Saturday, 25 October 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution

Tuesday, 24 May 2011 11:29 By Michael Pirsch, Truthout | News Analysis
Talkin Bout a Revolution

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC. President Abraham Lincoln observed in his first inaugural address, "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." (Photo: nolageek)

Our country is in tatters. While more and more of us plunge into official poverty status, our elected leaders, who are in service to the wealthy elite, argue about how much to cut from programs that "promote the general welfare." They squander our exhaustible resources on illegal wars. The rich have stolen so much from us that they comprise the wealthiest 1 percent in well over 100 years, and they are supported in all this by their pet pundits, who dominate the corporate media. And none of our elected leaders from either of the two parties question the morality of shredding the most basic programs "to promote the general welfare."

To imagine that the Democratic Party would provide any leadership to end the "long train of abuses and usurpations" brought upon us is akin to reaffirming our belief in Santa Claus. The time has come to break the chains that bind us and to establish a new government based on true, not humbug, democratic principles.

Therefore, we are very fortunate in the USA to have not only the right, but also the duty to throw off the current form of government. According to the Declaration of Independence, our nation's most revered document, our responsibility to overthrow, or not, is contingent on government protections of the "... unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." In other words, it is up to us, the governed, to determine the mechanisms necessary to secure these rights. It goes on to state "that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it ..."

The authors also predicted "... that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." The question each of us has to answer is: Have I (and/or my children) suffered enough? Do I really want to suffer more?

President Abraham Lincoln observed in his first inaugural address, "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it."

It is important for each of us to personally acknowledge and exercise these rights "to overthrow" or "to abolish" our government rather than "alter" or "amend" because we will only hurt ourselves and future generations if we continue to buy into the presently conceived "alter or amend" strategy. By now, we should understand the propaganda-driven, mind-control apparatus controlled by the wealthiest individuals and corporations. Nielson Holdings NV, on April 7, 2011, announced advertising across the world rose 10.6 percent to $503 billion for 2010. This might be low considering all forms of advertising. The same highly developed mind-control techniques that are used to sell us cars, underarm deodorant, toothpaste and shoes are also used to sell politicians to us - and it works. The more than one-half trillion dollars is a safe investment since it has convinced us to act against our own interests again and again. This money spent by the advertising and propaganda industry and their corporate or special interest clients also guarantees corporate media stays on message. We are only allowed to hear a discussion from points A-B. Points C-Z do not exist in what passes for a fair and free press and the election campaigns it reports.

Therefore, it falls upon us to fill in points C-Z. How we do that not only starts an authentic local-to-national dialogue, but also helps to build a personal commitment to a more open and inclusive society that relies on empathy, cooperation and, most importantly, respect for each other regardless of our perceived differences.

Many say that campaign financing reform is all important. It is important, but, I believe, secondary because it is impossible with our present corporate-owned government to make any changes that would loosen the death grip corporations have on us. More important is to put to rest the notion that corporations are people with all the rights - and more - of flesh and blood people. Corporations hijacked (usurped) the Constitution by declaring themselves "persons" under the 14th Amendment, which guarantees the right of due process. This amendment was drafted and passed to provide full rights to all natural persons - especially the recently emancipated slaves and their descendents. To date, very few Supreme Court decisions have dealt with race discrimination under the 14th Amendment. Over 80 percent of all 14th Amendment cases involve corporations asserting their "natural" rights. You will not find a definitive Supreme Court Decision stating corporations are unquestionably persons. You will not find a constitutional amendment granting corporations rights as natural persons. This gift of "natural" life just appeared in the mid 1880s as a footnote added by a clerk to the Supreme Court decision Southern Pacific v. San Mateo County. This mind-boggling claim that legally-created "bodies" are persons is a driving force behind our present corrupt campaign financing and, therefore, the existence of the corporate state.

We have experienced a corporate takeover of government. The corporate takeover was cemented over the period beginning 40 years ago and solidified with the taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street. Besides the more than 14-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street, our government has been quietly contracting out essential government services. This began under Reagan when he appointed the Grace Commission, chaired by J. Peter Grace Jr. - chairman of W.R. Grace Corporation - one of the largest chemical-manufacturing conglomerates. The commission recommended shrinking government by offering a large share of "public expenditures to the private sector."[1]

Neither Reagan nor George H.W. Bush aggressively pursued the privatization agenda. However, Bill Clinton went at it like a starving dog. At the end of Clinton's first term, more than 100,000 Pentagon jobs had been contracted out. By the end of his second term, he had cut more than 360,000 jobs from the federal payroll. Over his presidency, he increased federal spending for contracting out from the beginning of his term (1993) by 44 percent. The right-wing Heritage Foundation labeled Clinton's 1996 budget the "boldest privatization agenda put forth by any president to date."[2]

So, one finds Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton) providing all food services, laundry services, and other personal services previously provided by enlisted personnel. KBR, Halliburton, and many other contractors and subcontractors are notorious for overcharging the taxpayer for services. It is amazing to think that today's military is incapable of feeding itself or washing its own clothes. KBR can and has threatened to withhold its services in Afghanistan during a pay dispute with the paymasters at the Pentagon.[3]

