10 February 2010

American Disillusion

I grew up with the idea that the USA was the greatest nation on Earth. That this is a land of equal opportunity, a land of altruism. It's easy to see why that story could get confusing in light of the historical realities of the enslavement of Africans and the virtual genocide of Native Peoples. It's hard to know what to believe, I suppose. But the reality on the ground is that America is a very violent place. Ranging from domestic violence to state violence against civilians. Ranging from harmful economic activities to colonialism and outright wars of aggression.

When Obama was elected, and inaugurated, it would have been hard not to feel hopeful. The rhetoric, if not completely correct, was in a pretty good place. But in what's now over a year since the Obama Administration assumed power, there has been a degeneration in the rhetoric, and certainly a widespread feeling of disappointment with the real politic. An example of degeneration of rhetoric is the difference between talking about opportunity and prosperity for all, to the more recent focus on propping up the "middle class." The degeneration has been gradual, like the flim-flam approach to Universal Health Care, and the Obama plan to increase military spending; and yet it has also been spiked with notable events, like the use of the Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance speech to advocate America's supposed need for war, and the dreadful showing at the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

The disillusion is driving home some simple and chilling truths. The socio-economic political system of the United States is broken. It is corrupt. I have been saying this for over 10 years. And articles like the following only make it more and more clear. So what to do...

The fact is that human activities - industrial activities - over the past 200+ years have done tremendous damage to the living systems of this planet Earth. Earth is our home. We would be wise to take care of it. After all it either belongs to all of us, or to none of us at all. The policies coming out of Washington D.C. and other locusts of political power in the USA (as well as other places in the world) make little to no sense. A drastic change in focus is needed. A change toward the direction of taking care of the planet, and taking care of each other. The adversarial, profit-oriented model of destructive competition endangers the future of humanity and most of the life on this planet. Change is due.

First, there needs to be a disruption of the two-party duopoly that represents the amoral corporate profit motive.

Then there is the need to remake the system anew - to make a system that is altruistic and grounded in the intention to serve life.

Yep. So, check out this article for more reason to challenge and oppose the unmanageable and amoral status quo:
February 9, 2010

Obama's "Change" Drops Its Mask

The Democrats are Coming After Social Security


It’s official: the Democrats are coming after Social Security and Medicare. All the backroom scheming and political conspiring is finally out in the open.

In an unusually long, 1,800 word editorial, entitled The Truth about the Deficit, published February 7, The New York Times -- cheerleader for neoliberalism -- gives its solution to the country’s debt problems. The main idea is summed up thus:

“To truly tame deficits will require serious health care reform [Obama’s plan slashes Medicare], the sooner the better. Other aspects of the long-term fiscal problem — raising taxes and retooling [reducing] Social Security — must take place in earnest as the economy recovers.”

read more: http://www.counterpunch.org/cooke02092010.html


  1. I, personally, never really had much "hope" in Obama, but I can't imagine the disappointment and heartbreak for the people who did. A lot of emotions and personal efforts were thrust into his campaign by "the common man," and to see where their heart's efforts have gone is difficult.

    I agree that the system is broken. But it's hard, because people operating in other political systems will say theirs is broken as well. It's hard to get everyone to agree and for EVERYONE to not feel oppressed in some way, shape, or form. Even before modern style first-world governments were in place, there was dissent, death, and opposing "sides."

    Because human interaction, small or large, is largely about people's perceptions and how they feel about how they're being treated or treating others, and because people's perceptions and opinions are so so vast -- I honestly doubt if a completely altruistic society with an intention to serve is possible because while one person might have a good intention, someone else could interpret themselves as being oppressed.

    A classic, sadly now cliche, argument is women's reproductive rights and the issue of abortion. Many women claim that laws against abortion are oppressive to their bodies and their decisions to end pregnancies. But other people say it is very oppressive towards babies because it is a genocide of the helpless.

    You mentioned that our government right now is amoral, which, correct me if I'm wrong, you feel that we need a government that is moral. And I would agree with that. But then, the great war of "who's morals?" comes into play.

  2. Thanks for your comments, I agree that it has to be about ending oppression - and that being oppression is often a matter of perception. And feeling as if we are being treated well is subjective and open to a variety of factors.

    I do think that society would be better and individuals would be happier if people generally made an effort to treat each other well.

    Part of it has to do with consciousness, and I think that because of the stress resulting form economic instability, people aren't able to be open to treating each other well, or being treated well.

    So I think distributive justice and economic justice need to become part of the conversation.

    As far as moving toward a society and a government that is "moral" - the morals that I am thinking of are very simple, including the idea that we should "treat others as we would like them to treat us," and "To Do No Harm."

    I just plain do not understand why the concept of doing no harm applies to medicine, but not to economics and finance.

    I think it is utter craziness to think that it is okay for people to hurt each other and put each other down in the pursuit of economic self-interest.