In Common

I’m still laughing about this idea of public education being “communist.”–as if just speaking the word “communist” immediately should make folks recoil, like garlic to vampires.

Lee used a word the other day–“populism“–that he seems to also think has fallen out of favor.  Perhaps it has.

But I like it.  Isn’t it better to be on the side of the people, of common folks, than not?

Aren’t we better off to work together in small groups?

I don’t have a lot of faith in democracy on a scale this large, as you know.  I have a lot of hope in it.  I really and sincerely hope we can make it work, but it seems to me that it shares many of the same problems as communism, which is that it works on a small scale, when you are accountable to each other and the fuck-ups and the cheats can be found out and dealt with, and when people feel motivated to participate.

I mean, it sure enough is easy to vote when there are 150 people voting.  Hell yes, then, your vote can make a difference.

Sometimes, sure, it’s hard to see how your vote makes a difference now.

Which is a shame because now what we have is a kind of two-tiered system where a small group of people vote for people from an even smaller group to run things.  And who can be in either of those two groups is as closely regulated as it can be without being obvious.  Many folks who would be motivated to vote for real change have been removed from the pool by harsh drug laws.  The others have been convinced that their votes won’t count (or be counted) or don’t matter.

It’s a shame we buy into this stuff.

Ha, this post was going to be about parks and education and stuff that we hold in common and that is for the common good, but I got distracted.

More later.

I have to go get in the shower and then navigate the elevators.

6 thoughts on “In Common

  1. Well fortunately we (U.S.) don’t live in a Communist State, or a Democracy. And thank goodness. We live in a Federalist Republic, where some vital rights of individuals are out of the purview of politicians and their poliitcal hanky panky. Or SHOULD be, at any rate.

  2. re: Populism

    I don’t know, if we left it up to the “little people” we’d still have prayer in school, be teaching creationism as scientific fact, and using Corporal punishment….sometimes a little elitism (thank you Supreme Court) comes in handy.

  3. That depends, Sean. At one point (in the years surrounding the Depression, I think) the little people were getting pissed and starting to push back, and it scared the shit out of the elites to the point that we got the New Deal.

    You’re right about the backwardness that many of us embrace and tolerate, though. It was through such divisive, retrograde issues (‘race’, religion, fear, etc.) that the elites– with the GOP taking the lead– have managed to con us into accepting the undermining of much of the New Deal.

    And that’s what I think Aunt B. is getting at. Things like schools and health care should be considered part of the commons, accepted functions of our society that should not be up for negotiation. Is it a sign of the inviability of our republic that we’ve so willingly thrown the commons into the shitter so a few assholes could keep making money hand over fist?

    Fortunately, we have Exador here to help demonstrate how well-entrenched is the ideology of societal self-destruction. Ex, I read the article to which you linked. The Chávez administration’s plans aren’t working as well as they could because of the resistance they are meeting from the international corporate structure as well as from the greed and panic of the upper and middle classes in Venezuela (the same people who supplied domestic support for the 2002 coup attempt). In other words, Venezuela is going to suffer because of people (i.e. multinational corporations and Venezuela’s own upper crust) who have long since put the idea of personal gain above any respect for the commons. That is why nations fail; and don’t think we’re too far behind Venezuela in that respect.

  4. I don’t know, if we left it up to the “little people” we’d still have prayer in school, be teaching creationism as scientific fact, and using Corporal punishment….sometimes a little elitism (thank you Supreme Court) comes in handy.

    While I agree that demographically, these things are true, I don’t think that setting it up on a proletarian/elite continuum makes much sense in this case. “The People” aren’t always stupid (or unified) and “the experts” aren’t always right.

    There’s also the issue of what voices are being heard from among the public. Much of the time, those with the most power (and the education and access that tend to come with power) have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo; voices crying out from positions of less power that have the potential to maintain it will be brought up as examples of “what the common man thinks,” even if this isn’t a numerical truth. (See: creationism)

    And, of course, the position that the masses are dumb has a lot of temporal baggage with it. Moving toward more education for everyone would help change this. Poor decisions and bad reasoning generally (though certainly not always) come from ignorance rather than malice or even stupidity. If we have more things held in common, for the public good, the public will think differently about what is and is not proper, what is and is not okay for a standard of living, and all that jazz. None of this is set in stone.

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