The corporate media has been unable to completely avoid mentioning military contractors - or, more accurately, mercenaries. We know the total number of enlisted personnel in Iraq is more than doubled when our taxpayer-funded mercenaries are counted. It may not be an exaggeration to say that one of the largest and best-armed militaries on the planet is the collection of motley mercenaries employed by us, the US taxpayers. The wealthy mercenary corporations are not accountable to anyone - least of all to us. In fact, we have seen the extent to which our government will go to protect the mercenaries in Pakistan. Obama went on television to claim Randy Davis was a diplomat - when he more accurately is a subcontractor of a subcontractor. Davis killed two Pakistani citizens, was jailed and eventually released following a blood payment of 2.3 million dollars to the families of the dead Pakistanis. Not only did Obama lie to the people on national television, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Obama's lie even though they knew he was lying.[4] They had agreed with the White House to cover up the fact that Davis was neither a diplomat nor an employee of the CIA: he was a private contractor, who probably will not have to reimburse taxpayers for the 2.3 million dollars.

Even worse than military functions being subcontracted out, are government intelligence-gathering functions being delegated to corporate interests. The 2006 cost of spying and surveillance activities contracted out amounted to 70 percent of the estimated 60 billion dollars spent on all 16 US intelligence agencies. The number of contract employees now exceeds the CIA's full-time work force of 17,500. Mercenaries count for more than one-half of the CIA Directorate of Operations now known as the CIA National Clandestine Service.[5] We have, at the present time, 16 US government intelligence agencies plus intelligence services provided by corporate intelligence services. The current director of the National Intelligence Agency was, until 2007, an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the largest private providers of intelligence services. He is the first director to come from private intelligence services. Booz Allen Hamilton's government services section is now owned by the Carlyle Group. Carlyle Group is a major shareholder in the security sector, which includes defense corporations.

A large portion of our intelligence and strategic military services are conducted by corporations. Corporations exist to make profits only - without regard to any externalities. If dumping toxins into a river is the cheapest way of disposing of the toxins, then that is exactly what they will do. If using the propaganda mind-control apparatus is necessary to convince us there is no such thing as global warming, they will do so. Never mind extreme weather and the deaths caused by something that could have been avoided. If denying insurance coverage for a life-saving procedure is more cost effective, it will be done. Our lives and all life on the planet exist only to serve the corporate greed machine. How much faith do we want to put into either intelligence gathering or mercenaries fighting wars created by the corporate-military-intelligence apparatus? There are huge profits in war, as we have seen over the years, and now we can clearly see that the war profiteers and the policy makers are one and the same.

Sheldon Wolin wrote in "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Spectre of Inverted Totalitarianism": "The privatization of public services and functions manifests the steady evolution of corporate power into a political form, into an integral, even dominant partner of the state. It marks the transformation of American politics and its political culture, from a system in which democratic practices and values were, if not, defining, at least major contributory elements, to one where the remaining democratic elements of the state and its populist programs are being systematically dismantled."[6]

We see the same pattern among those entrusted to guide our economy. Our economy is controlled by a revolving door involving the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and Wall Street giants. Timothy Geithner, Obama's choice for secretary of the Treasury, was part of the Robert Rubin/Larry Summers team, which Clinton relied upon to destroy the protections provided by the Glass-Steagall Act (forbidding banks that accept deposits from engaging in financial speculation on their own account). Geithner was rewarded for his part in the Clinton deregulation by being named to head the New York Federal Reserve District. The New York Fed is responsible for oversight of Wall Street. Geithner failed to see the mortgage-based, fraud-induced financial meltdown before and after he helped engineer a more than 14-trillion-dollar bailout of the richest banks and brokerage outfits on Wall Street. Then Obama appointed him to the Treasury. Even more recently, Obama has hired William Daley, the son of Chicago political boss Richard Daley, as his chief of staff. Daley came to the White House from JPMorgan Chase, one of the winners in the bailout sweepstakes. It doesn't matter what cabinet position we examine: corporate control of government is as pervasive as cancer and metastasizes at a faster rate.

The leading Italian philosopher of fascism, the neo-Hegelian Giovanni Gentile, once argued that fascism should more appropriately be called "corporatism" because it was a merger of corporate and state power.[4] Former President James Madison warned, "The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny." Can there be any doubt that our entire legislative, executive and judiciary are in the death grip of corporate control? All this is possible due to the bogus claim of corporate personhood. At one time in our history, shortly after corporations were invented, the laws governing corporations were left to each state and the commonality was control of the corporation by the people. Now, the people are controlled by the corporation and we regularly give them our money to help keep them in power. The tea baggers wail about too much government, when it is corporations that are actually the government. This farce is a good example of top-down mind-control propaganda perpetrated by billionaires, right-wing think tanks and a compliant corporate media dominated by hysterical demagogues.

Revolution is our only option. We have to cut out the cancerous corporate growth - and that leaves no chance for a little reform here and a little reform there.

