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Why Americans Don't Rise Up

A brief explanation for the lack of public protest by American citizens regarding the destruction of their constitution.
Let's face it: America (with perhaps 25 million exceptions) is a land of of self-involved, narcissistic, distracted, powerless-feeling, materialistic, non-critical thinking automotons. The Christian-Neoconic-Stalin-like revolution is succeeding a little more each day. Only the 25 million exceptions read the alternative press and discuss what lies beneath Mainstream press Pravda's releases; of them, at least two-thirds share many of the characteristics of the 260 million automotons. Be honest: There is no answer but to merely hope a future rebel generation will come out armed and ready to fight.

study some history 27.Dec.2005 11:11

max

social systems are not as mysical as the author here imagines. A quick study of history shows the relationships between the economy, dictators, and the masses. Although never black and white, the issues are much clearer than Tatyana explains them. Why are the masses relatively unactive? The answer is complex. Here are some examples however:

1) the living standars of the middle classes have yet to be lowered to the point of making them revolutionary, so they remain part of the reaction. Examples of this group can be found praising the criminal voting records of our senators.

2) Lack of alternatives. Decades of propaganda have taught the masses that capitalism is the only economic system that works. A century of socialist literature has been lost to the working class, thus leaving them defenseless against arguments made by those in power or by utopian groups (anarchists and cascadians) who make grand pronouncments but offer no way to achieve such a dream.

3) Governments in the path who claimed they were socialist. These countries, including Russia, Cambodia, Cuba, etc, have used portions of Marxist philosophy to create their own unique creation of government that has consequently spoiled many of the legitimate ideas of socialist thought.

4) The development of the United States. After WWII, the US was in a unique situation as far as success in production; the tremendous wealth created was in part used to buy off portions of the working class, especially those in skilled labor. The era of US productive dominance has ended, and with it, the living standards enjoyed by a substantial part of the population.

thx max 27.Dec.2005 11:46

alas

#1: $

Economic dependence 27.Dec.2005 13:58

gb

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/12/330937.shtml

Go back to the last major period of unrest in this country, the 1960s-70s. No one complained then that the population was too narcissistic and materialist to mount a major challenge to the Establishment. As a matter of fact, the political elites of this country were scared shitless. (And, as in many other places, they unleashed a wave of repression whose aftereffects last to this day -- to be sure, with much more ferocious effects for minority dissidents than for white ones.)

So what was it about that time that spurred the radical activism of a substantial segment of that generation?:

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/11/329608.shtml#204996 (next to last paragraph of the comment)

Good summary 27.Dec.2005 13:58

ranger

I think Max has nailed it down. In addition, many are working so damn hard, they don't have time to think let along revolt. I think the original poster's intent was right and seems very frustrated. But I don't think we can place blame and negative adjectives at the American public in such general terms. It is much more complex and our media has not been much help.

the worse things get... 27.Dec.2005 14:20

gb

I have to take issue with Max about "living standards haven't been lowered enough." Living standards have diminished a lot, people growing up in the 1960s and 70s enjoyed much rosier economic prospects, if they were born to college educated parents, and yet, there was MORE radicalism then. Although there are other factors to point to (the draft being an obvious one), it seems clear that protracted deterioration in living standards alone doesn't seem to correlate with greater radicalism, practically anywhere. The only exception is under conditions of sudden catastrophe (e.g, the Great Depression, or Argentina in 2001). When change comes suddenly, the shock can be adequate to jolt people into action. But experience seems to show pretty clearly that the slow, deliberate strangulation of social benefits and living standards doesn't produce such a reaction (aka "the frog in the boiling pot"):

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/11/329608.shtml#204996 (third to last paragraph of comment)

Max makes great points 27.Dec.2005 14:32

Ecotopian Yeti

those are great points... now we need to understand these and generate the idea for mass movement.. we need to create or push the paradigm shift. I think Peak Oil is one of those motivators and as we have higher and higher only ready consumeristic messages. Unfortunately because we are fighting brainwashed minds we must use the same tools the corporatists use. When prices we can point out that the wealthy elite are the ones to blame. As I have posted in many many such posts and forums for liberated Cascadia we need to focus on local sustainable economy and through this the revolution by simply disengaging the imperial system can generate support. But such a movement needs its style and chic for the masses trained (brainwashed) into McDonalds, Nike, MicroSoft or any of the corpoatists push one of their products they do it wrapped in a life style (everytime Tiger Woods wears his Nike cap). We NEED to generate the push for anti-imperialism, anti-globalization and anti-war machine through a projected life style. So when Cascadians say "Free Cascadia" they also mean and send a message out that that mean local economy, real democracy, sustainablity and healthy ecosystems. This is a war of memes.. it is meme warfare. Like in the Matrix we are fighting for the liberation of minds.


if no revolution so far has been real 27.Dec.2005 14:56

why SHOULDN'T people conclude socialism is bullshit

> Governments in the path who claimed they were socialist.

Max doesn't explain why he thinks the next revolution would be any different.

"max" 27.Dec.2005 15:16

historian

"social systems are not as mysical [sic] as the author here imagines."

--is that what the author of the original posting "imagines"? if so, please specifically state what and where. Seems to me the author generally characterized (rightly or wrongly, and to me it rings accurate) the U.S. population as: "a land of of [260 million] self-involved, narcissistic, distracted, powerless-feeling, materialistic, non-critical thinking automotons."

Topic of general corruption of supposedly representative, but totally corporate-bought "two-party" political system was not raised in original post. Another problem specific to this case - unstated by the original poster - is that the 21st-century U.S. citizen is awash in the dual environment of:
1) the highest (and most waste-ridden) relative standard of living and resource availability/energy access on Earth, and
2) the greatest proportion and volume of round-the-clock corporate/consumer mass media brainwashing of any nation-state.


"A quick study of history shows the relationships between the economy, dictators, and the masses. Although never black and white, the issues are much clearer than Tatyana explains them."

--what "issues"? Tatyana doesn't give any explanations, nor bring up specific social issues. The original post tentatively asserts that it probably won't be this brainwashed generation to effect a mass change, but some future movement perhaps yet unborn.


"Why are the masses relatively unactive [sic]? The answer is complex. Here are some examples however:
1) the living standars of the middle classes have yet to be lowered to the point of making them revolutionary, so they remain part of the reaction. Examples of this group can be found praising the criminal voting records of our senators."

--How does a "lowered living standard" correlate with your undefined assertion of "praising the criminal voting records of our senators"?? Seems to me there's a lot of Hummer/Beemer-driving well-heeled/'educated'(supposedly, at college level or higher) bloggers, shills and O'Reilly fans who lovingly parrot, exhort and praise the "criminal voting records of our senators". Living standard and class-station have nothing to do with that kind of mindless lock-step thinking. In fact, having those of the 'middle'/'upper' classes who DO go along with the squawking minions only serves to give such propaganda more legitimacy, and enforce the 'have-nots' with the mindset that in order to "get ahead," they must "become exactly like the Hummer-drivers". Yeah sure I see brainwashed blue collar folks regurgitating the Mike Savage line, but the primary people who are fountains and prime distributors of propaganda-garbage are those with conspicuous consumption privileges. From them - in this 21st-Century-Amerikkka Goebbelsian FoxNews (and now Judith Miller/New York Times: what did "living standard" and Iraq WMDs knowledge have to do with each other, again??) scheme - all else follows.


