Allow Me to Provide Some Context Here
This blog post started as a comment I made, on an essay from the Brookings Institution. After I wrote the comment, I realized that the sociopolitical context is left out of almost every news article or essay that’s being written about politics or society.
The overall political and economic system within which everything else exists is this. We live in a poorly regulated capitalist society — and purportedly in a democracy — although the wealthiest among us have almost complete control over our government.
Rich people rule!
Everyone thinks they know that money is important in American politics. But how important? The Supreme Court’s Gilded…
In mainstream American society, almost everything is about making money, and thus increasing one’s power.
The latest version of this is one in which a group of technology and math experts used computers to start a hedge fund and to pretty much make it into a money printing machine. One of them chose to use some of his money to become the primary financier of the Alt-right in the U.S. and other countries. We now have the president, and the Congress, that this man prefers.
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This is a guy who owes nearly 7 billion dollars in back taxes to the IRS. Yes, that’s “billion” with a b.
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There are essay and articles all over newspapers and the Internet, discussing the idea of businesses taking responsibility what they do to the larger society — a good idea. But if this happened, it would be an abrupt departure from business as usual in the U.S.. Usually businesses instead extract benefits from government that add to their bottom lines, through government subsidies, tax cuts or canceling of regulations that protect the environment or consumers.
To see the results of cooperation among businesses to increase their power, we need only look at our current president and Congress. Such results could easily have been predicted from past political trends, and they were, by conservative political scientist Norm Ornstein.
The political scientist who saw Trump’s rise coming
In the summer of 2015, most of the political world still thought Donald Trump’s candidacy was a joke. Norm Ornstein…
The political situation is this: All branches of the federal government and most state governments are controlled by one party. However, there is no natural constituency for this party, because it caters to the .01% and large corporations, including crony capitalist corporations feeding at the public trough.
The only ways for such a party to get enough votes for their candidates to win are:
1) to lie/cheat/steal/hide the truth constantly, for example by claiming to offer benefits to the 99.99% that they have no intention of delivering.
For example, they gerrymander and suppress the vote. Another example is that they insult people and distract listeners/readers whenever a truth is mentioned that exposes Right Wing lies. Another example is that they persuade preachers to promote Republican candidates and views, to get the votes of naive members of religious congregations.
How Corporate America Invented Christian America
Kevin M. Kruse is a professor of history at Princeton and the author, most recently, of One Nation Under God: How…
2) to cater to voters’ vices. Some of these vices are racism, scapegoating, irrational rage, extremism, narcissism and unwillingness to cooperate or compromise. The Right Wing can scapegoat others — Democrats, minorities, immigrants, social justice protestors and women — for the harm caused by the GOP and its crony capitalist donors.
It also scapegoats media, people who live in cities (who are underrepresented in the Senate and in the electoral college) and people who live on the coasts and can be bashed as “the coastal elite.”
A dangerous thing happens when the most powerful group in a society caters to people’s vices so much that citizens think their vices are virtues. Vices become more common, and more and more severe. Some individuals may be more likely to consider violence, since those catering to their narcissism and rage may convince them that they have a right to have things go their own way in every situation. The society could eventually self-destruct.
Propagandists generally do cater to people’s vices and prey on previously existing weaknesses. Then if anyone criticizes them, they say “We’re not to blame for those vices/weaknesses. They were already there before us” — even if the propagandists intentionally increased and intensified these vices/weaknesses tenfold, in order to sway people’s votes.
No one will notice this self-destruction happening, if the society’s focus remains entirely on accumulating money and power. As long as money and power increase for those at the top of the wealth ladder, many of those who hold money and power may feel immortal, like gods.
Greed: The Ultimate Addiction
What connects the various addictions is that enough is never enough-not for long anyway. As addicts progress (or…
Capitalism can be a great economic system, if it’s well regulated and if it has a good social safety net. However, if it’s poorly regulated and if the social safety net gets slashed, it can be destructive.
There are certainly some Republicans and some business leaders who have principles, ethics, and integrity. Yet the above description is how the party machine of the Republican party currently functions. Right now, a lot of people with principles seem to be retiring from Congress or resigning from government posts, apparently because they realize that they can’t influence the current party machine or the current administration.
One attempt to address this situation has been the bipartisan launching of “an independent democracy task force at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law to holistically review these informal rules (in government), which ones should remain guidelines, and perhaps which ones should be enshrined into law.”
Trump abuses show we must turn traditions into laws: Bharara and Whitman
CLOSE It’s not enough to fret. We’re launching a bipartisan project to mend the gaps in our system and make sure our…
It will take efforts from a number of different angles, if we are to solve this problem. I wish that project well, and hope that additional projects and organizations will spring up, to apply their own ideas to this problem.
The ultimate rule of capitalism, over time, is “Them that has, gits.” It is important for us to be aware that, if we want to lessen inequality, we will need to swim upstream — against a strong current of economic and social habits, against the Right Wing propaganda in which we are immersed, and against the current laws and ruling forces of our society.
I have written a number of articles here at
Julie Hotard - Medium
I thank historian and journalist @rickperlstein today, for pointing out the article below on Twitter. It's about how…
about the immersive nature of propaganda in the U.S.. Right now, very few people realize its power over us — that it rules the nation by determining the results of elections — much less want to do something about it. The only action people currently seem to want to take is to label people who believe propaganda as stupid. However, that is far from the case. People who believe propaganda are almost everyone, including those calling others stupid.
The U. S. has taken on and met many other challenges, so we can only hope we are capable of meeting the ones that face us now. But these are not small challenges. For a long time now, economic inequality has been getting worse, not better.
We also face a number of other problems, such as global climate change and the slashing of the social safety net, which are directly caused by this problem of propaganda. Right Wing propaganda influences voters to elect Right Wing public officials, who then enact Right Wing policies.