupy Movement becomes a movement to revive a dying economy, creating thousands of small enterprises, banks for savings, not speculation. They start a parallel society.