"2) Lack of alternatives. Decades of propaganda have taught the masses that capitalism is the only economic system that works. A century of socialist literature has been lost to the working class, thus leaving them defenseless against arguments made by those in power or by utopian groups (anarchists and cascadians) who make grand pronouncments but offer no way to achieve such a dream."

--Capitalism is the only economic system which EXISTS - period. Every other 'economic system' on planet Earth today exists only as a subset of, or sectorially subordinate to, global capitalist exploitation. Sure, there are socialist - or more socialistically-oriented - systems within particular nation-states, but again they exist only as a subset of that particular georegion's fit within global capitalism, WTO oversight etc. This is why the 'fight against capitalism', anticapitalism etc. is a GLOBAL struggle, no matter where or in which nation-state you exist or reside. And no matter how successful your regional / community / grassroots subset alternative distribution or exchange network becomes.


"3) Governments in the path who claimed they were socialist. These countries, including Russia, Cambodia, Cuba, etc, have used portions of Marxist philosophy to create their own unique creation of government that has consequently spoiled many of the legitimate ideas of socialist thought."

--Yeah. So? what's your point? Sure there are socialist and Marxist-offshoot movements and legitimate governments still today (mostly in Latin America) gaining footholds against global Capitalist exploitation, but what will they ever be except brief flashes-in-the-institutional-pan until 1) ALL working classes GLOBALLY rise up to replace capitalism entirely, or 2) Capitalism itself collapses in its 'final phase' (which endless analysts from Marx on up have predicted is 'just around the corner' or even 'already upon us'.... ?


"4) The development of the United States. After WWII, the US was in a unique situation as far as success in production; the tremendous wealth created was in part used to buy off portions of the working class, especially those in skilled labor. The era of US productive dominance has ended, and with it, the living standards enjoyed by a substantial part of the population."

--Yes, the empire IS in decline, this has been well-dissected and analyzed recently, elsewhere. And it could well be that the Brick Wall for the current global post-hyper-capitalist expansion is, in fact, Peak Oil. But that means U.S. citizens will not be the only ones affected - even if the U.S. military is currently in the forefront of assuring its own population unhindered access to imported petroleum supplies (at the expense of Europe, China etc. who have just as much thirst for such resources). the Global Crash will affect all Westernized nation-states - not just Amerikkka - in similar economic fashion.

to ranger 27.Dec.2005 16:19

tuckett

Great point as well:

'I don't think we can place blame and negative adjectives at the American public in such general terms.' - - -

I agree, better to highlight/support alternatives rather than the obvious (to which you stated).

25 million exceptions 27.Dec.2005 17:32

is certainly an optimistic number

America, with perhaps A FEW MILLION exceptions, "is a land of self-involved, narcissistic, distracted, powerless-feeling, materialistic, non-critical thinking automatons."

And as along as the other 250+ million are being massaged by the mainstream news media, and brainwashed by TV (see:  http://www.freewebz.com/centralcoast/TV.htm), there's no reason to expect changes any time soon. Unless, of course, the economy collapses, and the "self-involved" somehow become detached from their TVs.

Thanks Tucket 27.Dec.2005 17:46

ranger

...for all the stereotypical (some accurate) self absorbed dim wit out there, are an equal number of desperate folks who are clueless because of lack of time and energy. They are merely surviving. I agree that many Americans are lazy and mindlessly numb, but when you peel the onion of some, there's much more going on besides apathy. Again, we have a sorry ass press, including the self righteous NY Times for whom my motto for them is "All the news we see fit to print".

Don't call it socialism! 27.Dec.2005 18:15

Pause communistwest@aol.com

Look at history and you will see that the opposing political-social system that offers an alternative to capitalism is not socialism, but communism. True communism, as thought of by Marx and Engels has never existed, socialism as seen in the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), China, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cuba have failed through external pressures from outside (capitalism), and from corruption within. Look in the dictionary for definitions of socialism and communism. Socialism is a system where the means of making money (i.e., capital and industry) are owned and controlled by the government, resulting in a small oligarchic ruling class, and a huge exploited working class that has nothing to sell but their labor. Communism on the other hand is a system where the means of making money (i.e., capital and industry) are co-owned by the workers together, eliminating a rich ruling class that hire labor. Communism allows workers to own the profit of their labor equally, and to reap the full benefit of their labor, rather than having a small living wage dolled out each month, trading away their lives to make a living, and living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, and often not even making ends meet on two incomes. No, the reason people do not react to this sort of injustice is because for a century now they have been conditioned to believe that communism is EVIL, and that communists want nothing more than to make us all secular slaves of the state. Therefore, the people see no alternative to capitalism, just as the ruling class would have it, and the people remain passive in their slavery.

I don't believe "it's the media, stupid" 27.Dec.2005 18:29

gb

The problem with saying that "it's the media" is that you then have to explain why several million Italians are capable of mobilizing at the drop of a hat for a general strike against attempted government takebacks of social benefits, even though their corporate media is in some ways even worse and even more concentrated than ours (just one guy, their current duce Berlusconi, owns almost the whole thing!)

The corporate media is f*cked up, and maybe marginally more so here than other countries, but I don't that's nearly enough to really account for the difference. There are probably a lot of factors, like suburbanization, that help explain the greater political disengagement and anomie here. However, I continue to believe that by far the biggest difference is economics, namely the great big gaping hole where there should be a social welfare state.

To attribute the differences between the conventional behavior of Americans and other nationalities to "materialism," or "stupidity," or something like that, instead of objective social conditions, really is a sort of mysticism. Because, once again, you then have to explain how people here mysteriously came to acquire this bout of "materialism," or "stupidity," or whatever. How did so many people suddenly so uniformly come to suffer such a misfortune, given that the US population is far from homogeneous (in fact, it's one of most ethnically diverse anywhere)?

In a country where millions of people have to cling to jobs that they don't like, just to avoid living under a bridge with a shopping cart, a country where most people would probably prefer more leisure time with their families to overtime, but don't see that as an option, people will look for proxies for their frustrated dreams, and take whatever pleasures they can get. Buying a nice car is a small compensation people learn to accept in place of having a decent public transit system, and a shorter commute, and more hours to spend with the kids. These are the tradeoffs people make in this country -- with very little say in the matter, to a great extent. Sure, the media helps indoctrinate them to accept it, too. But notice all those car commercials that tell you that if you buy such and such car, you will be "protecting your family." They show images of people driving through a beautiful countryside. Etc etc. It's clear that many consumer goods are really proxies for satisfying more important unfulfilled needs that people feel, at a deep level, but don't get to effectively demand under this system -- and advertisers obviously know this better than anyone.

Good point... 27.Dec.2005 18:57

ranger

but we are not Europe and especially not the wonderfully anarchic Italian culture. But your point is well taken, there seems to be little desire on the part of Americans to shake things up. I think many here have lost a sense of history.

Did you ever? 27.Dec.2005 19:06

Conservative

Did you folks ever stop to think that most of us actually like the country pretty much - Sure we disagree with a lot of the governments BS - mostly at tax time- but by and large we are happy with the way things are - war, foreign policy and all.

