Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A LESSON IN DEMOCRACY

"If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost."
~ Aristotle.


Something historic took place in the US yesterday. Democracy happened--real democracy and not the phony shit that's usually passed off as democracy. From Counterpunch:


Incredible! This time, when the People spoke, Congress listened.

At least 228 members of the House listened. They voted early this afternoon to reject the Bush Administration's scaremongering, and the cowardly Democratic Congressional leadership's attempt at ducking and covering by attaching some meaningless verbiage to what remains a case of legalized highway robbery. At least for the moment, the bailout scam is killed.

Earlier in the day, the Congressional switchboard was jammed. You could get through, but it took a dedicated finger on the redial button of your phone. Operators at the Capitol say it's been that way for a week now, as Americans across the country have been flooding their Congressional delegations with phone calls (and emails) urging them to vote "No" on the Bush/Paulson Wall Street bailout.

[ . . . ]

The tsunami of calls and emails to Congress, and last week's nationwide demonstrations against the bailout suggest that the public is waking up to this looming disaster and to the fact that they are being sold a bill of goods.


The thing is that it wasn't just on Monday that the Congressional switchboard was jammed, and it wasn't just the Congressional switchboard that was jammed. Servers for Congressional websites were overwhelmed, too, and this logjam started last week at least by Thursday. I know. It took me quite a while to get into the Congressional sites to get fax numbers for my senators and congressman.

For the record, both candidates of the oligarch party, Obama and McCain, urged a "Yes" vote to save the Wall Street vermin. My suggestion for the November elections? Forget the oligarch party (Republicans + Democrats) and vote Green if that party will be listed on your state's ballots.

For more on the lesson of democracy that the last week has taught, check what Glenn Greenwald has to say at Salon:


For better or worse, yesterday's vote was the rarest event in our political culture: ordinary Americans from all across the political spectrum actually exerting influence over how our Government functions, and trumping the concerted, unified efforts of the entire ruling class to ensure that their desires, as usual, would be ignored.

[ . . . ]

Can anyone even remember the last time this happened, where the nation's corporate interests and their establishment spokespeople were insistently demanding government action but were impeded -- defeated -- by nothing more than popular opinion? Perhaps the failure of George Bush's Social Security schemes in 2005 would be an example, but one is hard-pressed to think of any other meaningful ones. We're a "democracy" in which nothing is less important in how our government functions than public opinion. Yesterday was an exceedingly rare though intense departure from that framework -- the kind of citizen defiance of, an "uprising" against, a rotted ruling elite described by David Sirota in his book, "Uprising." On the citizenry level, the backlash was defined not by "Republican v. Democrat" or "Left v. Right," but by "people v. ruling class." As Johnston argues, yesterday's events should be celebrated for that reason alone.

It's true that we don't live in a direct democracy where every last decision by elected officials must conform to majoritarian desire, nor should we want that. In general, elected officials should exercise judgment independent of -- in ways that deviate from -- majority views. But the opposite extreme is what we have and it is just as bad -- a system where the actions of elected officials are dictated by a tiny cabal of self-interested oligarchs which fund, control and own the branches of government and willfully ignore majority opinion in all cases (except to manipulate it).


This is something that Kurds can learn from, especially when we read some of the recent criticisms of the ruling elites of South Kurdistan:


Kurdish writer Mahmoud 'Othman likewise criticized the corruption in the Kurdish leadership. In a September 23, 2008 interview for the independent Kurdish paper Hawlati, he predicted that "many Kurds will refrain from voting [in the upcoming elections for the parliament] because they think it is useless. People would have preferred a parliament with an opposition to a parliament that is [jointly] controlled by [the two Kurdish parties, namely] the Kurdistan Democratic Party [headed by Mas'oud Barzani] and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani]... There are more freedoms in Baghdad than in the Kurdish region, and much greater freedom of the press..." [1]

Nusherwan Mustafa wrote in a similar vein in the Kurdish paper Roznama: "[The two Kurdish parties] are striving for greater and greater control over all aspects of government and [all aspects of] the people's daily lives... We want justice and [a fair] distribution of the national wealth... [while] they want to use this wealth, and [to exploit] their positions, in order to promote their private affairs and control people... We want transparency and openness in the financial, economic, business and political spheres... while they want to handle everything in [complete] darkness..." [2]

[Dr. Hussein] Sinjari too devoted a large portion of his article to this topic, saying: "[Our leaders] claim that they are sacrificing themselves and giving their very lives for the people - yet [in actuality] they are deceiving the people, usurping their rights, and [violating] their honor."


The problem with democracy is that its success lies with the people and not with the ruling class. Everything else is commentary. Go, and instill fear in the ruling class.

2 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

Several people particularly in New York City spontaneously demonstrated against bailout.

They never read Marx, but they knew when they were screwed.

It looks like the bank bailout bill, will be brought up again and again to be voted on. The resistance is not organized, some is rightist in nature.

Mizgîn said...

The Nation had a list of protests that were held across the country last Thursday, all of which sprang up at the last minute.

Another thing about this that amazes me is that the opposition to it has been all across the political spectrum. The only ones who are for it are the corrupt leaders, both Republican and Democrat. Along with the Wall Street criminals, they must be getting something out of it too.

Now that it's passed the Senate, it will be brought back to the House and we'll see what happens again.

I noticed that the MSM was trying to promote the idea that most people are for the bailout of Wall Street's criminals.

Then there's Criminal Senator Feinstein who says that she got 85,000 emails and calls against the bailout and claims that people just don't understand it. The problem is that people DO understand it and that's why they are overwhelmingly against it.

I guess she read the TIME article which said, basically, that the bailout wasn't "sold" to the public in the right way. In other words, it was a failure of PR.

Scumbags.