In the 1890s, that revolution almost happened through the ballot box, but was derailed by our own stupidity of succumbing to racism. The 1880s was characterized by a vibrant and courageous labor movement, which was able to make tremendous gains. Following a bloody war brought against the working people by the wealthy elite, the average wage in 1890 for non-farm workers was 12.3 percent higher than 1880. For union workers, the average wage was 20.9 percent higher than 1880.[7]

By 1890, it was the farmers' turn to fight back against the wealthy elite. Farmers were losing their land to banks; prices to farmers were kept low by speculators and freight charges were kept high by the railroads - owned by the aptly named "robber barons." According to Boyer and Morais, in "Labor's Untold Story": "A mortgage of $1450,which in 1867 could have been paid off with 1,000 bushels of wheat, in 1894 took over 2,959 bushels to retire. For example, in Kansas from 1889-1893, over 11,000 farm mortgages were foreclosed, in some counties as much as 90 percent passed into the hands of bankers. In Kansas and North Dakota there was one mortgage for every two inhabitants; in Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska one mortgage for every three persons."[8]

Farmers began organizing locally in farmer alliances, which became regional Farmers Alliances, finally forming a national Farmers Alliance, which changed its name to the Peoples Party or Populist Party. It was a good example of a widespread problem recognized and organized locally which grew regionally and nationally because of the commonality of the problems. By the time the regional alliances formed, the farmers were joined by workers, both organized and unorganized, small business and other victims of out-of-control capitalism. Unfortunately, racism prevented whites from joining with blacks, even though on an economic basis all were oppressed - only skin color stood in the way. Racism has been used effectively to prevent us from uniting to struggle against the wealthy elite. Racism is but one of the "triple evils that are interrelated," as Martin Luther King Jr. asserted on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City. The triple evils are: racism, economic inequality and militarism. He was murdered exactly one year later. We will never be able to effectively challenge or change this form of government unless each of us casts aside - now and forever - all racist thought, words and deeds.

Despite its white supremacist aspect, the Populist Party ran candidates for local and federal offices in 1892. Their presidential candidate lost. Yet, the Populist Party elected governors in four states, two US senators, 11 US Congressmen and 354 state representatives in 19 states. Imagine what energy went missing due to the racist underpinnings of the movement.

The 2012 elections will be the most expensive in the history of the planet. Already, Obama plans to raise over one billion dollars and the Republican candidate will raise the same amount. Today, the wealth elite have the most wealth ever concentrated in our history. Our bailouts of Wall Street and continued corporate welfare policies ensure the wealthy elite can raise the ante to scare all potential spoilers away. Most of the billions are spent on television ads: deodorant and politicians created by the same people. If we don't watch the ads, they will have wasted their money.

The billions the wealth elite can spend comes from us - sometimes directly, as when we consume their products, and sometimes indirectly - from our taxes. The multi-trillion dollar theft over the past few years has enabled the wealthy elite to literally double down its bets from 2008. Since 70 percent of the GDP is consumer related, we shoulder the responsibility for giving them their weapons.

For example, according to the FDIC, four banks (see below), out of a national total of 8,242 banks, control 45 percent of all insured deposits in the USA. In addition, the same four banks control 46 percent of all bank assets. The four, plus Goldman-Sachs, are noted along with their market capitalization as of August 2010:

JPMorgan Chase - $149.2 billion

Wells Fargo - $142.3 billion

Citigroup - $121.1 billion

Bank of America - $113.8 billion

Goldman Sachs - $868.0 billion[9]

How many of us do our banking and credit with one or more of the four banks? Closing our accounts and transferring our money to community banks or credit unions would be just one way of voicing our disapproval of government ownership by Wall Street. If all of us in the bottom 90 percent of the economy did this, it would be the start of a movement that could elect over one-third of the House in 2012. While Obama goes to the wealthy elite or their designees for his billion plus and the potential Republican candidates do likewise, we could be casting our own votes in the exclusive hidden primary. The hidden primary refers to what is happening right now between the wealth elite and/or their designees and ambitious politicians. Candidates are vetted during the rounds and the successful politicians are given seed money to start the primary season. The wealthy elite make the first choice and we get to decide from among the "already chosen." Again, everything between A and B and nothing more since the two corporate parties wrote the rules that prevent any other candidates from participating in the debates. Thus, are we deprived the chance to actually hear points C to Z. Ultimately, democracy is not about personalities, it is about policy.

Our political system is centered at the precinct. The precinct is where we vote; the precinct used to be the source of candidate selection (as opposed to the hidden primary) as well as policy direction to the political parties. The average size of a precinct is about 1,100 voters. A precinct might encompass several neighborhoods. It is at this level we can begin to organize to take the steps necessary to abolish our corporate state rule. It will be possible to begin in our own homes with the goal of organizing neighborhood by neighborhood until we organize the whole precinct. By then, many leaders will come forth. In point of fact, everyone should be a leader because each of us has at least one special knowledge or skill we can teach to others. Following this methodology, we can use our experience in the precinct to organize city districts, the city, the county, the Congressional district and possibly the state. The only requirements will be to develop empathy, cooperation and a respect for ALL life. As we move along this path, candidates will emerge to represent the policies developed along the way. One of the beauties of this plan is that it bypasses the money primaries and allows us to focus on the 2012 election. Our candidates may run under a single party or a coalition of parties rather than a national political party. We are in the mess we are because we gave up our voice, ceding it to the massive propaganda machine and the corporate political appendages, the Democrats and the Republicans.

