“Why aren’t the 50% living in poverty protesting in the streets?”
By David William Pear.
People get the government they deserve.
Philosopher/scholar Joseph de Maistre said, “Every country has the government it deserves.”
HL Mencken said, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
Source: Yahoo Answers, yahoo.com.
The Stockholm Syndrome: A form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes strong emotional ties [to an abuser]…the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim. When a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they no longer become a threat.
Through evolution and survival of the human race it has become “human nature” to need to belong to a group. Stability of the group meant the difference between survival and death. A stable group requires a dominant and decisive leader. The leader needed to be ruthless in order become the leader, stay the leader and to hold the group together.
Empathy and kindness to individual members of the group is not a requirement for a strong leader. Quite the opposite: The leader had to be merciless towards individuals that challenged his leadership and threatened group cohesiveness. Punishment, torture, humiliation and death to individual members of the group served several purposes in holding the group together.
Punishment and even human sacrifice served as an example for would be troublemakers. It was used in religious ceremonies to strengthen the power of religious leaders. It also served as entertainment to relieved group tensions. Not that many years ago public executions were eagerly attended by the rabble in Europe and the Americas. Human sacrifice even served as a source of protein in the diet of many groups. According to Wikipedia: “Cannibalism was widespread in the past among humans in many parts of the world”.
The need for a strong and decisive leader is the natural order of groups. This is true in the observation of animal packs where a dominant alpha male emerges to lead the pack. The alpha male gets to eat first, eat the most and has the first rights on increasing his gene pool.
In nature the dominate leader need not be a male. In the case of the African Spotted Hyena, for example, the dominate leader is a female and all of the females of the hyena group are dominate over all of the males of the group. “The spotted hyena is the most social of the Carnivora in that it has the largest group sizes and most complex social behaviours” according to Wikipedia.
Today Western civilization thinks that it has shed its evolutionary past. We are supposed to be living in an age of enlightenment and reason. Democracy, the rule of just laws applied equally to all and Christian values are widely preached. The reality is quite different.
America is not a democracy and never has been. It is supposed to be a republic with representative local, state and federal governments. The representatives were supposed to be elected by the people. The “people” did not mean everyone. Those without property, African-Americans, Jews, Native Americans, women and others were not among the people who could vote. Just as today it was the elite, wealthy and powerful that got to choose the government. They passed and enforced laws that mostly favored themselves.
Still the Bill of Rights left open the hope that ordinary people would be allowed to live free from government abuse. Often that hope was not a reality as government controlled by the powerful and wealthy infringed on individual’s freedoms. Freedom of speech and the right to peacefully petition the government is often just an ideal written on paper and not a fact.
Anyone that attempted to organize labor strikes, protest working conditions, demand the right to vote or march on Washington for veteran’s benefits soon found the full force of the government coming down on them. The Ludlow Massacre occurred when striking coal miners were fired upon by the Colorado National Guard in 1914. The Rock Springs Massacre occurred when Chinese immigrants demanded to be paid the same wages as white miners in 1885. Women were not granted the right to vote in the US until 1920 and many women went to prison prior to that for peacefully protesting for the right to vote. The “Bonus Army” of WWI veterans was brutally attached by the military, led by Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower, when veterans marched on Washington demanding their WWI bonus early during the depression year of 1932.
Social change and progressive movements in the USA are slow, bloody and often in vain. Even when progressive movement and justice prevail it is at a tremendous cost in sacrifices and lives. Often those that bring about change do not get to enjoy the benefit of it themselves.
A bloody Civil War resulting in the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery. During the decades of Reconstruction much slave labor persisted as if nothing had happened. African-American slaves were not helped in the transition from slavery to freedom. Many stayed on the plantations as virtual slaves. Some because sharecroppers which was just another form of slavery. African-American slaves were harassed, exploited, discriminated against and lynched for being trouble-makers, revenge and to keep them quiet. Nor were they welcomed in the North because they took jobs from white workers and drove down wages. It would take another 100 years and more social disruption and blood in the streets for African-Americans to get a semblance of their civil rights.
Even when change does occur the elite, rich and powerful keep trying to claw it back. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s propelled many African-Americans into main stream America. The majority of African-Americans remained in the ghettos in poverty. Instead of Jim Crow laws beating them down they were faced with new barriers to equality.
The War on Crime and the War on Drugs has put millions of African-Americans into “preventive detention” fueling an explosion in the prison industry. Images of the “Welfare Queen” and Willie Horton have put presidents into office and keep African-Americans in poverty without safety-nets. The privatization of public education is going to rob future generations of African-Americans of even the slim chance they have now of getting an education. Most white Americans still blame the African-American victims for their own plight.
