It’s difficult not to feel a degree of sympathy for those arrested at the “Democracy Spring” demonstration on Capitol Hill. They are, after all, highlighting the gross injustice at the heart of our present political and economic system.
Take, for example, the fact that, between 2007 and 2012, the two hundred most politically active corporations received more taxpayer money than was spent on social security. Or consider that ordinary Americans pay taxes for pharmaceutical companies to pay out settlements. And let’s not forget the disturbing fact that the wealthiest 1% in America control 25% of income and 40% of wealth, up from 12% and 33% respectively twenty-five years ago.
Clearly things are bad and getting worse. Something needs to be done and the demonstrators on Capitol Hill are at least trying to do something about it.
The problem is that this new generation of idealistic protestors is in danger of repeating the same mistakes as previous generations. If these protestors fail to heed the economic and political realities, and the lessons of history, they will lurch from the gross injustice of Big Money into the equally gross monstrosity of Big Government. And the tragic irony is that they will not escape the injustice of Big Money even if they do so.
The old belief that we need to choose between Big Business (capitalism) or Big Government (socialism) is out of date. If it was ever true, it certainly isn’t true now.
In our modern world, government gets bigger and bigger even as business gets bigger and bigger. They go hand in glove. Indeed, big business is the biggest supporter of big and corrupt governments, such as the European Union or the US Federal Government, even as big and corrupt governments are the biggest supporters of big and corrupt business.
Take, for example, the fact that global corporations work with global financial entities, such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, to carve the world into a worldwide plutocracy, aided and abetted by the biggest governments in the world in the form of the G20, the so-called Group of Twenty major national economies. The harsh reality is that we are being shepherded into globalism by an unhealthy trinity of big business, big banks and big government. And, lest we need reminding of the blindingly obvious, a global world order, even if it is ruled by a nominally elected world government, will be the biggest and most ruinous tyranny in the whole of history.
We cannot enjoy true political freedom if we do not resist this globalization of political power into the hands of an unholy alliance of global politicians and plutocrats.
But what can be done? Aren’t we powerless in the face of such Power?
It’s true that we can’t as individuals stop the global juggernaut in its tracks. Its momentum is such that it will have to run its course, which will be ultimately unsustainable (but that’s another story). In the interim, we have to preserve, protect and restore the freedom that we have in the place that we have it, which is where we are. In practical terms we have to learn that the dollar in our pocket is a vote we cast every time we spend it. We can use our “votes” every time we open our pocket books to build a better future for ourselves and our children, or to forge the chains of slavery that we and our children will wear.
We need to spend our money to revitalize local economies and to help small businesses. Once we have revitalized local economies, there will be a greater demand for revitalized local government. Once we have revitalized local government we will once again have government of the people by the people. It is from these grassroots that we can rise in the struggle against the Tweedledee-Tweedledum monster of Big Money and Big Government. Until then, in the knowledge that freedom is pocket-sized, we can spend our time and our money in the knowledge that we have nothing to lose but our chains.