Thursday, October 04, 2007

God's country and how we blew it

David Seaton's News Links
The United States has always been a dream country, with its easily defensible borders, its navigable rivers, its fertile agriculture, its natural resources of every kind, its large, energetic and relatively well educated population.... You name it. As Chuck Berry sang, "Anything you want, we got right here in the U.S.A.".

So, what's the problem?

The problem is political. The people themselves know what to do, but the system cannot do it. And the system cannot deliver because of the way politics is financed.

William Pfaff, in the article below, gives the key; the problem is that the
"Supreme Court-imposed doctrine that money spent on television political advertising is constitutionally protected free speech, has created a presidential election industry concerned totally with profit and virtually nothing with principle."
As I like to say, future Chinese historians will find this fatal flaw a fascinating subject to study, a sure fire doctoral thesis, like learning that the Roman Empire collapsed because the lead pipe plumbing made the Roman matrons infertile and thus decimated the patrician class.

It reads a helluva lot better than it plays though. DS

William Pfaff: Dehumanizing America's Presidential Candidates
Abstract: Americans will soon near the end of the first year of the 2008 presidential campaign, which actually began before the congressional mid-term election of 2006. The candidates of both parties have already lost much if not most of their human recognizability and have increasingly come to resemble synthetic creatures uttering programmed opinions that relate to a virtual rather than real national and international society.(...) It is as if they might already be experiencing near-death out-of-body episodes, floating above the audiences or television studios and incredulously witnessing themselves answering the same meaningless questions for the millionth time, with a million more times to come before the campaign ends a year from November, and already near madness. The presidential campaign is an ordeal we should not inflict on sentient beings, even laboratory rats. It is a phenomenon of what Marx would not have recognized as post-modern capitalism, since this degree of dehumanization of individuals would have been unimaginable in a nineteenth century economic or political system. But today, the United States, under the Supreme Court-imposed doctrine that money spent on television political advertising is constitutionally protected free speech, has created a presidential election industry concerned totally with profit and virtually nothing with principle.(...) The process takes groups of originally diverse and intelligent individuals, imprudent or courageous enough to wish to become the Democratic candidate for the United States presidency (to take that party example), intending to represent an electorate that voted overwhelmingly in 2004 to end the Iraq war and withdrew from that country, and thereafter cease to meddle in the affairs of distant countries, and it remakes them. All these individuals at the start had individual convictions about how to accomplish such goals. The election industry with all but unvarying success turns them into people who say exactly the same things about everything,(...) On Iraq, each of those candidates whom the Washington press, and national editorialists, have (already) selected as electable, now says that the U.S. must stay in Iraq or the surrounding region with large military forces, not just after the 2008 election, but that of 2016 – beyond two more presidential terms – so as to “prevent chaos,” prevent Iraq from becoming “a terrorist hotbed and training ground,” foster democratic government, centralize (or decentralize) Iraq (the apparent disagreement on this is unimportant because it is a matter the Iraqis will eventually decide for themselves), foster the regional stability that the United States destroyed by invading Iraq, preserve America’s interests in Arab oil, and protect Israel from Iran, Syria, and perhaps eventually from the Palestinians. This is largely indistinguishable from the Bush administration program (probably leaving out the Bush people’s commitment to torture) because it is the consensus view of the American foreign policy community in Washington, and any deviation from this consensus is considered by the presidential election industry as disqualifying the candidate. The dissident will have revealed himself or herself as less than a strong leader, a policy irresponsible, and not presidential material. The problem in American foreign policy today is that an ideological orthodoxy has emerged within the intellectual and political community concerned with foreign relations, and this orthodoxy now is imposed upon everyone who wishes to shape national policy at the Washington political and media level. READ IT ALL

1 comment:

RLaing said...

But the election process in the US isn't being inflicted on sentient beings, so there is no ethical problem with the process.

Kidding aside, the real decisions in America are made by the CEO class, who after all have the wealth and leisure to pursue politics.

Edward Bernays realized long before either one of us was born that the public 'mind' could effectively be controlled by pulling emotional triggers, and nobody has seriously considered treating the American electorate as adults since. Certainly it could be done, and a significant portion of the public would probably respond to it; but why would the people who control the state now do a thing so obviously contrary to their own interests?