If you spent a little time talking to the people that you live and work around perhaps you'd understand us a little better. Try listening when we are talking, instead of formulating the proper Marxist reply.

Getting people to listen to your ideas requires that you listen to theirs. Getting your ideas respected meanss that you have to respect other people's point of view as well. If you expect me to take you seriously - take me seriously.

I'm a manager - if you got a better way to do things, then I'll listen to a factual presentation from you. Street theater is boring and won't get you taken seriously.

If you spend all your time talking only to the other political cognoscenti on these websites, you aren't persuading anyone, or learning anything.

Politics done properly is the art of persuasion and compromise, not rhetoric and division.

By the way, there are plenty of people on the right side of the aisle that don't seem to grasp this either.

history 27.Dec.2005 19:31

--

I think one problem is that we're not really taught history... not in any meaningful way... not even in a truthful way. btw: i know i'm stating the obvious.

. 27.Dec.2005 19:45

.

While there are millions struggling to survive, there are also millions doing fine.

The media has a huge role to play in this country because it has made millions of people who have enough, think and feel like they do not. There are so many people with material plenty who feel stressed because they are conditioned to live above their means. Due to a mix of social influences and conditions, the media has been more successful at turning people into consumers here than in any other country. By consumers, I do not just mean buying, but self definition as such.

The media is not just the news, but also the advertisers, the corporate sponsors, and all the entertainment. Europe still has a foundation of culture that resists the complete commodification of life. Such commodification has its life here in this country. The U.S. is the belly of the beast. It is the locus of that which must be stopped.

Obviously we have a hard task ahead.

Amerikan Lifestyle 27.Dec.2005 20:55

Jack London

I think the reasons for the pervasive apathy and reticence of the Amerikan people are many. 1) We are conditioned early on to conform to the system and to "keep up with the Jones'" .2)We are diverse culturally and ethnically so our priorities and issues vary among the many different nationalities and income brackets, thus making it hard to get a threshold amount of people militant on any given issue.3)Our love of sports and pop culture, especially among the younger folks,keep us distracted and ignorant of world events and our own social condition.4) We thrive on escapism. We dwell in dream worlds of expensive cars and luxury homes and hedonistic desires. To become aware of our true predicament and speak out is to be labeled as abnormal or a malcontent. 4) We have become the nation of the ignorant. Our school systems do not teach critical thinking skills and thusly our citizens couldn't detect a corrupt politician if it hit he or she over the head. And yes, people are working to hard, but in my view, that should ultimately make alot of us more radical when we see that no matter how many hours we're killing ourselves, we still sink to the bottom of the poor mans well.5)The more we get, the more fear we have of losing what we attain. The Capitalists are brilliant, they have set up a system that penalizes any person who fights the status quo. The more one ascends financially, the more one becomes fearful of doing anything to lose the wealth accrued. So the most influential people(the upper classes and elites)are most often the biggest conformists and cheerleaders. I could go on and on with reasons why we are where we are, but I will let others take the ball and run with it.Jack Londons' "Iron Heel" should be required reading for every highschooler in the country, that would be a place to start.

great posts 27.Dec.2005 23:41

j

just wanted to say it.^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"don't believe it's the media" ?!? 28.Dec.2005 00:10

historian

"namely the great big gaping hole where there should be a social welfare state."

--umm, sorry but the US situation is not as simple as 'economics - period, end.', or "someday the true needs of the people will be reflected and channeled via state functions which really 'care' about them" (not when totally Corporate-comptrolled they won't.... and in case you hadn't noticed we're now finishing out Year 25 of the Reagan Regime - Karl Rove has called GWB "Reagan, Phase III" - whose goal from the outset was to totally DISMANTLE the FDR-Depression-era U.S. 'welfare state')

"objective social conditions"?? the goal of every American red-blooded Blue Collar NASCAR dad is to be just like GEE-DUBYA or AAAHNOLD and drive a Hummer. They could give a flying fuck about (let alone begin to comprehend, in the Rush-Savage-Fox-Coulter-O'Reilly 21st-Century US corporate mudsling-smear non-discussion mass media distraction circus) "equitable distribution of resources" or "overall needs of society". "Economics"? talk to any typical Wal-Mart shopper about reasons why they frequent that chain. and don't try to break through to them personally, by 'accusing' them of "suffering such misfortune" or of being 'victims of a system of material-consumerist oppression' - dude, they ain't gonna BUY it (let alone understand what you just said to them...).

Never underestimate the importance or influence of US corporate media: notorious for not simply failing to provide basic economic and social information / present non-elite P.O.V.s, but also keeping the average American in a consumerist stupor through which they're unable to use critical thought. Look also at raw data of TV/telescreen ownership per capita in households, and hours-per-week viewed in the United States, as compared to other 'westernized' nations.

add to that the ownership, control and overall strategy of US mass media and you have the perfect concentration camp aka 21st-century 'advanced technological civilization'. Corroborative evidence: everything that's happened since Nov. 2000 - 9/11, Iraq WMDs, voting machines, etc.....

number of corporations controlling US mass media, 1983-2004
number of corporations controlling US mass media, 1983-2004

It really does come back to production 28.Dec.2005 02:33

Marik marik@aracnet.com

I'm sorry but I have to disagree with both G.B. and 'historian'. It really does come back to production; because a very tiny class of society (the bourgeoisie) owns pretty much everything they also pretty much own the politcal thought of a nation. Because they own the media they control who uses it. Because they own the institutions, they decide who can use them. Because they own the method of production, they decide who it benefits. It is not the working class.

I feel this gives us a clear insight into how we can effectively fight against this overwhelming force from the top; where they fight to impose their capitalist/reformist ideology, we fight to bring revolutionary consciousness to the workers. We should fight to wrest away leadership of the spontaneous workers movements from the hands of the liberals and their various allies - these leaders will never work to bring revolutionary consciousness to the workers struggles. They will only work to make sure that NEVER happens.


One more thing 28.Dec.2005 02:44

Marik marik@aracnet.com

It should be noted that the U.S. is the stronghold of imperialism in the world. Our particular brand of capitalism has made our particular brand of bourgeoisie insanely rich. So rich that it even trickles down to us paupers, in the form of 'better' living conditions then the rest of the international working class or proletariat.

Unfortunately for U.S. imperialism, this enormous wealth is based wholly on the exploitation of other, weaker countries. The U.S. bourgeoisie cannot keep it's credit-inflated economy stable so it expands ever outward, looking for fresh sources of profit. This expansion of imperialism, whether a U.S. brand or British, or German or French, is the foundation of notions like 'globilization'. The insane drive for Capital the bourgeoisie of the various nations have, pushes them beyond national borders; it drives them into every city and country on earth. That lust for profit infects the entirity of society.

So, where it is suggested that we adopt an anti-globilization or anti-war stance, we should be adopting an anti-imperialist stance; imperialism is the root cause of these effects (globilization and war).

