Wake Up! We Live in an Oligarchy, Man

oligarchy.jpg

"The Republican and Democratic parties, or, to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class in the class struggle. They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not to principles."
Eugene Debs 1904

Winners and Losers? WINNERS AND LOSERS!! We know who the winners and losers are. The same fucking winners and losers that always win and lose. Ya, maybe "we've" inched closer to legalizing marijuana nationally, but come on. Think about that relative to the big picture. The only thing that's changed is it's going to get worse. Bet on it.

I guess it depends on what you're after.

Jimmy Carter:

“The United States is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over.”

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/jimmy-carter-u-s-is-...

Really Jimmy? Is it any different than it's always been?

"In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party. On the Presidential ballot in a few states (seventeen in 1952), a “Socialist” Party will appear. Few will hear its appeal because it will have almost no opportunity to take part in the campaign and explain its platform. If a voter organizes or advocates a real third-party movement, he may be accused of seeking to overthrow this government by “force and violence.” Anything he advocates by way of significant reform will be called “Communist” and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state. These things are on every Communist program; these things are the aim of socialism. Any American who advocates them today, no matter how sincerely, stands in danger of losing his job, surrendering his social status and perhaps landing in jail. The witnesses against him may be liars or insane or criminals. These witnesses need give no proof for their charges and may not even be known or appear in person. They may be in the pay of the United States Government. A.D.A.’s and “Liberals” are not third parties; they seek to act as tails to kites. But since the kites are self-propelled and radar-controlled, tails are quite superfluous and rather silly."

https://www.thenation.com/article/i-wont-vote/

"There is no place yet in America for a third party, I believe. The divergence of interests even in the same class group is so great in that tremendous area that wholly different groups and interests are represented in each of the two big parties, depending on the locality, and almost each particular section of the possessing class has its representatives in each of the two parties to a very large degree, though today big industry forms the core of the Republicans on the whole, just as the big landowners of the South form that of the Democrats. The apparent haphazardness of this jumbling together is what provides the splendid soil for the corruption and the plundering of the government that flourish there so beautifully. Only when the land — the public lands — is completely in the hands of the speculators, and settlement on the land thus becomes more and more difficult or falls prey to gouging — only then, I think, will the time come, with peaceful development, for a third party. Land is the basis of speculation, and the American speculative mania and speculative opportunity are the chief levers that hold the native-born worker in bondage to the bourgeoisie. Only when there is a generation of native- born workers that cannot expect anything from speculation any more will we have a solid foothold in America. But, of course, who can count on peaceful development in America! There are economic jumps over there, like the political ones in France — to be sure, they produce the same momentary retrogressions.

The small farmer and the petty bourgeois will hardly ever succeed in forming a strong party; they consist of elements that change too rapidly — the farmer is often a migratory farmer, farming two, three, and four farms in succession in different states and territories, immigration and bankruptcy promote the change in personnel, and economic dependence upon the creditor also hampers independence — but to make up for it they are a splendid element for politicians, who speculate on their discontent in order to sell them out to one of the big parties afterward.

The tenacity of the Yankees, who are even rehashing the Greenback humbug, is a result of their theoretical backwardness and their Anglo- Saxon contempt for all theory. They are punished for this by a superstitious belief in every philosophical and economic absurdity, by religious sectarianism, and by idiotic economic experiments, out of which, however, certain bourgeois cliques profit.

Friedrich Engels 1892

It's always the same. The rich rule, everyone else can pretend they get to play.

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Pricknick's picture

The Du Bois article is a great one.
Thank you.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

Big Al's picture

Evidently by far "the costliest congressional election cycle in U.S. history." That alone tells the story. Money talks, bullshit walks. And that doesn't count the additional income spent outside the system to influence elections and politicians. How can things get better when the entire political system keeps getting worse?

https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2018/10/cost-of-2018-election/

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wendy davis's picture

@Big Al

the billionaires' and corporate money swung toward dems this cycle, somewhat of a change. another journalist said that bout a dozen of the cia dems won seats in the house.

and that pelosi is licking her lips over the coming willing 'bipartisanship'. ; )

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Sigh

Pluto's Republic's picture

@UntimelyRippd

...when we come together to socialize the losses caused by the corporate adventures of the autonomous political and investor classes.

Otherwise, not so much.

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snoopydawg's picture

Nor did they just vote to legalize marijuana, recreational or medical. There were a lot of important propositions on the ballots in many states that were trying to take people's rights away from them.

Alabama voted to give fetuses the same rights as women which will go into effect if the Supreme Court reverses Roe v Wade. This includes women having to pay for funerals if they have miscarriages.

Other states were voting on whether transgender people could use the bathroom no matter what.

Sixty-seven percent of voters said “yes” to ballot Question 3, which asked if the state should uphold a law that allows people to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. It’s also the first time voters have chosen to uphold a law protecting transgender people’s bathroom use.

