the Informed

Vital Signs: Why Politics is Broken & The Argument for Radical Change

It would seem that so many of us now believe that our current political system has failed us catastrophically and that it is beyond its present capability to fix our ailing society. Almost as many believe that it is beyond the realm of possibility for this system to repair itself from within. As grim as that may sound, it is an uncomfortable reality that more and more people are waking up to. We'll take a look at the signs and symptoms of this system-wide failure as well as examine the role of capitalism in all of this, and what our alternatives might look like.


And in the end, we are all just humans drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

We all have the same notion, to varying degrees, that we now live in a broken world, where the political system and economics have failed us, where they've proven that maybe they never even had our best interests in mind in the first place. Whether liberal or conservative, Christian or Muslim, East or West, we collectively share in the knowledge that things have gone horribly wrong and we now face larger and more looming problems than we ever have at any point in our history. To put it bluntly, the world is in crisis. And we need swift and decisive action to get us out of this mess.

What are the vital signs of a healthy society, what do we tend to value the most, and how do our readings differ from that of a society that is working properly? When society is functioning optimally, its people are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy, they have meaningful and fulfilling work, satisfying leisure time filled with friends, family and hobbies, a sense of community and support from that community, and sustainable management of shared resources, all driven by a collective desire to grow and develop as a whole. In a healthy society, no one slips between the cracks, and no one is left behind. If this does not sound like our world at all, that's because ours is not a healthy world, not in the least.

In a world where politics so dominates the policies and practices that shape our lives, especially US politics in its effect over global issues, it is politics we must look at if we are to create some sort of lasting change that will repair this broken planet. The fact is that the political system has become powerless to effect meaningful change to benefit the vast majority of its populations, instead only serving their corporate masters, and as a result, we have seen the slow decline of society through bad policy after bad policy and failure after failure. In this interesting analysis by Paul C. Light from his paper entitled "A Cascade of Failures", it becomes apparent as well that governmental failures are becoming ever more frequent. One doesn't have to look very far to see the result of our years of bad policy in effect: a degrading environment, widespread corruption and mistrust of politicians, corporate interest taking precedence over the needs of the people, a media that serves as a propaganda machine for the capitalist system, a multitude of wars around the globe, starvation, surveillance of entire populations. And it goes on and on. How did we let it get to this, a world that would have made Orwell himself shudder?

Some would disagree with the fact that these systems are failing, and those who do would fall into one of three categories: those poor souls who are terribly misinformed about the facts, those in denial and who cannot face up to the current reality of our world, and lastly the elite, how did we let it get to this, a world that would have made Orwell himself shudder?those for whom the system does work, whether they be the media, political or corporate elite. Those people who fall into one of the first two categories can indeed be saved, educated and elevated to see the truth, but as for the elite, they have a deeply vested interest in seeing the status quo maintained - at any cost. And because of this fact, the elite are the key to fixing this. We have privatized greed, and the greedy are running with it.

The reason that the current political systems in place serve the elite so well is because of the fact that the system serves capitalism and the corporation alone, itself so hallowed as to be considered a living entity by the law. When a system serves only this, it no longer serves the people, and the people pay the price. The brilliant Noam Chomsky had a lot to say regarding this, and he conceded that capitalism and democracy are inconsistent with one another and cannot exist together in harmony. He states that capitalism is in fact privatized tyranny, a tyranny by unrestricted, unaccountable concentrations of wealth and this is why they so vehemently oppose change to the economic and political systems that serve them so well. A perfect example of this is the division of labour created by industrialization. When a man or woman is relegated to a menial task day-in and day-out, they become ignorant and they become stripped of their humanity in the process. Roosevelt warned that allowing a corporation to grow more powerful than the government would lead to tyranny, and as we can all see, it certainly has done just that. Of the top 100 world economies as of this writing, fifty-one of them are corporations.

they become ignorant and they become stripped of their humanity in the processSo where does this leave us? Do we continue to struggle with our current broken system in a vain attempt to make some kind of change? Obama's promise of change was false. The promises of the future politicians will be false, with our faith in them declining rapidly with each successive year. As all of this continues to stagnate, we plunge deeper and deeper into the quagmire of social and environmental decay at an ever-increasing speed, and time is running out for all of humanity. There needs to be a massive change, and there are alternatives, many alternatives. Take, as one example, the idea of  WDSEs, or Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises. It can be described thusly:

Quite simply, a WSDE entails the workers who make whatever a corporation sells also functioning - collectively and democratically - as their own board of directors. WSDEs thereby abolish the capitalist differentiation and opposition of surplus producers versus surplus appropriators. Instead, the workers themselves cooperatively run their own enterprise, thereby bringing democracy inside the enterprise where capitalism had long excluded it. - Richard Wolff

But when governments and the corporations they serve reject any notion of socialism, they are indeed being hypocritical in the sense that they socialize things all the time, when it serves them.

A basic principle of modern state capitalism is that costs and risks are socialized to the [largest] extent possible, while profit is privatized. - Noam Chomsky 

This is sometimes also referred to as externalization, whereby the government passes costs along to the people while the elite stuff their pockets. Think of the automobile industry for there are no non-radical options left on the tableexample, as they reap profits while we pay for roads, environmental costs and health costs associated with their industry. Why have they never had to pay? Why do we allow the government to socialize the losses of the financial institutions, when the men of Wall Street have been greedy little pigs? The time has come to consider new and radical shifts in our consciousness, new ideas of politics and economics, and to reshape the world in which we live. As Naomi Klein has said in her crusade to save the environment, there are no non-radical options left on the table.

Could you imagine a world that was different from this one, where billions no longer have to live a nightmare so that a few elite can flourish? Our politics is broken and it's got to go, plain and simple. And we have the power to take it all back if we decide to. The Revolution will be live. I'll leave you with this thought, and I hope you take it to heart:

Imagine a country where the majority of the population reaps the majority of the benefits for their hard work, creative ingenuity and collaborative efforts. Imagine a country where corporate losses aren't socialized, while gains are captured by an exclusive minority. Imagine a country run as a democracy, from the bottom up, not a plutocracy from the top down. - Nomi Prins, Author of It Takes a Pillage and Black Tuesday

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