Archive for May, 2016

Bureaucratic Insanity: The Frantic Search for Meaning

2016-05-17

In this excerpt from his new book, Bureaucratic Insanity: The American Bureaucrat’s Descent into Madness, Sean Kerrigan notes that institutional violence isn’t just limited to schools and offices. In their frantic search for meaning, many Americans have turned into bloodthirsty maniacs, pushing for more wars abroad and even nuclear war that would obliterate them.

***

In one of his final HBO specials, Life is Worth Losing, comedian George Carlin explained that, in a sense, destruction gave him joy. He said:

I have absolutely no sympathy for human beings whatsoever. None. And no matter what kind of problem humans are facing, whether it’s natural or man-made, I always hope it gets worse.

Don’t you? Don’t you have a part of you that secretly hopes everything gets worse? When you see a big fire on TV, don’t you hope it spreads? Don’t you hope it gets completely out of control and burns down six counties? You don’t root for the firemen do you? I mean I don’t want them to get hurt or nothing, but I don’t want them to put out my fire. That’s my fire—that’s nature showing off and having fun. I like fires.

He goes on in this vein for quite some time. Disaster, when it concerns the destruction of mankind’s creations, makes a fun spectacle. Film audiences that ate up the disaster flicks of the 1970s would agree. Consider 1974’s The Towering Inferno, in which man’s arrogance turns a skyscraper into a pile of smoking rubble. The 135-story building symbolizes, according to the movie\’s own script, “a kind of shrine to all the bullshit in the world.”

In Civilization and its Discontents, Sigmund Freud wrote that humans had a “death instinct”—an unconscious desire for death that is expressed as outward aggressiveness. This aggressiveness, he concluded, was “the greatest impediment to civilization,” but one that a cultural superego or a cultural conscience could limit. We are taught to suppress this urge to destroy and to feel guilty about our obvious love of destruction, but the collapse of buildings and things in a typical disaster film is too exciting. According to any number of hackneyed plot lines, disaster strikes because a powerful elite wouldn\’t listen to the film’s plucky band of heroes. On the rare occasion when forests are leveled and animals die, this is presented as a tragedy—because animals and forests represent an ideal—a vision of the world to which we should all want to return. Nobody wants to watch a disaster film with lots of dead cute furry animals! We pay to see the White House destroyed by a giant flying saucer, or the Empire State Building smashed by an asteroid, or even whole cities cinematically obliterated hundreds of times over, as long as no cute puppies or kittens are harmed as a result.

During the Cold War, demands that we launch a first strike nuclear attack against the Soviet Union, while not mainstream, were common enough within the military establishment and among the public to warrant concern. What could cause people to crave such massive, suicidal destruction? Theologian Thomas Merton recalled receiving a letter from a woman in the 1960s, right around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In it, she petitioned the monk for prayers that the US would soon launch a nuclear attack against the Soviet Union and its 200 million residents. Pleading with him, she wrote, “We cannot stand it any longer.”

In 2003, Comedian Julian Morrow asked a dozen or so random people who the United States should bomb next. Most answered, Iran, North Korea or Russia, but a few mentioned Cuba, Italy and even Canada. One individual even said we should bomb France, because “They were not our allies [during the Iraq War].” None of the dozen or so shown in the interview said that we shouldn’t bomb anyone.

In 2015, decades after the Cold War ended, a videographer in California asked some random pedestrians to sign a petition urging President Obama to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on Russia, “to show Putin who is boss” and, amazingly, they signed it! When in response the television channel RT sent a representative into the streets of Moscow to get Muscovites to sign a petition to nuclear-bomb the US, most of them refused to sign and instead questioned his sanity. Apparently, Russians lack this death wish. So, what makes Americans different?

Americans have a profound sense of what Hegel called “negative identity.” A society with a negative identity defines itself not by what it is but by what it is not, and is always on the lookout for new and fashionable enemies from which to differentiate themselves in superficial ways. Sigmund Freud got at the same thing with his “doctrine of small differences.” It is much easier to hate that which you closely resemble, focusing on minor differences and projecting everything you dislike about yourself onto the other, than to find reasons to hate that which is entirely unfamiliar. A negative identity can be psychologically fortifying and justify murder, invasions and even genocide. But while a society built on a negative identity may be willing to die fighting a made-up enemy, it can’t find anything worth living for.

