A Class Divided Cannot Stand; Some Thoughts on Jedi Mind Tricks and Electoral Politics
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I wish The Who were right. Unfortunately we were fooled again and again and again by the Jedi mind tricks of the media and our elected officials. For those who are not Star Wars geeks like myself a “Jedi mind trick” per Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki (*giggles):
refer[s] to a spectrum of Force powers which influenced the thoughts of sentient creatures, most commonly used to coerce into agreement by suggestion through voice manipulation
This is how Obi-wan Kenobi could waive his hand at imperial guards and say, “Vamoose, Imperial scum!” and they would robotically reply, "We will vamoose."
Okay, you can stop rolling your eyes.
According to Thomas Fergusson’s Investment Theory of Politics, in a Representative Democracy where private donations to campaigns are legal (*cough – abolish private donations) and the workers and/or citizens are not organized (*cough – get organized!) then we should expect to see democracy reflect the interests of the business industries that fund the campaigns (see poll data below).
According to Daniel Ellsberg’s Ellsberg Paradox, when presented with options where one is ambiguous we should expect to see a natural aversion to it. Despite Ralph Nader’s being “in touch with the average person” (referring to an opinion poll below) his ambiguity in the eyes of voters meant they were more comfortable voting for the ruling class-funded candidates.
According to Ed Herman’s and Noam Chomsky’s Propaganda Model we should expect the press to largely be beholden to state and private interests due to five basic filters: (1) ownership; (2) funding; (3) flak; (4) source; (5) ideology. (See here for an excerpt of Herman’s and Chomsky’s book Manufacturing Consent; the Political Economy of the Mass Media.)
Combining these three theories offers a premise to understand how it is that voters get fooled time and time again.
In a society where the democracy is more plutocratic than democratic it doesn’t matter who you vote for because no matter which candidate you choose, you lose. You might say we can vote for a third party candidate but due to Fergusson’s theory we expect to see funding thrown behind candidates not favorable to our interests and since that funding will be used to advertise those pro-business candidates we will expect the third-party candidates to be ambiguous, which of course means there will be a general aversion to them per Ellsberg’s paradox. And don’t expect the media to provide fair coverage since they have their own political and economic interests to not do so. Anyway, if it were that simple that you vote for a third party candidate then why hasn’t Ralph Nader won already?
While we suffered eight long, treacherous years under George W Bush (it seemed like the nightmare would never end), the Democrats told the voters, “Remember this come November.” A promising young man with a bright smile reassured us from his elitist neighborhood in Chicago that there would be change and that we could put our hope in him. He was our modern day Moses and he would lead us out of the desert. And by a large margin this man was voted in and he immediately carried out policies favorable to those who financed his campaign. The working class was betrayed. We are still in the desert and by many measurements he is leading us further into it. It took little more than a year for this to become obvious and this was perfectly fine to the Republicans. With glee they are telling us, “Remember this come November.” The farce continues…
This is what we need to keep in mind about this bogus corporate welfare disguised as healthcare reform. That the Democrats receive money from the health industry and that they are shoving through a bill that is a tremendous gift to them makes sense in light of Fergusson’s Investment Theory of Politics. That some liberals believe the Democrats will go against this and later “fix” the flaws of the bill (which are the gifts) is what doesn’t make sense. The Republicans can denounce this and say it’s so awful to spend a trillion dollars - but they won’t say anything about the Pentagon budget. Nor will they bring up their gifts to the oil industry. They will also call the President a socialist and a Marxist - but don’t expect them to bring up Nixon’s healthcare proposals and call him a bigger socialist and Marxist. Being a participatory socialist myself I could only wish this were the case! Besides, as Chomsky has pointed out: there is a kernel of truth to it. They are Marxists of a sort, but vulgar ones with reversed values. Anyway, the GOP rhetoric is all for show and to get voters to vote for them in November despite the ease of which we can predict that they will betray us and be willing tools of the ruling class. Even my octogenerian grandmother sees through the Republicans bullshit. As soon as Obama signed the bill several states filed lawsuits over it and my grandmother, aware that the bill is crappy but constituional, pointed out how hypocritical it is of them to gripe about wasteful spending yet they are going to pointlessly waste taxpayer money on lawsuits. Good point, Mammaw!