It was only after the perfect storm of the Great Depression, WWII and the Cold War that propelled many Americans into realizing the American Dream. The Great Depression frightened the elites, wealthy and powerful into enacting social programs that helped to lift people out of abject poverty.
Those Depression era social programs then helped to sustain a middle class after WWII. After WWII the USA was the only industrial power left on earth. The war had created tremendous pent up demand for housing, automobiles, consumer durable goods and created a shortage of labor. Wartime production was easily converted into peacetime prosperity. Labor was needed to run the factories and they could demand high wages and benefits.
The Cold War was a competition of economic models to prove that capitalism was better than communism at providing a workers’ and consumers’ paradise. The elites were more afraid of communism than they were of high taxes. Those tax revenues went into building the interstate highway system, public education and other social programs for “national defense”.
The arms race with the Soviets provided plenty of high paying jobs for the military-industrial complex. The shock of the Soviets putting a satellite named Sputnik (fellow traveler) into orbit set off massive spending on a race to the moon. The rich were willing to pay a marginal income tax rate of up to 90% to defeat communism.
The 2008 economic crash caused by the excesses of the banking industry presented progressives with another golden chance of opportunity. The election of Barack Obama brought new energy and excitement to the youth of America and progressives unlike anything the US has seen since the 1960’s. People’s expectations of what President Obama could and wanted to achieve in the way of “change” were unrealistic expectations.
Many people expected so much from Obama that their biggest fear was that a conspiracy of the elites and the CIA would have him assassinated. They needn’t have worried. Anybody paying attention should have seen that Obama was saying one thing but doing the opposite.
Yet the faithful kept making excuses for him and “waiting for the real Obama to step forward”. He already had when before he was inaugurated he said that there would be no inquiry into the war crimes and lawlessness of the Bush/Cheney administration. The Rule of Law, the US Constitution and International Law was thrown under the same bus that took out Jeremiah Wright earlier. Just like the “Single-Payer” health care bill it would not be the last victims of the Obama bus. Unfortunately the War Of Terror had nothing to fear from the killer bus.
How naive and foolish we were to have put so much hope and trust in Barack Obama. He broke promise after promise and our hearts over and over again. Many people gave up hope, turned their back on government and went back into political hibernation. Like the cicada it may be another 17 years for new “eggs” to hatch. There may not be a republic left when they reemerge in 2030.
If the War On Crime and the War On Drugs are any indication, the War Of Terror will still be going strong when the cicada returns. So too will the war on the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Rule of Law. The elite, wealthy and powerful will still be thumbing their nose at justice, the prison industry will be thriving with African-American and Latino inmates, public education will be a vague memory, domestic spying will have become more invasive, government sanctioned assassinations will be endemic, drones will have inherited the earth and the poor will still be among us. Global warming deniers will still be going strong even as Manhattan and Florida have returned to the swamps.
The government learned its lessons very well in the streets of Chicago and the jungles of Vietnam in the 1960’s. In El Salvador, Honduras, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere the US government did not make the same mistakes it made in Vietnam.
Forget about fighting a counter insurgency war to win the hearts and minds of the people. Petraeus and McChrystal know how to win wars. If there is a one-in-a-hundred chance that somebody is a terrorist then just kill them. Even one-in-a-thousand. Any male of fighting age is a target. Any women and children are acceptable collateral damage. Drone them, bomb them, assassinate them and disappear them. Send in the assassins of the Joint Special Operation Command (JSOC). Take no prisoners. “Just kill them all and let God sort them out”.
The same goes for the Streets of Chicago and anywhere else in the US where there is domestic unrest. The police are ready this time. They are fully combat militarized. They have armored personnel carriers, body armor, Kevlar helmets, face visors, night vision goggles, knee pads, gas masks, fully automatic assault rifles, snipers, Glocks, grenades, rubber bullets, pepper spray, poison gas, Tasers, stun guns, ear-drum bursting high-frequency microwave radiation, water cannons, drones, helicopter, dogs, horses, batons and riot shields. The police also have their spies and infiltrators. They have their provocateurs to make sure things turn bloody violent.
Effective protest, free speech and petitioning of the government for a redress of grievances needs organization. It also takes a permit to hold a demonstration. Even just two people walking down the sidewalk with a sign is a parade that needs a permit. The government can isolate demonstrations to defined areas out of sight of anyone or anything that matters.
