Monday, December 30, 2013

"Overthrow the Speculators"

I refer my readers to the following article published today, December 30, 2013 on, titled "Overthrow the Speculators," by Chris Hedges.  It is an idea whose time has come and it makes more sense than anything I have read in a very long time.  If we are to take back Democracy for the people of this country, we have to engage in a serious challenge to the banks, corporate capitalists, and the massive empire of corruption that is strangling the very life-blood out of this country.  Moreover, it is aided and abetted by a corporately-owned news media that serves as the mouthpiece for big business and a government monolith, both of which own our "two-party" political system and all their minions who have reduced the common people to a status akin to that of indentured servitude.

We can no longer afford to simply wring our hands, go around in endless circles and lament that "the sky is falling; the sky is falling!"  It is time to stop our penchant for the numbing of our minds by seeking to be endlessly entertained, and to join the legions of those who have come to realize that only by being actively involved will we free ourselves from the bondage of the ever-burgeoning two-class society we live in today.  "Wishing will not make it so!"  

It has been said that "truth is mightier than the sword."  Is it not time to place "truth" above all the deception and manipulation we receive on a daily basis from every conceivable kind of "entertainment," "news" and "advertising" that only serves to increase the power of those who seek to destroy this country and all of the good and decent people who want, very much, to see it become the beacon of hope we believed it to be?

"Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see."

Cowboy Bob
December 30, 2013


Monday, December 16, 2013

“Has American Democracy Run Its Course?”

I have always had a healthy respect for the Brits.  I am impressed by their sense of propriety and decorum but I am, also, impressed when I see their elected representatives in Parliament get their hackles up and really go for the jugular.  Propriety goes out the window, their voices go up several decibels and they call it for what it is, all of which leaves little to the imagination in order to discern the seriousness of the subject under discussion.

The other day, as I was watching Dianne Feinstein drawl on (as only she can do), and I suddenly became aware of the institutional hypocrisy and the blatant corruption that is so ingrained in the way our elected representatives in the Senate and the House carry on.  “My Esteemed Colleague,” “My Good Friend,” “My Fellow (whatever),” etc.  Frankly, they would carry more weight with me if they simply called a spade a spade.  I think more of us would pay serious attention to what they were saying or advocating on our behalf if they simply dispensed with all the obfuscation.  Any of us who takes the time and effort to know what they are all about probably shares our contempt with the others who suffer at their hands in one form or another.

·        The President seems handicapped by an imperial complex.

·        The Senate seems to suffer from much the same omnipotent malady as many of their historical predecessors. 

·        The House seems to suffer from a divinity complex, given that a significant number of them appear to seriously believe that God is on their side.

·        The Supreme Court either has a very mistaken notion of superiority or the majority has an identity crisis created by the long robes traditionally worn in discharging the duties of their office.   

What is more astounding is the extent to which we, the people, actually defer to those illusions, almost believing they are “our representatives” there for the sole purpose of  carrying out the will of the people.  Now, I ask you, how naive can we be?  Most of them are clearly established members in good standing of the biggest bunch of rogues and thieves to set foot in the hallowed halls of our government. 

At the end of the day, the Brits seem to have a better fix on whom and what they are all about than any of those we elect to serve in high places.  I think there is too much of a propensity in the fabric of Americans to simply shrug our shoulders, roll over and conclude there is little we can do about any given situation, so better to just make the most of it and go with the flow.  I would ask you, what has this flaw in our basic character gotten us?  The only ones who take to the streets are the young idealists who have been the most put upon by a social, economic and political climate that exploits them at every opportunity.  I think we could well do with a hell of a lot more hollering, protesting, demonstrating and other forms of disobedience than to remain complacent and let those who have the most continue to exploit those of us who have the least.  Where is the justice in all this?

The oligarchs, plutocrats, corporate capitalists, financiers, the military/industrial complex, the intelligence community, etc. are too busy making money from our resources, our ignorance and our complacency by reducing us to the status of indentured servants and destroying our environment.  And you can bet your last red cent, credit card or entitlement voucher that they are well aware of what they are doing, how to do it and how to circumvent the law and the will of the people in doing it.  Just because they live in mansions, recreate on yachts that would rival the Queen Mary and still have more money than they can spend does not mean they are any better than those who they exploit with impunity.  It is they who are the dregs of humanity, not those who suffer because of them. 

It is the super-rich and all of their minions who are the vilest among us.  They have no character, no integrity, no principles of decency, no charity, no sense of responsibility, etc.  The only concern that motivates them is their continued ability to make as much money as possible for themselves and their progeny, the rest of us be damned.  As Marie Antoinette once said of the starving peasants, our brand of affluent superiority must, also, wish for us – “Let them eat cake.”  Or, to couch those words in modern day terms, it might be more appropriate to say, “Let them eat pizza, burgers and fries, or whatever.”  You get the drift.

The term “free enterprise” is the most toxic frame of reference to which one could possibly subscribe in these perilous times for this country and, indeed, the industrialized world.  “Free enterprise” is nothing more than unbridled greed.  It sets the stage for unlimited exploitation of the human condition and the burden it puts on the backs of the most deprived upon among us.  It is the complete antithesis to a civilized society and the common people.  It is a euphemism for all they covet.  It has no limits and no sense of responsibility.  It is time to hold them to account, hold them to the law, to set limits on their authority and their ability to receive preferential treatment from our government, while those who elected them to office are told they must do with less so they can avoid paying their fair share of society’s tax burden.  They should be seriously restricted in their authority to commit the taxpayers and voters to anything that does not have the consent of the governed.

