By Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Americans Elect was a bust. The Green, Libertarian, etc., “third” parties are having their usual struggle to get more than passing attention from most everyone outside those already involved, and deserve much credit for continuing their efforts. Both Obama and Romney are raising astounding amounts of money, and with the SCOTUS 5-4 decision that struck down Montana’s ban on corporate donations law, Citizens United was strengthened. The only end I can see for the continued increases in campaign spending would be the collapse of the system.
Republican establishment elites retreat with Romney in Utah. Democratic establishment elites have their special moments with Obama. And while not among the Elites, wealthier members of various “base” groups join Romney or Obama at whatever venue to give bigger chunks of money than most of us could ever consider.
There was a recent moment when the average progressive could pretend they were a pertinent part of the process. MoveOn.org members voted to endorse Obama. Not that they were given a choice to endorse anyone else; just “yes,” and MoveOn will work for Obama’s re-election or “no,” and MoveOn will work in other races, but not for Obama. From MoveOn:
‘MoveOn.org’s 7 million members have spoken out in resounding support of reelecting Barack Obama and defeating Mitt Romney. With this endorsement, we will invest significant time and resources into mobilizing people power to win the election and prevent a hostile takeover by the 1%. We simply cannot allow Mitt Romney to drive a stake through the heart of the middle class,’ MoveOn.org political action executive director Justin Ruben said in a statement.
However many of the 7 million voted, 91% (up from 2008’s 70%) of them ignored the stakes through their middle class hearts coming from the Left while “resoundingly” choosing to fight those coming from the Right. As for “preventing” the 1% takeover, I think it’s a bit late.
Along with all of this bipartisan predictable presidential election year marketing and sales, I’ve noticed (on the Left) something else, more regularly and more widely than before: a focus on the potential or inevitable (depending on who you’re reading) collapse of our thoroughly intertwined political and economic structures and systems. The essays and commentary began well before last September’s emergence of OWS, but have increased since then. A recent article by Ian Welsh has received a lot of attention, and is representative of some of the thinking. He begins with a focus on the Greek elections, but broadens his analysis from there.
Greek election consequences and the shape of the developed world’s future will be more years of austerity, people winding up on the street, suicides and outright starvation.
In general terms, we are in a pre-revolutionary period. The supreme court coup in Egypt, the outright refusal to obey even the letter of the law let alone the spirit in the case of Wikileaks and Assange, the reign of Obama, are teaching an entire generation that you cannot fix the system from within, through the mechanisms of the old system or through even semi-peaceful protest. The Pacific free trade deal will enshrine even more draconian IP laws and will extend NAFTA style takings regulations which give multinational companies sovereignty over governments.
This will not stand. There will be global war, and there will be global revolution. We are on track for it. The question is when and how. I would guess in less than 20 years the world will fully convulse. …
In the period between now and the revolution, some nations will take control of their own destinies. Offered a choice between austerity in the international system and nationalism, they will choose nationalism.
Strong stuff, and no doubt sounding too radical for many. Even if you’re among those, Welsh’s analysis is still worth consideration. Personally, I’m not at all sure he’s being too radical, though I think it might take longer than 20 years, and I certainly hope violence is avoided. But then again, as I look around at, for example, what Lambert Strether calls “disemployment,” and it’s not difficult to see Welsh’s point.
In the comments to his post, Welsh adds this:
It’s not a question of people waking up. It’s a question of what they’ll do when they realize, deep in their bones, that they have nothing to lose.
And from commenter Ché Pasa:
I would argue that the Global Revolution is already here. …
We may mock and disparage or we may celebrate and support the various revolutionary actions around the world, but regardless of how we feel about them, they are happening and more importantly, they are continuing regardless of either repression or mockery. …
It’s cryingly obvious that elections are not the answer. They’ll continue, of course, but they will have less and less relevance as captured governments continue to serve only their owners and sponsors and ignore the public interest and popular will.
If / When this collapse becomes unavoidably visible (even by our nation’s very high degree of both ability and willingness not to see what we don’t want to see), here’s the spin I predict: My guy is less bad at presiding over the collapse than your guy! That alone could get us through at least a decade.
Follow our Two Party politics. Engage in, or out of, our political process in whatever ways we each choose. But let’s not pretend the seeds for revolution aren’t planted. In fact, they’re sprouting. We’ll see how they grow.
(System Not Broken sign via Occupy Posters)