Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite
a book by Bruce E. Levine
(our site's book review)
Polls show that most Americans are against recent U.S. wars and the Wall Street bailouts, however most remain passive and appear resigned to powerlessness. In Get Up, Stand Up, the author offers an explanation for this passivity which seems like apathy but isn't. Many Americans are deeply demoralized by decades of oppressive elitism, and they have lost confidence that such a thing as genuine democracy is even possible, since their representatives represent corporations, not the public. Using phenomena such as learned helplessness, the abuse syndrome, and other psychological principles/techniques for pacifying a population, Levine explains how major American institutions have created such depressing fatalism. When such fatalism and defeatism set in, the truths about both social and economic injustices are not enough to set people free, but merely add insult to injury.
U.S. neocons' imperialism and warmongering is out of control yet the Congress tasked with stopping such abuses is mute—something smells rotten in Washington! The game is rigged. Bailouts? The biggest companies got help while the little guy got the finger.
However, the author says that the situation is not hopeless. History and Levine tell us that for democratic movements to get off the ground, individuals must recover self-respect and organize and get off their butts.
For democratic movements to get off the ground, individuals must recover self-respect and organize
For democratic movements to get off the ground, people have to get off their butts
Although Levine did not say this, we have to ask ourselves if a democratic movement going against corporate interests would actually be allowed to get off the ground in such a corrupt political environment. Or would it be sidelined the way anti-Bush protesters were sidelined by the media in both 2003 and in a 2004 campaign stop incident when the Secret Service ordered anti-Bush demonstrators to move two blocks away from the president's hotel and undergo security screening as well as get maced.
Bush supporters, meanwhile, were allowed to get closer to the hotel without screening, therefore the media showed only the pro-Bush support, exactly like Bush wanted, so America got a false impression of how the public felt about Bush. The anti-Bush protesters became a non-event. It never "happened." If someone stages a protest and the media never covers it, did it really happen at all?
A protester—the media will see him only if the powers-that-be say so
So how would this same government allow any real organizing and protesting to get going? Anti-war protestors in the Vietnam War era were infiltrated by violence advocating undercover agents who created incidents of throwing things at cops so the cops could beat and mace hundreds. These lackeys made the protestors look like traitorous criminals and terrorists, even though they were not. This ugly deception was to try to get more support for the extremely unpopular war, since both media support and public support were slipping badly. This was back when there was still a bit of real investigative journalism going on, with media reporting facts, not just telling the public what the government tells them to say, being mouthpieces rather than reporters, like the way things are now.
The mainstream press mostly just prints administration press releases; the actual investigative journalism going on died in the 1980s as the shadow government insisted on the press conforming to the party line
The only certain, irrefutable, perpetual and insidious bias in reporting comes from the neocon elites themselves, which make an all-out effort to stay covert and invisible to the unsuspecting citizen
These days any media not towing the party line would be seen as "supporting terrorism" and labeled unpatriotic and no longer allowed at press briefings. So, again, we have to ask ourselves if a democratic movement going against corporate interests would actually be allowed to get off the ground in such a corrupt political environment. Fat chance. Occupy Wall Street was allowed as long as the protestors weren't really allowed to occupy or disrupt Wall Street, which would be blasphemy to the rich and powerful, and as long as protestors could be conveniently shuffled off to a convenient private park—out of sight, out of mind.
'You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters'
The Occupy Wall Street movement struck a chord with millions of Americans with its new sloganeering regarding "We are the 99%" which referred to growing income disparity and the fact that those who caused the 2008 Depression/Recession got bonuses while the 99% of us regular Americans got the shaft. However, two years after OWS the growing income disparity had just gotten worse, and no economic policies in the U.S. had been revamped to prevent a repeat of the crisis.
Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano
We're all indebted to the protestors for shining a light on the issues, but since nothing changed and many protestors were rubber-bulleted and pepper-sprayed for no reason, is the protest—any protest—really a viable tool of social and/or political change or just another way for the Department of Homeland Security to get more names for their watch lists? Caring enough about the corruption in Washington to protest about it is a demonstration of patriotism, not its opposite! And yet, those in power who profited most from the corruption in Washington made sure that media coverage was either slanted or missing, that the protestors were treated like dangerous radicals, and that the event was forgotten in a hurry. The more things change, the more they stay the same, (which means changes do not affect reality on a deeper level other than to cement the status quo).
