As one prominent American told me, “America is a profoundly ideological country.” This may sound
odd to those who consider it primarily a pragmatic and materialistic nation, but is nevertheless
absolutely true, in that most of its people still believe in its founding ideals (in contrast to the widely
discredited ideology of, for example, its old Communist opponent). (Harvey 2001, 2)
This is a statement that should make every American cringe . . . and yet it doesn’t. To begin with, America IS “profoundly ideological,” but that ideology is, in fact, "pragmatic and materialistic." Those ARE the founding ideals: freedom and liberty for the monied interests, not the average citizen. The Constitution was strongarmed into existence by wealthy capitalists who were determined to undermine the federal government through the maintenance of powerful state governments that could exert their own radically anti-American agendas without fear of oversight; the most extreme example of this was the secession from the Union by the slave-holding states that precipitated the Civil War. So there’s no contradiction there. The average citizen has been indoctrinated into belief in the professed ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but those who have run this country for nearly two-hundred and fifty years have had only their pragmatic pursuit of wealth to guide them in the subjugation of the rest of their fellow citizens.
Then there’s the parenthetical phrase at the end, almost as if Harvey is embarrassed at having to express an idea that is so patently true that it barely needs repeating. But again, this idea is a complete falsehood. Soviet Communism, has been discredited, not Marxism, and yet the two are treated as if they are interchangeable. And all of this is especially ironic considering that in his very next paragraph, Harvey goes on to say: “As far back as the late eighteenth century, the Americans were strikingly adept at, in the modern phrase, ‘spinning’ their own version of events. Americans mastered the use of propaganda from the beginning” (Harvey 2001, 2). The irony is that Harvey himself doesn’t realize how American propaganda has interfered with his own ability to get to the truth about Marxism. The right-wing propaganda machine’s most successful campaign to date is the destruction of socialist ideals in the United States, and to a lesser extend Great Britain. Fortunately, Continental Europe has been much less susceptible to this. The only thing about Soviet Communism that was ever genuinely discredited was the dictatorship at the heart of the Russian Revolution, one that led to an oppressive regime that in terms of its negative effect on its people, was little different from the Third Reich. So why is it that nobody mentions the discredited ideology of the Nazis? It’s because Naziism was defeated militarily. But only recently has it been generally understood that Stalin was even more of a despot and killed more people than Hitler. But then the Red Scare of the fifties was not about despots; it was about ideology. Sure, Stalin was a product of the Russian Revolution, but it was Communism that was the real enemy, and that’s where the majority of propagandistic effort was expended. Capitalists in America, who were nearly overcome with despair at the success of the New Deal, were now poised to destroy socialism for good, and make sure nothing even close to it could take hold in the United Sates again. And that’s exactly what they’ve nearly done.
Harvey goes on to mention the parallels between the American Revolution for the British and the Vietnam War for the U.S., a concept first explored in detail by historian Richard M. Ketchum back in 1971. “The ironic similarities between the American War of Independence and America’s own experience two centuries later in Vietnam are striking . . . Contrary to the widely held American view, but as with the Americans in Vietnam, [Britain’s] motives for resisting independence for the inhabitants of its colonies were idealistic as well as self-interested” (Harvey 2001, 3). It’s the unintended irony here, however, that is most salient in Harvey’s statement, because for both the British and the Americans, democratic ideology was easily in the low single digits as far as percentage goes, compared to the overwhelming percentage of self-interest that was at the heart of both conflicts. And it should be no surprise that the specific self-interest was monetary. And yet the U.S. in Vietnam had nothing like the British determination to keep what it considered its citizenry in the fold, which was much more similar to what the U.S. went through in the Civil War than Vietnam. U.S. motives in Vietnam were purely capitalistic. The abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion to the Korean War left the military-industrial complex at loose ends for over a decade, with both the Pentagon and armaments manufactures chomping at the bit to get American embroiled in a new conflict, be it thousands of miles away in Southeast Asia, or right next door in Cuba.
Almost laughable is the warning statement Harvey makes a few paragraphs later: “Virtually every common assumption has to be substantially modified, if not rejected” (Harvey 2001, 4). To be fair, Harvey is talking exclusively about the American Revolution, so he can be forgiven on some level. But the fact remains that his earlier statement utterly dismissing Communism cannot simply be glossed over, especially for an author who is attempting to separate myth from fact. The right-wing has done its job well, for even at the dawn of the twenty-first century the idea that socialism is inferior to capitalism—or in most arguments utterly incompatible—has convinced Americans there is no other way, that we are stuck with capitalism because, as Churchill once said about democracy, it’s the worst thing in the world . . . except for everything else. Hand in hand with the propaganda blitz that began in the 1950s is the other myth that was perpetuated on the American public at the same time, that socialism leads inevitably to a behemoth federal government that once attaining power will never let it go, and from there it’s just a slippery slope to oppression and societal slavery. Interviewer Lex Fridman articulated this idea recently, that Americans have bought into the idea that the real myth is “this government of the people, by the people, and for the people that actually represents the people, as opposed to a bunch of elites who are running a giant bureaucracy that is corrupt, that is feeding itself, and they’re actually not representing the people” (Fridman).