In our failed search for identity, negative or otherwise, many of us become like the monster in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein—hopeful that death will finally give us with rest. In the final chapter of the novel the monster, having taken his revenge upon his creator, realizes that he no longer has any reason for living:

I shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The light of that conflagration will fade away; my ashes will be swept into the sea by the winds. My spirit will sleep in peace, or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell.

When an individual is faced with a meaningless existence, mass annihilation becomes subconsciously desirable. Enforced uniformity, individual meaninglessness and mass destruction come as a package. Destruction becomes therapeutic, but it’s a therapy devised by madmen which, when matched with nuclear weapons, may result in the entire human race reclassifying itself as collateral damage.

To a dehumanized bureaucrat deprived of identity or purpose, an atomic wasteland may indeed be the image of peace. Perhaps the entire military-industrial complex, and all the violence it unleashes on the world, is, at the individual level, a cry for help.

***

Sean Kerrigan is the author of Bureaucratic Insanity: The American Bureaucrat’s Descent into Madness. He has been a writer and public social critic for the last 15 years, concentrating on issues of economic, political and social decay in the United States. Educated at Temple University in Philadelphia, he worked for several years as a journalist focusing on hard news coverage. Disillusioned by the economic crisis of 2008 and its aftermath, he refocused his attention on political and spiritual matters, with most of his subsequent writing challenging the accepted mythology of American society. His work has been featured on the BBC World Service Radio, popular blogs such as Zero Hedge, and several daily newspapers including the Bucks County Courier Times. He maintains a regularly updated website at www.SeanKerrigan.com and a Twitter account @SeanJKerrigan.

Interview on the New Lifeboat Hour

2016-05-16

Carolyn Baker took over this radio show from Mike Ruppert (RIP), did it on PRN for a while, and has recently struck out on her own, turning it into a pure podcast.

In this episode we discuss all sorts of things: economic collapse, the presidential election farce, climate upheaval and much else. Please tune in and have a listen.

PODCAST LINK

Bureaucratic Insanity: Free to be Slaves

2016-05-10

Schools in America today are less concerned about the overall welfare of students than they are with making sure that they obey all the rules, no matter how pointless, and produce good test scores. The emphasis on mindless obedience and rote learning prepares them for dehumanizing office work, where employers don’t even try to pretend that they care about the welfare of their workers. Instead, they shame them for taking vacation time and force them to work overtime for free. Employers and school administrators only care about what they can produce: children are treated no differently from widgets, and employees are treated no differently from robots.

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the hierarchical power structure embodied in our rigidly regulated and controlled schools and jobs closely resembles the relationship between a master and a slave. But there is a difference: slaves are under no obligation to pretend that they are free and can be as sullen and apathetic as they wish. They know that they are property, they do the bare minimum to avoid punishment, and they cannot be shamed for such behavior any more than a lawn mower or a toaster oven. We, on the other hand, require both students and employees to cheerfully and meekly deny their slave-like status, and to perpetuate the fiction that they are not compelled to conform but are acting of their own free will. They are gradually driven insane by the chronic cognitive dissonance caused by the mismatch between their pretend-freedom and their all-too-real slavery. In the following excerpt from his new book, Bureaucratic Insanity: The American Bureaucrat’s Descent into Madness, Sean Kerrigan delves into the nature of this effect.

***
When discussing bureaucracy generally, the term “crazy” is often thrown around, and I would argue that this characterization is accurate. We must consider that these widespread outbursts and acts of aggression are linked to a mass delusion, a culturally, socially and technologically induced psychosis. People are losing their grip on a part of their humanity. This causes them to act aggressively or to oppress others to a point where they act violently in return.

We often find ourselves at the mercy of overzealous rule-enforcers who act as if they are our masters. The relationship between a master and a slave creates silent hostility that cannot be penetrated until the slave is freed. There is no human interaction possible between a master and a slave because their relationship is always overshadowed by the inequality of their relative status. The same is often true of the relationships among the slaves, if they are in competition for status, or if they are trying to become masters themselves—by insisting on observing the rules.

