Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reexamining Convention: Part Two - Nations, Politics, and Other Human Inventions in Society

Section One - Politik in the USA

The United States is a strange place.

On November 4th, 2008, the United States held an election for the office of President of the United States. 131,257,328 people voted; approximately 60-63% of the total population that was eligible to vote, which was somewhere between 200 and 212 Million. Barrack Obama won the election with about 52% of the popular vote; this would put him at having won about 30% of the total eligible voters in the nation. This was the highest voter turnout in about half a century by a significant margin.

But, as ridiculously unrepresentative these votes were, they were not even counted. Although the office is a national one, due to the convoluted election system in the United States the votes were counted in a far different manner.

When voters went to the polls last November, they were led to believe they were voting between two candidates. In reality, they chose between electoral representatives: though not named on the ballot, the elections were actually to choose this position, not the office of president. These "electors" are nominated by their political parties, and are elected by state, not on the national stage. A prescribed amount of the electors is allocated to each of the fifty states. They technically have the freedom to choose any candidate for President. However, the political parties discourage such behavior, called 'faithlessness', by nominating high-ranking party officials or, more commonly, loyal associates thereof to the office. Then, some time after election day, the electors cast their votes to actually determine who wins the Presidency. However, since their votes are basically guaranteed to go one way or another, we saw who 'won' on election day.

Now, why would this system be utilized? It is immensely and unnecessarily convoluted, and seems to serve no greater purpose.

That is, until you examine the context more closely.

The "Founding Fathers" of the United States established the electoral college system essentially because they did not trust the common people to actually elect their representatives.
"A popular election in this case is radically vicious. The ignorance of the people would put it in the power of some one set of men dispersed through the Union, and acting in concert, to delude them into any appointment." -- Delegate Gerry, July 25, 1787
Essentially, Elbridge Gerry was speaking for the whole convention when he said that he feared the common people could be easily fooled manipulated in choosing their candidates from a very small pool of people, all closely associated and essentially conspiring to control the Union. They feared, basically, that Democracy would undermine itself; so, they created an oligarchy of sorts, whereby the States would choose the President of the United States. In this way, they were sure, no clandestine organization would ever be able to swindle the American public out of their votes: they had already been taken from them, and distributed in such a diluted manner that no organization in 1787 could possibly control the election.

Ironically, this would ensure the total hijacking of American politics by a small, tightly-knit elite. This was also achieved across the world in every democratizing, industrializing nation of the time.

All but one of the Founding Fathers joined two "political parties" by 1792. Alexander Hamilton began the Federalist Party, which recruited most of the Northern states and delegates, promoted banking interests, and was dominant for the first part of the United States' politics until 1800, when it began to fade. Thomas Jefferson established the Democratic-Republican Party, which recruited the Southern states and delegates, promoted the interests thereof (most notably slavery's continued existence), and was dominant from about 1800 to 1824. Thus began the dualistic nature of American Politics.

Do note how incredibly similar this dualistic system is to Christianity's, Judaism's, Islam's, and to a lesser degree all major world religions' systems of ethics and morality. In all of these systems, there is an absolute spectrum of dualistic morality, with the extremes anthropromorphized in the form of deities. This system of morality ignores the complexity of the human condition, and promotes adversity, and thus competition. This will be explored in more detail later on.

Now, there has never been a single time in American Politics where there have been more than two major, dominant parties. There have been many third-party organizations, but their significance has largely been moot. American political history has even been divided up into five eras, with different sets of political parties dominant in each period.

Political power in America has always been controlled by two political parties. And those have always been controlled by the rich.

From the very beginning, the delegates and politicians who became known as the Founding Fathers were essentially synonymous with the richest men in their states; everyone else was too busy with , while their wealth freed them to travel great distances and have their households managed by slaves, servants, and wives (While the Founders generally did little to improve the lot of those who did their share of work for them, they instead empowered and enriched themselves).

As time passed by, a new upper-class emerged from the ruthless capitalists of the late antebellum and gilded ages. As they utilized the "Free Labor" system, slavery was in direct competition with these industrialists' plans for market-share expansion all over the US, and eventually the world.