This is the other side of the same propagandistic coin. Not only does the right-wing need to defame socialism as an evil unto itself, but it must also poison the very idea of federal government in order to convince people that even were socialism a viable alternative to capitalism, that those in charge of the government would simply take control and oppress the rest of their fellow citizens--usually on the Russian model. This is, however, another one of the right-wing’s propagandistic tools, that of projection. In order to deflect suspicion for gradual takeover of the federal government by a corporate oligarchy that has been taking place for two centuries, the right-wing first blames the other side for doing the same thing. Like the lawyer joke that says that the way to detect if a lawyer is lying is if the lawyer’s lips are moving, the way to understand exactly what the right-wing oligarchs are doing—both directly and through their proxies in government—is to simply listen to what they accuse the other side of doing. That will be exactly what THEY are ALREADY doing. Again, co-existent with the fearmongering surrounding Communism is a simultaneous propaganda push that continues to this day, for deregulation and small government, and for one reason only: to eliminate any limits on unfettered capitalism. Ronald Reagan was pushing this idea during his bid for the governorship of California back in 1966.
I’ve been protesting the growth of government for a number of years. I’ve had a concern, lest the
permanent structure of government becomes so big that it would become beyond the control of
all of Congress and beyond the will of the people . . . Wasn’t this the admonition of the founding
fathers, that government tends to grow and take on power until freedom is eventually lost? The
fact is--we can’t escape it--only government is capable of tyranny. (Velshi 5-21-23)
To answer Reagan’s question, no, that wasn’t the admonition of the founding fathers, that was the admonition of the anti-federalists, who were determined to make sure the Constitution kept the federal government weak, so that it couldn’t serve the people and at the same time give disproportional power to the states in order that the monied interest could have a free hand. Government regulation at the federal level is the only bulwark against capitalist overreach and abuse of the people. Sorry, Gipper, but you’re entirely wrong; government is capable of tyranny only when it is in the hands of tyrants. And right now, at this point in our history, those tyrants are capitalist oligarchs who are trying desperately to take control of the government and institute economic tyranny over the rest of the citizens of the United States. Though the propaganda program against socialism and big government was anything but subtle, the fact that the masses have absorbed it so completely makes it almost unnecessary now. But the long game the right-wing was playing was brutally exposed by the former presidential administration. The idiot-in-chief unleashed the hatred of a large minority of citizens, weaponized federal agencies against the people, and left exposed for all to see the naked power grab of the monied interests who control a majority of Congressional politicians and the Supreme Court. So the only recourse they had was to unleash their end game early.
Ali Velshi, in a recent program, outlined the extreme measures the Supreme Court has taken in finding against regulatory agencies, a result of a calculated move on the right to pack the court with capitalist lackeys like Clarence Thomas who benefit in being rewarded monetarily by wealthy elites for their adherence to capitalist doctrine.
Just in the last year the Supreme Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency, against
the Federal Trade Commission, against the Security and Exchange Commission, in a series of
decisions that have severely limited agencies’ regulatory power . . . Last week the Supreme Court
accepted a case that has the potential to upend the entire system [and could] challenge the constitu-
tionality of the very existence of certain executive agencies. (Velshi 5-21-23)
This should not be a surprise. The complete and total unethical nature of the right-wing Supreme Court justices was beyond question once they struck down Roe vs. Wade. EVERY SINGLE ONE of the criminal former president’s selections, as well as previous right-wing justices, committed perjury when they stated under oath to the Senate during their confirmation hearings that Roe vs. Wade was settled judicial precedent, and therefore there were no legal grounds to overturn it. But like their partners in Congress and their capitalist employers, they are all liars, because that’s exactly what they did. They have proven their inherent bias through their fealty to the big money that pays them. Their only goal, like that of the elected representatives in Congress, is to eliminate any and all regulation, as well as all taxes, so that corporations and the monied interests in this country can destroy the nation from within, through pollution, collusion, wage slavery, and the disenfranchisement of the average citizen.
We are in a precarious position today, deluded by decades of propaganda that promotes individual freedom, individual accountability, individual wealth, and individual power, all at the expense of the people as a whole. The right-wing of this country has been afraid for decades of the power of the people, the power of consensus, and the massive change that would bring about in the United States. The only path forward for this nation is socialism. And for everyone who reads that and feels an immediate pang of resistance, it’s crucial to know that this feeling is not real but instead has been manufactured by a propaganda campaign that works in conjunction with a public education system that has as its primary goal the creation of wage slaves, so intellectually numbed by social media and endlessly distracted by entertainment media that they lack not only the energy to change their lives, but the imagination to realize that they don’t have to be enslaved by capitalism. I’ve touted this book for years, and will continue to do so, but for anyone who doubts this assessment, please read Nancy McLean’s Democracy in Chains, because it exposes the corporate-capitalist blueprint for the destruction of democracy and the destitution of a nation. The only hope for this country is for the people to come together, as we did in the most recent presidential election, and demand change for the better, change that benefits all of us—including the wealthy—rather than a hostile takeover that only benefits the wealthy few. “Once fully enslaved” said poet Walt Whitman, “no nation, state, city, of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty.” America's fate, appropriately enough, rests in the hands of We the People. Let's hope we can act collectively to save it.
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