In addition, through our neighborhoods and precincts, we can develop an alternative economic vision, which promotes the general welfare and not the generals' welfare. If we begin our organizing to meet our needs and the needs of our neighbors during this time of economic nightmares, it is a short leap to connect our mutual needs with the current political situation. We can begin to develop a new political consciousness independent of the corporate propaganda mind-control machine. Activities organized and maintained at the neighborhood level could bring about health care, food banks, gardens, transportation cooperatives, job banks, clothes making and repair etc. All we need is our imagination, cooperation, empathy and respect for life and each other. We need more prophets and less profits.

We live under corporate state rule. The corporate state is called America, Incorporated. Its CEO is the president. Its divisions are run by corporate cabinet appointees. Basically, representatives of the financial and security industries (defense, intelligence, Homeland Security etc.) serve as the board of directors, representing the wealthy elite who wish to remain anonymous and largely succeed in so doing, due to laws passed to protect their privacy. What will kill us is supporting the corporate-selected Democrats and Republicans, once again. What we need are candidates who will agree to follow the bottom-up character of true democracy - which is not the corrupt form to which we have become accustomed.

Wolin offers a succinct study of democracy as well a brilliant analysis of where we are today. He wrote, "Democracy is first and foremost about equality; equality of power and equality of sharing in the benefits and values made possible by social cooperation."[10]

Poll after poll shows the people are far to the left of politicians on almost every issue. Up to now, the institutions of the Democratic Party, the churches and the unions have not attempted to organize this base - choosing instead to serve America, Incorporated and catch what little crumbs fall from the table. Paul Street recently presented support for the fact that opinions of American citizens are, "quite progressive in terms of majority support for social democracy and the left hand of the liberal state." Among the results were: 64 percent would pay higher taxes to guarantee health care for all US citizens (CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll, May 20, 2009); 71 percent and 66 percent think taxes on corporations and upper-income people, respectively, are too low (Gallup Poll, 2007); 64 percent of the population think that injustice and inequality are the nation's leading moral issues (Zogby, 2004); only 29 percent of Americans support more spending on defense (CNN/Gallup/USA Today, 1999).[11] We spend too much money silencing dissent, killing people and destroying the environment. People care about now and the future. America, Incorporated does not allow any discussion about viable alternatives. Remember the first step toward Obama's health care reform was to forbid any discussion of a single-payer system. That changed the complete game. We will only hear about A to B. We need to create locally the discussion of A to Z.

It is, therefore, incumbent upon us, no one else, to make the necessary changes happen in order that we may build a democracy inside the USA. It should be crystal clear that a vote for a Democrat or a Republican is a vote to endorse empire and America, Incorporated.

Beginning to live along with our neighbors, we have the ability to elect a majority of the peoples' candidates to the House and to establish a majority in the state governments. What we have lacked in the past is the will to start. The wealthy are "doubling down" their campaign bribes because they are very close to delivering the knockout punch to democracy. We do not need to help them again.

Turn off the television: it is the messenger for the wealthy elite propaganda system. Do our own research into issues and candidates. We have many web sites that publish information and analysis that do not appear to be self-serving. Make demands, as Frederick Douglass told us. Use our money wisely: think of every purchase we make as a vote in favor of the corporation behind the product. Look for alternatives like second-hand or locally-crafted materials. Think about the distance those things we are told we need travel to get to the shelf. Take our money out of the four too-big banks. Don't support corporations that have invaded our body politic like an aggressive cancer.

WE do have the right and the duty to abolish or overthrow our corporate-controlled state. Don't let anybody tell us differently. If we develop the will to change, we will create the change.

Footnotes:

[1] Tim Shorrock, "Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing," (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008).

[2] Chalmers Johnson, "The Military-Industrial Complex," 7-28-2008, URL.

[3] Dave Lindorff, "US Caught in Big Lie About Raymond Davis," 02-22-2011, URL.

[4] Johnson," The Military-Industrial Complex," 7-28-2008

[5]  Sheldon Wolin, "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Spectre of Inverted Totalitarianism," (Princeton University Press, 2008) p. 284

[6]  Johnson, "The Military Industrial Complex," 7-28-2008

[7] Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais, "Labor's Untold Story," (Pittsburgh, PA., United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), 3rd edition, 20th printing, 1998) p. 111.

[8] Boyer and Morais, "Labor's Untold Story," p. 117.

[9] Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Data as of June 30, 2008.

[10] Wolin, "Democracy," p. 61.

[11] Paul Street, "America's Unelected Dictatorship of Money," 04-14-2011.

Michael Pirsch

Michael Pirsch was a union activist and union organizer for more than 25 years and a D.J. on Berkeley Liberation Radio, a pirate radio station. He now lives as an economic refugee from the United States in Thailand.