Btw, this is an excellent thread that's going here. It's good to get these sort of things out in the open and under discussion!


lest our rise become a dust up 28.Dec.2005 03:42

piet

1 governing bodies (from mayor to president) have no qualms about using police forces (strenghts of which grew past the critical point thanks to reactionary not non-violent, not massive and not radical enough objectionism) to stop irate crowds chucking them out on their ass, having lost a sense of shame and contact with commoners (a bad bad but necessary and inevitable side effect of upscaling to more massive, more equitable and greater distributism (disperse concentrations, decentralize ways and means for control).

Take that graph a few comments back for instance, seems like the race for great unity is on right?

Massive support on the way there can only be mobilized to the extent systems and systemics become more communicative, mind the little ones (diversification) and achieve transparancy (cia finally meets its match).

lest our rise become a dust up
better first bust its darkness up
carefully document its coming alive
this implosion will gravitate to center stage


You gotta' also 28.Dec.2005 03:55

think that

the dwindling size and power of unions in the U.$. is surely weakening the base from which the common people might have risen in opposition.

Consider the profound weakness of organized labour as a causal factor when trying to account for the difference between the social opposition mustered in Italy and what has not been mustered in the u.s.

Both the wholesale failing of the domestic industrial base, and the wide-spread out-sourcing to low-wage countries, are rapidly eroding the foundation for organized labor.

And once we are without the support of a large, committed group of like-minded fellows, we are nothing at all to remove and/or eliminate as necessary.

Stil don't buy it 28.Dec.2005 04:13

gb

Dear Marik (et al):

Obviously this is a question of the utmost consequence, and therefore it's very worth our time right now to debate this thing through as we are doing here, because it has a huge bearing on our priorities.

Therefore, I will continue to maintain that there are very few aspects of American society that are truly unique and therefore qualify as explanations for the disparity in social and political disengagement and anomie in this country. And, I repeat:

None of the explanatory factors that most people favor here are nearly adequate, because on any one of them, we just don't differ all that much from many other countries in Europe. Capitalism? Every country in Europe is still run by the capitalist class -- albeit a capitalist class that has been forced in many places to make many more concessions to the working class than here -- and yes, THAT is a crucial point, I would agree. But "concentration of media"? I still don't buy it. "Concentration of media" should have the same effects wherever it occurs, but there are countries where that concentration is even WORSE than the US, as I've noted. And yet those countries still see general strikes on a fairly regular basis. But in the US??! You'd have to go back 80 years to find anything remotely resembling a general strike in this country!

So you really have to ask yourself: Where do we really differ, glaringly, from other countries? The utter void of a welfare state is surely a very big difference. Arguably, too, the extremely advanced state of morbid suburbanization is also a glaring difference that sets this country apart from most others in the developed world. And both of these factors have a lot of common sense explanatory power.

Certainly corporate media in this country is in an advanced state of degeneracy, in terms of anything that could remotely be considered a contribution to civic discourse or public education. But, at the same time, the diversity of non-corporate sources of information, and their widening availability, is also reaching unprecedented levels. Which is a good thing, of course. But, I think, probably not nearly adequate to counteract the negative trends we are seeing, which are largely driven by economic factors.

The unfortunate reality is, it appears right now that things probably won't get better unless and until a sudden, catastrophic impasse, Argentina-style, is reached. Which could certainly be right around the corner, given the chaotic complexity and fragility of the modern economy. In the meantime, the best we can probably hope to do is to build a foundation for the future by setting a living example for people who care to see it of the power of solidarity and mutual aid. When the catastrophic impasse comes, people will be looking for a model for survival that has a chance of working. At that point, they will be forced to reconsider the reality of class conflict and the necessity of revolutionary class consciousness.

Re: You gotta' also 28.Dec.2005 04:20

gb

>Consider the profound weakness of organized labour as a causal factor when trying to account for the difference >between the social opposition mustered in Italy and what has not been mustered in the u.s.


Yes. Absolutely spot on. And your observation is supported by all the demographic statistics we have on political preferences. The correlation between more left or progressive political preferences and union affiliation is phenomenally strong. In fact, political scientists all know that it's one of the best predictive factors available. Therefore, the weakness of unions in the US, their dwindling numbers and influence, is clearly a factor of the utmost importance. And one that is completely aligned with what what I've been saying elsewhere here, as well.

to "conservative" 28.Dec.2005 04:38

gb

It's slightly off topic, but I just wanted to say, I think it's commendable that you are intellectually curious enough to read through views that you strongly disagree with. And for what it's worth, I agree wholeheartedly that not nearly enough Americans -- whether left or right -- are willing to engage in such a valuable exercise. And come to think of it, I take it back: it's not off topic! It's an important aspect (as both symptom and cause) of what's wrong with politics in this country!

'Marik' 28.Dec.2005 05:41

historian

I never asserted or implied that it DOESN'T "come back to production" (capitalism is an ECONOMIC principle) -

but to underestimate, as 'gb' did, the effect of US corporate media on its population (as compared to other western nation-states) is a major error. US corporate media is THE obstacle to creating a mass working-class movement in this country.

and I'm not simply talking about grassroots 'creating alternative media' which is part of what we do here at Indy and elsewhere in community: it's the mere EXISTENCE and monolithic 24-hr omnipresence of the US corporate mass media and all its Corporate-controlled/owned outlets, venues, shills and recurring distractive spectacle circuses - plus every individual TV screen in America - that are the problem, in-and-of themselves.

This is where your accusation of "Because they own the institutions, they decide who can use them." goes awry. Yes its true: but you know, All-Star-Wrestling (in all its vacuous time-wasting mindlessness) or Monday Night Football are probably, in the long run, much more effective brainwashing tools than all the Bill O'Reilly/Judith Miller/Limbaugh shows and columns put together. That's the PROBLEM with the control of media and airwaves - simply and pointlessly taking up time and space itself! (not necessarily the loony lies or disinfo the shills spew, or "who they are" / "who uses them" / "what they're saying") And Americans are certainly accustomed and enculturated to APPRECIATE that which has zero value or 'wastes' time, acts as Soma for the brain, helps you to "zone out", etc.

this is what we're talking about when we say 'mass media brainwashing' or 'American sheeple'. It's like, constantly taking a fully-submerged bath (for your brain) in an all-encompassing, ever-present, totally-enveloping OCEAN of banality, time-wasting, consumer-addled, space-out hypnotism and disinformation. The next 'evolutionary' step above that rudimentary awareness level, would be that of the person who actually strings together the English words that Ann Coulter is speaking into something that supposedly makes 'logical sense'..... and we all know how far off track that is.

this extreme degree of mass media everpresence and oversaturation, does not occur - at nearly the same level - in other comparably-industrialized nations.

and yes 'Marik' your production-imperialism-oriented strategies outlined are entirely worthwhile and valid. Just don't expect to see results - or awareness - emanating from the Corporate-Media-Soup-Dunked American masses anytime soon....


'gb' 28.Dec.2005 05:52

historian

you're of course right about "corporate media in this country is in an advanced state of degeneracy". And you may also be right about a requisite, catastrophic shift or event to prompt a change, in terms of the next level....esp. when we factor in the decline of U.S. labor union influence and activity (which went hand-in-hand with the corporatization of federal politics, ascent of Reagan, etc.)