We're all indebted to the protestors for shining a light on the issues, but since nothing changed, is protesting really a viable tool of social change?
White House press briefing
Levine attempts to wake us from our collective political stupor, our anesthetized resignation to corporate rule, so we can stand up and fight the oppression. Americans are ruled by a tyrannical "corporatocracy," which means government by big business and for big business.
The way this nation is currently run, there is really no room in our country (which we love because we are true patriots, not unthinking sheep which the government desires) for political activists that support neither political party since they're both full of corporate-butt-kissing ass clowns that don't represent the will of the people. The game is rigged so that we are brainwashed into seeing things in black and white: we are either America-loving patriots that support one of the two parties or we're unpatriotic America-hating hippies who should be jailed. ("Love it or leave it" was a conservative taunt of the Vietnam protestor era—the conservatives were actually too ignorant and authority worshipping to realize that the protestors were not only right but were loving the country more than they were by pointing out corrupt and unjust government policies!) Protestors are even called "terrorists"—a word that will soon be applied to all political activists that don't support the status quo of being screwed royally by either of the two parties.
Getting screwed royally by the politicians and corporations
Most Americans now see that the politicians and government are simply corporate lackies, and that it doesn't matter who you vote for, or even if you vote. But most citizens are afraid to speak out, because there is a War on Terror happening and dissent is being painted by government and media alike as un-American and unpatriotic and supporting the terrorists. Dissent is what created this country. Dissent allowed us to get freedom and democracy rather than stay colonies run by Europeans. And, look it up if you don't believe it, dissenting views are ESSENTIAL to keep democracy and America strong. Those that let the government and media do their thinking for them (rather than thinking for themselves and sometimes having opinions that are different from the party lines spewed by politicians) are not good citizens but are helping the tyrannical corporatocracy by being the very sheep they like to exploit for their own selfish ends.
A lackey of the corporatocracy shearing another unthinking sheep
The essential foundation of community and freedom is democracy and the vital core of democracy is freedom of opinion, including opinions that do not tow the party lines of the two parties in power. This nation is lost if we do not think, form opinions, and act on them. If neither party is acting like anything but corporate flunkeys, we need to say so, to blog it, to write it, to holler it, to post it, to tell our representatives, to protest the oppression, all because IT IS OUR PATRIOTIC DUTY TO DO SO! We do NOT need losers to perform or threaten to perform violent acts as a way of protesting. We need the political activists that support neither political party to dissent peacefully, and protest peacefully as a way of demonstrating true patriotism. The losers that perform violent anti-government acts deserve to be in prison. Keep it civil and peaceful or you'll ruin the dissent for those of us who want to be heard and taken seriously!
We, you, Levine—we are all Progressives, in the good sense of the word (although we ourselves disagree with some of their liberal views). Progressivism is a general political philosophy advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform. President Theodore Roosevelt founded the Progressive Party. American progressives tend to advocate progressive taxation and oppose the growing influence of corporations. Robert Reich says corporations shouldn't be allowed to give candidates ANY money, but that individuals can be allowed to give candidates money if they want. See Supercapitalism.
No wonder the public seems so confused and nothing ever changes. They're choking on misinformation that comes their way via political manipulation of citizens and via the Culture War!
No wonder the public seems so confused and nothing ever changes. They're choking on misinformation that comes their way via political manipulation of citizens and via the Culture War! Political campaigns are clown shows oozing misinformation. Levine says "For many Americans, the Democratic-Republican contest is analogous to World Wrestling Federation matches, with fake public posturing of animosity between opponents who really care only about money continuing to flow into their industry." Amen.
Gladiators from two millenia ago—their modern counterpart is the World Wrestling Federation matches and U.S. elections
The pushmi-pullyu: a metaphor for our election circuses