Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Just to put it in perspective...

Expand Messages
  • Bureau of Public Secrets
    I have great sympathy and respect for the millions of people who worked so hard in so many different ways to get rid of the most despicable president in
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      I have great sympathy and respect for the millions of people who worked so
      hard in so many different ways to get rid of the most despicable president
      in American history. Dubious though I am about the effectiveness of
      electoral politics, I too would have dearly loved to see him defeated by a

      But just to put it in perspective...

      * * *


      Roughly speaking we can distinguish five degrees of "government":

      (1) Unrestricted freedom
      (2) Direct democracy
      (3) Delegate democracy
      (4) Representative democracy
      (5) Overt minority dictatorship

      The present society oscillates between (4) and (5), i.e. between overt
      minority rule and covert minority rule camouflaged by a facade of token
      democracy. A liberated society would eliminate (4) and (5) and would
      progressively reduce the need for (2) and (3). . . .

      In representative democracy people abdicate their power to elected
      officials. The candidates' stated policies are limited to a few vague
      generalities, and once they are elected there is little control over their
      actual decisions on hundreds of issues -- apart from the feeble threat of
      changing one's vote, a few years later, to some equally uncontrollable rival
      politician. Representatives are dependent on the wealthy for bribes and
      campaign contributions; they are subordinate to the owners of the mass
      media, who decide which issues get the publicity; and they are almost as
      ignorant and powerless as the general public regarding many important
      matters that are determined by unelected bureaucrats and independent secret
      agencies. Overt dictators may sometimes be overthrown, but the real rulers
      in "democratic" regimes, the tiny minority who own or control virtually
      everything, are never voted in and never voted out. Most people don't even
      know who they are. . . .

      In itself, voting is of no great significance one way or the other (those
      who make a big deal about refusing to vote are only revealing their own
      fetishism). The problem is that it tends to lull people into relying on
      others to act for them, distracting them from more significant
      possibilities. A few people who take some creative initiative (think of the
      first civil rights sit-ins) may ultimately have a far greater effect than if
      they had put their energy into campaigning for lesser-evil politicians. At
      best, legislators rarely do more than what they have been forced to do by
      popular movements. (The Vietnam war, for example, was not ended by electing
      antiwar politicians, but because there was so much pressure from several
      different directions that the prowar president Nixon was forced to
      withdraw.) A conservative regime under pressure from independent radical
      movements often concedes more than a liberal regime that knows it can count
      on radical support. If people invariably rally to lesser evils, all the
      rulers have to do in any situation that threatens their power is to conjure
      up a threat of some greater evil.

      Even in the rare case when a "radical" politician has a realistic chance of
      winning an election, all the tedious campaign efforts of thousands of people
      may go down the drain in one day because of some trivial scandal discovered
      in his personal life, or because he inadvertently says something
      intelligent. If he manages to avoid these pitfalls and it looks like he
      might win, he tends to evade controversial issues for fear of antagonizing
      swing voters. If he actually gets elected he is almost never in a position
      to implement the reforms he has promised, except perhaps after years of
      wheeling and dealing with his new colleagues; which gives him a good excuse
      to see his first priority as making whatever compromises are necessary to
      keep himself in office indefinitely. Hobnobbing with the rich and powerful,
      he develops new interests and new tastes, which he justifies by telling
      himself that he deserves a few perks after all his years of working for good
      causes. Worst of all, if he does eventually manage to get a few
      "progressive" measures passed, this exceptional and usually trivial success
      is held up as evidence of the value of relying on electoral politics, luring
      many more people into wasting their energy on similar campaigns to come.

      As one of the May 1968 graffiti put it, "It's painful to submit to our
      bosses; it's even more stupid to choose them!"

      (Excerpts from "THE JOY OF REVOLUTION." The complete text is online at

      Messages such as this are sent out every month or two announcing the latest
      additions to the BPS website. If you do not wish to receive such
      announcements, please reply to this message with "UNSUBSCRIBE" in the
      Subject line.

      P.O. Box 1044, Berkeley CA 94701, USA

      "Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.