I think that maybe a yet-unmentioned unique characteristic of America's working classes is, in fact, a relatively more 'cushy' and insulated economic advantage as they have become skilled / unionized /systematized / lulled into resting on their material laurels and lifestyles, especially since World War II. Affluence! It Kills All Movements!

Not like John Kerry or the UAW is going to do anything about anything, these days. Hell, we're all Service/Retail workers in the current economy! When the fuck is the god-damned NATIONWIDE CLERKS AND CASH REGISTER OPERATORS STRIKE? 0r the NATIONAL LATTE SERVERS STRIKE?

but the problem of this thread, remains. How to 'mobilize' an entire 'class' of workers / oppressed population in America? How to 'make them aware' in the face of stultifying, omnipresent corporate media timesucking, and general banality-of-affluent-lifestyle?

I also agree with the intent... 28.Dec.2005 08:26

ranger

of 'conservative' and gb's response. Talking to the choir only and using tactics of division will NEVER work. Get out there and meet those who oppose you and change them one person at a time. Meet the liberals you despise and call them on their hypocracy, don't just tell Indymedia. I do this everyday, sometimes at my own expense, but it's worth it.

blushing with pride 28.Dec.2005 10:37

max

what an amazingly well thought out discussion. Reading these posts is in itself a testament to the high political consciousness, and consequently, potential in Portland for organization and political work. Most of those who posted today have enough in common to work together for a specific cause. We need to contact each other, form neighborhood communities, study groups, and form politcal affiliations. I recommend many of those who posted contact the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) of Oregon; as it stands now, there are no other political parties that represent most of the views expressed in this thread.

how does change occur? how do those who are asleep wake up? 28.Dec.2005 10:49

Steve

Being determines consciousness.

Yes Marx was right about this one. People become conscious and potentially active when they are personally affected by events. When ones son is killed in the army, when one loses ones job, when one becomes homeless. We are now entering a 'revolutionary era' - a time when our masters cannot go on as before, and thus destroying the equilibrium that made up our society in the process. As always, wages and profits remain in contradiction: in their struggle to raise the rate of profit, industry is exercising all its options - lowering wages and benefits to workers (in all countries) and creating organizations like the WTO and various trade agreements to destroy the existing boundries to profit making (in all countries). Protesting against the WTO alone is worthless, though explaining the conditions that created it is helpful. The WTO, like many other problems the world is facing, i.e., war, poverty, universal destruction of the welfare state, has its origins in the current international crises of profits.

More people will become conscious when they are directly affected. This does not happen all at once. One does not become radical because their income has shrunk slightly. However, our masters are getting desperate, and the money they are skimming from us is going from slices to chunks. In the name of saving the economy, larger and larger portions of the population will suffer.

The Problem (as I see it) 28.Dec.2005 12:02

Burro

'historian' talks accurately about by we are in the situation we are in, but Marik comes along to disagree saying: "we fight to bring revolutionary consciousness to the workers."

This is The Problem. How the hell are we going to bring "revolutionary consciousness" to the workers when they are being constantly massaged by the mainstream media (which includes - news, sit-coms, sports, advertisements, etc.)?

The average American watches about 5 hours of TV per day. These people are not going to be responsive to any kind of "consciousness", except the kind that is brought to them via mainstream media and their TVs and video games. And what do these people talk about amongst themselves at their workplace? It's usually not about unions and how to organize to stand up to 'the system'. It's about who won last night's game, FOX news, NASCAR racing, hunting, hot babes, hunks, new perfumes and make-up, clothes, toys, cars, houses, and the rich and famous.

As for foreign countries, do they have Channel One in their classrooms? Do they have soda pop machines in the school hallways? Do the kids' mommies and daddies drive them to school every day because both are too lazy and ignorant to bicycle or walk?

As for this country, I don't see it as a variety of ethnic cultures. Mostly, I see it as an already melted pot. Back when my grandmother was alive, there we many different cultures living here. Today, the majority is one culture, no matter what their past. And that is -- supporting American consumerism, with all that it entails.

Another point that the left has a hard time dealing with: the vast majority of people moving into this country -- especially from Latin America -- are coming here for the express purpose of becoming American consumers. To shop, to buy, to consume, to drive, to watch TV, to live the throw-away, resource-depleting lifestyle that we all hate. And yet, we seem to be supporting them in their quest to live here and to achieve these things that we despise. Why?

Also they lack the needed tools__ translation know how 28.Dec.2005 14:15

Nova Albionian

The average poor busy Amerikan lacks the information. Knowledge is power (well at least hip teachers and information dealers say that).

Empower yourself and collegues.

Print and share Gene Sharp's From Dictatorship to Democracy and 198 Methods.
 From Dictatorship to Democracy
From Dictatorship to Democracy
198 methods
198 methods

too busy or stupid to read Gene Sharp? 28.Dec.2005 15:01

Nova Albinionian

Does reading Gene Sharp sould too complicated or are you just too damn busy. Then listen to his lecture from the 1980s.

 http://www.fragmentsweb.org/fourtx/sharplec.html

getting together for the next steps 28.Dec.2005 15:12

Neighbor Potlucks

"We need to contact each other, form neighborhood communities, study groups, and form politcal affiliations." THANK YOU for saying this, max. This is just what we had in mind when my neighbor friend and I started the Kerns Neighborhood Potluck. The idea was that neighbors would be familiar with one another and have some idea of who they could associate and ally themselves with when shit hits the fan. We intended for neighborhood potlucks to spring up in every neighborhood, in fact there is now one in NE and neighbors in Buckman and Sunnyside are planning to start theirs soon. I've been amazed at the discussions that would spring up, without any prompting, among neighbors who I consider "mainstream". We've talked about biodiesel, the end of cheap oil, the criminal history of the current US gov't, all kinds of controversial topics. At a recent potluck, Amanda Fritz (first person to qualify for campaign funding under the new "Voter-Owned Elections" system by getting 1000 $5 donations) showed up, and she had a lot of great ideas.

If you want to start a neighborhood potluck for your own 'hood, please get in contact with us and we'll tell you how easy it was for us:

neighborpotlucks [at] riseup daht net
(anti-spam... I'm sure you can figure it out)

too busy or stupid? 28.Dec.2005 15:37

too pompous or smug?

Your favorite writer is not inherently entitled to huge chunks of other people's time. Insulting your readers here is unlikely to win any new converts to your particular armchair-revolutionary personality cult.

'Burro' 28.Dec.2005 15:43

historian

you hit the nail precisely on the head about why - in the 21st century - people move to this country.

and really, it doesn't have much to do with their own thoughts and goals....it's just borne out by the numbers. USA is #1 - in per capita consumption of resources, etc. of course we're not #1 in infant mortality, health care etc. but that isn't the point here. The point is: what makes America grow and expand, is more of the same. More consumption, more stuff, more Monday Night Football...and dammit, where's my American Idol? (unfortunately it's kind of like an unstoppable, Frankenstein monster....) Not some sort of socialized ideals of 'what the people need' or a mythical 'Democratic' FDR-Depression era ethos of 'caring for fellow man', 'help everyone succeed/survive', 'stewardship of resources' is what 'makes this country great/powerful' - leave that stuff to the Swedes or Brazilians. The post-WWII TV-addled American affluence permanently changed any of that.

that IS what America is, today. Failure to acknowledge it will get you nowhere in attempts at 'awareness raising' among 'the masses'.