Within the contemporary American workplace, this master-slave dynamic is dominant and nearly inescapable. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the school system, where dozens of students are subjected to a single teacher’s will. If that teacher has been bureaucratized and has surrendered her sense of sympathy and compassion, the results will likely be disastrous for the students. They become co-opted into the hierarchy as obedient servants, or, if they rebel or are unable to comply adequately, they are labeled defective and discarded.

In 1832, US Congressman James H. Gholson said: “Our slave population is not only a happy one, but it is a contented, peaceful, and harmless one.” At the time, this line of reasoning was widely accepted in large part because slave rebellions in the United States were rare. While this view may have seemed obvious to some in the ruling class, it was ultimately a shallow observation that failed to recognize the complexities of slave psychology. The submissive attitude of most slaves was achieved through repeated use of violence, and the promise of more violence against them if they resisted. In some cases, slaves felt responsible to their masters, identifying with their goals and believing that their position was inferior. The now well understood spiritual deprivation that accompanied slavery in America was only rarely interrupted by explicit slave revolts.

Kenneth Stampp, a professor of history at the UC Berkeley, described in his book The Peculiar Institution several methods of psychological manipulation necessary to guarantee the compliance of a slave:

1. The slave must be placed upon a footing of “unconditional submission… The slave must know that his master is to govern absolutely and he is to obey implicitly.”

2. The slave must feel a sense of personal inferiority.

3. Make the slaves “stand in fear” of the master’s power and in his propensity for violence.

4. Get the slave to “take an interest in the master’s enterprise and to accept his standards of good conduct.” In general, the slave should equate the goals of his master with his own.

5. Create in the slave “a habit of perfect dependence upon their masters.”

Of these methods of control, number four is particularly relevant for the bureaucratic mindset. In order for bureaucrats to unquestioningly follow a precise and often inhumane set of instructions, it is enormously helpful if they believe in the broader corporate or governmental goal. But all of these methods can be observed in a contemporary work environment. As economic pressures continue to rise, the worker-employer relationship continues to worsen.

If I could add one additional item to Stampp’s list, I would note that the modern slave-master often tries to limit the level of discourse, by making certain subjects taboo and by isolating his slaves from each other, ensuring corrosive ideas do not gain traction among them.

Every day in the US, millions of people get up, shower, get dressed and drive to work. They eat at particular times of the day, lest they miss the opportunity. They follow their boss’s instructions, which are sometimes in direct violation of their personal moral code. They pay taxes, even if the money goes toward causes they find morally objectionable. Rebellious people who attempt to escape these restrictions by starting their own business, or by joining the swelling ranks of the unemployed, face hardships and hurdles which make these paths less than desirable.

The requirement that they must conform to the rules is made clear to them early in life. Contrary to the abiding myth that childhood is a happy, free, idyllic time, young people are subject to constant supervision. Work is valued over play. What children want to do is immaterial. Their parents—who are normally the most important individuals in their lives—only see them for an hour or two a day and sometimes on weekends. They take on the role of bossy taskmasters. Over time, children quickly learn to take orders from anyone who acts like an authority figure. For those who naturally resist being bossed around by strangers, the cost of resisting is often harsh. It’s expected of them that they learn to accept the path of least resistance, believing in lies, both large and small, that enable them to do so without experiencing major psychological discomfort.

Naturally, when they grow up, they imagine that they really want to get up to go to work, to follow the instructions of authority figures, and to prove themselves within predefined social contexts over which they have no control. Those who adapt well are able conform, appear normal, and indeed be normal—or what passes for normal in a society that demands conformity. The most serious and committed conformists appear to enjoy and find comfort in their ability to fit in, happily avoiding the moral complexities that often come with the exercise of free will.

Early in Aldous Huxley’s seminal 1931 novel, Brave New World, he argues that in order for a future society to be functional, it would need to make people love their servitude:

Later on their minds would be made to endorse the judgment of their bodies. “We condition them to thrive on heat… Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it. And that… that is the secret of happiness and virtue—liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny.”