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Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution

Tuesday, 24 May 2011 11:29 By Michael Pirsch, Truthout | News Analysis
Talkin Bout a Revolution

Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC. President Abraham Lincoln observed in his first inaugural address, "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." (Photo: nolageek)

Our country is in tatters. While more and more of us plunge into official poverty status, our elected leaders, who are in service to the wealthy elite, argue about how much to cut from programs that "promote the general welfare." They squander our exhaustible resources on illegal wars. The rich have stolen so much from us that they comprise the wealthiest 1 percent in well over 100 years, and they are supported in all this by their pet pundits, who dominate the corporate media. And none of our elected leaders from either of the two parties question the morality of shredding the most basic programs "to promote the general welfare."

To imagine that the Democratic Party would provide any leadership to end the "long train of abuses and usurpations" brought upon us is akin to reaffirming our belief in Santa Claus. The time has come to break the chains that bind us and to establish a new government based on true, not humbug, democratic principles.

Therefore, we are very fortunate in the USA to have not only the right, but also the duty to throw off the current form of government. According to the Declaration of Independence, our nation's most revered document, our responsibility to overthrow, or not, is contingent on government protections of the "... unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." In other words, it is up to us, the governed, to determine the mechanisms necessary to secure these rights. It goes on to state "that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it ..."

The authors also predicted "... that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." The question each of us has to answer is: Have I (and/or my children) suffered enough? Do I really want to suffer more?

President Abraham Lincoln observed in his first inaugural address, "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it."

It is important for each of us to personally acknowledge and exercise these rights "to overthrow" or "to abolish" our government rather than "alter" or "amend" because we will only hurt ourselves and future generations if we continue to buy into the presently conceived "alter or amend" strategy. By now, we should understand the propaganda-driven, mind-control apparatus controlled by the wealthiest individuals and corporations. Nielson Holdings NV, on April 7, 2011, announced advertising across the world rose 10.6 percent to $503 billion for 2010. This might be low considering all forms of advertising. The same highly developed mind-control techniques that are used to sell us cars, underarm deodorant, toothpaste and shoes are also used to sell politicians to us - and it works. The more than one-half trillion dollars is a safe investment since it has convinced us to act against our own interests again and again. This money spent by the advertising and propaganda industry and their corporate or special interest clients also guarantees corporate media stays on message. We are only allowed to hear a discussion from points A-B. Points C-Z do not exist in what passes for a fair and free press and the election campaigns it reports.

Therefore, it falls upon us to fill in points C-Z. How we do that not only starts an authentic local-to-national dialogue, but also helps to build a personal commitment to a more open and inclusive society that relies on empathy, cooperation and, most importantly, respect for each other regardless of our perceived differences.

Many say that campaign financing reform is all important. It is important, but, I believe, secondary because it is impossible with our present corporate-owned government to make any changes that would loosen the death grip corporations have on us. More important is to put to rest the notion that corporations are people with all the rights - and more - of flesh and blood people. Corporations hijacked (usurped) the Constitution by declaring themselves "persons" under the 14th Amendment, which guarantees the right of due process. This amendment was drafted and passed to provide full rights to all natural persons - especially the recently emancipated slaves and their descendents. To date, very few Supreme Court decisions have dealt with race discrimination under the 14th Amendment. Over 80 percent of all 14th Amendment cases involve corporations asserting their "natural" rights. You will not find a definitive Supreme Court Decision stating corporations are unquestionably persons. You will not find a constitutional amendment granting corporations rights as natural persons. This gift of "natural" life just appeared in the mid 1880s as a footnote added by a clerk to the Supreme Court decision Southern Pacific v. San Mateo County. This mind-boggling claim that legally-created "bodies" are persons is a driving force behind our present corrupt campaign financing and, therefore, the existence of the corporate state.

We have experienced a corporate takeover of government. The corporate takeover was cemented over the period beginning 40 years ago and solidified with the taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street. Besides the more than 14-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street, our government has been quietly contracting out essential government services. This began under Reagan when he appointed the Grace Commission, chaired by J. Peter Grace Jr. - chairman of W.R. Grace Corporation - one of the largest chemical-manufacturing conglomerates. The commission recommended shrinking government by offering a large share of "public expenditures to the private sector."[1]

Neither Reagan nor George H.W. Bush aggressively pursued the privatization agenda. However, Bill Clinton went at it like a starving dog. At the end of Clinton's first term, more than 100,000 Pentagon jobs had been contracted out. By the end of his second term, he had cut more than 360,000 jobs from the federal payroll. Over his presidency, he increased federal spending for contracting out from the beginning of his term (1993) by 44 percent. The right-wing Heritage Foundation labeled Clinton's 1996 budget the "boldest privatization agenda put forth by any president to date."[2]

So, one finds Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton) providing all food services, laundry services, and other personal services previously provided by enlisted personnel. KBR, Halliburton, and many other contractors and subcontractors are notorious for overcharging the taxpayer for services. It is amazing to think that today's military is incapable of feeding itself or washing its own clothes. KBR can and has threatened to withhold its services in Afghanistan during a pay dispute with the paymasters at the Pentagon.[3]

