Sunday, February 26, 2017

Michael Parenti: Reflections on Democracy, Capitalism, Oppression, Tyranny, and Revolution

I am deeply grateful for Michael Parenti and all those who have helped me and countless others lift the veils of our ignorance and illusions. There is great need for the shadow side of our nation to be explored, understood, owned, healed, and transformed. There can be no solution for that which is denied and not known. We can stop colluding in blaming and scapegoating others, we can come to understand American foreign and domestic policies, we can cultivate consciousness of the roots of violence and oppression and suffering, and we can learn the lessons of history which continue to tragically and horrifically repeat themselves today. My ongoing prayer is for our individual and collective awakening. Another world is possible.
Peace & blessings ~ Molly
 
 
Quotes by Michael Parenti
 
The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments.
 
Conventional opinions fit so comfortably into the dominant paradigm as to be seen not as opinions but as statements of fact, as 'the nature of things.' The very efficacy of opinion manipulation rests on the fact that we do not know we are being manipulated. The most insidious forms of oppression are those that so insinuate themselves into our communication universe and the recesses of our minds that we do not even realize they are acting upon us.
 
The first atrocity, the first war crime committed in any war of aggression by the aggressors is against the truth. 
 
Between 1831 and 1891, US armed forces - usually the Marines - invaded Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Brazil, Haiti, Argentina, and Chile a total of thirty-one times, a fact not many of us are informed about in school. The Marines intermittently occupied Nicaragua form 1909 to 1933, Mexico from 1914 to 1919, and Panama from 1903 to 1914. To 'restore order' the Marines occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, killing over two thousand Haitians who resisted 'pacification.'  
 
With unfailing consistency, U.S. intervention has been on the side of the rich and powerful of various nations at the expense of the poor and needy. Rather than strengthening democracies, U.S. leaders have overthrown numerous democratically elected governments or other populist regimes in dozens of countries ... whenever these nations give evidence of putting the interests of their people ahead of the interests of multinational corporate interests.
 
In destroying country after country, the US Empire is doing well. One devastated country after the other has made it clear that any nation which pursues independent sovereign policies and attempts to better its own position and the state of its people becomes a target for the US Empire.
 
Far from being reluctantly propelled into hostilities by popular war fever, leaders incite that fever in order to gather support for their war policies. Thereby do they attempt to distract the public from pressing domestic matters, serve the overseas interests of U.S. investors, justify gargantuan military budgets, and present themselves as great leaders.
 
In societies that worship money and success, the losers become objects of scorn. Those who work the hardest for the least are called lazy. Those forced to live in substandard housing are thought to be the authors of substandard lives. Those who do not finish high school or cannot afford to go to college are considered deficient or inept.

The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. The live green earth is transformed into dead gold bricks, with luxury items for the few and toxic slag heaps for the many. The glittering mansion overlooks a vast sprawl of shanty towns, wherein a desperate, demoralized humanity is kept in line with drugs, television, and armed force.
 
The problem with capitalism is that it best rewards the worst part of us: the ruthless, competitive, conniving, opportunistic, acquisitive drives, giving little reward and often much punishment-or at least much handicap-to honesty, compassion, fair play, many forms of hard work, love of justice, and a concern for those in need.
 
Ecology's implications for capitalism are too momentous for the capitalist to contemplate. The plutocrats are more wedded to their wealth than to the Earth upon which they live, more concerned with the fate of their fortunes than with the fate of humanity. The present ecological crisis has been created by the few at the expense of the many.
 
A tiny portion of the population controls the lions share of the wealth and most of the command positions of state, manufacturing, banking, investment, publishing, higher education, philanthropy, and media... these individuals exercise a preponderant influence over what is passed off as public information and democratic discourse.
 
[The ruling elites] know who their enemies are, and their enemies are the people, the people at home and the people abroad. Their enemies are anybody who wants more social justice, anybody who wants to use the surplus value of society for social needs rather than for individual class greed, that's their enemy.
 
The conservative goal has been the Third Worldization of the United States: an increasingly underemployed, lower-wage work-force; a small but growing moneyed class that pays almost no taxes; the privatization or elimination of human services; the elimination of public education for low-income people; the easing of restrictions against child labor; the exporting of industries and jobs to low-wage, free-trade countries; the breaking of labor unions; and the elimination of occupational safety and environmental controls and regulations.
 
It is ironic that people of modest means sometimes become conservative out of a scarcity fear bred by the very capitalist system they support.
 
You will have no sensation of a leash around your neck if you sit by the peg. It is only when you stray that you feel the restraining tug. 
 
People who think they're free in this world just haven't come to the end of their leash yet.
 
The worst forms of tyranny, or certainly the most successful ones, are not those we rail against but those that so insinuate themselves into the imagery of our consciousness, and the fabric of our lives, as not to be perceived as tyranny. 
 
The dirty truth is that the rich are the great cause of poverty. 
 
To oppose the policies of a government does not mean you are against the country or the people that the government supposedly represents. Such opposition should be called what it really is: democracy, or democratic dissent, or having a critical perspective about what your leaders are doing. Either we have the right to democratic dissent and criticism of these policies or we all lie down and let the leader, the Fuhrer, do what is best, while we follow uncritically, and obey whatever he commands. That's just what the Germans did with Hitler, and look where it got them. 
 
Global warming is already acting upon us with an accelerated feedback and compounded effect that may be irreversible! We do not have eons or centuries or many decades. Most of us alive today may not even have the luxury of saying 'Après moi, le déluge' because we will be around to experience it ourselves. And if you think it will be 'interesting' or 'exciting,' ask the tsunami survivors if that's how they felt. This time the plutocratic drive to 'accumulate, accumulate, accumulate' may take all of us down, once and forever.
 
If the test of patriotism comes only by reflexively falling into lockstep behind the leader whenever the flag is waved, then what we have is a formula for dictatorship, not democracy... But the American way is to criticize and debate openly, not to accept unthinkingly the doings of government officials of this or any other country. 
 
Democracy is not about trust; it is about distrust. It is about accountability, exposure, open debate, critical challenge, and popular input and feedback from the citizenry. It is about responsible government. We have to get our fellow Americans to trust their leaders less and themselves more, trust their own questions and suspicions, and their own desire to know what is going on. 

Revolutions are not push button affairs; rather, they evolve only if there exists a reservoir of hope and grievance that can be galvanized into popular action.


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