Of course, this is all quite arrogant; such rigid control may be possible when dealing with mechanical devices, but in the domain of human psychology unintended consequences are the norm, not the exception. In the end, the social engineers inevitably turn out to be sorcerer\’s apprentices, setting in motion processes they can neither understand nor control.

***
Sean Kerrigan is the author of Bureaucratic Insanity: The American Bureaucrat’s Descent into Madness. He has been a writer and public social critic for the last 15 years, concentrating on issues of economic, political and social decay in the United States. Educated at Temple University in Philadelphia, he worked for several years as a journalist focusing on hard news coverage. Disillusioned by the economic crisis of 2008 and its aftermath, he refocused his attention on political and spiritual matters, with most of his subsequent writing challenging the accepted mythology of American society. His work has been featured on the BBC World Service Radio, popular blogs such as Zero Hedge, and several daily newspapers including the Bucks County Courier Times. He maintains a regularly updated website at www.SeanKerrigan.com and tweets as @SeanJKerrigan.

Because Capitalism

2016-05-08

When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in 2008 this was treated as a landmark event. He presented himself as the underdog, an outsider from a minority background, who spoke eloquently about a fairer society, an end to war in the Middle East, transparency in government and a green future. His speeches promised “change” and “hope,” and voters were infused with optimism. Eight years later a fair assessment of his efforts is that they were hardly any better than George W. Bush’s.

In the current election cycle there are two new candidates pledging hope and change: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Occupying opposite corners, they have painted pictures of two very different futures for the United States: democratic socialist and cult-of-personality capitalist.

Their campaign speeches are interesting to observe. In trying to make sense of their success, particularly in the case of Trump, it is apparent that the idea of a savior is infectious and appealing.

Trump presents himself as a man who gets things done. The appeal to his supporters is that feeling good about the future is easier when you\’ve got a strong man to tackle your problems – someone who will fence off the hostile outside world, bomb the terrorists who threaten to infiltrate our ranks, and bring back the jobs from whoever it was that stole them. Never mind that much of what he proposes to do is in fact illegal under both domestic and international law, and far too simplistic in its conception.

In the case of Bernie Sanders, he has pledged a “future to believe in” and that a “political revolution is coming”. His appeal seems to operate on two levels. On the first he articulates a vision of an America more like Scandinavia, with free education, healthcare and welfare for those in need. He speaks from the heart about inequality, and wants his campaign to “end a rigged economy where the rich get richer and everybody else gets poorer, and create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1%.” This is a common enough narrative and one to which he has been faithful for a long time.

But beyond such specifics, there is a more general dynamic operating. A swing to the extremities in the tastes of voters signals that faith in the mainstream narrative is breaking down. Things are not working and people are starting to notice.

Huge numbers of the American population are impoverished, two million of them are incarcerated, and tens of millions live under the influence of tranquilizers and sedatives. We\’ve heard all of these statistics before. College graduates who expected a middle class family life are working as waiters and bar-tenders while living with their parents. Going to the doctor or a hospital is a thing to be feared because it may lead to bankruptcy. The police have become as violent as the criminals they seek to protect us against. Climate change carries on relentlessly, blithely ignoring treaties and accords. Politicians tell lies, lies and more lies, and much of the television news is little more than a reflection of the dark hearts of Rupert Murdoch and his billionaire cronies who own the majority of media channels.
Sander\’s humanity and fighting talk are a tonic for those who want something better to believe in. But even he has fears about whether he can really deliver on what people are expecting of him. In an interview at the end of last year, he confided that “people are asking a lot of me” and that for himself he had posed the question: “Can you deliver what people need and what they want?”

These thoughts are perfectly understandable, and Sanders is no doubt aware that there is a very powerful force working in opposition to his good intentions. This is the prevailing incentive system, and it is deeply entrenched and subversive.

The following extract from 150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future describes how the primary incentive system currently operating acts to thwart even the most noble political efforts. This is what is at the heart of the current predicament. Nothing changes until the prevailing incentive system is changed.

* * *
The dominant reconciling force in all of our worldly affairs at present is the profit motive, and the effects of that cannot be overstated. It is the organizing principle that we operate by above all others.

