Democracy is a funny thing. For ages upon ages practical wisdom considered rule by the demos–that’s Greek for ya–an anarchic idea that could only result in social chaos. Even the Greeks, who instigated the idea amongst the Western world sought many means by which to ensure their demos was limited to a select few.
Not a fuck of a lot has changed since then. Recently the Supreme Court gave a huge boost to the idea that corporations are human entities capable of casting their monetary ballot (who the hell doesn’t admit politics is money-driven?) in American elections.
Corporations are people; we’ve only just come out of the idea that blacks weren’t wholly people. Anyone who considers civil rights a dead issue since the sixties has been asleep. To be black is to live for jail not college. We profess equality under the law but our prisons operate on a firm affirmative action-turned-over policy. Liberty for McDonalds; lockdown for minorities.
Our nation’s poor get a handout now for health care. No more waiting until the situation becomes dire before one sees a doctor. Who dreamt of a situation where the sick get help before they become SICK? Conservatives are fuming that extended access to health care violates their civil rights. Civil rights for what? Against social responsibility for the underpriviledged? Yes, that’s pretty much what it amounts to.
Democracy means fuck the poor. Let them pull themselves up by the bootstraps, to use a common phrase. If the poor weren’t so lazy they’d be rich. Because God knows America is going to amply reward everyone who works hard (say, working two full-time jobs.) People who work in minimum wage jobs just don’t work hard. Places like McDonalds and Walmart cater to their employees by letting them get by by slacking off. Rich motherfuckers like Paris Hilton represent the *really* industrious members of society.
Okay, I’m being sarcastic. Sorry. But how else do you expect me to respond to the logic of our era?
The bloody rich play roulette with the economy and when the bet is lost the whole American economy plummets into a recession. American workers (i.e., those who do real work) see their jobs fly overseas to boost the profits of the owning class. Wall Street begs for mercy for the government to cover their losses, meanwhile welfare rolls are cut for those who lose employment. Protect the owners of capital, leave the masses to adjure to individual responsibility.
Republicans blast unions for siphoning off the worker’s paycheck. They say every member of society ought to be free to bargain with property owners, the capitalists, on their own individual terms. Collectivism is portrayed as tyranny. One should fight against the aims of union leaders, but one should submit to the will of the propertied class.
It’s a radical notion that a democratic society can exert control over society itself. Traditional, “classic liberal” thinking believes that an individual citizen has rights against intrusion by the government. They say that so long is government is kept in check all members of society will have the liberty to seek their independent interests. Thomas Jefferson never advocated for the rights of the lower classes, so why should we?
The fact is, Jefferson dreamed of an America where everyone could own and farm their own land without feudalism or monarchy. But this is not the America of today. Today we have wealth and property condensed into increasingly fewer and fewer hands. Citizens are granted irrelevant rights like the right to carry weapons, but are denied the power to influence economic interests. That, we are told, is left to the ever shrinking class of the wealthy, who are permitted by law and custom to advance their own interests by rule of law.
Nothing portrays the situation we’re in quite like the Reagan-era war on drugs. Drug dealers are jailed and attacked by social institutions for causing massive harm to our society. There’s a general consensus that the free market of drugs needs to be curtailed by government intrusion, via the police, to protect our society from a dangerous element. But what happens when an entrepreneur or industrialist acts in a way that is harmful to workers or the environment. So long as their not peddling drugs capitalists are protected. Causing social harm, through systematic poverty or environmental damage, is given the a-okay by conservative members of our government. A community wrecked by drugs is, by reactionary logic, different from a community wrecked by economic decision making.
But there is hope. There is no class privilege which can’t be overcome. There is no Constitutional protection for private property owners against the masses of workers. Radical democracy continues to challenge the belief that gays cannot serve in the military, that blacks should be driven towards prisons and that access to a doctor is the right of a particular class.
Hail democracy! And a grand salute to all those who believe that in America there must exist equal protection under the law and under the circumstances prompted by a system of government. Hail to a country that freed the slaves, made education a right, and granted one vote to all for the power to influence national issues.