This has been... 28.Dec.2005 18:51

ranger

...one of the more satisfying threads in a long time. Let's all get together for an introduction, party and sharing of ideas! It should be fun or it ain't worth it.

. 28.Dec.2005 22:00

.

Nowhere in Europe do you have the social conditions that you have here. Corporate/Government media has conquered here. It has convinced everyone to ignore politics and to be consumers.

The average European is much better educated. Social dialog about economics, politics is part of the culture. They generally also have more diverse political parties which are better represented in the governmental structure. Here it is a choice of Coke or Pepsi.

Here, the discussion is over. Capitalism is good. Communism is bad. Any other position is social/political suicide. Nowhere in Europe will you find such a controlled and narrow range of political thought as here. Corporate media is so effective that we can barely discuss these things, let alone do something about it. Now, we are a conquered people trying to liberate ourselves.

media choices 28.Dec.2005 23:00

gb

It's not as if anyone is forced at gunpoint to consume corporate media. They choose it. They may not know any better, of course. But they are also not actively looking for anything better. Because if they were, with a modicum of effort, they would probably find it. When people are actively looking for answers, they can find plenty to choose from. There are plenty of subversive books, magazines, websites, independent films, and even the occasional community radio station.

Therefore, the real question is, why are people contented with corporate media, if it's so manifestly inadequate, or even downright poisonous? I think the answer is that people will work out survival strategies in any society, given a set of prevailing conditions that they have no expectation of ever being able to change. It is only when people are dissatisfied, and believe they can improve the conditions of their lives through political action, or when the conditions suddenly become so intolerable that they find themselves forced to react swiftly and resist them, that they look for different answers. Then they find that the garbage they are hearing from social elites is just that, and turn somewhere else.

Naturally, I agree with the adage, "if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention," and naturally I think that people who were really paying attention would have to move beyond cynicism, to outrage. And of course, so long as they choose to continue consuming corporate brainwashing, that won't happen. But the trouble is, all of this probably presupposes that they are already dissatisfied enough to begin with that they start to look for other answers in the first place.

I think the supposed awesome power of the corporate media is a bit overrated though, in the sense that it doesn't really take all that much to deflate it. Just a little bit of real life experience flatly contradicting the messages from the boob tube is plenty good enough to do the trick. It's kind of like an aids virus: extremely weak, expose it to sunlight and you kill it instantly. Also like an aids virus, it has very nasty effects once it gets in your system. But unlike an aids virus, there are pretty good antidotes readily available. The problem is just that the victims have to want to take them.

look on the bright side.. 28.Dec.2005 23:39

gb

I have to say, for all its fearsome power, the media has really not been too effective at stopping millions of passionate people in this country from mobilizing against the wars and other atrocities of this gov't. I think we should be grateful for the fact that, even amidst the cultural and political squalor of so much of this society, that there are still so many people who do find their voices. Assuredly we are not living in Nazi Germany; our rulers have secured nowhere close to such a degree of control over people yet (although they'd probably be quite happy to do so if they could; but I don't think they'll get anywhere close, hopefully).

'gb' on media choices, third reich 29.Dec.2005 01:22

historian

well you're right of course, but again you're approaching it from the angle of:

"they've got a choice"
"believe they can improve the conditions of their lives through political action"
"just expose it to sunlight"
"they can get the antidote"
"intolerable" [money, and more of it makes American life tolerable...]
"alternative media exists"

sorry, but we here reading this already know that. My point in posts above has been:

It's not the choice - or lack of it - that's the foremost problem. (and we all know the choice IS out there and easily obtainable to anyone with a decent high-school education, internet access, an hour of spare time per week, open mind, and a little curiosity + critical thought...)

It's that the 'choice' simply DOESN'T MATTER.

(given the average 21st-century working American's available spare time, intellectual curiosity, emotional/entertainment/non-work-related gratification needs, disposable income, daily personal exposure to advertising/other random public mass media inputs, and typically-distributed menu received via their mainstream daily newspaper/cable TV [which of course they should cancel their subscriptions to immediately....])

"Antidote"? why would the average 21st century American "actively look for answers" or even care about any political or social issue they happened to hear mentioned in their daily 24hr. barrage of mass media input? It's simply not funny, scam-dalous, trashy, or interesting, or entertaining, or ironic, or quenching, or satisfying enough. Britney is, tho. so's NASCAR. The U.S. corporate 'news' media has now degenerated so far that the New York Times itself admits it has no credibility on the most advocated reason for an illegal, pre-emptive war. Why should a person take any of that, more seriously - or spend any more time with it - than they would Geraldo, Jerry Springer, or The Weekly World News? And what average American sincerely cares what the White House (from Reagan to Bush to Clinton to GW) says anyway? Everybody already has common knowledge (since Watergate) that all politicians are automatically corrupt - nothing new there. So why would a so-called 'political' or social issue even be relevant, important or worthy of more than momentary attention? (here's a David Sirota piece from last week about US corporate media's top-down complicity in this:  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/12/330657.shtml )

Plus, to instantly make yourself feel better about anything bad, boring or ho-hum in life just GET THE HELL OUT THERE AND *****BUY***** SOME STUFF.

RE: comparison to Nazi Germany I would say that no, it will not occur here in direct analogy to that. It's not just the different culture and history of this country, or the numerical population size difference, it's also the difference in technology, mind control, individual living standard/resource access (Hitler's Deutschland didn't have 24hr. 7-11s) and (hyper)capitalism itself compared to the early 20th century. How can a country of 290 million people be "controlled" to such a rigorous degree? Well it won't be with a carbon copy of the Waffen SS. (and speaking personally, the "Cattle Boxcar" stories are a little over-rated....they'll need a helluva lotta boxcars, and other facilities/supplies military and otherwise, for over 200 million people...alive, anyway..... and how great are 150,000 US troops doing in the occupation of Iraq, again??) Rather, it'll be the suffocating Corporate Media Ocean which keeps everyone simmering along in the same, sealed pressure cooker vessel....unless of course, a portion of individuals in that pot decide to escape via the steam vents.

But hey - since Nov. 2000 we already do have admitted executive branch wiretapping, Enron, war profiteering, USA Patriot, 9/11, illegal invasions + military occupations, 'terror' anthrax strains sourced from Ft. Detrick, Maryland, bird flu that the Secretary of Defense has a controlling stock in the antidote for, corporate voting machine fraud, global secret torture......which Reich is that?


historian 29.Dec.2005 10:03

steve

your pessimism, though in part justified, is blinding you.

You point out many obstructions to political progress in our country, and although exaggerated, many of your points are valid. What you ignore however, is also important.

1) the iraq war protests. All over our country, gigantic protests took place. Portland itself was in anarchy. Larger and more organized protests (and thus less militant) took place all over the country. There are MANY other signs that Americans have a higher political awareness than you credit them with. A general distrust of government is in itself a sign of this. The people do not simply go back to sleep over such a protest, but return when events rouse them; they learn from each experience, and consequently, their consciousness is raised.