The win in Massachusetts is just one battle in the larger war, however. On the federal level, President Donald Trump’s administration recently mulled erasing the transgender identity from federal recognition entirely. Democrats, who retook the House Tuesday, have promised to pass legislation that protects LGBTQ people under civil rights law.

The Supreme Court is eventually going to hear cases about whether people in 'same sex' marriage should get the same rights that 'normal' people get. This includes survivor and death benefits and the right to order a f*cking wedding, birthday or any other type of cake. Or flowers, photos, etc and that goes for other things that people think they should get to withhold from people they don't like because their Gawd said that those people are icky. I'm just hoping that one day the moniker 'same sex' will go the way of the dodos and it's just "marriage.

A few states voted for Medicaid because their states didn't think that they should spend money on giving poor people health care and others decided that they should have it.

People are upset about the direction the country is moving with Trump attacking everyone he doesn't like and they are afraid because of their economic problems and other issues important to them. There were issues on ballots that people wanted or didn't want.

Are we an oligarchy and living on the verge of a police state? You betcha. Do we have any say in what congress does? Nope and we haven't for a very long time, but voting isn't just about that. The people who live in states that did legalize marijuana are very grateful that they can now choose something to help their pain because access to opioids are being restricted. Utah voted for precisely this and yet it's not going to happen because it's not what the Mormons want. Ask me how I feel about this. I have to fight every damn time I see my doctor because of the type of medication I'm on and have been on for far too long. Others have already been told that they will no longer be given anything for their pain.

So yeah some people here voted yesterday and will vote next time because it's not just about congress. And yeah the oligarchs are still going to screw us. The 1% will always win, but we can still win on some things.

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Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

Big Al's picture

@snoopydawg For initiatives on my ballot. That's one thing we could work toward nationally.

http://www.ncid.us/bozhinova

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Eagles92's picture

@Big Al Seriously.

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@snoopydawg The ballot in NYC had a total of 4 19" pages and on the last page there were 3 Ballot Initiatives that were favored by Progressives as well as the NYC Mayor, Bill de Blasio.

The final page had each of the three initiatives printed in multiple languages in tiny print. Beneath each extensive explanation was the box to fill in Yes or No. It would be very easy to not notice that this final page required a vote and for voters to skip it. That was the Idea!

Guess what. People found the initiatives and voted for all of them with very wide margins!

In its short "5 Takeaways from the election" piece on the NY Times, the successful referenda were not included in their report. So, I read the 10 readers' comments that the Times had posted and 2 out of the 10 asked what had happened with the 3 ballot items? Of course, I answered the questions. Including my opinion that the Times' business model wasn't about promoting Progressive achievements, let alone those proposed and promoted by Mayor de Blasi0.

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NYCVG

@NYCVG Oh---the content of the proposals? Limiting individual campaign donations. Raising the matching funds for candidates, and term limits on Community Boards. All of these moves will help to level the field for non-rich candidates to compete for office.

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NYCVG

Mark from Queens's picture

@NYCVG
tactic to omit such a triumph for the public (if it really is given any legs).

The NY Times are defenders of the status quo, protectorates of their own class. Without which they lose their power and influence. This referendum is at odds with that.

Admittedly I checked out almost completely with following this election, though I did vote. But only these days solely to register my dissatisfaction with the Duopoly. By that I mean, voting 3rd party or for anyone who runs as an outright socialist (at least as their affiliation).

It's pretty telling that in such a perfunctory election, The Neoliberal Nightmare of NY (another goon from Queens, like the Prez. Hey, I have no qualms saying that as a native born myself) winning a 3rd term (what a joke) and hardly any other big races in the balance (maybe Faso losing), this wouldn't have been the main takeaway.

Was wondering myself where I could find some reportage. But didn't try hard. Will you attach some links if you have them?

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"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

@Mark from Queens Hi Mark. TY for the kind words. The short article i referenced was replaced with more detailed coverage.

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NYCVG

Mark from Queens's picture

@NYCVG
If you happen to have that article handy would like to see it.

And, if as you say it's been replaced already, would really like to see a comparison of the two (if you have the time, of course :-)).

That's another phenomenon of today's news that needs to be kept an eye on, which includes, changing headlines, photos, content - after a story's been published. It's debatable whether that's a good or bad thing; in this case, maybe public pressuring (such as your and others' shaming) may have forced them to dig in a bit deeper. But sometimes it's the opposite and to put the lid on a story to minimize it.

Thanks again.

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6 users have voted.

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

lotlizard's picture

http://jewishinsider.com/14801/daily-kickoff-fight-future-democratic-party/

Source at a leading pro-Israel organization tells us… “The pro-Israel community is delighted that its two major priorities were achieved last night – [Leslie] Cockburn was defeated and [Sen. Bob] Menendez got re-elected. The overwhelming majority of newly elected House Democrats issued solidly pro-Israel policy papers.

Oh. Well, that’ll show Trump and Jared.

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Raggedy Ann's picture

personal choice. Vote shaming is really unacceptable. People need to follow their own instincts.

I agree 100% with snoopy.