The corporate media has been unable to completely avoid mentioning military contractors - or, more accurately, mercenaries. We know the total number of enlisted personnel in Iraq is more than doubled when our taxpayer-funded mercenaries are counted. It may not be an exaggeration to say that one of the largest and best-armed militaries on the planet is the collection of motley mercenaries employed by us, the US taxpayers. The wealthy mercenary corporations are not accountable to anyone - least of all to us. In fact, we have seen the extent to which our government will go to protect the mercenaries in Pakistan. Obama went on television to claim Randy Davis was a diplomat - when he more accurately is a subcontractor of a subcontractor. Davis killed two Pakistani citizens, was jailed and eventually released following a blood payment of 2.3 million dollars to the families of the dead Pakistanis. Not only did Obama lie to the people on national television, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Obama's lie even though they knew he was lying.[4] They had agreed with the White House to cover up the fact that Davis was neither a diplomat nor an employee of the CIA: he was a private contractor, who probably will not have to reimburse taxpayers for the 2.3 million dollars.

Even worse than military functions being subcontracted out, are government intelligence-gathering functions being delegated to corporate interests. The 2006 cost of spying and surveillance activities contracted out amounted to 70 percent of the estimated 60 billion dollars spent on all 16 US intelligence agencies. The number of contract employees now exceeds the CIA's full-time work force of 17,500. Mercenaries count for more than one-half of the CIA Directorate of Operations now known as the CIA National Clandestine Service.[5] We have, at the present time, 16 US government intelligence agencies plus intelligence services provided by corporate intelligence services. The current director of the National Intelligence Agency was, until 2007, an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the largest private providers of intelligence services. He is the first director to come from private intelligence services. Booz Allen Hamilton's government services section is now owned by the Carlyle Group. Carlyle Group is a major shareholder in the security sector, which includes defense corporations.

A large portion of our intelligence and strategic military services are conducted by corporations. Corporations exist to make profits only - without regard to any externalities. If dumping toxins into a river is the cheapest way of disposing of the toxins, then that is exactly what they will do. If using the propaganda mind-control apparatus is necessary to convince us there is no such thing as global warming, they will do so. Never mind extreme weather and the deaths caused by something that could have been avoided. If denying insurance coverage for a life-saving procedure is more cost effective, it will be done. Our lives and all life on the planet exist only to serve the corporate greed machine. How much faith do we want to put into either intelligence gathering or mercenaries fighting wars created by the corporate-military-intelligence apparatus? There are huge profits in war, as we have seen over the years, and now we can clearly see that the war profiteers and the policy makers are one and the same.

Sheldon Wolin wrote in "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Spectre of Inverted Totalitarianism": "The privatization of public services and functions manifests the steady evolution of corporate power into a political form, into an integral, even dominant partner of the state. It marks the transformation of American politics and its political culture, from a system in which democratic practices and values were, if not, defining, at least major contributory elements, to one where the remaining democratic elements of the state and its populist programs are being systematically dismantled."[6]

We see the same pattern among those entrusted to guide our economy. Our economy is controlled by a revolving door involving the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and Wall Street giants. Timothy Geithner, Obama's choice for secretary of the Treasury, was part of the Robert Rubin/Larry Summers team, which Clinton relied upon to destroy the protections provided by the Glass-Steagall Act (forbidding banks that accept deposits from engaging in financial speculation on their own account). Geithner was rewarded for his part in the Clinton deregulation by being named to head the New York Federal Reserve District. The New York Fed is responsible for oversight of Wall Street. Geithner failed to see the mortgage-based, fraud-induced financial meltdown before and after he helped engineer a more than 14-trillion-dollar bailout of the richest banks and brokerage outfits on Wall Street. Then Obama appointed him to the Treasury. Even more recently, Obama has hired William Daley, the son of Chicago political boss Richard Daley, as his chief of staff. Daley came to the White House from JPMorgan Chase, one of the winners in the bailout sweepstakes. It doesn't matter what cabinet position we examine: corporate control of government is as pervasive as cancer and metastasizes at a faster rate.

The leading Italian philosopher of fascism, the neo-Hegelian Giovanni Gentile, once argued that fascism should more appropriately be called "corporatism" because it was a merger of corporate and state power.[4] Former President James Madison warned, "The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny." Can there be any doubt that our entire legislative, executive and judiciary are in the death grip of corporate control? All this is possible due to the bogus claim of corporate personhood. At one time in our history, shortly after corporations were invented, the laws governing corporations were left to each state and the commonality was control of the corporation by the people. Now, the people are controlled by the corporation and we regularly give them our money to help keep them in power. The tea baggers wail about too much government, when it is corporations that are actually the government. This farce is a good example of top-down mind-control propaganda perpetrated by billionaires, right-wing think tanks and a compliant corporate media dominated by hysterical demagogues.

Revolution is our only option. We have to cut out the cancerous corporate growth - and that leaves no chance for a little reform here and a little reform there.