2) history shows, the larger the reaction from government, the more turmoil within the population; though this is not a blanket cause and effect relationship, history has shown countless times the increased conflict that arises from seemingly impossible situations. The revolution in Russia evolved and erupted within a completly totalitarian monarchy!

you are right to point out difficulties in our struggle, but such a defeatist attitude is not helpful. Yes the challenge is hard, it is almost impossible, so much so that comments like yours are often used by the reaction- " government is omnipotent, trying to change anything is itself utopian"

We start with eachother...then we'll convince the rest 29.Dec.2005 13:09

Marik marik@aracnet.com

For the most part, it seems everyone on this thread is in aggreance that we need radical social change. The major difference in thought is on whether or not we can convince the so called 'sheeple' and win them to our side in order to bring about that radical social change. I think it's an obvious 'yes' answer. It has happened several times throughout history, and continues to happen in today's modern world. Look at Bolivia, or Venezuela.

But to begin with, we will not be able to convince those 'rich' or 'middle class' (which I think are misinformed terms, the term labor aristocracy is much more appropriate) sections of the working class with mere words and rhetoric. They will only be convinced by our successes and our dogged determination. THey certainly won't be convinced by calling them stupid. I think we should forget about that section of the working class momentarily; we should concentrate on *this* section of the working class...those who KNOW there needs to be a change, KNOW the capitalist system is to blame and KNOW that only by abolishing the capitalist mode of production will we ever be free.

That is the beginning of the change; when we, the members of the working class who understand the class struggle raging throughout society come together and develop a program to help assist the various struggles going on in our country, and internationally. I strongly feel that should be step one towards revolution!

BTW, this has been an interesting thread and it never developed into a flame war...a nice surprise, to say the least. Almost 50 posts too....obviously we are serious about wanting to make change!


'steve' - on pessimism 29.Dec.2005 14:27

historian

ok you're right, I am. but also realistic. been an active part of change movements for 15 years, and I've watched a lot of activists continue (effectively, in limited or regional ways) to work on various issues.

I've also keenly observed the changes in U.S. mass media and society for 25 years (since Reagan), having (yes) lived in other countries besides the United States for years before that. so I do have some perspective.

You're correct about people's general mistrust of government (which I alluded to in a previous comment, about Americans' suspicion of all politicians of whatever stripe since Watergate), and how this could lead to upheavals/provoke reactions and/or backlash. But in my opinion it won't be enough. When is the Democratic Party going to call for total military withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan? Won't happen in this political climate. I'll be pleasantly surprised if anything further comes from WiretapGate or Rovegate, but am not holding my breath.

I will admit that Katrina was the straw which broke a camel's back, in terms of 'trust' (it also put out some mass awareness of direct doubts in 'Homeland Security'/National Guard/Military ability to handle crises anywhere e.g. 1) domestic 'terror' attack, and 2) Iraq/Afghanistan occupations). You know some grassroots awareness has been raised when only 2% of African-Americans rate the President approval in his job.... but WhiteHouse is still spinning crazily, corporate media is still re-writing last week's 'history' each day.

"Larger and more organized protests (and thus less militant) took place all over the country."

--None of the tens of millions of people globally protesting kept the pre-emptive, totally illegal invasion from happening (or the NYT and other US corporate media WH mouthpiece line). Nor did 9 out of 10 US citizens who wrote and contacted their Congresspersons "NO!" before the 2002 War Resolution passed. Today, The New York Times saunters on after having fired Judith Miller and sheepishly 'apologized' in editorial columns for its 'errors' on WMD reporting. Now the military occupation is seen by almost everyone (including 'former pro-war hawks' like Cong. Murtha) as a 'necessary evil' which may in fact need to be ended, but only in a 'measured' fashion which suits the US military. And the decision and impetus to get out of Iraq is now spearheaded by Cindy Sheehan (MoveOn's greatest success ever) and that 'elite' group of American citizens who both 1) have family members in Iraq or Afghanistan and 2) are now against the war and 'want troops home' What the tens of millions of pre-war protesters knew well all along - STAY OUT - simply does not matter anymore. "I told you so" carries no weight in the U.S. Congress or corporate media, and certainly not w/ White House warmongers.

Look, I'm not a total pessimist. What Congressman John Conyers is doing is, today, a believable possible outcome - not just a pipedream (as it was several months ago with only the Downing Street Memo) - and more in Congress are joining. People are becoming incrementally aware, of __certain__ things. The more ScandalGates this administration produces, the closer we are to impeachment. But what then - Billary? That's why what Ralph Nader CONSTANTLY keeps writing and talking about - usurping of Corporate-owned Government - is the only eventual solution.
 http://www.nader.org/template.php?/categories/1-In-the-Public-Interest

there won't be a 'revolution' until the fundamentals of existing State-Corporate-Media linkage are thrown off.

"Portland itself was in anarchy."

--have to disagree with you here. While Portland did produce some of the most defiant, effective and inspiring activist demonstrations - along with harshest cop response - in 2002-2003, it certainly wasn't in 'anarchy' or even close to what happened in say, downtown San Francisco when the war started.

RE: Russian Revolution. as with comments above about Third Reich, there are some similarities, but..... 19th-century/early-20th Russia had a general population that was one of the poorest ever in human history, in disparity with their monarch rulers. Now, as has been pointed out by many other related comments above, just because Americans today don't have socialized health care coverage, doesn't exactly mean that they are as "bad off" as the Russian peasants were back then.

We keep coming back to it again, and again. Americans are NOT as "bad off" as the peasants in Chiapas. Sure, we're 'oppressed' by corporate media, lack of health care, low wages, homelessness, lack of mass political consciousness in a consumer society, etc.

If you continue to tie the new American 'revolution' in with some imagined 'lower threshold' of "ok, it's now gotten so bad no-one can POSSIBLY ignore it anymore" [cf. Katrina - WH doing pretty good job of ignoring that at moment, w/ help of corporate media], you're in a dreamland. Please, drop that concept and mode of thinking for the current American situation.


historian 30.Dec.2005 08:48

steve

Since you've clearly have misunderstood, allow me to elaborate on a previous point (your responses often contain either falsifications or distortions of writers posts I've noticed).

Never did I say the conditions of a possible revolution are at present ripe; what i was alluding to, and what you apparently missed, was that trends in our society are evolving in a particular direction which is historically consistent with previous revolutionary epochs. What are these conditions? economic recession (possible depression), lowering of living standards, war, dictatorial governments, the upper classes creating wider poverty by the desperate search for profts, etc.

In the last year alone, numerous measures were passed that WILL have immense effect on the lower and middle classes: the bankrupcy bill, CAFTA, tax cuts. The mere making of these laws does not create the arousal that the actual effects will have, which do not immediately take place, but will have substantial effect in the coming years.

I'm also dissapointed with how you gauge the "atmosphere" of political consciousness of America. Although you cry foul at corporate media, you use them as your sole idicator of the publics awareness- this is naive, if not irresponsible.

You also like to point out how poverty is "relative" in America, and not to be compared to other revolutionary countries. This statement has bits of truth, though when generalized across the board, it becomes meaningless. Have you ever been to a true ghetto in America? Please talk to these people about the meaning of relative poverty. Also, absolute poverty is not needed for the people to be roused out of their slumber, a considerable drop in living standards is sufficient, though numerous factors need to be considered before blanket statements can be made, i.e., how much has their income dropped, how suddenly, etc.