A short word on the Free Labor and slavery systems: These are just two, generally similar, methods of managing "human resources". Slavery is the ownership of such labor through direct ownership of the human being providing it. It was very inefficient for the antebellum South, because although it requires no wages and provides a monopoly on the labor from the slave, the slaves must be continually housed, clothed, fed and watered, which is an extreme drain on profit margins. Thus, most slave plantation owners were only breaking even year to year by the 1840s, while the slave traders, Northern merchants, and industrialists were reaping exponentially increasing profits annually. In addition, slave labor generally decreases the efficiency of the labor because the enslaved people (rightly) see no benefit to themselves or possibility for their future in the system.
However, despite requiring managers and industrialists to pay wages, the "Free Labor" system allows for the illusion of freedom and a productive future for the participants, thus improving productivity. It also is much cheaper than having to provide all the necessities to the workers, as in slavery, for people can always work more than one job. This spreads the responsibility for wealth around amongst the industrialists, creating reason for cooperation and collusion, as well as increasing overall productivity of the system. In addition, this spirit of collusion among the new business interests will quickly tie them inextricably into the political scene of the United States, without actually having to participate openly or directly in that field until much later, and thus operating without most peoples' knowledge.

Moving back to our narrative, slavery was a direct threat to continued market expansion, and thus the industrialists' profits, because not only did slave labor dominate and thus stunt the economies of half the Union, it threatened to expand even further across the newly acquired western territories the industrialists' had put much money into. They had pushed Congress and various Presidents to put centralized military force into seizing from the natives and the Mexican state, through the use of their political sponsorship and patronage. So, they provided even more patronage to the emerging Republican party, which opposed slavery's spread. (Monetary support for political campaigns will be their main tool for controlling the politics of the state for their own benefit throughout American history).

So, with tensions running high, the Southern states saw their economic system being slowly outmoded and dismantled by the industrialists. It should be noted that the legislative system was engineered specifically to balance pro and anti-slavery political forces by giving roughly equal say to both sides in Congress, rather than favoring one over the other. This is why we have a bicameral legislative system: one where all states have equal say, favoring the smaller states, and another where the more populous ones do, favoring the larger ones. By the 1840s, if one side got one more state than the other, it would upset the balance of power in the Senate and allow one side to pass a law definitively saying yes or no on the slavery issue. Many compromises, large and small, were made until the presidential election 1860 turned up a Republican leader, backed up by corporate sponsorship, whose 30% of the popular vote was barely enough to secure a pluralistic victory in a freak four-candidate race (basically the only one without any major, dominant parties due to various splits in the parties): Abraham Lincoln. At this point the South realized they were on the losing team, and decided to retreat away from the progress happening before their eyes. Thus, they seceded, militarized, and followed through by seizing Federal forts in the South. Thus began the Civil War.

What is important here, though, is that slavery was not abolished through the, undoubtedly tireless, efforts of the abolitionists. They were viewed with contempt in both the North and the South even through most of the Civil War itself, dismissed as dangerous reactionaries and subversives much as anarchists are today. The Civil War was waged because the corporate sponsors of the Republican party, the industrialists, thought it would benefit them. So, they supported it. What's even more sickening is that these are the same people who had swindled the American public out of millions of dollars in government railroad contracts, gold miners out of life savings, the same people who provided substandard supplies to soldiers on both sides through government contracting, and whose sons and grandsons would partake in the unimaginably brutal repressions of striking and unionizing workers of the late 1800s. The Civil War was waged not for ideals, but for profit, as all wars generally are, and certainly all wars the US would take part in afterwards.

But what's even more revealing is that these two competing systems, slavery and "Free Labor", only work to the benefit of the established elite. In slavery this is obvious, in a Free Labor system it is somewhat less so. However, this situation becomes much clearer when you realize that if practically all resources, services, and industries are privatized, and that in a "free market" eventually one party or several closely-knit ones will emerge largely dominant in every economic sector, and have total freedom to squash competition and unions, there will be a very small oligarchy of businessmen that control the economic, and thus political, aspects of the given society. Which is exactly what happened, and how the United States continues to be run; with religion subservient to the nation, and the nation subservient to the economic, or "special", interests. This hierarchy will only grow more pronounced over time.

