Open letter to liberals

January 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm (politics)

How long will it be until we all start “walking like Egyptians”? The protests in Egypt come after 30 years of harsh dictatorship. Coincidentally, this is roughly the same number of years corporatism has taken place in America. As one who values freedom, and I believe you do too, I look at the massive cry for divine help in such oppressive states of madness and too feel the need to shed a tear. Not in sadness, but in a sense of awe and hope that what happened to Egypt doesn’t happen in America. Not that I think we don’t need a revolution. Oh, we need a revolution. I have a hope that America isn’t slow to react to tyranny. Those on the Right, as well as those on the Left shout daily about accusations of tyranny from the other side. Yet, in America, we truly do not know real tyranny. Rome didn’t burn in a day, and the same is true of America. The UK is still here after centuries of monarchy. The same will be true of America in 100, 200 years. Our ideals will change, no doubt about it, but the country itself will still have a place on children’s globes sold at Wal-Mart for a low, low price manufactured in China.

It’s been over a year since the infamous Citizens United case which opened the floodgates for the massive support of corporate agenda setting Republican takeover of Congress. And while it didn’t work in every state, it did enough to stall our government even further from making the improvements necessary for reversing the damage set forth by President Bush. Why is it that we got so much done in the lame-duck session last December?

I had a discussion with a self-identified independent yesterday where I compared al-Qa’ida’s motives with the motives of ultra-conservatives. He of course didn’t like this and began a paranoid rant of how Obama’s “socialist propaganda machine” may lead to him taking ultimate control of our country. He also felt highly uncomfortable about my comparisons. Fear has replaced truth as a source of comfort in this country.

Why is the media in this country dead? The answer is corporatism. When Al Jazeera, a foreign media head, has better coverage of the outrage in Egypt than our own CNN, you know something is wrong. CNN yesterday was to be applauded for its reporting and first-hand video of the riots in Egypt, but this weekend, it appears to have run out of steam and is conducting business as usual again. 90% of American media is right-wing. Going all the way back to the Koch Brothers, we have the source of the Tea Party’s agenda. The Tea Party is a patsy coalition of under-educated individuals whom I truly do think is concerned by the direction this country is going, but is too un-focused to know where the truth lies. The majority of the American population watches either CNN or Fox News or MSNBC. While it has been confirmed that watching Fox News makes you less informed (PDFs of the report included in this e-mail), neither CNN nor MSNBC are completely on top of their games. People don’t watch C-SPAN–which one can get in a variety of ways, cable, satellite radio, by dialing a number on your cell phone, as well as others–people don’t read the paper or journals or magazines. In Sociology, we call this “indirect spectatorism” (ironically but coincidentally, also a Scientology phrase). As comedian Roger Price said, “someone else is even doing our watching for us.” He was referring to sports, but the same is true for politics. You see only what the commentator shows you. This indirect spectatorism is the main cause of the division in our country. Despite the classic communications formula for the sender-receiver relationship, only one variable actually exists in this case: the receiver. There is no debate between the commentator and the viewer of the program. The average American doesn’t take the time to discern the truth of what he is told.

The Republicans have set themselves up in the media as the party of the Constitution. As long as cheese-fingered John Boehner continues to cry and disregard anything he sees as “liberal” (that nasty, disgusting neo-swear word), his supporters will follow the leader. But the Republican Party is not a party of the Constitution. If we are to discuss the idea in historical terms, the Federalists at the Constitutional Convention were classical liberals. They were for small yet centralized government. They were for abolishing any tyrannical power held by the government. As any historian or political scientist would tell you, modern-day conservatism is not compatible in any way with classical liberalism.

So again, I ask you, how long will it take for Americans to start “walking like Egyptians”? What are you doing to help the country? What have you learned from the East?

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3 Comments

  1. metta said,

    well, i wish i could say that what is going on in Egypt is about “corporatism”, unfortunately, it’s really about a bigger problem, which is plutocracy, which includes despotism in government. as liberals, we can point the finger at corporations and say they are the problem, but then we will be completely giving government a pass when they suck the wealth away from the people, and squander it on silly things like large deadly toys (i suspect the tanks and jets in Egypt were built here in the US).

    or, we can realize how difficult it is to configure a government system that promotes meritocracy. for one, liberals should probably start being honest about the constitution. it is dated and needs to be completely replaced if liberals are going to move forward with their agenda. do you really want government officials swearing to uphold a document that is essentially meaningless to the people? the Bill of Rights is great, but we need to get back to an understanding of what exactly government should be doing, what it shouldn’t be doing, and how it should be doing. this isn’t an easy task, which is probably why nobody talks about it (in fact, it is so difficult as to be bordering on the absurd), but hey, i like a challenge :). i’ll be working on it inbetween the Free Open Source software programming, the youtube videos, and meditating. i would be interested in your version of “Constitution 2.0”.

    • cw1925 said,

      The problem with Egypt appears to be tyrannical abuse under the dictatorship of Mubarak.

      I agree that parts of the Constitution are outdated, but the checks and balances portion and the preamble are good to keep in there (as well as the Amendments). The Constitution is a historical document, not to be forgotten.

      I’m not sure there can be an objective “Constitution 2.0”. I have the curse of possessing a sociological imagination, so there is deep territory to cut through when speaking of what an objective “Constitution 2.0″ would be. I’m a utilitarian, but I also realize that not everything in ethics is objective.

      Meritocracy is a great ideology for governmental reform, but not entirely possible while the public sees two versions of history in the newstands and on their televisions.

      But you do bring up a good point. I should be thinking about a “Constitution 2.0”. It may be a little presumptuous, but it’s a good thought experiment nonetheless. In order to so, however, I’ll have to look through global constitutions, and see how far their countries have come in the great venture of human history.

  2. metta said,

    good luck with your work, sir.

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