Voting will not change our government - I'm brutally aware of that. Only revolution can spur the change.
Pleasantry

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"If there is not justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government." Emiliano Zapata

gulfgal98's picture

@Raggedy Ann Voting is a very personal thing. I did vote via absentee ballot in the Florida election. I voted in some of the races and did not vote in others. That was my choice.

I also voted on all of the twelve constitutional amendments on the ballot. I voted for four of the amendments and against the remaining eight. To be adequately informed to vote on those issues, one had to do background research as many were confusing regarding the ability to levy taxes or on the capping of taxing ability. Several had bundled more than one issue into one amendment which used to be against Florida law. I wonder how many people really understood the amendments when they voted on them.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

dkmich's picture

@Raggedy Ann @Raggedy Ann

Doing nothing IS doing something whether non-voters admit it or not, and non-voters are often as delusional as partisan voters.

IF, and it is a big IF, putting witch Pelosi and the Dems back in charge of the House protects Medicare/Social Security, it will be a good thing for millions. If all the gerrymandering reforms come into play before 2020, maybe we can take back control of our states and expand control in the House.

In the meantime, we really need a third party to take on the Democrats and a Y pole to haul the Nazis off. We also need new names for the two parties. The GOP is now the Nazi party, and the Democratic Party is where fleeing Republicans went to hide and change into their blue jerseys. There is no party to represent working people. Clinton killed it, and Obama took a leak on its grave.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

Big Al's picture

@dkmich We've gone from demanding a nationalized health care system to hoping our elected officials don't take away more of what we have. As the years go by, election after election. Now the democrats in congress will compromise away all hope of movement toward that kind of health care system for more years to come.
I remember these same sentiments at the end of Bush's second term, how desperate people were to get rid of the current and try someone else. It never ends that way and we'll never get what we really need.

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dance you monster's picture

@Big Al

. . . from all the people who haven't voted in election after election, either. Those folks outnumber the ones who voted for the Dems or the Repubs or any other party, so why aren't you affixing agency to them for the problems we see? There is a gaping logical flaw to your arguments.

Look, Al, I agree that we have an oligarchy, and I agree that voting seldom has much measurable impact on slowing or reversing the downward spiral of the nation's treatment of those who aren't oligarchs.

But refusing to vote, or being "disappointed" when people do, has no greater beneficial impact than the voting did. So, if you are sincere in wanting change, maybe a better course would be to stop being disappointed at the voters and propose (and repeat for those who may have missed it the last time) a different strategy for voters to make a difference.

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Big Al's picture

@dance you monster

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dance you monster's picture

@Big Al

. . . idea you linked, you'll need to get a lot more specific.

First off, would you stop at recalls of politicians (and would it be of almost all our present politicians, since they belong to parties you consider discredited) or have a referendum to do away with parties or with existing branches of government that entail partisan competitions? And how would you get such a referendum out there to be voted on? This sounds like something needing either a full-scale revolution or a Constitutional Convention, but maybe you have another scenario I am not seeing over one lunchtime. Please elaborate. We're looking for concrete actions that can be implemented by people on this board in a near time frame (while our planet's cooking).

If you can get past that first hurdle, how do you address emergencies in a government-by-referendum model?

There's a lot more to ask, but let's just start with those.

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Big Al's picture

@dance you monster talk about the democratic party blue wave and who the winners and losers were in the election, but if someone goes outside that area, they "need" to come up with solutions? Is that because elections are the current solution so those who talk about the elections don't have to come up with any additional solutions?
I'm just trying to get what some of you are trying to say to me here. I feel like I need to go off on a sabbatical somewhere and write a manifesto.

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zoebear's picture

@Big Al

Is that raining on the Blue Wave Party by suggesting that the entire electoral process is fatally comprised, rendering their efforts largely futile, is not appreciated.

However, to suggest that YOUR observations NEED to be more efficacious than there's seems an absurd comment to make on a site that values the contributions or an organic community.

Perhaps some of us need to muse a little over what the term 'organic' actually means, eh?

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Soldier: What? Ridden on a horse?
King Arthur: Yes!
Soldier: You're using coconuts!
King Arthur: What?
Soldier: You've got two empty halves of a coconut and you're bangin' 'em together.

dance you monster's picture

@Big Al

. . . into question, it's reasonable that someone else will want to know your alternatives. So far I see no specifics, just some general "ya'll need to stop voting for Ds or Rs and do something else I won't really specify, and in fact will ask you to specify for me."

Voters in the system we have may be doing something that's largely fruitless, but it's an action of some sort, an effort, not just a kvetching that others aren't doing what X person wants. As fruitless -- or arguably even counterproductive -- as that is, it's more than I am seeing from you. So stop shaming them.

You said in another thread that you were "disappointed" that c99ers voted for candidates in this election. They did not say they were disappointed in you for not doing so. You disparaged their decisions, and when anyone challenges you on that bit of aggression, you get all defensive. I am asking you to stop disparaging others who are not following your agenda. You make your effort at change, and they'll make theirs. A truce.