In the 1890s, that revolution almost happened through the ballot box, but was derailed by our own stupidity of succumbing to racism. The 1880s was characterized by a vibrant and courageous labor movement, which was able to make tremendous gains. Following a bloody war brought against the working people by the wealthy elite, the average wage in 1890 for non-farm workers was 12.3 percent higher than 1880. For union workers, the average wage was 20.9 percent higher than 1880.[7]

By 1890, it was the farmers' turn to fight back against the wealthy elite. Farmers were losing their land to banks; prices to farmers were kept low by speculators and freight charges were kept high by the railroads - owned by the aptly named "robber barons." According to Boyer and Morais, in "Labor's Untold Story": "A mortgage of $1450,which in 1867 could have been paid off with 1,000 bushels of wheat, in 1894 took over 2,959 bushels to retire. For example, in Kansas from 1889-1893, over 11,000 farm mortgages were foreclosed, in some counties as much as 90 percent passed into the hands of bankers. In Kansas and North Dakota there was one mortgage for every two inhabitants; in Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska one mortgage for every three persons."[8]

Farmers began organizing locally in farmer alliances, which became regional Farmers Alliances, finally forming a national Farmers Alliance, which changed its name to the Peoples Party or Populist Party. It was a good example of a widespread problem recognized and organized locally which grew regionally and nationally because of the commonality of the problems. By the time the regional alliances formed, the farmers were joined by workers, both organized and unorganized, small business and other victims of out-of-control capitalism. Unfortunately, racism prevented whites from joining with blacks, even though on an economic basis all were oppressed - only skin color stood in the way. Racism has been used effectively to prevent us from uniting to struggle against the wealthy elite. Racism is but one of the "triple evils that are interrelated," as Martin Luther King Jr. asserted on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City. The triple evils are: racism, economic inequality and militarism. He was murdered exactly one year later. We will never be able to effectively challenge or change this form of government unless each of us casts aside - now and forever - all racist thought, words and deeds.

Despite its white supremacist aspect, the Populist Party ran candidates for local and federal offices in 1892. Their presidential candidate lost. Yet, the Populist Party elected governors in four states, two US senators, 11 US Congressmen and 354 state representatives in 19 states. Imagine what energy went missing due to the racist underpinnings of the movement.

The 2012 elections will be the most expensive in the history of the planet. Already, Obama plans to raise over one billion dollars and the Republican candidate will raise the same amount. Today, the wealth elite have the most wealth ever concentrated in our history. Our bailouts of Wall Street and continued corporate welfare policies ensure the wealthy elite can raise the ante to scare all potential spoilers away. Most of the billions are spent on television ads: deodorant and politicians created by the same people. If we don't watch the ads, they will have wasted their money.

The billions the wealth elite can spend comes from us - sometimes directly, as when we consume their products, and sometimes indirectly - from our taxes. The multi-trillion dollar theft over the past few years has enabled the wealthy elite to literally double down its bets from 2008. Since 70 percent of the GDP is consumer related, we shoulder the responsibility for giving them their weapons.

For example, according to the FDIC, four banks (see below), out of a national total of 8,242 banks, control 45 percent of all insured deposits in the USA. In addition, the same four banks control 46 percent of all bank assets. The four, plus Goldman-Sachs, are noted along with their market capitalization as of August 2010:

JPMorgan Chase - $149.2 billion

Wells Fargo - $142.3 billion

Citigroup - $121.1 billion

Bank of America - $113.8 billion

Goldman Sachs - $868.0 billion[9]

How many of us do our banking and credit with one or more of the four banks? Closing our accounts and transferring our money to community banks or credit unions would be just one way of voicing our disapproval of government ownership by Wall Street. If all of us in the bottom 90 percent of the economy did this, it would be the start of a movement that could elect over one-third of the House in 2012. While Obama goes to the wealthy elite or their designees for his billion plus and the potential Republican candidates do likewise, we could be casting our own votes in the exclusive hidden primary. The hidden primary refers to what is happening right now between the wealth elite and/or their designees and ambitious politicians. Candidates are vetted during the rounds and the successful politicians are given seed money to start the primary season. The wealthy elite make the first choice and we get to decide from among the "already chosen." Again, everything between A and B and nothing more since the two corporate parties wrote the rules that prevent any other candidates from participating in the debates. Thus, are we deprived the chance to actually hear points C to Z. Ultimately, democracy is not about personalities, it is about policy.

Our political system is centered at the precinct. The precinct is where we vote; the precinct used to be the source of candidate selection (as opposed to the hidden primary) as well as policy direction to the political parties. The average size of a precinct is about 1,100 voters. A precinct might encompass several neighborhoods. It is at this level we can begin to organize to take the steps necessary to abolish our corporate state rule. It will be possible to begin in our own homes with the goal of organizing neighborhood by neighborhood until we organize the whole precinct. By then, many leaders will come forth. In point of fact, everyone should be a leader because each of us has at least one special knowledge or skill we can teach to others. Following this methodology, we can use our experience in the precinct to organize city districts, the city, the county, the Congressional district and possibly the state. The only requirements will be to develop empathy, cooperation and a respect for ALL life. As we move along this path, candidates will emerge to represent the policies developed along the way. One of the beauties of this plan is that it bypasses the money primaries and allows us to focus on the 2012 election. Our candidates may run under a single party or a coalition of parties rather than a national political party. We are in the mess we are because we gave up our voice, ceding it to the massive propaganda machine and the corporate political appendages, the Democrats and the Republicans.

