In one of your previous exchanges with me, you stated, “If you are no longer American, . . . ” Let’s clear that up. I’m about as Heinz 57 variety American as you can get without being, such as yourself, among the Indigenous. Both sides of my family have been in the US for longer than I have genealogical information. Great grandfathers fought on both sides of the Civil War. I was born and raised in as purely a white bread Americana-Republican classic environment imaginable, Dallas’ Highland Park. My father made his living as a capitalist, a close facsimile of George Babbitt. Having traveled a bit, I also recognize that my mannerisms are indelibly American as well. I’m a veteran of the US Army. I have an American child and soon will have an American grandchild. I carry a US passport because I have no choice and still vote in local elections in Travis County.
On the other hand, in many ways I’m already long gone. America’s continuously odious behavior throughout the world during my entire life has utterly poisoned whatever patriotism, or even loyalty, I may have ever had. I am instead repulsed and it seems to keep getting worse. I don’t need to recite to you again, of all people, the litany of horrors that the US has visited upon the world just in our lifetimes – not to mention the Amerindian Holocaust. The US government risked your life in an unjust war. I can’t imagine why you would have forgiven them. Now they are about to send your son to another one. This has gone on so long and so consistently that I have come to believe that “America” is beyond redemption. More specifically, the idea of reforming the US government in any fundamental way is a chimera outside the context of catastrophe. Furthermore, a primary and essential condition for the survival of the human species is the defeat of American imperialism and the dominion of its capitalist rulers and their mercenary values.
In your eloquent article “are WE fascists?,” you state “This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And, as such, all voices count.” Without quibbling about the degree of nano-influence any given activity has upon the cosmos, I respectfully and profoundly disagree. *
Democracy is a relative matter. In the US it still exists to some degree on a local level. However, on the federal level, it is utterly corrupted by allowing corporate money to buy political power. What you have left is primarily theater. The correct democratic roles are performed, conforming to established traditions, but the politicians are actually the employees of the capitalist ruling class, playing a role and mouthing words written for them by those to whom they have dedicated their lives and who reimburse them most handsomely for their services. This corruption of politics by money is the most fundamentally important characteristic of the American political life and cannot be changed under the prevailing conditions.
Political democracy cannot exist on paper as an abstraction within a social vacuum. For it to have any tangible meaning, it has to be accompanied by complementary social arrangements, especially in the economic sphere. A high degree of political democracy is impossible without a correspondingly high degree of economic democracy. With economic democracy in the US at the lowest level in the industrialized world and declining as the abyss between the capitalist class and the rest of us widens, US democracy is inherently compromised. Economic democracy without political democracy (Soviet Union, Cuba) is likewise debased in its value for the citizens involved. But the extreme paucity of US economic democracy dictates the dominion of the economic ruling elite. The structure of political democracy is a façade. We have an economic oligopoly masquerading as a democracy.
A perfect illustration of how this illusion of democracy manifests is healthcare, where hefty majorities of US citizens consistently favor a universal government run healthcare system, but it is seldom if ever discussed in Congress and uniformly considered to be politically untenable by all “authorities”. An aberration occurred in the California legislature last week, which at least talked about it. But that’s California, not Texas or Indiana.
Whereas true democracy is to be cherished, it is not everything. However imperfect the German system under the Weimar Republic may have been, Hitler was elected. So was George Bush. (Whether Bush’s elections were stolen is another issue and to argue that they were would reinforce my position that US democracy is terminally corrupted.) Existing voters in the South in the 1960s would have upheld segregation. White settlers would typically have voted to kill all the Indigenous people in the neighborhood. In the US today, you have a largely brainwashed, complacent and ignorant population whose politically dominant classes are essentially dedicated to little beyond protecting their own privileges. This particular version of “the people” are quite capable of electing fascism and supporting policies that rain havoc on the rest of the world. In fact, that has already happened and threatens to get worse with the bombardment of Iran. And most Americans will only oppose wars they are losing.
* Note: David is referring to a post that Steve Russell made of Keith Olbermann’s 30 August Bloggermann entry titled “Feeling morally, intellectually confused?,” available for your reading pleasure here. This is Olbermann’s critique of Don Rumsfeld’s speech to the 88th Annual American Legion Convention in Salt Lake City (you can read the latter here if you are interested).