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zoebear's picture

@dance you monster

who comes into our store dressed head to foot in slogans about voting and saving our democracy. As she browses through the aisles and drinks her complimentary cup of coffee wearing her political views quite literally on her sleeve, I am relieved to be released from the burden of participating in the kabuki theater that is our electoral process by not feeling obliged to come up with solutions that will save the world.

It is enough for me to be active within my community and to create real value in the lives of my neighbors, friends and family. It is a rewardingly consistent endeavor that I am in control of, rather than the operant conditioning of political participation in a system where we have no voice and no power.

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Soldier: What? Ridden on a horse?
King Arthur: Yes!
Soldier: You're using coconuts!
King Arthur: What?
Soldier: You've got two empty halves of a coconut and you're bangin' 'em together.

Eagles92's picture

@zoebear

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CS in AZ's picture

@dance you monster

Being disappointed is a feeling, it’s not “shaming” anyone. Good grief.

Ever since Hilz lost to trump, everyone who didn’t get in line and vote for Her have endured (still ongoing) attempts to shame us for electing trump. That includes almost everyone here, I think. As I said then and have said more than once, they can shove their shaming. I didn’t vote for Her, I didn’t vote for trump, and I’m not the least bit ashamed of my decision, regardless of the attacks and name calling.

We who choose not to support the duopoly are continually shamed for not voting to save the world. “Spoiled children. Teenagers with no sense of morals or responsibility. Selfish pony-wanting brats.” Have been called racists, woman haters, even evil, for not voting for HER. Many of the same names have been tossed at us here, for not getting on the progressive takeover train. No one said boo about that vote shaming!

But I am not ashamed of my decisions about voting, regardless of the mud slinging.

If anyone is ashamed about having voted for democrats — that is something they need to take a good look at. If you’re happy with your decision, what does it matter if someone else disapproves? Or is, oh noez, disappointed.

I too am disappointed, to be honest. But that’s only because I really want an end to corporate democrats and the stranglehold they have. Which has just been strongly reinforced.

Soooo many people said they’d had enough after 2016. The cheating, the lies, the snubbing of progressives. Dem party says boo hoo - they will come back, what else can they do. They have nowhere else to go. We can shit on them and still expect their votes because Trump! Because not republicans is good enough. We said it wouldn’t be, any more.

But it was. It is. They are right.

I’m sorry if you don’t like hearing it, but that is disappointing.

If people chose to go along, that is obviously their business and their choice. Don’t be ashamed of it, if that’s what you believe is right. If you are ashamed of voting for them... well, that’s not coming from anything outside of yourself.

Trying to police what other people can say, or feel, about this outcome, in order to protect yourself from shame? I don’t get that.

When people call for boycotts of Amazon, are they shopper-shaming? Shopping is a personal choice. Don’t shame people for where they shop! See where this leads. Soon we can’t express any opinions on anything. Because someone might feel bad about their personal choices. That’s ridiculous.

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dance you monster's picture

@CS in AZ

I voted Green. No shame.

Disappointment is, in fact, a feeling when you feel it. When you express it about others, publicly telling them you are disappointed in them, it's shaming.

Big Al stepped over the c99p etiquette line of respecting others here, and I'm calling him on it, as I have when he's done this (more than once) before. No shame in that for me, either.

YMMV

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Eagles92's picture

@dance you monster

Big Al stepped over the c99p etiquette line of respecting others here.

Seriously? Methinks you doth protest too much.

Big Al is expressing his right to a personal opinion. Just because you don't like said opinion doesn't mean he's disrespecting you.

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CS in AZ's picture

@dance you monster

It’s not actually true that expression of disappointment is shaming. That’s your interpretation. It’s just expressing an opinion and a point of view.

I don’t believe Big Al stepped over any etiquette line. Certainly not one that many people on the “other side” of this haven’t crossed many times. Did you call out people who shamed others for saying they would not vote, or would not vote for democrats? Did you call it out when they were called spoiled children, teenagers, and idiots? I didn’t see it if you did.

Nor did anyone else who is now complaining about “shaming” because Big Al said he’s disappointed and speaks his mind on how he feels about where we are. You’re all shaming him for even speaking his mind, but it’s entirely one sided. That too is disappointing.

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@Big Al
For whatever little bit of motivation that might give.

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Sigh

Big Al's picture

@UntimelyRippd

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Eagles92's picture

@dance you monster @dance you monster What if all the people who didn't vote, actually did vote?

As someone we all know and loathe might say, "What difference, at this point, does it make?" Maybe we'd get "more and better" Democrats, except we don't. We get Democrats who compromise our way into austerity for everyone but them.

I'd vote for a third party, if a viable one actually existed. But it doesn't, and never will, not the way this system is rigged. How my participation in a farce is supposed to change anything for the better, I fail to comprehend. We've already seen, time and again, how supposed "progressives" are squelched by the establishment if and when they actually happen to get elected. So what's the point of voting for them?

That said, I did personally participate in this latest election. Just not in ways that many here think that I should have.

