Change Watch: Time for a U.S. Revolution? Fifteen Reasons Why

Writing today on the progressive organizing website Common Dreams, Bill Quigley, who is legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, argues that the time is right for a revolution. "Government does not work for regular people. It appears to work quite well for big corporations, banks, insurance companies, military contractors, lobbyists, and for the rich and powerful. But it does not work for people.
The 1776 Declaration of Independence stated that when a long train of abuses by those in power evidence a design to reduce the rights of people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is the peoples right, in fact their duty to engage in a revolution.

Martin Luther King, Jr., said forty three years ago next month that it was time for a radical revolution of values in the United States. He preached “a true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.” It is clearer than ever that now is the time for radical change.
In fact, in the years since the assassinations of King and Sen. Robert Kennedy, there has been a revolution in this country. Since the early 70s, there has been a glacial but enduring shift in power from the people to the multinational corporations and the mechanisms of the security state. During those years the collective goal of a humane community has been replaced by an ideology that makes selfish ambitions primary in nearly every area of American life.

"Look at what our current system has brought us," Quigley continues, "and ask if it is time for a revolution?
Over 2.8 million people lost their homes in 2009 to foreclosure or bank repossessions – nearly 8000 each day – higher numbers than the last two years when millions of others also lost their homes.

At the same time, the government bailed out Bank of America, Citigroup, AIG, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the auto industry and enacted the troubled asset (TARP) program with $1.7 trillion of our money.

Wall Street then awarded itself over $20 billion in bonuses in 2009 alone, an average bonus on top of pay of $123,000.

At the same time, over 17 million people are jobless right now. Millions more are working part-time when they want and need to be working full-time.

Yet the current system allows one single U.S. Senator to stop unemployment and Medicare benefits being paid to millions.

There are now 35 registered lobbyists in Washington DC for every single member of the Senate and House of Representatives, at last count 13,739 in 2009. There are eight lobbyists for every member of Congress working on the health care fiasco alone.

At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that corporations now have a constitutional right to interfere with elections by pouring money into races.

The Department of Justice gave a get out of jail free card to its own lawyers who authorized illegal torture.

At the same time another department of government, the Pentagon, is prosecuting Navy SEALS for punching an Iraqi suspect.

The US is not only involved in senseless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the U.S. now maintains 700 military bases world-wide and another 6000 in the US and our territories. Young men and women join the military to protect the U.S. and to get college tuition and healthcare coverage and killed and maimed in elective wars and being the world’s police. Wonder whose assets they are protecting and serving?

In fact, the U.S. spends $700 billion directly on military per year, half the military spending of the entire world – much more than Europe, China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and Venezuela - combined.

The government and private companies have dramatically increased surveillance of people through cameras on public streets and private places, airport searches, phone intercepts, access to personal computers, and compilation of records from credit card purchases, computer views of sites, and travel.

The number of people in jails and prisons in the U.S. has risen sevenfold since 1970 to over 2.3 million. The US puts a higher percentage of our people in jail than any other country in the world.
Although Quigley outlines clearly some of the reasons why radical change is necessary, he does does less well with identifying revolutionary forces capable of challenging corporatist and militarist power.
The tea party people are mad at the Republicans, who they accuse of selling them out to big businesses.

Democrats are working their way past depression to anger because their party, despite majorities in the House and Senate, has not made significant advances for immigrants, or women, or unions, or African Americans, or environmentalists, or gays and lesbians, or civil libertarians, or people dedicated to health care, or human rights, or jobs or housing or economic justice. Democrats also think their party is selling out to big business.
Well, okay, some people are mad as hell and are saying they're not going to take it any more. A few members of the mostly inchoate tea party movement are asking the right questions, but so far the teabaggers have been easily manipulated by corporatist shills and political hustlers like Dick Armey, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. As far as liberals in the Democratic Party go, we see the New York left being browbeaten to support blue dog Kirsten Gillibrand against one of their own, Jonathan Tasini, to protect a Senate majority the Democrats have been disinclined to use; nearly the entire party leadership seems intent on delivering a Senate seat to GOP-reject Arlen Specter over Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak; in California witness the pathetic sight of supposed progressives Reps. Henry Waxman and Lynn Woolsey endorsing the ultimate agent of the security state, Rep. Jane Harman against a challenger from the left, Marcy Winograd, in a pattern that repeats itself across the country. Only a handful of Democrats, such as Reps. Dennis Kucinich, Alan Grayson, Anthony Weiner, Marcy Kaptur and Barbara Lee appear to be willing to take on the conservative majority that controls both parties.
Forty three years ago next month, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached in Riverside Church in New York City that “a time comes when silence is betrayal.” He went on to condemn the Vietnam War and the system which created it and the other injustices clearly apparent. “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing oriented” society to a “person oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

It is time.

It's past time. But a lot of questions need to be answered before it can happen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Revolution? Oh, come on. We have become a nation of sheep. Even the teabaggers just mouth the corporate fascist line. We are going down, my friend. There is no way back.

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