Don’t you cringe when a reich-wing propagandist claims that Obama is a “socialist” AND a “nazi”? Especially when these two political ideologies are at the opposite end of the spectrum? And especially when Obama is not even a Liberal, much less a “socialist”? And especially when the speaker is an authoritarian and a corporatist – which comes close to fascism (nazis were fascists) on the political scale?
As evolving beings, our intent is to come from a position of love and understanding. Yet, how can we communicate with others without condescension when they have been so terribly misinformed and manipulated? It’s especially challenging if they are mean-spirited and/or violent. (and we’ve seen countless examples of reich wing violence, especially since the election of the first man of color to the Presidency.) Somehow, we must engage others and overcome the divisiveness that has been deliberately nurtured by the powerful few. Remember the adage, “United we stand…”
If our goal is to understand others, we need to understand basic political systems, the psychology of each, and how to communicate effectively. This post will focus on the basic political systems used today (with a focus on the U.S.)
But being kind does not mean accepting ignorance. How did Americans get so stupid? Unfortunately, for the past 30-40 years, there has been a deliberate dumbing-down, as a dumb people is a compliant, easily controlled people. (And a certain historical despot did speak of providing the people with ‘bread and circus” to keep them easily manipulated…today we might say beer and TV does the same).
Here is one way of looking at US political parties and movements – an imaginary football field with goal lines representing the various positions on either side of the center line:
Communist……..Socialist/Green.Liberal…..Democratic CENTER…………………Libertarian…….. GOP/TEA…..Fascism
(the LEFT) US Political Parties (the RIGHT or Reich)
This is basic political science, which every voter should know
To generalize, take a look at Liberal/Conservative descriptions from Roget’s Thesaurus:
An interesting fact is that both extremes of the left and right have fallen into authoritarianism and dictatorship, even though their goals are quite different. Leftist systems have generally claimed to be working towards fairness and equality, while rightists have been working for financial growth at the expense of the citizenry. We need to avoid these extremes by having a system that is democratic – that is, a participatory government by, for and of the people.
By this definition, the United States is NOT a democracy. An average citizen cannot win an election without financial backing of the wealthy. The avalanche of advertising and media bias then confuses the voter. (And let’s not even get into the easily-hackable voting machines with all their resultant “errors”.) This gives the wealthy, a tiny fractional percentage of the population, control over the entire system. Thus, it is NOT democracy.
Here’s an even better way of viewing political systems:
Note that in this image above, political ideas are divided into four areas. This can give you a more accurate way of determining positions than the basic ‘football” style line at the top of the post.
You might have someone who is an authoritarian hierarchic, and they will tend towards a rigid ideology. But they might either be strongly individualistic, which would put them in the top left area of this image. This is where your survivalist type person fits – probably a gun enthusiast with a bunker in the backyard. This person will vote conservative, if they vote at all.
But take this same authoritarian person and make him a group joiner, such as a church member, and now he’s in the right upper corner: A rigid conformist, easily told by his religious leaders how to think, vote, and live. This person is uncomfortable with those outside his “group”. be it religious, social, or racial. This person will vote conservative.
Conversely, take a person with strong egalitarian views and add a strong individualist streak, and you’ve got a person who tends to be a visionary, a solo worker for good, an anarchist: the egalitarian individualist – in the lower left portion of the image. This person might also run for office if he/she lives in a true democracy. This person will vote liberal, if they vote at all.
The lower right corner is the egalitarian whose also into working together in a group for good. This person may live communally, do charity work, lead meditation groups, work for social change, demonstrate in the streets, etc – more comfortable working together in a group, this person finds strength through solidarity. This person will vote liberal.
In most advanced nations, their center is left of our Democrats. Their conservatives are comparable to our Democrats. Since fascism fell, most European countries do not currently have a viable extreme right wing party, although there are certainly still racists and authoritarians in Europe. What they call “right” or “conservative” is still far left of our American authoritarian fascists.
In America, Democrats are CENTRIST, with the exception of a handful of progressive Liberals. The corporatist propaganda media machine has moved the national conversations so far right that corporatist/republican ideas that would have been previously unthinkable – such as eliminating social security, medicare, minimum wage, & child labor laws – are now “on the table”.
Let’s look at the basic political parties in the U.S. today:
The Republican platform of today is the John Birch Society wing-nuts of the 70s. They have normalized authoritarianism and fascism and made it acceptable to a large segment of the population. Due to the 911 event, fascist, anti-American behavior such as illegal spying upon citizens, kidnapping, torture and indefinite imprisonment without trial are now legal. Sadder still, the voice of corporate fascism, FOX “news” and right-wing radio jocks cheer on such changes, while trumpeting about “freedom” when it comes to corporate personhood, elimination of government regulation on corporations and corporate control of government.
Libertarians are for “small government” and are happy to unleash giant corporations to prey upon the citizens without any recourse or restraint. But their desire to end the wasteful and destructive war machine – and their position on drug legalization — make them attractive to some. However, their desire to shred the social safety net would leave millions of elderly people, plus the sick and the very young, impoverished and dying on the streets a’la Somalia.