[Edited to add to your comment about the planet cooking. Indeed, it is, and we only have 12 years to turn this Titanic around. Voting for "more and better Democrats" ain't gonna change that, given their past track record. YMMV].

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wendy davis's picture

@Eagles92

comments remind me of rebecca solnit: "oh, rancid left...sure obomba did some bad things during his first term. but consider the alternative! vote for him anyhow!"

i agree that big al is just expressing his disappointment, and not shaming anyone. i'd add that he's reminding readers of history, as well, or at least his and often mine. now the dems would yell 'TINA' while grand-bargaining the social safety net away, whereas trump just blows everyone out of the water with his bellicosity. but he accidentally speaks the truth every once in awhile.

i confess i don't know who these 'progressives' are that you're speaking about, but i do agree that what candidates say is not usually what they do in the end. i keep reading online and in a few newsletters that "socialism has come to amerika; 55,000 new members have joined the DSA!" (reform capitalists)

one thing i'd thunk almost everyone at c99percent believed is that #russiagate is a lie, and a psyop. but some here tout bernie sanders and jill stein who'd both joined the 'russians stole our elections' chorus. i try to make sense of the disconnect, but...i can't.

your earlier: "i think you (or some here?) doth protest too much" resonated with me.

in my own estimation, big al is by way of a radical polemicist, and his title kinda veered into 'not voting examples' as well.

i did laugh at the jon schwarz at the intercept coverage of the hartmann/carter interview as glenn greenwald famously had approved of the court's decision on citizens united v. the fec, although...he had a hard time deciding, lol. libertarians. dunno about buckley v. valeo, though.

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Wink's picture

their feet to the fire.
@Big Al
They're back up in 2 years.
They'll be getting a job evaluation.

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

Eagles92's picture

@Wink /smdh

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dkmich's picture

@Big Al

I haven't bought their party bull shit one bit. All I did was go from passively watching and wishing to taking no prisoners. My nature is to fight and one of my weapons is my vote. I intend to use it where it will do the most good, which can sometimes mean the most damage.

I understand the logic behind not voting for awful candidates. It is hard to resist. 2016, my goal was to make Hillary lose. 2018, my goal was to make Trump lose. 2020, we'll see.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

Big Al's picture

@Raggedy Ann People are pretty sensitive about that around these parts. I don't think I was vote shaming, I think I was pointing out that we don't live in a democracy, at least not in the big picture scheme of things. I don't think anyone needs to be ashamed for voting, except maybe who they voted for.

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Raggedy Ann's picture

@Big Al
I'm a big supporter of your thoughts/ideas/comments. But sometimes, it just feels like vote-shaming.

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"If there is not justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government." Emiliano Zapata

Big Al's picture

@Raggedy Ann I really don't have anything else to say.

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Here it was easy, low effort, didn't take long. Low expectation of useful return from it, but it's easier than marching through DC, with a similar expectation of results. In terms of mathematical expectation, the low effort of voting compared with the high effort of direct action makes it worthwhile to spend (waste?) a half-hour or so.

This doesn't apply to vote suppressor states, where voting requires high effort. In those cases, I have to ask: why would they bother to suppress the vote, if it were worthless?

I don't think voting encourages or validates the system, except in the mind of the voter, especially with the normally low turnout. I know fools who think voting D vs R is the be-all and end-all of political action.

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

Azazello's picture

I'm pretty sure that most of us who read this site have already figured out that we live in an oligarchy. It doesn't take a genius to see that.

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Big Al's picture

@Azazello blue wave? Is that it Azazello? You'd rather someone like me not incessantly complain about the election circus and our political system?
It's OK to talk about who won and didn't win, but to go where I'm going is, as Lookout said, "burdensome"?
You don't have to read it, man.

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Azazello's picture

@Big Al
All I was saying is that most of us, especially readers of this site, already know we live in oligarchy. It ain't news, we don't need to be awakened.

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CS in AZ's picture

@Azazello

And yet you don’t complain about the regular regurgitation of that “news” in the many essays about it.

Why the selective grousing? Like Al said, if you don’t want to read that old news about the oligarchy again, its easy enough to pass it by and go read something else. It’s allowed to rant here, post personal essays, and repeat topics. Your favorite poster has himself said he’s written “dozens” of essays on the same subject: the wrongs of the dem establishment. Do we need all of those? Al has the same right to post his rants as anyone else.

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Azazello's picture

@CS in AZ
Of course we can all rant about anything we want, anytime we want. I wasn't grousing. I was merely saying that I'm already awake. Why all the over reaction ?
Sheesh.

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CS in AZ's picture

@Azazello

You know very well who said that. Overreaction? Yeah that’s a good word for the pile-on and attacks on Big Al for posting this essay. I wonder why too.

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Azazello's picture

@CS in AZ
"We live in an oligarchy" is kinda' like "water is wet." That's all I was saying.

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Lenzabi's picture

Yep we are all living in the Corporatist States of Oligarchia. America is a mythical realm of fantasy.