"absolute poverty" 30.Dec.2005 12:17

gb

Steve says:
Also, absolute poverty is not needed for the people to be roused out of their slumber, a considerable drop in living standards is sufficient, though numerous factors need to be considered before blanket statements can be made, i.e., how much has their income dropped, how suddenly, etc.
Finally, someone else makes the same point I've been repeating over and over again. Ever been to any poor countries? There are countries throughout Africa where people are dirt poor, and have been for a long time. If "absolute poverty" had much to do with revolutionary consciousness, those places would be seething hotbeds of it. The only benefit of "absolute poverty" is it means people have nothing to lose. But unfortunately, it also means they have few material means to organize themselves. And "absolute poverty" doesn't by itself give anyone the idea that they SHOULD organize themselves. People can adapt and learn to accept almost any level of misery, given time. The slow, gradual grinding down of the working class in this country is something that can continue possibly indefinitely without any appreciable reaction.

But fortunately -- if it can be called that -- no single individual or entity can really control the chaos of the modern economy. And therefore, given the gutting of the social welfare state and the worship of "supply-side economics," and also things like what Steve mentioned, the bankruptcy "reform," there is no way to prevent a repetition in this country of something like another Great Depression, or what happened in Argentina in 2001. And there is no predicting the reaction of millions of people when suddenly confronted with dire financial hardship. No doubt it will be a very quick education in class consciousness for a lot of them.


'steve' 30.Dec.2005 14:54

historian

"Since you've clearly have misunderstood - your responses often contain either falsifications or distortions"

--no, I haven't.


"Never did I say the conditions of a possible revolution are at present ripe"

--and never did I say, or allude, that that was what you are actually 'at present' claiming the conditions were, or assessing them to actually be. merely pointed out that is what you - and others - repeatedly characterize and mention that you WANT or WISH to have happen. It is this MINDSET (in the form of your own re-iterated thoughts and statements) that I'm pointing out as illusory.


"trends in our society are evolving in a particular direction which is historically consistent with previous revolutionary epochs. economic recession (possible depression), lowering of living standards, war, dictatorial governments, the upper classes creating wider poverty by the desperate search for profts [sic], etc."

--how have I - or anyone else on this thread - "missed" this? half of my posts spewed above are filled with SPECIFIC REFERENCES to each of those and more. P.S. - they're nothing new even to this country, all I was pointing out was that they've been in overdrive for 25 years, since the ascent of the former California governor in 1980.


"In the last year alone, numerous measures were passed that WILL have immense effect on the lower and middle classes: the bankrupcy bill, CAFTA, tax cuts. The mere making of these laws does not create the arousal that the actual effects will have, which do not immediately take place, but will have substantial effect in the coming years."

--sure they will, and so will other laws passed and executive actions of this administration. time will tell...


"Although you cry foul at corporate media, you use them as your sole idicator [sic] of the publics [sic] awareness- this is naive, if not irresponsible."

--I was not characterizing US corporate media either as:
1) the "sole" indicator
2) a necessary indicator at all

I'm not "crying foul" at "them", as if they were a "person" you get "angry" at. THAT'S *****YOUR***** PROBLEM!!!!!!

what you have to realize - and as I've repeatedly described above - is that US corporate media is not "one" "single" entity, it's more of an environmental evil which can't be "eliminated" entirely, but that we can find ways to circumvent, counter, fight or supplant with informed actions in various sectors and markets.

The fact is that part of the expansion of the 21st century American capitalist enterprise, is corporate media consolidation and corresponding pervasive societal influence, via TV, homogenization of news media and merging with entertainment, advertising etc. to further 'entrap' the population in time and space with unessential information and amusements. All of this simply distracts and wastes their time, from getting the information they need to make conscious decisions.

And it DOES remain THE BIGGEST SINGLE OBSTACLE  http://www.wordwebonline.com/en/OBSTACLE to progressive change and awareness raising among US citizens, having created not only a 24hr. surrounding atmosphere of obfuscation for the average American but also programmed them from cradle to grave with over-arching myths and disinformation, which will require active participation and 'self-reprogramming' by them selves to get over.

It's going to take a lot more than getting every SUV-driving WalMart-shopping McMansion owner to willingly attend Indymedia planning meetings or anti-war demonstrations, for example. Especially when most immigrants to this country from another want to be exactly like them.


"You also like to point out how poverty is "relative" in America, and not to be compared to other revolutionary countries. This statement has bits of truth, though when generalized across the board, it becomes meaningless. Have you ever been to a true ghetto in America? Please talk to these people about the meaning of relative poverty. Also, absolute poverty is not needed for the people to be roused out of their slumber, a considerable drop in living standards is sufficient, though numerous factors need to be considered before blanket statements can be made, i.e., how much has their income dropped, how suddenly, etc."

--"true ghetto"? the word 'ghetto' is not a specific reference to economic class, rather to an ethnic or other societal collective gathering of people. You're the one who brought up "relativism," I was merely - in above posts RE: Germany, Russia - attempting some historical perspective. I've seen poverty in more countries and places than you and - as 'gb' mentions above - the lowering of living standard, or *just* 'poverty' alone, is not always the single defining factor in political consciousness or reaction. And I never said "not to be compared" (you did) - it's important to compare and contrast, but also to see the reality of certain facts and situations! Of course revolutionary activity can simultaneously exist with (extreme? define...) poverty, but several conditions must be ripe at the same time (which most people on this thread seem so eager to be able to debate and speculate on........)

you're not acknowledging the relative wealth, affluence and resource access of the US population overall (esp. compared to other countries even in Europe). when alluding to this, don't think immediately of it as "OMG, he's just totally ignored all the 'ghettos' (your inappropriate word choice) and poor people, denying reality!" Rather, think of let's say, the United Auto Workers and the achievements of their union. If you know about union history, that organization has changed (as has the corporate industry itself) a lot over the past century. And revolutionary consciousness and connection of industrial unions in America has generally decreased, in inverse relationship to the general income and benefits of its workers. While we know that the US economy today is primarily a service employee one (with correspondingly lower wage structure) - not manufacturing - unionization and revolutionary activity within this changed economy has not kept pace with what the previous, industrial-manufacturing base economy had generated. Yet complacency via TV and other media, plus incessant right-wing propaganda esp. since Reagan saying that 'this is the state of things' and 'how it's supposed to be' has allowed Americans to become satisfied with having to work 2 or 3 jobs in the post-1950s era just to vainly "keep their standard of living" or hold onto their mortgage/car payment, not to mention the people who can't get jobs at all or are homeless. I'm just re-hashing what has already been mention in mine and numerous other posts above.

plus, you seem to perceive that I don't believe revolution is actually happening in America. I DO think it is! On a scattered, local or community scale of course. We're all fighting small battles that are getting won: against oppression, violence, racism, poverty, injustice, corporate ecoterror, etc. But what everyone's getting all uppity about on this thread is the potential for mass-population overturn of the economic and political system of modern America, which I assert is not possible in the present media and corporate concentration camp which most of its subjects willingly accede to.