Republicans also want to eliminate all government regulation of corporations and Wall Street, but, due to their unholy alliance between big religion and big government –would put government directly into your bedroom, controlling your personal medical decisions if you’re a woman, and legislating whom you can or can’t marry.
Teabaggers are for all of the above, but in addition, they are also for outlawing abortion, eliminating birth control, keeping women in the home, destroying public education, and ending scientific inquiry. A large percentage are Christian Dominionists, who are actively working to turn the United States into a theocracy. These people are highly authoritarian and delusional. They have taken an active role in dumbing-down public schools and deceiving Americans about the history of our country. Dangerous and violent, they are also known as the Christian Taliban.
Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens ideally take part. It is government of the people, by the people, and for the people. At its best, it is participatory, but it depends upon the electorate being well educated and well informed. Today in the U.S. most of the electorate is neither. As discussed earlier, we are a democracy in name only, being offered a choice every 4 years to vote for one of two millionaires backed by wealthy corporations for President.
It is said that the GOP is wholly owned by corporate interests, while the Democrats are leased out to them. Some people feel there is absolutely no difference between the parties – but there IS a difference, albeit small – and it is an absolutely important distinction:
Democrats usually exhibit at least a shred of decency and compassion, while republicans seem to have absolutely none. Democrats tend to help the poor and working class, although minimally, with welfare and food assistance, while republicans court the wealthy and ignore or vilify and blame the poor for their plight.
One VERY important difference is the type of Supreme Court Justices they appoint. This is vital, because these appointments are for LIFE. Today there are 5 GOP corporatists on the court, resulting in corporate personhood and a favoring of corporations over citizens. THAT is the main reason to continue to vote Democratic, even though at the current time, both parties are controlled by the wealthy.
The US two party system is therefore inadequate and is, sadly, mostly for appearance. BUT it doesn’t have to be that way. As evolving beings, we can imagine something better – a system that honors people, that honors life, and that works for all the citizenry. Imagine it: what would it be like? What would laws be? What would cities look like? What kinds of energy would it use? How would it implement fairness without authoritarianism?
Probably the best examples today would be those countries that are set up as Democratic Socialism.
Socialism is where an entire society decides to put their resources together and work for the common good of all and not just for one person’s own benefit. In this sense,they are sharing the wealth within society.
Of course when people hear that term, “Share the wealth” they start screaming, “OMG you want to rob from the rich and give it all to the poor!” But that is NOT what Democratic Socialism means.
To a Democratic Socialist, sharing the wealth means pooling tax money together to design social programs that benefit ALL citizens of that country, city, state, etc. The people vote their elected leaders, and they vote on how their collective moneys shall be spent. There is a great value placed upon “the commons” i.e. the shared parts of a country.
The fire and police departments are both excellent examples of Democratic Socialism in America. Rather than leaving each individual responsible for protecting their own home from fire, everyone pools their money together, through taxes, to maintain a fire and police department. It’s operated under a non-profit status, and yes, your tax dollars pay for putting out other people’s fires. It would almost seem absurd to think of some corporation profiting from putting out fires. But it’s more efficient and far less expensive to have government run fire departments funded by tax dollars.
Similarly, public education is another social program in the USA. It benefits all of us to have a taxpayer supported, publicly run education system. Unfortunately, in America, the public education system has been under attack by religionists and corporate shills for many decades now, and they have succeeded in watering down the curriculum, undermining science, editing history, and eliminating good teachers through low pay. U.S. Public school also ends with high school. Most of Europe now provides low cost or free college education for their citizens. This is because their citizens understand that an educated society is a safer, more productive and more prosperous society. Living in such a society, everyone benefits from public education.
When an American graduates from college, they usually are buried under burdensome debt in the form of student loans that may take 30 years to pay off. Instead of being able to start a business or invest in a career that they love, the college graduate is generally forced to work for corporations, often against their own moral judgement. The “for-profit” model of education creates wage-slaves as well as a large underclass of un-educated poor. It is bad for society and is unsustainable for the culture at large.
A new college graduate from a European country graduates without the huge debt that an American does. The young person is freer to start up businesses, take some financial risk, and work at a career he or she loves. This leads to more personal satisfaction and happiness, which translates to a happier society. Of course this does not benefit banks or corporations, but it does greatly benefit everyone in that society.
I highly recommend reading Explaining Socialism to a Republican for some very great examples and descriptions.
I know this post has been long and convoluted, and I’d like to just leave you with these questions:
What kind of society would you love to live it? Can you imagine it? What are you willing to do to co-create a beautiful society in a beautiful world?
How are we, as evolving beings, responsible for our own personal growth? And does our own growth become society’s improvement? How can we create a more compassionate society? What can you and I do — right now — with our own personal creative, spiritual, physical, or intellectual gifts…to help create a better world?