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So long, and thanks for all the fish

@Lenzabi
Westerners are sturdy pioneers loving freedom (and cowboy hats), country folk are virtuous, Southerners just have pride. A million corporate acres is a family farm. Ronald Reagan, the film star; Resident Rump, the game show host. Oooh, the British royals and aristos. Tax less, spend more, balance the budget, repeat ad nauseam every couple decades. God's on my side. America is the finest nation in the history of the world. Who wants to be a millionaire? Gimme a cheezburger!
"Everyone's gone to the movies, now we're alone again"

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

wendy davis's picture

@pindar's revenge

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@wendy davis @wendy davis @wendy davis
of American fantasies. The quote was from an old Steely Dan song, which to me sort of summed up the 70's escapism. It seemed like the masses had shut down their minds from overload and retreated into fantasy. We see so, so much fantasy of the American self-image today. Frinstance, West Virginia has all the problems of the inner city, in spades, but power brokers still promote the image of the virtuous, pious superiority of the country life. People have all these movie images in their minds.

Sorry if I was too off-the-wall (grin)

Edit: Since I had script-blocker on, I didn't see your Miller video link. Great song, that was his last good album -- they still called it a "blues band". Ah, livin' in the USA!

Edited edit: it drives me crazy that it's so hard to get a real cheeseburger these days. Frozen pink slime everywhere. Another order of magnitude lower in fantasyland.

Cheers!

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If I'm wrong, it's the first time I'm happy to be confused. -Don Van Vliet

wendy davis's picture

from the English philosopher John Locke, who had declared his seventeenth-century willingness “to join in society with others who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties, and estates, which I call by the general name property.” Locke could not conceive of freedom established on anything other than property. Neither could the eighteenth-century framers of America’s Constitution. By the word liberty, they meant liberty for property, not liberty for persons, and by the end of the summer of 1787 the well-to-do gentlemen in Philadelphia had drafted a document hospitable to their acquisition of more property.

But unlike our present-day makers of money and law, the founders were not stupefied plutocrats. They knew how to read and write (in Latin or French, if not also in Greek), and they weren’t consumed by an all-consuming desire for wealth. From their reading of Plutarch, they understood that oligarchy was well-advised to furnish democracy with some measure of political power because the failure to do so was likely to lead to their being roasted on pitchforks. The costs of their living they adjusted to sober and practical use in preference to gaudy self-glorifying display.

Accepting of the fact that whereas democracy puts a premium on equality, a capitalist economy does not, they designed a contrivance to accommodate the motions of the heart as well the movements of a market. The Constitution joined the life of an organism with the strength of a mechanism, offering as warranty of its worth the character of men capable of caring for such a thing as a res publica, attentively benign landlords presumably relieved of the necessity to cheat and steal and lie.”

~ Lewis Lapham

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@wendy davis
Not that Locke is my hero, but Lapham has cast a 20th century definition of property onto Locke's usage, whereas Locke was defining property (the term was much less commonly used at the time) to specifically include both the ephemeral (life and liberty) and the material (estates). He was asserting, for example, that one's life was "proper" to oneself, was one's own.

It's more than a little too Randian for my taste (well, in the extreme, it is definitively Randian), but it is not what Lapham says it is.

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wendy davis's picture

@UntimelyRippd

having weighed in; i'd never read locke myself, and hadn't gone a-bingling. that was one portion of a long essay he'd written. i'd thought to bring it for discussion, but i'd have to end up cherry-picking paragraphs. we'll see. i already have something far easier (hopefully) to grok as a model of actual democracy set to cross-post.

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@wendy davis
The scottish philosophers of the time were very big on the concept of property -- that the essential nature of man was a desire to claim this, that and the other thing as one's "own". (Note that the standard translation into French of the adjective "own" is "propre". "My own cat" = "Mon propre chat".)

Hmm, okay, so I went to the original and checked it, and I'm standing by my interpretation. The assertion in Section 124 can only follow from the end of Section 123 if Locke intends, as I've stated to define property as including ALL of life, liberty and material possessions. It's also worth noting that out there in the rest of the world, almost everybody discussing Locke and the DecOfIn asserts that Locke defined our 3 natural rights as "life, liberty, and property", and the framers, uncomfortable with that, replaced "property" with "pursuit of happiness". Which means that, as usual, I'm right and almost everyone else -- including people who have spent entire careers studying, thinking, and teaching about this -- is wrong. Either that, or somewhere else there's a Locke quote where he abandons the formulation he used in this Treatise.

Sect. 123. IF man in the state of nature be so free, as has been said; if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no body, why will he part with his freedom? why will he give up this empire, and subject himself to the dominion and controul of any other power? To which it is obvious to answer, that though in the state of nature he hath such a right, yet the enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and constantly exposed to the invasion of others: for all being kings as much as he, every man his equal, and the greater part no strict observers of equity and justice, the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe, very unsecure. This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join in society with others, who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property.

Sect. 124. The great and chief end, therefore, of men's uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property. To which in the state of nature there are many things wanting.

