Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fighting the Corporate Dragon: We Need Solutions, Not Just Presentments

I continue to read about corporate influence in American democratic institutions and I continue to be alarmed. Most recently I read three articles, all in truthout. In "The Perfect Storm" Robert Reich describes how our democracy is turning into a plutocracy: "We're losing our democracy to a different system. It's called plutocracy." In "Juraissic Ballot: When Corporations Ruled the Earth," Rebecca Solnit, a California-based writer and activist, compares corporations to dinosaur-like monsters:
"We call these monsters corporations, from the word corporate which means embodied. A corporation is a bunch of monetary interests bound together into a legal body that was once considered temporary and dependent on local licensing, but now may operate anywhere and everywhere on Earth, almost unchallenged, and live far longer than you."
Finally, I read Chris Hedges weekly essay, and this week's was entitled "The World Liberal Opportunists Made," which makes the case that the liberal class has done failed and died:
"The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, which looks set to make sweeping gains in the midterm elections, is the direct result of a collapse of liberalism. It is the product of bankrupt liberal institutions, including the press, the church, universities, labor unions, the arts and the Democratic Party. The legitimate rage being expressed by disenfranchised workers toward the college-educated liberal elite, who abetted or did nothing to halt the corporate assault on the poor and the working class of the last 30 years, is not misplaced. The liberal class is guilty. The liberal class, which continues to speak in the prim and obsolete language of policies and issues, refused to act. It failed to defend traditional liberal values during the long night of corporate assault in exchange for its position of privilege and comfort in the corporate state. The virulent right-wing backlash we now experience is an expression of the liberal class’ flagrant betrayal of the citizenry."
I'm feeling a wee-bit down about all of this. Perhaps I should stop reading these truthout writers or perhaps I should try reading them with more skepticism. But I don't want to put myself in the position of not reading stuff because it's too hard to hear or because it's too dark or too complex. I want to face what's wrong, but I also want to try to fight for what's right in a productive way.

In "What If? So What?" on truthdig via The Washington Post, Eugene Robinson says that there was only so much that the liberal class, embodied by Obama, could do to push the liberal agenda, and that while "nothing would have been more satisfying than an FDR-style progressive blitz that set the nation on a path toward being stronger, fairer and more prosperous" that Obama and his administration are constrained by certain economic and political realities.

So what are the solutions, then? Because paired with descriptions of the problem, we need solutions. Otherwise, we are accepting, as I fear Hedges is doing, defeat--in this case, defeat of a liberal society and of democracy. At least in the essays cited above, Reich and Robinson offer none. To find one from Hedges, I had to go back to his first essay that got me started down this road, to find this:
"All resistance will take place outside the arena of electoral politics. The more we expand community credit unions, community health clinics and food cooperatives and build alternative energy systems, the more empowered we will become."
Solnit offers more actionable solutions in her depictions of how the people of Richmond, California, many of whom are poor, have latched onto "The Phantom of Democracy" and have organized themselves and fought the Chevron oil company's incursions. She also describes how groups around the world are "acting locally and thinking globally" to fight for ownership of their communities.

We must all act locally and think globally, take ownership of our communities as communities and as citizens. And we must not let corporations do that for us, for they will not act in our best interests, but in their own.

1 comment:

Rachel Levy said...

I completely agree, Hal. Thanks for reading and commenting!