A Facebook friend posted this link from a book by Michael J Smith called Stop Me Before I Vote Again and in chapter two he uses “The ratchet effect” to explain the persistent rightward move in American politics:
Here's how it works. In every election year, the Democrats come and tell us that the country has moved to the right, and so the Democratic Party has to move right too in the name of realism and electability. Gotta keep these right-wing madmen out of the White House, no matter what it takes.
(Actually, they don't say they're going to move to the right; they say they're going to move to the center. But of course it amounts to the same thing, if you're supposed to be left of center. It's the same direction of movement.)
So now the Democrats have moved to the "center." But of course this has the effect of shifting the "center" farther to the right.
Now, as a consequence, the Republicans suddenly don't seem so crazy anymore -- they're closer to the center, through no effort of their own, because the center has shifted closer to them. So they can move even further right, and still end up no farther from the "center" than they were four years ago.
In fact, the Democrats' rightward shift not only enables the Republicans to move farther right themselves; it actually compels them to do so, if they want to maintain their identity as the angry-white-guy party par excellence. (A great part of the Republicans' hysterical hatred of Bill Clinton arose from this cause: with Democrats like Clinton, who needs Republicans?)
The ratchet clicks: Nixon. The pawl holds: Carter. Click again: Reagan. And again: Bush Senior (and Iraq War I). The pawl holds: Clinton. Click: Bush Junior and Iraq War II; then another click, and it's Bush Junior triumphant, and God knows what to come.
You can tell Smith wrote this before Obama was elected. Those of us who are not God and not under the spells of the Jedi mind tricks the ruling class political parties - and their media parrots - are using know what’s coming. Some of us - if I can be so presumptuous to include myself in this mysterious group of "us" - have a good idea of what to expect though we could and should be doing a lot more in movement building, especially left-right alliances, in order to fight back. Let’s face it, beyond the partisan bullshit and ideological jargon we on the Left and Right have one very important thing in common: we are working class. We also feel government doesn’t listen to us and is more concerned with the interests of the wealthy and getting re-elected (instinctively most Americans understand the three theories above though are not as articulate about them as they can be). According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll conducted on February 12-15, 2010, 81% believe our government is broken but can be fixed, 69% felt that we can only trust government to do what is right some of the time, 87% felt that government is “heavily influenced by special interests,” 86% felt officials in Washing are mainly concerned with getting re-elected, and 81% felt they are out of touch with the average person. This upholds a CBS News/New York Times Poll conducted on May 10-13, 2000 that shows 83% feel that “government can have a positive impact” on our lives. Again, more so than a desire for less government, we want one that is on our side! According to a CBS News/New York Times Poll conducted on July 11-15, 2004 64% felt “government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves.”
Back to divisions: Even the Left is plagued with unnecessary sectarian divisions and those need to be overcome just as much as many of the needless left-right division. And I hold no delusions that this is an easy task (shit, even I vent my frustration with liberals occasionally - and Marxists, anarchists, conservatives, truthers, etc). Years of ideological conditioning can make it hard to talk with one another. We often show no interest in listening and considering the views and concerns of others and wind up talking past one another by going through the motions of presenting our polemical arguments. And true there are divisions that will remain no matter what but that is not the point. The point is we find where we agree, the fault lines we can organize round. If we look for areas of disagreement to justify not building ties of solidarity then we will always find them. We might as well become inactive, apathetic masses of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen.
Housing, employment, the environment, healthcare, taxes, war, etc are both Left and Right issues and for the working class there is a tremendous amount of commonality if we take the time to explore it. There is that saying that a house divided cannot stand. We should apply that to the working class. A class divided cannot stand. The liberal and conservative wings of the ruling class show they are much more able to put aside their differences in order to maintain their control over us. We should be doing more to fight back and send government a clear message, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.”