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ggersh's picture

and that is why our press was protected by the
First Amendment...the only business specifically
protected by the Constitution

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In 2008 $27tril was created outta air, where did it go
not for infrastructure, not for schools, not for student
debt, not for universal healthcare, 8 mil foreclosed on.
Nope it went to those that committed the massive fraud

Big Al's picture

a few questions.

Are we just talking amongst ourselves here? Or are we doing something more than that, like trying to spread information, influence discussions, debates, etc.? Are there people who read this site who don't participate but perhaps these type of discussions are new to them? Does and can political blogging help move national debates into areas and issues previously untreaded or lightly treaded? What exactly are we doing here?

Does anybody really know what time it is?

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Eagles92's picture

@Big Al

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QMS's picture

@Big Al
Can't say this site is packaged for mass consumption, overall. But it does seem to touch on many of the highs and lows we all confront or consider. I think there is a mass awakening beyond the infotainment distraction. We are sharing it more with time. A bit rough around the edges. But the gist of mutual encouragement seems to be heading in a positive direction. There-in lies the strength. Thanks.

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Question authority = civil disobedience

CS in AZ's picture

@Big Al

This site does have what I’ve called a “neighborhood pub” vibe to it, as in being small and a gathering place for regulars, who do get to know each other, and each other’s opinions and points of view. We have discussions and sometimes arguments, but I’m not sure how much it changes anyone’s mind. I know that I personally have changed my views and opinions a lot since I started hanging out here, and I’ve learned a great deal that I never knew anything about from you and many others who write and talk here.

So I don’t think it’s futile. But I don’t think it reaches a very large audience. However, JtC has said that there’s a lot of readers/visitors who don’t comment or join the site. I have no idea how many, but some for sure.

Reach is unknowable. Remember butterfly wings flapping and all that. You never know what happens to your words once posted, or who they reach. So keep posting them, I say.

People telling you “we all know that, and we don’t need your message” are really just saying they don’t like your posts and would prefer you to be quiet. That’s not crossing any “etiquette lines” apparently, but it’s pretty rude, imo.

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Eagles92's picture

@CS in AZ I agree.

People telling you “we all know that, and we don’t need your message” are really just saying they don’t like your posts and would prefer you to be quiet.

I find it quite ironic, among this crowd, when the loudest among us seek to censor silence corral your opinion.

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Azazello's picture

@Big Al
We're just a bunch of people, old folks mostly, talking among ourselves.
What influence do we have ? I don't know, but it ain't much. YouTubers have a much greater reach.
Even the Daily Kos, at the height of its influence, didn't make a ripple in the national "discussion." Go ask the average guy in the street if he read what so-and-so said on some blog. He'll think you're crazy.
I'm OK with that. I'm grateful that this site exists, but I just come here to read the news and chip in my 2 cents. I'm under no illusions about advancing the cause, whatever that cause may be.

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Big Al's picture

@Azazello

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lotlizard's picture

@Azazello  
and agreed to call themselves the “Share-Property” (= communist) party.

Just twenty-eight years later — including time spent barely evading annihilation, defeating foreign invaders, and fighting an ongoing civil war — their organization had control of the entire country.

Or how about the man in upstate New York with the commonplace-sounding name of Joseph Smith, who claimed that in the early 1820s, God the Father and Jesus (two different persons) had appeared to him, later sending an angel to help him to find and translate some golden plates?

After all kinds of persecution for heresy, polygamy, and in general coming across as crackpots, the sect he and his followers started is now the epitome of a respectable, politically and economically powerful, conservative church, both taking good care of its member families and making an ongoing effort to teach them how to take good care of themselves.

Do some groups who succeed in moving history’s needle have access to Harry Potter style magic or something?

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@lotlizard
I think most people, including most protestants, still think the LDS are crackpots.

though I admit, I've never seen a poll.

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lotlizard's picture

@UntimelyRippd  
http://jewishinsider.com/14832/daily-kickoff-will-senator-mitt-romney-ma...

The Romney family are LDS (Mormons) — Mitt was a governor of Massachusetts and his father George was a CEO of American Motors and governor of Michigan.

For crackpots, they’ve come a long way.

For comparison on the scale of crackpottery, imagine “the first Scientologist to be elected governor” or “the first Scientologist to win a major party’s nomination for president.”

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@lotlizard
to commune with the dead in the canadian prime minister's residence. people will forgive an awful lot, in the realm of spiritual delusion.

i'm pretty sure that if you ask the average presbyterian or lutheran or baptist what they think of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, and the whole "golden plates" and "angel moroni" business, they'll just roll their eyes. i don't know what they really all think about it, but i assume they figure something along the lines of, "Hey, they're worshipping Jesus, even if everything that makes their faith different from mine is pure crackpottery. Oh, and they've got a great choir. And they used to run these wonderful PSAs about love and family."