Thus, there is no real "left" or "right" in American politics, there are only two parties which control politics, which are in turn controlled by established economic interests. There is only the vast majority, organized into two political parties, and backed up by the same economic elites, and the tiny minority which exists only because they are too insignificant politically, economically, and socially to pose a real threat to the establishment. This majority, despite believing that there is an "other" or "enemy" in the other party, are really being manipulated into not recognizing that both parties have essentially the exact same agenda, and very similar platforms. Despite invented issues which are comparatively minor or completely irrelevant issues that play on dividing people based on religious or racial criteria, in the overall scheme of things:
  • Both parties support the war in Afghanistan
  • Both parties support the war on drugs.
  • Both parties oppose freedom of movement into the United States for refugees from the nations that were exploited, corrupted, and ruined by economic interests based out of the United States, acts often permitted and subsidized by U.S. military support
  • Both parties support "free trade", a method by which whole nations are exploited for human and material resources, mostly by American economic elites
  • Both parties oppose socializing any part of the economy when unnecessary for economic stability, and thus domination by the economic elites
  • Both parties support the free-enterprise system
  • Both parties supported the financial "bailout" plan, which further aggrandized the banking industry's failed and corrupt executives who enriched themselves monstrously at the cost of millions of peoples' jobs and homes, as well as perpetuating a failed economic system while making no plans to eventually abandon said system, in addition to being contrary to the very ethics of the "free market" system they aided.
  • Both parties are financially supported by the sitting economic interests
The similarities could go on, and on.

Even more unnerving is that most people would not agree with any of these premises if they were properly educated by them. Unfortunately, the news media is largely controlled by the same establishment interests as support the political parties. This shows just how complete corporate dominance of society really is.

"Left" and "Right" exist only to further play on that system of dualistic morality that has been imposed on people since ancient times through religion. Think about it. How often have you considered people of "the other party" just fundamentally wrong, without even thinking about it? Or perhaps, without even knowing anything else about the person, except that they are of "the other party".

And what of those independent of this system? They are kept well marginalized. This is because the corporations realize that it is easier to control the political spectrum when it is a simple as possible, while still giving the illusion of choice: so, there are only two parties. To carry this out, independent candidates receive little to no funding from corporate sponsors, and thus are, as a group, made politically negligible on the state and national levels.

Basic political power and currency rests in how well advertised a candidate is. This is called a "campaign". The only way to have a good campaign, and thus be politically competitive as a candidate in any "democracy" with a capitalistic economy, is to be backed by the economically influential. Thus, although we all vote on who gets to go into office, our votes are made insignificant in every way, as compared to the CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies. Which makes sense. After all, they're the ones in charge.

So, Capitalism undermines Democracy. "Neither can live while the other survives", in fact.

As for your favorite public figures: no politician belonging to a major party is "too moral" to refuse corporate sponsorship. First of all, the major parties amount to corporate sponsorship in of themselves, taking in billions upon billions in indirect campaign contributions, which are then funneled to their candidates. Second of all, any politician who would refuse all kinds of such sponsorship would immediately become completely unsuccessful, and thus of moot importance. Thus is the nature of corporate control of democracy: clandestine, hard to detect, but ever-present.

There is no evidence or possibility that a capitalistic economic system can coexist with a political system will produce consistently honest, representative, and competent officers of the state. True, lasting, and real reform rarely occurs in capitalism. It costs too much.

In reality, it is the corporations who run all politics, sponsor both parties and candidates thereof, and keep ideas dangerous to the status quo in check. In reality, it is not the Left versus the Right: it is the common people versus themselves. The Left and the Right are illusions, just like God and the Devil, which:
  • Makes people feel part of a team, thus
  • Gives them a sense of moral superiority, and then
  • Establishes an enemy for them, and thus
  • Relieves them from the moral complexity of the world, which inevitably
  • Distracts them from the reality of their social situation.
These are all just illusions, and that's all they've ever been. They're only as "real" as we imagine them to be. Money, crucifixes, flags, they're all symbols. Symbols of the illusions we've grown to accept, become complacent under the weight of.

We can stop living the comfortable lives any time we want, and start making real changes to our mindsets and in our society that will put us all better off, all with what we need, all as one humanity.

It is possible.

Section Two - Global Politics, 1492-2009

These illusions are far from new.

Exploitation based on national, religious, and racial grounds (all human inventions) has been a staple of European politics since 1492.

In the colonial era, dominance passed first from Portugal in the 1400s, to Spain in 1500s, to the Dutch in the 1600s, and Britain for the 1700s to the 1800s, and would maintain major colonial possessions until the end of the second world war. But it didn't stop there.