For while there are many other values that may be considered important in our society – social justice, environmental protection, community engagement – no enterprise can survive without surplus assets generated by profit. And without profitable businesses a country or a region will not have the tax revenues to fund its activities, and it too will fail. Profit is therefore imperative, and in the administration of the affairs of state and business all other aims are secondary.

Translated into everyday life, there is a simple creed from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” It expresses the relationship that is fundamental to the capitalist system and goes some way to explaining how the reconciling force of the profit motive shapes much of the world as we know it. It is a precondition of success in our modern society that we must remain financially solvent, and in order to do this profit is paramount.

Before we can further explain the technical details of how the profit motive manifests itself as a reconciling force, we first need to identify two other forces: the creative force of entrepreneurship and the constraining force of limited resources. Not all entrepreneurs can succeed in their ventures, because only the most profitable can survive.

The Limits on Social Responsibility and Ethical Standards

The renowned 20th-century economist Milton Friedman also understood something of the objective rationality of the profit motive, and one of his more controversial theories stated that, provided it does not break the law, under no circumstances should a business aim to do anything other than make a profit. He believed that social responsibility was a fundamentally subversive doctrine, and was scathing of those who claimed that businesses should concern themselves with promoting desirable social ends. In Friedman’s view, it would be tantamount to treason if a business executive were to consider taking on responsibility for “providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers.” (New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970) While it may be controversial and somewhat ruthless, the validity of his theory is apparent: shareholders have the right to sue the directors of a public company if they believe the directors are not acting in their interests to maximize profits.

In practice, there are many shades of gray associated with the implementation of this statute, and businesses adopt various policies of social responsibility to further their interests, their motives ranging from altruistic at the positive end of the scale to calculated and self-serving at the other. Somewhere in the middle of this range is the theory of green economics, which holds that consumers will pay extra for environmentally friendly products, thus aligning the social good of environmental protection with the business aim of profit. Accordingly, a chicken farmer is able to sell free-range eggs for a higher price to those who oppose the cruel practice of keeping hens in cages.

But when businesses face an ethical choice that does not result in increased profitability, the choice of business executives ultimately comes down to whether to remain in business or not. Regardless of the level of social or environmental aspirations of a private enterprise, the underlying reconciling factor must always be profit, because without profit the enterprise will cease to exist, along with its superior moral and ethical stance.

And so there are many questionable situations that arise in our society that are accepted as normal, because companies must compromise their ethical standards in their quest for profits. To sell their product, cereal companies put so much sugar in children’s breakfasts that it is damaging to their health. Moneylenders make people slaves to debt by giving loans to those who are in no position to repay them. Casinos make money from gambling addicts, and furniture companies make furniture from old-growth rain forests. Supermarkets sell tuna caught from stocks that are overfished and approaching extinction. Food companies douse the soil with pesticides, killing the life of the land. Alcohol and tobacco companies market to the addicted and the vulnerable. Employers put thousands of people out of work at short notice to beat analysts\’ expectations. Mining companies build mountains of toxic tailings that leach into the ground water. Media companies exploit the suffering of grieving people to sell newspapers and magazines. Arms manufacturers sell advanced weapons systems to murderous regimes. Power companies build nuclear power plants on earthquake fault lines. The litany of examples of compromised ethics goes on and on, and there are many thousands of books and films that bear witness to them and the suffering that they cause.

The Profit Motive is Inherently Negative

A basic effect of the profit motive on society is that it promotes a gross form of selfishness. The imperative of the marketplace to make a profit means that there is little room for sentiment, for the niceties of human dignity or compassion, because if you take your eye off the bottom line someone will take over your market share and muscle you out of business. There are a few moderating influences: the influence of the self-aware, ethically-attuned consumers (who swiftly turn into price-sensitive consumers as soon as ethics impinges on their spending power); attempts at regulation through law (which is a clumsy instrument); and the innate goodness of people that shines through in some situations. But in the game of capitalism the most selfish participants generally come out to be the winners.