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Azazello's picture

@lotlizard
If you read Bolshevik history you'll see that a lot of what they were doing in the early days resembles what we see in chat rooms and comment threads. They were sniping at each other. I'm reading something called State and Revolution by V.I. Lenin, 1918. All through it there are arguments against what somebody or other said in some underground publication. Bolsheviks spent a great deal of time and energy arguing about what would be the correct Party line according to Marx. In the end, of course, the difference is in public speaking (agitation) and face-to-face interaction. It was the same with the Chinese and the Mormons err, LDS. All of these movements relied on charismatic leaders who reached the people directly, not just in print.

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wendy davis's picture

@Big Al

questions, big al, although i can't them a 'highjacking' your essay, but adding a layer to it. as far as blogging being able to change opinions, my guess is that it's so only within the commentariat/membership of a smallish site, and even this site is such given how many places we go to fetch our news, opinions (including ballasting our own opinions), reactions, etc.

i did check the c99% twitter account to see how many essays are retweeted, liked, added to in subtweets, etc., and although i didn't go very far back in time...but i didn't see any of those buttons activated. now c99% on twitter does retweet other articles, links, etc., and i suppose there's some method to that, and some of those did have subtweets.

but the internet was going to be the great equalizer, yes? i do think a lot of folks have just given up hoping that blogging will affect national debates to any great extent, myownself. i just do it cuz it's all i can do now, and mainly to vent against the machine, and to expose institutions, war crimes, compromised NGOs, NATO, Africom, the atlantic council, and other bullshit psyops.

but lapham's quotes above is all about 'the rule of law' has likely always been missing, as the framers were landed gentry, many were slave owners, and as per the language borrowed from various times and philosophers and the debates...most hadn't wanted 'democracy' anywhere near the great unwashed. hence: a republic. or that was my understanding.

i'm really glad you brought this post, amigo. lotsa food for thought for all, yes?

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Wink's picture

of the Canova ballots moved from a couple solo-driven cars to a (rented) Enterprise van?? Practically in the middle of the road?! It may have been Kosher, but somehow I doubt it. Had DWS shenanigans written all over it.

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.

In 1920 the 19th amendment was finally ratified. It enfranchised women and declared they have all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. I'd call that a significant difference. It took decades of hard work.

Between 1940 and the early 1970s the proportion of income that went to the bottom 90% continued to rise. The wealth gap slowly (very slowly) narrowed. I'd call that a significant difference.

Between the early years of WWII and the early 1960s the highest income tax bracket never dropped below 70% and for a time topped out at 94% It remained 90% for a significant period of time. I call that a significant difference from today.

I saw the beginnings of real social integration among races. Political parties hadn't developed the strategy of playing the race card and unions were trying hard to make their members see each other as equals. There is nothing that instills fear in an oligarch better than a thoroughly integrated picket line.

Yes, the country has always been an oligarchy. But there are oligarchies and oligarchies. I had the incredible fortune to grow up in a time when working class people could see their lives improve from year to year. I remember when my parents increased the check they cashed at the grocery store each week from $18 to $20. Most of the money went for groceries, but it paid the milkman, the breadman, (These foods were delivered to your door.) and the paperboy. I remember when we bought our first used car. My father didn't buy a new car until my freshman year in college

But the oligarchs struck back, ruthlessly, with a plan that was decades in the making. For over 35 years wealth and power were stripped from working people. Financial enterprises have developed into monopolies that Teddy Roosevelt would never have tolerated. Private sector unions are nearly destroyed. We have been weakened.

BUT WE ARE NOT DEAD, Al. We may be turning a corner. I have friends in WI who spent most lunch hours in the state capitol building singing protest songs for many years in response to Scott Walker's horrible and illegal behavior. Scott Walker lost Tuesday. Referenda on the minimum wage and expanded medical care passed around the country. Working people received contributions from other working people that in some cases exceeded what the oligarchs could raise. Congress has never been more diverse. That diversity exists predominantly in the Democratic Party. We can hope at least some of these people remember where they came from.

We have not won. Things will get worse before they get better. As things get worse the greatest danger is that the oligarchy will drive us apart along political identity dimensions. Working people need to unite for the long run. We did it before, therefore we can do it again.

It will take decades. The 19th amendment took decades. Labor rights took decades and the dead bodies of men, women and children. It is painful to hear achievements for which good people have worked for many years on the streets and in the voting booths trivialized as inconsequential.

Referenda have problems of their own when they move beyond a small town. How do people get informed on complicated issues? Maybe that's where the money presently spent on lobbying goes. The oligarchs can educate us. Proposition 13, passed by referendum in CA, created terrible harm to the state's education system from kindergarten, through community colleges that had been free, to some of the greatest universities in the world.

It won't come easy. If we can't work together it won't come at all.

Peace.

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@FuturePassed

BTW, I posted a comment about the Solidarity Sing Along somewhere here in the last couple of days.

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Big Al's picture

@UntimelyRippd Very groovy.

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@Big Al
several of the YT commenters insist that the big wide smiles by Crosby and Nash are insincere -- that they're mocking Jones. that sure isn't what it looks like to me. it looks to me like they are grooving.

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