(Swans - March 14, 2011) There is something invigorating about the people power that has shaken up Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and all the other uprisings in the Middle East. Curiously, one tends to think of the Wisconsin fracas as part of that larger surge. The old shibboleth "People Power" has returned with a vengeance. That being the case, should we not hope that the same furor might affect America? Are the rebellions against dictatorships in these foreign countries not related in some way to the eternally ensconced senators who have taken Washington for granted and is there not a clear-cut affinity between Mubarak and Gaddafi and the comfy politicians who have grown accustomed to the soft life at the nation's expense?
Are there not symptoms of quasi-dictatorships in the thrice elected Mayor Bloomberg of New York, Ben Bernanke's post as arbiter of investments at the Federal Reserve, in the dogged resistance of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker pitted against the hordes of established American workers who refuse to relinquish their hard-fought rights of collective bargaining? And should we not be protesting against the quasi-dictatorships of those men who maintain Wall Street and still run the banks that were responsible for the devastating meltdown of the entire nation? We have our own Gaddafies and Mubaraks ensconced in well-paying jobs in our financial hierarchy, in institutions like J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America.
Although the bankers and corporations are guilty of larcenies similar to the crimes of the Middle East dictators, no one would dream of attacking their power. We scold and denounce all that corporate power but amiably live with it despite the evils it exerts on our lives -- a state of being that cries out for protest seduces Americans into wanting to acquire some portion of that power in their private lives. To beat them at their own game.
The Tea Party warriors are a milder example of a national urge to take on a superior force. So were the sans-culottes in the French Revolution and look what horrors they brought down on their nation. So rebellion per se is not enough. It has to be a power emanating from a moral source or we go from the frying pan into the fire.
What makes a dictator is the establishment of a power base that cannot be overcome by the will of the people. By that definition, we could cite many politicians, in small states as well as large, who maintain a kind of invisible hold on the population and secretly devise ways and means of keeping the populace depressed -- both psychologically and socially.
America prides itself on its democratic tenets, but in many places and throughout the length and breath of the country there have been dictatorships that keep the masses subjugated and whose power is never challenged. We have something to learn from the Middle Eastern rebellions and it is that in the face of oppression, rebellion is born. We in America have a great advantage over the Middle Eastern protestors. We have home-grown weapons of mass destruction -- viz Facebook and Twitter. All we need to do is get ornery and "on line."
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