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The End Of Democracy

I recently saw the movie “Why We Fight” and although it’s done well, quite frankly I was somewhat bored through most of it. After all, the main theme — that we fight essentially because it’s good for the vast “military industrial complex — is a rather old one, having been originally put forward by none other than President Eisenhower some 40+ years ago. And it was a major theme of the anti-war movement during the Viet Nam War era, and has been trumpeted by many people, particularly on the left, for many years. I would think this should be rather old news by now — could anyone possibly be surprised by this fact?

However, towards the end of the movie Jarecki (the director) points out that what we really have here is a war between democracy and capitalism, and that it would seem that capitalism is winning. And THAT, I think, is the real issue. And a scary one at that. We’ve been sold this notion that democracy and capitalism go hand-in-hand, that they are essentially one and the same. What’s good for capitalism is good for democracy and vice-versa. But nothing could be further from the truth. For all it’s pluses, capitalism breeds greed, and greed kills democracy. And that is exactly what we are now seeing happening in the U.S. right now. We’re led to believe that what is good for Halliburton and Exxon is good for America — are you kidding me? War is good for Halliburton, pollution and global warming are good for Exxon.

The crux of the problem is that capitalism is all about corporations, and corporations are solely about profit. This idea that corporations can be “good citizens” is total crap. Corporations don’t care about democracy — it only gets in their way. Which in and of itself is not all that bad, as long as you can separate out corporations from government, and you have a strong government that is willing and able to control the excesses of corporations. But of course right now, corporations run the government, they ARE the government. The fox is running the henhouse. And so, that’s “why we fight”. War is good for big corporations. But it goes far beyond perpetual war. It’s why we have a minimum wage that doesn’t even allow people to live above the poverty line. It’s why we are so dependent on fossil fuels and are doing nothing to avoid a major crisis that is now guaranteed to happen in the not-too-distant future when the world runs out of oil. It’s why the cost of medical care is so high that one in seven Americans can’t afford health insurance. It’s why average family income for most families is the same as it was 30 years ago, while today corporate CEO’s average income is $10 million, something like 300 times the pay of the average American.

Can democracy survive this current onslaught by capitalism? Given that right now it’s losing pretty badly, and given that the vast majority of Americans don’t even seem to be aware of how quickly it’s slipping away — things don’t look promising.