Because I haven’t posted in a while and I love this woman so much.
If you don’t vote in elections, you have no right to complain when things don’t go your way.
Well, that’s what I said and believed not too long ago. In the past few months, after witnessing what has been taking place in the United States, I am becoming less and less assured that voting will truly make a difference. In fact, I’m beginning to believe that voting will make it worse.
I’m basing this logic (False logic? You decide.) on the way that voting works to create consent. Democracy is a lovely form of governance when in its purest form. We give our consent for a person to represent and rule us based on their politics. This can work for the good, especially when we’re included in lawmaking processes such as referendums. However in practice politicians are, more often than not, duplicitous. They frame themselves as the best for the nation and present themselves to espouse the particular views of their party. Majority wins. Then the winning politician shows their true colours or allow themselves to be influenced by those who do not have the interests of the nation at heart.
More and more this nation has morphed into a corporatocracy. Or maybe it always has been one. The most funded politician wins, most of the time. Whoever wins, lobbyists and other representatives to large corporations influence the politician into serving their interests instead of the people’s. Corporate bail-outs occur when the real people suffering are the working class.
What do I truly mean by voting as consent? It’s about hegemony. Hegemony was theorised by Antonio Gramsci as an explanation of why socialist revolution had not occurred in countries like Italy and Germany, which had instead fell to fascism. Hegemony, simply, is a form of dominance not only through coercion, but also through consent. Ideologies which are beneficial to the ruling class are spread through the subordinate classes until they become common sense values. Subordinate classes therefore end up consenting to being dominated. For example, the very American belief that if you work hard enough, you will achieve the ‘American dream’ is apart of capitalist ideology, and veils the masses from the truth that social mobility is nearly impossible. The myth of upward social mobility serves the interests of the ruling class, because although wealth is becoming less and less concentrated in the hands of the masses, most people do not rebel because of this ingrained idea.
Hegemony can be applied to American ‘democracy’. Democracy as we experience it is not democracy in purity. The dominant discourses around democracy is that it is governance by the people, and that the people get to choose. However, we have an illusion of choice. All we can choose for the most part are our leaders and representatives, but we for the most part do not vote on bills as in a direct democracy. Therefore although, for example, the majority of voters are in favour of abortion rights to at least some extent, we are currently experiencing an onslaught of anti-abortion legislation.
Furthermore the choice we have is very, very limited. In the US you either vote Democrat or Republican, and how incredibly different are they, really? Well, to be fair there seems to be a huge difference now because all our Republican candidates seem very right wing. However, how many very left-wing candidates do you think would get to the stage that people like Santorum have gotten? People who want to have a sort of governance similar to countries in Scandinavia, where taxes are very high, social mobility is wondrous, and overall happiness is through the roof? You don’t get that sort of choice though, and those choices are very low funded. This is where, if I was writing this on paper, I would be drawing a nice big arrow back up to corporatocracy.
By voting, essentially you’re saying that the choices we’re given are enough, even if you don’t think that. Many people vote because they want the ‘lesser of two evils’ to win. But why do we have to have two evils fighting head to head? By voting for one of them, we’re consenting to corporations controlling us.
Will I still vote this November? Probably. But this is still at the back of my mind the whole time.
- Is Democracy dead in America? Our U.S. version of running popular elections makes one wonder… (dmstehle.wordpress.com)
- Democracy (thelordianrants.wordpress.com)
I just finished reading Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future by Robert Reich.
When the nation’s economy foundered in 2008, blame was directed almost universally at Wall Street. But Robert B. Reich suggests a different reason for the meltdown, and for a perilous road ahead. He argues that the real problem is structural: it lies in the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top, and in a middle class that has had to go deeply into debt to maintain a decent standard of living.
It was a relatively short book, but it makes up for that in content. Reich has a lovely writing style, which is probably why the book is shorter than people probably would advise it. He doesn’t mince words, he doesn’t go onto irrelevant tangents or drag out the explanation. He’s concise and clear, and it’s a breath of fresh air. I could contrast his writing style with the first book I read this year, The Terror Dream by Susan Faludi, who dragged out the point to the brink of exhaustion. To the point that you almost stopped caring about her point and just wanted her to stop talking. She could use some tips from Reich.
I also really loved his clear structure. He wasn’t dancing around from random point to random point. He took on the problems of the economy chronologically, starting with a comparison of the Great Recession to the Great Depression, what their similarities in conditions and solutions/outcomes were, as well as differences. He then goes on to explain based on that, what the major problem is this time around, how we’ve tried to go about solving it, and why these ways don’t work. Finally he talks about the possible outcome if we continue on the road we’re on, and then some advice based on what worked last time to cause the Great Prosperity and how good we can turn out if we follow said advice.
