Well, it only took about two-hundred and forty years but the greatest fear of the writers of the Constitution of the United States has taken place. A rich, capitalist class of billionaire Americans have finally taken over the government. It seems that political representatives from states all over the country have sold out their constituents and are peddling themselves to billionaire donors. Of course, many of us already knew that these interests had been working in the shadows to usurp the power of the Constitution and civil liberties for decades. But now, these interests have come out of the darkness into the clear light of day in full array and unbridled hubris.
The collective wisdom of men such as Chalmers Johnson, Noam Chomsky and others have been sounding the alarm for thirty years or more and no one seemed to take them serious or listen to their cry “the billionaires are coming, the billionaires are coming.” More important, they have produced book after book about how American politicians have become completely deaf to the needs of the people that elected them to office. As the entire world watches this drama play out in the U.S., i.e., the survival of democracy or the decline and fall of the most advanced democratic system of the modern era, the tale tell signs of demise have been on the wall for some time. It seems that all the elements for another revolution are coming together. But this time, it will not be on the battlefields of Lexington, Concord or Saratoga but in town hall meetings, public marches in the streets and ultimately in the ballot boxes of urban and rural communities across America to take back their government, their principles of democracy and their country. What is frightening is some people actually believe that it is already too late.
Without succumbing to a history lesson on how the U.S. started, let us take a look at certain important events with somewhat broad strokes. For example, a group of like-minded people left tyranny behind in Europe and came to North America to establish a country where they could live free, worship free and decide their own fates. They fought a bloody revolutionary war to keep their right to do that and wrote a document that would for perpetuity ensure their civil liberties. Of course they perpetuated horrible injustices to Native Americans and they enslaved a continent of Africans to use as their beasts of burden to build their country. Still, the fundamental preface of their establishment was to live free from tyranny. Fast forward two-hundred and forty years and you find the very principles of that document i.e., “freedom from tyranny” threatened by a group of extremely rich, powerful, separatists that hold the pursuit of wealth above all else and that clandestinely work to systematically dismantle and subvert the very document that gave them the right to become so privileged. All the while, this rich, privileged class masquerades their objectives as wanting to help “not-so-rich” Americans live a better life.
In his books, Blowback and The Sorrows of Empire, professor of International Relations, Chalmers Johnson warns the American people about certain dangerous characteristics that have been the ruin of nations from the Roman Republic to the fall of the Berlin Wall. In fact, he states that economic rigidity, imperial overstretch, and the inability to reform (which includes the American propaganda apparatus that controls the level and quality of information to the public) are the seeds of a nation’s ruin. Further, he states that military populism has the ability to destroy constitutional order and provides examples from speeches of George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower. For example, in his farewell speech of 1961, Dwight Eisenhower invented the term “military industrial complex” referring to the rise of unauthorized, powerful, military interests that could obtain enough power to usurp the democratic form of government. Johnson provides several different examples of what he means. He states that economic rigidity driven by ideology is the inability to reform economic institutions in ways that need reform. He proves this with examples of how Marxist-Leninist hardliners prevented Gorbachev from reforming Russian economics. In the case of the U.S., corporate corruption, the ripping off of worker’s pension plans, and the savaging of corporate profits by inside executives has become prevalent in the American economy.
When it comes to imperial overstretch, Johnson explains it as nations that become bogged down with too many commitments and too many enemies. He eludes to several different instances. One such instance is the U.S. role in covert regime change in countries such as Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, East Timor, Indonesia, Okinawa, Greece, and Afghanistan – not to mention the mess in the Middle East. Also, he points out that the U.S. has over 700 military bases in countries around the world including more than 300 top secret military bases operating in foreign countries. Finally, he makes a case that it was too much militarism that caused fiscal insolvency in the old Soviet Union.
On the subject of the inability to reform, both Johnson and Chomsky seem to be in complete agreement. Johnson believes that Americans are misled through control of the mass media by certain vested interests. He states that one extraordinary aspect of political power is wildly misleading the public. Since the late 1980s, Noam Chomsky in his books, Manufacturing Consent and Necessary Illusions, has been warning the American public about the dangers of how the mass media is used to “forcefully” eliminate public interference with state and private power. Chomsky has lectured and delivered examples of how a variety of measures are used to deprive democratic structures of substantive content through the channeling of thought and attitudes and by deflecting any potential challenges to established privilege before it can take form and gather strength. He speaks of how there are no alternatives (except perhaps through internet communicative technologies) to approved “copycat” journalism and news management by vested interests.
But, there is another thing that is worthy of mentioning. Apparently, Johnson and Chomsky do not share the same vision of whether the U.S. can reverse its ever increasing, fast paced, decline toward destruction. For Johnson, he believes that the degree of distortion is so advanced that it is questionable whether it can ever be reversed and that anyone trying to reform it would run into enormous resistance from powerful vested interests. Chomsky is hopeful that the deep-seated spirit of resistance to tyranny that fashions a very significant loci in American culture will prevail and suggests that Americans mobilize to take back control of their country and government. Some believe that only an unforeseen “renaissance” of the American public through the regaining of their civic consciousness, a public arousal and mobilization of citizens, and public education through forms of information not controlled by vested interests is necessary. Others believe a reformation of corrupt election laws, i.e., the electoral vote system and the scaling back and reformation of intelligences agencies and defense spending would be necessary to restore the intended principles of the U.S. Constitution.
As forces on both sides of the issue dig in for the confrontation, it appears that some form of revolution is gearing up. Most people hope for a peaceful one but who really knows where all this will take us.
Johnson, C. (2001). Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. New York: Henry Holt and Company; Johnson, C. (2005a). The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project). New York: Henry Holt and Company; Herman, E. S., & Chomsky, N. (2008). Manufacturing consent: the political economy of the mass media. London: Bodley Head; Chomsky, N. (1989). Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies. London: Pluto Press.