In addition, through our neighborhoods and precincts, we can develop an alternative economic vision, which promotes the general welfare and not the generals' welfare. If we begin our organizing to meet our needs and the needs of our neighbors during this time of economic nightmares, it is a short leap to connect our mutual needs with the current political situation. We can begin to develop a new political consciousness independent of the corporate propaganda mind-control machine. Activities organized and maintained at the neighborhood level could bring about health care, food banks, gardens, transportation cooperatives, job banks, clothes making and repair etc. All we need is our imagination, cooperation, empathy and respect for life and each other. We need more prophets and less profits.

We live under corporate state rule. The corporate state is called America, Incorporated. Its CEO is the president. Its divisions are run by corporate cabinet appointees. Basically, representatives of the financial and security industries (defense, intelligence, Homeland Security etc.) serve as the board of directors, representing the wealthy elite who wish to remain anonymous and largely succeed in so doing, due to laws passed to protect their privacy. What will kill us is supporting the corporate-selected Democrats and Republicans, once again. What we need are candidates who will agree to follow the bottom-up character of true democracy - which is not the corrupt form to which we have become accustomed.

Wolin offers a succinct study of democracy as well a brilliant analysis of where we are today. He wrote, "Democracy is first and foremost about equality; equality of power and equality of sharing in the benefits and values made possible by social cooperation."[10]

Poll after poll shows the people are far to the left of politicians on almost every issue. Up to now, the institutions of the Democratic Party, the churches and the unions have not attempted to organize this base - choosing instead to serve America, Incorporated and catch what little crumbs fall from the table. Paul Street recently presented support for the fact that opinions of American citizens are, "quite progressive in terms of majority support for social democracy and the left hand of the liberal state." Among the results were: 64 percent would pay higher taxes to guarantee health care for all US citizens (CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll, May 20, 2009); 71 percent and 66 percent think taxes on corporations and upper-income people, respectively, are too low (Gallup Poll, 2007); 64 percent of the population think that injustice and inequality are the nation's leading moral issues (Zogby, 2004); only 29 percent of Americans support more spending on defense (CNN/Gallup/USA Today, 1999).[11] We spend too much money silencing dissent, killing people and destroying the environment. People care about now and the future. America, Incorporated does not allow any discussion about viable alternatives. Remember the first step toward Obama's health care reform was to forbid any discussion of a single-payer system. That changed the complete game. We will only hear about A to B. We need to create locally the discussion of A to Z.

It is, therefore, incumbent upon us, no one else, to make the necessary changes happen in order that we may build a democracy inside the USA. It should be crystal clear that a vote for a Democrat or a Republican is a vote to endorse empire and America, Incorporated.

Beginning to live along with our neighbors, we have the ability to elect a majority of the peoples' candidates to the House and to establish a majority in the state governments. What we have lacked in the past is the will to start. The wealthy are "doubling down" their campaign bribes because they are very close to delivering the knockout punch to democracy. We do not need to help them again.

Turn off the television: it is the messenger for the wealthy elite propaganda system. Do our own research into issues and candidates. We have many web sites that publish information and analysis that do not appear to be self-serving. Make demands, as Frederick Douglass told us. Use our money wisely: think of every purchase we make as a vote in favor of the corporation behind the product. Look for alternatives like second-hand or locally-crafted materials. Think about the distance those things we are told we need travel to get to the shelf. Take our money out of the four too-big banks. Don't support corporations that have invaded our body politic like an aggressive cancer.

WE do have the right and the duty to abolish or overthrow our corporate-controlled state. Don't let anybody tell us differently. If we develop the will to change, we will create the change.

Footnotes:

[1] Tim Shorrock, "Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing," (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008).

[2] Chalmers Johnson, "The Military-Industrial Complex," 7-28-2008, URL.

[3] Dave Lindorff, "US Caught in Big Lie About Raymond Davis," 02-22-2011, URL.

[4] Johnson," The Military-Industrial Complex," 7-28-2008

[5]  Sheldon Wolin, "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Spectre of Inverted Totalitarianism," (Princeton University Press, 2008) p. 284

[6]  Johnson, "The Military Industrial Complex," 7-28-2008

[7] Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais, "Labor's Untold Story," (Pittsburgh, PA., United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), 3rd edition, 20th printing, 1998) p. 111.

[8] Boyer and Morais, "Labor's Untold Story," p. 117.

[9] Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Data as of June 30, 2008.

[10] Wolin, "Democracy," p. 61.

[11] Paul Street, "America's Unelected Dictatorship of Money," 04-14-2011.

Michael Pirsch

Michael Pirsch was a union activist and union organizer for more than 25 years and a D.J. on Berkeley Liberation Radio, a pirate radio station. He now lives as an economic refugee from the United States in Thailand.


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