Costello inbox

Am on Joe Costello's archein21 list-serve and wanted to share a few. I don't even gamble, but wound up spending the night at Harrah's Grand Casino in Atlantic City yesterday, and gmail was available at 4 am, so I read through his latest 50 or so posts. Here's something:

Nothing better illustrates the bankruptcy of American politics, where bipartisan insolvency combine into what can only be described as fatal incompetency, looting, and ever encroaching militarism.  Here you have the unaccountable National Security state feasting on New Deal democratic philosophy of centralized government, combined with the neo-Republican love to privatize activities that are by definition of the government. In this case, you create a system not only making us less safe, but so riled with corruption and waste it helps drain the rest of the economy. Nothing better illustrates the insolvency of contemporary politics.

The silly season fast approaches, and I have little to say, and really, no one should talk about elections in this country if you're not being paid. The two parties only advantages are each other, it looks like the Reps understand this, while the Dems are still struggling with the idea that the only thing they have going for them in November is the Republicans. Few tears will be shed if the Dems lose the Congress, but the thought of the Rep side of our political class taking power, and Im not talking about the "Tea party," but the criminal element that's lurked in DC for the past couple decades, is distressing, but that's where we are until we create an alternative.

And something else:

So, in 2010, the trajectory of an American life is you grow up a Republican in Cincinnati, attend Princeton, and eventually become a big-shot editor at the Washington Post, and finally end up giving speeches to the Democratic Socialists of America, to which the only immediate response is, "Are they still around?" The next question, how does one get there? Well that's easy, you quit the Post, write the seminal book on the Fed, Secrets of the Temple, follow that up five years later with Who Will Tell the People, a documenting of the corporate take over of Washington DC, and then just to make sure you're never invited to another bigwig dinner party, you write One World Ready or Not, a scathing indictment of corporate globalization in the middle of the "high" Clinton years, where the Democratic party became a wholly owned subsidiary of Global INC and Wall Street. Such is the American life of Bill Greider.

Greider's speech is excellent. It is a shot against way too much pessimism and despair currently gripping this republic. It is a reminder, that this country is a very wealthy place and we need to embrace our history, and more importantly embrace the opportunities to meet the challenges of this era. We need to change, we can change, and it can be better. We can have, as Greider puts it, "larger lives." But we need to rethink many many things and simultaneously we need to begin to act. Let us first and foremost embrace our heritage of self-government -- the democratic idea -- as a reconstructed foundation. What is the democratic idea, "Every person has the ability to participate in the decision makings that affect their lives." Reforming our political economy to the realities of the 21st century, based on this fundamental principle, will get us a very long way.

And one more:

A liberal education -- Barbara Ehrenreich has a piece in The Nation in which she states, "the federal government, avatar of liberal hope for at least a century, has become hopelessly undemocratic, poisoned by corruption and structurally snarled by partisan divisions." It even gets better, though there's a gratuitous slam at the Tea Partiers at the end. The final step of a liberal education will be the over, and too often badly educated left understanding it does indeed have some common ground with "angry white-boy America", that would be trouble indeed.

Liberals of the United States run from DC, you have nothing to lose but your chains.

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The Marxist critique of  capitalism is basically correct, and we only have to look at rampant capitalism in this country over the past few decades to see that happening for real. The problem is, Marxists cannot offer an acceptable, adequate alternative that succeeds in practice, not just in theory. The examples of the former Soviet Union, Eastern Block countries, China, North Korea, and Cuba provide ample testimony to the failure of their models of government. Countries like North Korea and Cuba exhibit abject failure to provide workable models for all people in their countries, and are barely surviving with total poverty and privation for their citizens. In the end, the Soviet Union, and China today, had to essentially admit the failure of their Marxist models by adapting significant forms of capitalism to stay afloat. Yet the amalgam they created still remains lacking in basic civil rights and protections, their constitutions notwithstanding.

Capilalism in this country is also a failed model of governance, as our supposed "democracy" and vaunted "republic" are in reality just devolved forms of oligarchy and plutocracy. The nation's wealth is controlled and exploited for the benefit of the top 5% of the nation's citizens, and our governmental structures, from the Supreme Court to Congress and the executive branch make sure it remains that way. Laws that protect the ruling elite are repeatedly passed, while those that would help the middle class and the working class are routinely defeated or watered down to the point that they have little positive effect for the middle and working classes, and very small negative effect on the ruling class.

Citizens United is merely the lastest in a long line of Supreme Court rulings that cement this lopsided power structure. The recent health care debate also showed how the ruling elite and their corporations made sure that they stayed in control of our citizen's health care industry and the rest of us had to suck up to the crumbs they left on  the table to assuage our feelings of betrayal.

I have no answers for the way out of this dilemma except that we must somehow get back control of our democracy and our media. As long as the ruling class can control the media, they can control the terms of the debate, and we are shoved to the sides of the argument as irrelevant and ineffective. Look at the current "debate" on the so-called "Ground Center mosque" that currently rages on all the national cable channels and assaults the front pages of our daily newspapers. The ruling elite and their media lapdogs have successfully diverted the focus of the debate away from the Constitutional First Amendment issues really at the heart of the debate, and now we are talking more about emotions -- do we feel right about allowing a muslim community center and mosque to be built on priate property with private funding somewhere near, but not next to (as if that mattered either) the hallowed Ground Zero site.

In reality, the Democrats should not even have to worry about losing control of the Congress this November if one just looked at the issues involved in the elections: doing something, however marginal, or doing nothing, if not going back to the very policies that got us in this trouble in the first place. Yet, the media and the parties are pursuing trajectories that will ensure that whatever the outcome, very little threat will develop to challenge the powers that control this nation and its mediea.

How sad.  Anybody have any ideas how we can get back control of our country? Capitalism is not working out so well, and Marxism provides no viable answers either. What else is there?

by mcarnes 2010-08-17 07:39PM | 1 recs
RE: Hallelujah!

It's really American-style capitalism and American-style government that isn't working so well. Regulations that rein in the abuses coupled with a social safety net fix the former but I am not sure how one gets around the problem that is the US Senate. 

by Charles Lemos 2010-08-17 08:40PM | 0 recs


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