The profit motive also promotes greed in its most potent form by encouraging hoarding: the successful competitors strive to accumulate a larger surplus than their rivals, because the bigger their pile, the more secure their position. This creates a class of wealthy people who, with an overabundance of resources at their disposal, are able to enjoy material pleasures to an excess, while others are forced to live without even the basic necessities. That class of wealthy people is also able to indulge in the more subtle psychological pleasure of exhibiting their influence and self-importance, which accrues to them through their control of resources. In turn, this creates divisions in society and establishes hereditary privileged groups, which further amplify these patterns of greed over time.

In any situation where there is greed, at the opposite swing of the pendulum there awaits its faithful companion – fear. For those who have wealth, there is the eternal fear of losing it, and for those who have never had wealth in the first place there is the fear of not being able to survive and make their way in a world dominated by greed and selfishness. While we teach our children not to be selfish, greedy or afraid, we do all we can to perpetuate a system that has these three negativities at its very core. How can we expect our children not to see us as hypocrites?

Aldous Huxley suggested that “Our present economic, social and international arrangements are based, in large measure, upon organized lovelessness,” and, on the evidence, it appears that he was right. Our current system, governed by the reconciling force of profit motive, is dominated by greed and fear – certainly not love! This is a fact that even the most fervent supporters of the capitalist system cannot hope to refute, and while some, such as the libertarian devotees of Ayn Rand, somehow find it possible to rejoice in it, it stands to reason that if we continue on this path of embracing profoundly negative values, it will surely lead us to our destruction.

It is true that politicians can enact legislation that directs behavior through the threat of punishment, or by rewarding desirable conduct, but the law is only a moderating force. It can only do so much. And, as was discussed in Part 3 of this serialization, the application of the law is fraught with unintended consequences, prone to the perpetuation of bias, and is a driver of much negative behavior.

It is only by addressing the incentive system operating that we might be able to produce outcomes that are significantly different. On this, there is more to come from 150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future.

The Voting Delusion

2016-05-03

This November, I heartily encourage all Americans to exercise their civic duty by going to the polls and voting for one of the dignified Presidential candidates that have amazed us this election cycle with their wisdom and compassion… not!

Unfortunately, this is not a laughing matter. A large segment of the U.S. population is now very aware of the fact that our political and economic systems have become totally corrupt. And yet these knowledgeable people still cling to the delusion that this tragic state of affairs can be changed by voting.

Every once in a while I gently attempt to discuss this topic in “polite company.” It is astonishing how ferociously these “polite” people defend the myth of the ballot box. And so I will try to disabuse these well-meaning citizens from this idealistic concept, which has been relentlessly programmed into us since grammar school. I assure you that I received the same brainwashing, and I once believed in the power and nobility of casting ballots. And indeed, voting probably did “make a difference” at one time.

But the world of power politics has changed drastically. I contend that voting is not just meaningless in our present situation, but that it is actually harmful. That is a pretty bold and provocative statement, but I will now do my best to defend this contrarian belief. I will attempt to do so in a concise but comprehensive manner.

· WHO ENCOURAGES YOU TO VOTE? – Is it the factory worker who lost his job due to NAFTA? Is it the college graduate with $25,000 in student debt and a job at Starbucks? Is it the Senior Citizen spending their supposed Golden Years working as a Walmart Greeter?

No, the voices championing the sanctity of voting are the politicians, who benefit so obscenely from the status quo. They know that the ordinary person is struggling more and more just to get by. And so these Malignant Overlords cynically reinforce the deception that citizens can control their destiny by voting. They make glorious speeches about the power of the ballot box, while knowing full well that they are just shoveling bull feces.

· THE INCUMBENTCY PARADOX – Here is a perfect example of how broken the election system is. The job satisfaction ratings for Congress are justifiably pathetic. Most surveys have them at the 10 to 20% approval level. And yet the vast majority of these incumbents get re-elected. How does this happen? The answer is relatively simple. Money. Only rich people, or those willing to sell their souls to rich people, can afford the insane costs of campaigns these days. Regular people are essentially locked out of running for office. How many school teachers or welders are there in the Senate these days?