Organizing protests is hard to do when the government has hi-tech domestic spying of the internet, social media, cell phones and data bases of troublemakers. There are cameras everywhere watching everybody. The government knows who the leaders are and they can be arrested and detained in advance. The government has the Patriot Act and all that is needed is to call troublemakers terrorists. Invoke the government’s secrecy laws and there is no need for any evidence or for the government to prove anything to a judge. People can now be imprisoned for no known reason and kept indefinitely. US citizens can even be assassinated.
The government also has effective control over the mainstream media. Most people who follow the news depend on the mainstream media. If the media ignores something then it never happened. The mainstream media depends on the titans of government and business for its life blood of access to information it calls news.
The main stream media is not going to alienate their most important sources of news. Nor are they going to alienate their social network of friends. The main stream media and the titans of government and business are all friends. They live in the same neighborhoods, their children attend the same private schools, they belong to the same country clubs and they attend the same places of worship.
Social movements do not have the support of the people and probably never did have widespread support. If one is old enough and can remember back to the anti-war protesters of the 1960’s, it was the construction workers and blue collar workers who confronted the war protesters in the streets. The very same people whose children were most likely to be drafted and die in Vietnam where the ones who were the most hostile to the war protesters.
People want to belong to the group. As children we are brought up to respect authority and to love our country. We are taught a myth about America that does not and never did exist. We are indoctrinated that America is a democracy and has a capitalist economic system.
Most people know very little about American history or economics. Most religious institutions preach mythical American ideology as gospel. Most people would not understand if they were told that America is not a democracy and does not fit the capitalistic model of Adam Smith. If one told them that America is an oligarchy and a plutocracy they would feel personally insulted.
As with the Stockholm Syndrome people take on the identity and values of their abusers. If people are abused by the American system they feel that it is their own fault. They feel shame. They must have done something wrong and deserve the punishment they get. If their abuser shows them a little mercy or even kindness they feel that it is undeserved.
The American propaganda machines are also very good at turning victimized groups against each other. People are conditioned to hate Welfare Queens, Willie Horton, illegal immigrants, Mexicans and Muslims.
Even those receiving government programs such as Medicare and Social Security feel that others are getting “entitlements” unjustly and at their expense. Teachers and other government workers are viewed as greedy, lazy, overpaid and milking fat pensions that they do not deserve.
The public becomes enraged when told that a large percentage of the population pays no income taxes, even when it is explained to them that it is because they are living in poverty. However the public is not outraged that GE, Exxon, JP Morgan and many other large corporations pay no income taxes.
The public does not get enraged when told that Jamie Diamon got a $20 million bonus after his company was bailed out by the government with billions of tax payer dollars. They do not get enraged when they are told that Mitt Romney pays less than 15% in taxes on his millions in come.
Like Joe the Plumber they think it would be unfair for the government to tax the wealthy. Their irrational reasoning is that someday they too might be rich. The chances of them getting rich are the same as hitting the lottery. It isn’t going to happen. Never the less they identify and empathize with the values of their captors.
The government keeps people frightened of an enemy tribe that wants to kill them. As during the Cold War when there was a communist under every bed, there is now a terrorist under every bed. People say that they admire Bush/Cheney because they “kept us safe” even though through their negligence, or worse, it was on their watch that the worst terrorist attack in US history took place. People want authoritarian strong ruthless leaders.
People still argue that waterboarding, torture, extraordinary rendition, assassinations and the killings of innocents are justified. People are not horrified or feel any empathy for the deaths of Muslims and Arab women and children.
When the nation was outraged about the shooting of Travon Martin, an African-American teenager who was shot and killed in Florida by a self-appointed neighborhood watcher, Obama said that if he had had a son he would have looked like Travon. When Obama orders a drone strike in Yemen on the innocent 16 year old son of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, he expressed no such empathy. The droning was soon forgotten by the press and most Americans.
So, “Why aren’t the 50% living in poverty protesting in the streets?” Because they are patriotic Americans that love their country and feel that it is ordained by The Almighty. They hate Muslims because “all terrorists are Muslims” and they think Islam is an evil religion. They want to be part of the American Empire and spread democracy throughout the world. They cheer for war and enjoy seeing people vaporized on “kill TV”. They proudly fly their flag on their front porch. They have a “Support the Troops” sticker on their car. They say “Thank you for your service” to anybody in a military uniform. They know that the police would crush them and they don’t want their blood flowing in the streets. They don’t want to spend even a night in jail let alone the rest of their life naked, in a stress position in a 10×8 ft. cell 23 hours a day. They cannot get organized. They think rich people got that way by the Christian values of hard work. They think they do not deserve any better and are thankful for what little they got. They got the government they deserve “good and hard”.