As early as the late 1700s the U.S. was engaging in counter-piracy operations in North Africa. In the 1840s the United States invaded Mexico, seizing about half of Mexico which today is divided up into the states of California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and many others, doubling the size of the nation. In the 1860s slavery was abolished after a war and the appropriate war-profiteering, eliminating an inferior system for controlling labor. In 1896 the U.S. invaded Cuba, marking it's very first extracontinental military-colonial operation. Cuba would be dominated by U.S. business interests and corrupt dictators for another 60 years. In 1917 the U.S. was motivated by U.S. business interests and German provocations to enter the first world war, ending that final, most destructive war of colonialism decisively in favor of U.S. allies. In 1941 the U.S. entered the second world war, again due to U.S. business interests' encouragements and Axis provocations, and essentially ended Western European colonialism in its victory, beginning a new era of Soviet and U.S. domination of the world.

Throughout the post-war and cold-war periods, the U.S. created an economic empire for its business interests. It supported monstrous dictators and squashed nationalistic movements in nations exploited by U.S. businesses, and even engaged in acts of terrorism, such as assassinations, against leaders deemed unacceptable, and directly invaded or bombed many nations in order to eliminate particularly persistent resistance movements and aggrandize military contractors at the same time.

After the cold war ended with the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, military spending threatened to drop. An entire industry had been developed around military contracting, and they had an obvious vested interest in continuing to militarize. So it came as a great victory for many business leaders in the U.S. when on September 11th, 2001, three towers and part of the Pentagon fell in upon themselves after strikes by airborne objects in the most catastrophic military failure in U.S. history since Pearl Harbor. Clearly, some enemy was at work here, and this surely meant someone would be warred upon until they were defeated. Soon after, the President of the United States declared war: but he did so not on a nation, or an organization, or even an individual. He declared war on a tactic. And thus, the War on Terrorism began.

Why would he do that? That's an inherently unwinnable war, for somebody will always be able to use that strategy. It's very arguable that war in of itself involves terrorism inherently, especially the total war employed in the U.S. civil war and both world wars. The United States itself even utilized terrorism near constantly in it's foreign policy operations for the 60 years prior, and would continue to do so in the War on Terrorism. Something doesn't make sense here.

He did so, for profit.

The War on Terrorism was not supposed to end. It was supposed to provide the military-industrial complex, and all of its contractors, with an extended reason for existence and continued profits. In addition, in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly every part of the war, even some of the actual combat, was privatized. Companies such as Haliburton, Blackwater, and many others ripped off the U.S. government, and thus U.S. taxpayers, for billions upon billions of dollars. Dick Cheney, then vice president of the United States, was a former Halliburton CEO, and many in the Bush administration were involved or had associates in the corporations employed in the war effort.

So really, the corporate media directly demonizing Islam, or giving airtime to open, proud bigots, comes from no different logic than that of the 16th Century Roman Catholic Church, which labeled Africans and Native Americans as inferior, and thus useful only for enslavement. Racism, Nationalism, and Religious bigotry constitute most of the oldest motivations for warfare, and they continue to be used to this day.

It should be noted that all of these ideas are social inventions. They don't actually exist on their own. Nations are socio-political constructs. Races are classifications based on skin tone and facial characteristics. Religions are just as much human conceptions as nations are. There is no ground to the assertion that any of these concepts have a basis in reality. But then, their purpose has never been to based on reality. It has been to appear real, and provide feel-good justification for horrible atrocities and shameless discrimination, for the purpose of profit.

Is that acceptable?

Section Three - Reasons for Illusion

Capitalism is at the bottom of this.

The profit motive is the single most destructive societal concept, ever. It has caused and promoted the vast majority of neuroses that result in common theft and crime, to the grand slaughters of war, along with every single other act of corruption and greed since the very organization of sedentary society.

Religion and Politics were invented to keep people in line, thus preserving the status quo, and also provide justification for ultimately meaningless slaughter. They would not exist in a sane society. Ultimately, they do not solve problems, they create them. In summation, they do not bring people together, they divide them. Consequently, they are not the cornerstones of civilization as they are often touted, but rather the hallmarks of a backwards, capitalistic society.

We must find a way to run our society without all three of these institutions. They are inherently unfixable, because they are not fundamentally built to solve social problems: they are there to create them.

They are no longer necessary.

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