There are times where someone will assume I am oblivious to the political dangers that threaten our liberties. This usually happens on the heels of those disputes where I disagree with another person’s assessment of such a threat. Too often the people involved in the argument are so narrowly focused on their assessment that all feedback is accepted as a literal affirmation or refused as a literal negation.
Most recently, opinions about Barack Obama seem to promote enough rift to create this underestimation of my political awareness. Especially, when confronted with a strong assertion that the Obama Administration is leading us through the gates of socialist tyranny. I am at that point compelled to explain, to at least put the theory out there, that in the big picture, neither socialism, nor the Obama Administration are the most urgent threats to our liberty.
The literal negation flings my theory aside and I find myself stereo-cast as an “Obama fan” who is typically oblivious to the threats of tyranny that Obama he is supposedly ushering in. Next, I am pelted with a set of arguments recycled from the incoming hits of the Bush era and even though I’ve heard them before and used them in my own arguments, they are launched at me as if I’ve never encountered them before. As if Obama changed everything.
Sometimes I can develop a sidebar conversation that references this bigger picture which usually goes like this… I suggest the most urgent threats come from the private sector. This is one of those little ideas with giant responses. Usually, if the sentiment is negative on socialism, or on the type of “big” government that could house a socialized economy, the response is that government is the supreme authority and therefore the biggest threat to our liberties. “The government can take away your rights, the banks can only try to influence the government.” This idea suggests that banks are not as “clear and present” as the government. But this is entirely based what I think is a false sense of security – that we are confident in knowing the government alone has direct authority over a person, where a “bank” doesn’t. Do banks put people in prison? No, not like the government does, not based on legal authority. But the reason why this sense of security is false is that banks can create circumstance and circumstance trumps authority. The authority of Iraq for instance, was terminated by the circumstance created by a U.S. led-invasion and in a less-obvious example, the authority of the U.S. government to bail-out the banks was influenced by the “too-big-to-fail” circumstance created by the banks.
In this wider scope of possibility, government authority can easily be seen as a mere instrument which is legally just as available to the people for protecting themselves from the conflicting interests of corporations. So as long as our constitution enforces some measure of democracy the government remains a neutral concept and how much of it is used to protect us versus how much is used to control us is really left to the outside influences with corporate funding having the obvious advantage.
This is where I suggest that the oblivion is not mine. That the literal negation of my overture is in itself the oblivion of deepest concern. Certainly, if the highest bidders found reason to take away your liberty, they would find much utility in the government to create the laws and enforcement to make it happen, but they would also find defensive value in the government, as an easy scapegoat to hide behind. In a sense, the government provides a shield from liability in much the same way a corporate charter does so it’s certainly not uncharacteristic.
I suspect the most valuable aspect of the government to any corporate interest that conflicts with the liberties of the citizenship is the fact that the citizenship itself can be blamed for electing the government. Even though the citizens are only allowed to choose between a limited set of candidates most likely sponsored by corporate interests. Many of the corporations that are funding Obama’s campaign are also funding Romney’s campaign. What sense does that make unless they don’t really care which candidate wins and the point behind the funding is to orchestrate an illusion of choice that puts the liability on the people?
Of course true champions of the people CAN run for office, at least from a legal perspective. But again, this constitutional law is almost always outweighed by the social circumstance created by big money campaigns that literally smother the “little guys” while creating such outrage among the populace that in the end, the average citizen winds up voting against the candidate they fear most.
And why would this be surprising in a culture that has always been so highly susceptible to evangelism? Technology and evangelism rose together from the churches and town halls to the radio and television while corporate influence fell right into the fold. One glance at the pop-culture being exported around the world, especially during the 50’s when American popularity was at it’s peak, will illustrate the influence of corporate logos and slogans. Even the jolly image of Santa Clause that we all associate with our most popular religious holiday was a market product of Coca-cola. Indeed, Christmas itself has been transformed from a 12-day celebration starting on December 25th to a three month shopping season that ends on the 25th by no other influence but that of the sales-minded corporation.
So, if corporate evangelism can so easily influence and shape the traditions of our culture and even our sense of identity then how can we deny the possibility that corporate evangelism has also encouraged our distrust in the government? It’s the perfect thing to distrust because our only other choice is anarchy which no one really wants. So government authority becomes a necessary evil which we try to minimize to bare essentials which the corporate evangelists will of course point out for us.
* image source