It seemed at the end idealistic, but Reich seemed to do his research and gave clear ways that each of his recommendations could work. He served as Secretary of Labor for the first Clinton administration and is currently Chancellor Professor at UC Berkeley, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about.
I very passionately recommend Aftershock to anyone interested in the US economy. This is probably the first non-fiction work this year that I’ve really really gotten a lot out of (though I’ve pretty much enjoyed them all).
This is a story about madness. It all starts when journalist Jon Ronson is contacted by a leading neurologist. She and several colleagues have recently received a cryptically puzzling book in the mail, and Jon is challenged to solve the mystery behind it. As he searches for the answer, Jon soon finds himself, unexpectedly, on an utterly compelling and often unbelievable adventure into the world of madness. Jon meets a Broadmoor inmate who swears he faked a mental disorder to get a lighter sentence but is now stuck there, with nobody believing he’s sane. He meets some of the people who catalogue mental illness, and those who vehemently oppose them. He meets the influential psychologist who developed the industry standard Psychopath Test and who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are in fact psychopaths. Jon learns from him how to ferret out these high-flying psychopaths and, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, heads into the corridors of power.
This book was really interesting! I tend to flip between thinking that psychiatry over-diagnoses and thinking that they’re horrifyingly correct. This was a cool exploration of psychopathy and how it’s possible that many people at the top are, in fact, psychopaths. This is something I might have to agree with, which is largely why I bought the book.
After research was done with a few hundred top CEO’s and politicians, Robert Hare found that they’re 4 times more likely to be psychopaths than the general public. Now, granted, just under 1% of the general public can be classified as psychopaths so that’s about 4% of top personalities, but it still seems a huge deal.
I do like that Ronson also talked about how psychiatry could be overstepping its bounds. He talked about the problems with over-labeling people, and how children are being wrongfully diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
‘In 2007, Yassin Nassari, the president of the University of Westminster Harrow Campus ISOC was arrested at Luton airport, when security staff found blueprints for military rockets in his luggage.’ Two years ago, the Global Ideas Society invited Jamal Harwood, a member of Hizb ut Tahrir‘s Executive Committee, to speak in an event. Just before this event took place, the university cancelled it, stating that it would, indeed, adopt the NUS No Platform Policy. This policy literally allows no platform to be given to extremist groups such as Hizb ut Tahrir and the BNP. Universities can choose whether to adopt this policy or not.
The University of Westminster made headlines last year for electing two alleged members of Hizb ut Tahrir as President and VP Education. Although an investigation was supposed to have taken place, I am dubious to whether it was. In the same year, the Global Ideas Society held yet another event giving platform to a Hizb ut Tahrir member.
Now this year the Global Ideas Society has yet again attempted an event featuring Jamal Harwood. On the day of the event, it was cancelled, with the Students’ Union releasing this statement:
Several students, a lecturer and Peter Tatchell, according to the University, who opposed the appearance of a Hizb ut Tahrir member, posed a violent threat to the event. They had planned to disrupt the event, though all were unsure whether it would escalate to violence or not. The University was unable to ensure the safety of both speakers and attendees; therefore the university decided to cancel the event.
I was personally involved in raising awareness with Student Rights and speaking to them about what should be done about it. During my correspondences I never heard of people planning on violence in protest to this event. I knew of people who were planning on attending to ask questions to trip up Harwood, but that was the extent of the ‘threat’. Unless by violent they meant anyone who disagreed with Harwood.
I was intrigued by their allegations that Peter Tatchell was involved in this apparent ‘violent threat to the event’. Peter Tatchell is a long time political campaigner who is particularly interested in LGBT rights. He has peacefully protested extremism in the past, though also has a record of condemning Islamophobia. Naturally, under such allegations, I decided to email him in hopes he would respond. A few hours later, he emailed me back. This is an excerpt of his response (emphasis my own):
It’s all lies.I had no knowledge of this event at all. I did not seek its cancellation or threaten to disrupt it. If I had known about the Hizb ut-Tahrir speaker, I would have protested peacefully against him (as I have done in the past). I have a long history of non-violent direct action. I have never in my 45 years of human rights campaigning committed any violent acts, even when violently assaulted myself.
In 1994, I was subjected to death threats from members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. They explicitly threatened to track me down and kill me.
Obviously, someone is lying. Considering Mr. Tatchell has been campaigning for 45 years and has a good reputation among honest people, I’m going to side with Peter.
I am a student at the University of Westminster. I am disgusted by the obvious scapegoating going on in my Students’ Union; this ‘union’ is meant to represent everyone, not scandalise innocent people. I am passionately against Islamophobia, and any sort of discrimination, but I am also against extremists targeting others in their strings of lies. I did not want to jump to conclusions about the status of my university. I love what I’m learning; my department is amazing. The Students’ Union, however, has been infiltrated by lying extremists. That much is clear.