· THE TWO PARTY MONOPOLY – The Democratic and Republican Machines – oops, I meant Parties – make it nearly impossible for a third party candidate to run for high office. It starts with the gigantic voter registration demands that must be met in every state. Then the unlevel playing field becomes particularly apparent when an independent candidate is not allowed into the National Circuses – oops, I meant Debates. The media greatly assists in this duopoly by marginalizing any third party candidate as “unelectable.”

· THEY ARE NOT ELECTIONS. THEY ARE SELECTIONS. – The normal person has absolutely no say in who the people in charge will anoint as the designated candidates every four years. So, exactly how much power do the people truly wield if they only get a choice of two candidates who have both been pre-approved by The Malignant Overlords? And of late this choice has boiled down to the lesser of two evils.

And for those who argue that the primary elections express the will of the masses, you are deceiving yourselves in at least three ways. First, almost all of those running in the primaries have already been vetted by the moneyed interests. Second, the concept of Super-delegates makes a mockery of the entire process. And third, as we may witness this year, if those in charge are not happy with the prospective nominee, they will attempt to derail that choice in the backrooms of the convention. The euphemism they use is a “brokered convention.”

· CAMPAIGN LIES – NOT PROMISES – Do you remember, “I will close Guantanamo on my first day in office.” Or how about, “Read my lips…no new taxes.” Anyone who doesn’t realize that candidates will say whatever it takes to get more votes, might want to relocate to the Republic of Pollyanna. But just as the promises are false so are many of the supposed differences between the two parties. Regardless of which party is in power there seems to be very little significant change. The War Machine keeps plodding along. The banksters don’t get prosecuted. Privacy rights keep diminishing, etc. It is almost as though there were invisible players behind the scenes pulling the strings. Oh, wait there are invisible players behind… And these elite untouchables continually pit the regular people against each other as part of their divide and conquer strategy.

· VOTING IS A SEDATIVE – As long as people believe that the ballot box can change things in a positive fashion, then the Malignant Overlords can feel more secure in their power. But if the citizens realize that voting is an exercise in futility, they might opt for more vigorous methods of expressing their displeasure with the status quo. They might chain themselves to the White House fence, or Occupy Langley, or go even further into the realm of wooden shoes and monkey wrenches.

· CITIZENS UNITED IS ACTUALLY CORPORATIONS DELIGHTED – Here is a quick review of the state of American electoral politics. We have a status quo in which only rich people can even run for office. Predictably, they will not represent the interests of The Little Guy, but of the mega-wealthy people who got them elected. Thoroughly enjoying all of the perks that come with high office, these supposed representatives of the people spend an enormous percentage of their time in office raising money for their next election campaign.

The puny attempts at campaign finance reform that were already in place were totally vaporized by the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. (Observe the double-speak here that would make even Orwell proud. What accurately should have been termed Oligarchs United was instead called Citizens United!) This legal decision took the gloves off of the corporations who could now saturate and distort the election process with boxcars full of money and unbelievably slimy TV attack ads.

· eFRAUD – If our elections are such sanctified rites, why is there no paper corroboration of the results? A cynic would claim that it is because such a back-up would reveal the tampering with the electronic balloting. Wander around the alternative media for a while and you will find convincing evidence of ballot counting irregularities. Such high-tech criminality makes the old Chicago mantra of “Vote early and vote often” seem almost quaint.

· I’M VOTING FOR “NOBODY.” – Probably the only tactic that would lure me back to voting would be if they included this option on every ballot: “NONE OF THE ABOVE.” Such a simple change might revolutionize the people’s ability to actually have some real power when they step into the voting booth. Since they will obviously never include this option on a ballot, I suggest a massive boycott. On election day “just don’t go!” If there was a 5% turn-out perhaps that would finally awaken the pundits to the reality of how widespread the discontent is out in the land.

· IS VOTING HARMFUL? – My original contention back at the beginning of this essay was that not only is voting useless, but that it is actually harmful. The reason that it is so detrimental is that it allows those who control us to justify their domination by proclaiming that “we elected them.” As I have tried to convincingly demonstrate, the election process is so bogus and flawed that while a diplomat might call it a charade, a truth-teller would call it a fraud.

And even though politicians claim that they are public servants, I believe that in your heart of hearts you truly understand. You KNOW that they do not “represent” you – they “rule” you!

by Ray Jason