"The corporate media routinely divides Americans as 'liberals,' 'conservatives' and 'moderates,' a useful division for the corporatocracy, because no matter which of these groups is the current electoral winner, the corporatocracy retains power. In order to defeat the corporatocracy, it's more useful to divide people in terms of authoritarians versus anti-authoritarians, elitists versus populists and corporatists versus anticorporatists. Both left anti-authoritarians and libertarian anti-authoritarians passionately oppose current US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Wall Street bailout, the PATRIOT Act, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the so-called 'war on drugs' and several other corporatocracy policies." -- Bruce E. Levine
I've been feeling a bit melancholy lately, mostly -- but not entirely -- because I've felt no matter what actions the Left takes, or seems to take, it's never good enough, or it's never on target. I had mentioned to a friend a few months ago that as far-fetched and off-target the right-wing fringe was, in particular the Tea Party, it was correct in its assessment that something dreadfully was wrong. In our conversation I remarked that we, the Left along with the right-wing, held some very common ground in some very important aspects. Sure, in more areas than can possibly be enumerated here, we're as different as night and day -- as unmixable as oil and water -- but in some very key areas we recognize that there is something frightfully wrong.
As I wrote in my initial blog post last July, I came across that "something" back in 2002. It's not that I didn't have a rudimentary understanding that multinational corporations wielded great power and influence, but I wasn't totally understanding the reasons how and why -- and how deeply and almost transparently. As I read and researched more and more about these reasons, and understood the ramifications of key court rulings over the last century-and-a-quarter, I came to understand the true disease that has poisoned our republic and its assumed democratic processes. This morning, out of the blue, that same friend who I had been talking to about Left and Right commonalities, brought me out of that funk with the following uplifting article.
As the author, Bruce Levine, a clinical psychologist, articulates: "Many Americans are embarrassed to accept that, after years of corporatocracy subjugation, we have developed 'battered people's syndrome' and what Bob Marley called 'Mental Slavery'." It's what activist and author Jane Anne Morris coined, the "colonizing of our minds". The psychological manipulation that has taken place, accelerated and more intense with each passing day, has been a long-term and piece-by-piece process.
In order to un-do the damage of mental-colonization, it'll take a step-by-step process -- from building individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, to siding with anti-authoritarianism and democratic values against authoritarianism and the values of the corporatocracy. It'll take more courage and critical thinking; more thinking in terms of local institutions and activities that affect our day-to-day lives, and less about national agendas and politics and elections. It'll take the uniting of "comfortable anti-authoritarians" and "afflicted anti-authoritarians". As Dr. Levine summarizes, "democracy will not be won without guts and solidarity" and some risk. Read this excellent article and tell me if you agree.
The Tenfold Path to Guts, Solidarity and the Defeat of the Corporate Elite
by Bruce E. Levine, Truthout
Many Americans know that the United States is not a democracy but a "corporatocracy," in which we are ruled by a partnership of giant corporations, the extremely wealthy elite and corporate-collaborator government officials. However, the truth of such tyranny is not enough to set most of us free to take action. Too many of us have become pacified by corporatocracy-created institutions and culture.
Some activists insist that this political passivity problem is caused by Americans' ignorance due to corporate media propaganda, and others claim that political passivity is caused by the inability to organize due to a lack of money. However, polls show that on the important issues of our day - from senseless wars, to Wall Street bailouts, to corporate tax-dodging, to health insurance rip-offs - the majority of Americans are not ignorant to the reality that they are being screwed. And American history is replete with organizational examples - from the Underground Railroad, to the Great Populist Revolt, to the Flint sit-down strike, to large wildcat strikes a generation ago - of successful rebels who had little money but lots of guts and solidarity.
The elite spend their lives stockpiling money and have the financial clout to bribe, divide and conquer the rest of us. The only way to overcome the power of money is with the power of courage and solidarity. When we regain our guts and solidarity, we can then more wisely select from - and implement - time-honored strategies and tactics that oppressed peoples have long used to defeat the elite. So, how do we regain our guts and solidarity?
1. Create the Cultural and Psychological "Building Blocks" for Democratic Movements
Historian Lawrence Goodwyn has studied democratic movements such as Solidarity in Poland, and he has written extensively about the populist movement in the United States that occurred during the end of the 19th century (what he calls "the largest democratic mass movement in American history"). Goodwyn concludes that democratic movements are initiated by people who are neither resigned to the status quo nor intimidated by established powers. For Goodwyn, the cultural and psychological building blocks of democratic movements are individual self-respect and collective self-confidence. Without individual self-respect, we do not believe that we are worthy of power or capable of utilizing power wisely, and we accept as our role being a subject of power. Without collective self-confidence, we do not believe that we can succeed in wresting away power from our rulers.
Thus, it is the job of all of us - from parents, to students, to teachers, to journalists, to clergy, to psychologists, to artists and EVERYBODY who gives a damn about genuine democracy - to create individual self-respect and collective self-confidence.
2. Confront and Transform ALL Institutions that Have Destroyed Individual Self-Respect and Collective Self-Confidence
In "Get Up, Stand Up, " I detail 12 major institutional and cultural areas that have broken people's spirit of resistance, and all are "battlefields for democracy" in which we can fight to regain our individual self-respect and collective self confidence:
• Isolation and bureaucratization
• "Fundamentalist consumerism" and advertising/propaganda
• Student loan debt and indentured servitude
• The decline of unions/solidarity among working people
• Greed and a "money-centric" culture
• Fear-based schools that teach obedience
• Psychopathologizing noncompliance
• Elitism via professional training
• The corporate media
• The US electoral system
As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, "All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike."
3. Side Each Day in Every Way With Anti-Authoritarians
We can recover our self-respect and strength by regaining our integrity. This process requires a personal transformation to overcome our sense of powerlessness and fight for what we believe in. Integrity includes acts of courage resisting all illegitimate authorities. We must recognize that in virtually every aspect of our life in every day, we can either be on the side of authoritarianism and the corporatocracy or on the side of anti-authoritarianism and democracy. Specifically, we can question the legitimacy of government, media, religious, educational and other authorities in our lives, and if we establish that an authority is not legitimate, we can resist it. And we can support others who are resisting illegitimate authorities. A huge part of solidarity comes from supporting others who are resisting the illegitimate authorities in their lives. Walt Whitman had it right: "Resist much, obey little. Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved."
Read the rest at truthout