by Michael Pirsch
"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning." -Warren Buffett to The New York Times, November 26, 2006
There is overwhelming evidence that we are entering the final chapter of class warfare in the US. Today, in the "public arena," it is forbidden to say class warfare, and many citizens do not regard themselves as working class. The assault on language comes compliments of the propaganda apparatus, which includes: public relations, marketing, corporate media and the entertainment industry, universities, think tanks and so on. Its purpose is to distract our attention from serious matters so we can focus on trivial matters - usually involving consuming. Edward Bernays, the founder of the modern propaganda industry, described the process:
Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of ... in almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.
In addition to inventing the propaganda model still in use today, Bernays' model created support for World War I, first in England and then in the US, calling the war to save Morgan's billions the war for "making the world safe for democracy."
We have been overwhelmed by the propaganda apparatus to the point that it controls our thought processes, causing us to become relentless shoppers, even against our own interests. It controls our thinking in the public sphere so that we support the wealthy elite, even against our own interests. Far too many of us have been rendered thoughtless and clueless as to what it means to live in a democratic society. It is not democracy because the government says it is; it is democracy when the masses are informed and act through their delegates to develop policy that promotes the general welfare. Today there are two sovereign nations that exhibit more democratic tendencies than all others: Venezuela and Bolivia. Because of their efforts to build democracy, both sovereign nations have been under attack by the US. In Venezuela, the US sponsored a coup in 2002. In Bolivia, the US government has sponsored a secessionist movement made up of the wealthy elite, whose tactics includes murder of government supporters. The Bolivian government expelled the US ambassador for his role in the destabilization attempt. Both Venezuela and Bolivia have adopted new constitutions which were the result of a process that involved all citizens and especially both countries' indigenous populations, who were previously completely excluded from any role in government. Both countries have improved access to their medical systems, increased literacy and established local spaces where democracy can be practiced. This shift causes the US empire considerable distress, because the empire fears the spread of real democracy more than anything else.
An essential element in a democracy is the development of a critical consciousness that allows us to resist succumbing to the siren call of the propaganda apparatus. Hugo Chavez, in a 2003 interview, spoke of the need to develop critical thinking:
It seems to be part of a larger social defect in the US - that's a society that should really develop some kind of response to the intellectual battering that seems to take place daily. I sincerely hope that one day the US public will develop some kind of critical consciousness, that they will remove the veil from their eyes and see the media powers for what they are. No part of the human community can live entirely on its own planet with its own laws of motion and cut off from the rest of humanity. They must be critical, and make it their personal responsibility to humanity and morality to discover the truth.
Eduardo Galeano, well-known Latin American author and critical thinker, continued in the same vein:
Never have so many been held incommunicado by so few. More and more have the right to hear and see, but fewer and fewer have the privilege of informing, giving their opinion and creating. The dictatorship of the single word and the single image, much more devastating than that of the single party, is imposing a life whose exemplary citizen is a docile consumer and passive spectator. Never before have so few fooled so many.
What better time than now for the wealthy elite to crush any chance of developing any critical thought. A substantial majority in the US have been so overwhelmed by the consumer/celebrity culture that distracts from the real situation that they are now fearful of harboring a critical thought, let alone speaking critically about the surrender of democracy to the wealthy elite. No matter what outrage the wealthy elite throws at us all, every indicator suggests there would be little, if any, resistance to that outrage. In fact, now is the best time for the wealthy elite to finally win the war and put into action all the highly repressive measures passed by Congress this decade. The repression already authorized, if put into full effect, would make the US a recognizably totalitarian state.
The goal of winning the war is to control all of the wealth and all of the people in the US and in the rest of the world, including, of course, governments. This victory is being accomplished by the combination of the financial services and military-related industries, which, in addition to lobbying for the continuation of several wars in the Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, Iran, etcetera) is now also engaged in stealing government benefits from the citizens of Ireland, Spain, Greece, Latvia, England, France and the US. All governments are cooperating with the market (primarily Wall Street and London banks) by terminating long-running programs designed to promote the general welfare. The stolen money is being given by the governments to Wall Street and its felonious partners in European banks - however, large, passionate demonstrations and massive student and worker strikes mark the reaction in Europe.
Our time is coming. Soon, Congress will once again deliver more tax cuts to the wealthiest people on the planet, at a time when perhaps more than 60 percent of the American people is at severe economic risk. This time also marks the beginning of the process of ending Social Security and replacing it with mandated contributions to Wall Street, which - for a fee, and with no guaranteed return - manage individual workers' retirement accounts. Wall Street's management of what used to be Social Security will - through commissions and other fees that are not a cost in the present Social Security system - reap an obscene amount of money, maybe in the hundreds of billions annually.
In addition to depriving the federal budget of the income necessary to provide the most basic services by eliminating taxes for the wealthy elite, we have committed ourselves to conducting "endless war" wherever and whenever it suits the wealthy elite's purpose. The combination of tax cuts and funding for the endless wars during a "jobless" recovery ensures we will have a citizenry best described as desperate and clueless. The "endless" war is one of the greatest frauds perpetrated upon the citizens of the US. A failed trillion dollar intelligence and defense system results in 9/11; then, lies are perpetrated by the president, the Congress, the military and the intelligence apparatus; those lies are, in turn, supported enthusiastically by the propaganda apparatus, and we commit international war crimes by invading Iraq and Afghanistan. The US's empirical bullying has made the world much more dangerous, not safer. The more we terrorize people, the more terrorists we create. Our feeding of the financial services and military industries is sucking the spiritual, economic and physical life out of us - just as Dwight D. Eisenhower predicted.
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