Freedom does not exist without accountability.  It is a symbiotic relationship any way you look at it.  Oversight must be provided by the people whenever it involves anything that affects the health and welfare of the people, and all the resources on which we depend, both natural and environmental.  Moreover, there must be consequences whenever any of those basic tenets are ignored or violated.

I would hope there are a few principled and dedicated people of intelligence, character and prominence who would take the time to carefully read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, then expend some time and effort to compare what we have vs. what the Founding Fathers intended.  That exercise should be followed by a serious and detailed assessment of how and where we have taken the wrong turns, and what we must do to return to the basic intent of those documents.  Until that is done, we have little chance for real improvement.  Should that be the case, all the common people can hope for, as the oligarchs and their kindred kind continue their plunder, is for the rest of us to accept the crumbs we are given.  In return, the privileged among us will continue to harbor only a greater sense of entitlement for not having taken more for themselves from those who have so little to give.

All of the patriotic rhetoric not withstanding, I seriously question whether or not what we have come to believe is our brand of democracy is viable and genuinely democratic.  How much longer are we going to accept and support what we know, in our very bones, are the means for creating a two-class society with unfathomable wealth and luxury at one extreme, and unimaginable human poverty and suffering at the other? 

The time has come for the majority of Americans to demand greater participation in the cultivating, harvesting and use of all resources essential to the common welfare of this country.  At the end of the day, it all belongs to the collective “us;” not just to a select few.  Any product or service that is essential to the public interest should, also, belong to and be managed by the people.  There is no place for privilege or individual ownership in this equation.  Public resources and public services must, of necessity, be entrusted to and administered by the public.  If the public depends on it, it must be a public trust and the combined responsibility of the public.

Now I am certain there would be a great hue and cry of “socialism” from the proponents of a “free enterprise” or “market-based” system if any system were to become more egalitarian.  I would then deduce that they probably stands to lose much more than they can surreptitiously take from those to whom the resources belong.  If socialism is perceived as bad, what can be said for a free-enterprise or market-based system as it is currently defined and practiced?  I rest my case.  The test of time has clearly shown that a real democracy, based on the will of the people and the consent of the governed is far superior to one controlled by a select few that set themselves above and apart from the rest of society; those of wealth, power and privilege. 

One of the oldest and most successful cooperative endeavors in the world is the Mondragon Society based in the Basque region of Spain.  It is still being studied by some of the best social and economic minds in the world.  Given what the average American has endured since the glory days of Bill Clinton, followed by the double-speak of Barrack Obama, and an iron-clad and closed two-party political system that paves the way for and caters to those who hold the lion’s share of wealth and power in this country, it probably has considerable merit for further serious study by intelligent minds of a more egalitarian persuasion.

I have to confess that I hold the Republican Party in contempt, largely because of the control they have given the Tea Party, all of whom I regard as religious demagogues, and what they have done to destroy the democratic foundations upon which this country was built.  By the same token, I have as much contempt for the so-called “Progressive Democrats” who manage to look the other way when our illustrious President engages in circumventing his official responsibilities and political promises with his penchant for compromise, bi-partisanship, executive orders and secret meetings.  We are manipulated as much by their failure to take him to task as we are by the tea baggers who disparage him.
We need a political system that includes all legitimate parties, open presidential conventions and clear limits on the discretionary power and privilege of those who are elected to serve us, and not just by those who exploit us and who set themselves above any accountability to the public.  We have, for much too long, tolerated and supported a situation where the cart is clearly before the horse.  We have the talent, the resources and the power to make this happen for our mutual welfare and benefit.  

We don’t need a corporately owned news media plying their biased propaganda by having news celebrities telling us what the news is all about and how we should perceive it.  They should be accountable to all of us whose collective wisdom far exceeds anything they have to tell us.  By the same token, there should be a common will to hold them to account for what they peddle.  Their first priority must always be to serve us, the people, not corporate America or the oligarchy.  We must be more proactive and less reactive in this scenario if we are to reclaim the rightful ownership by everyone who has a place on this piece of real estate called the United States of America. 

I dare say if one were to take the time and effort, it would quickly become apparent that the parliamentary system of government is infinitely superior, less costly, less cumbersome and less prone to corruption than anything ever conceived by our Founding Fathers (a significant number of whom were from the wealthy and privileged of their day).  Members of parliament are elected by popular vote of the people, serve at their pleasure, are more available to their constituents and manifest greater transparency in their conduct and service to those who put them in office.  I, also, am inclined to believe the cost of running for public office under that system takes much less time and requires considerably less money for their campaigns. 

If one were to undertake a serious study of the overall cost of a parliamentary system, I would be inclined to expect a significantly smaller cost per capita and less corruption than we witness during the laborious exercise we go through during every election cycle.  I would not be the least bit surprised to find that they, unlike our elected officials,  work many more hours, take fewer “holidays,” and accept fewer, if any, "brown envelopes" from those seeking their favor or providing aid to them in their pillage and plunder of the public treasury. 

We don’t need an imperial presidency.  The doors should be closed to those seeking preferential treatment in their access to power, privilege and money.  It should be standard procedure, in cases where there appears to be a conflict between an individual’s business interests, professional associations, or other compromises to refrain from being appointed to any office where a conflict of interest is likely to be an issue. 

We Americans need to learn to critically carefully assess those who have managed to convince us that they are paragons of virtue in every aspect of their lives, and to stop deifying them as if they were touched by the hand of God Himself. 

·        Bill Clinton is no different today than when he ran for the Presidency.  He became cozy with far too many of those who were instrumental in destroying safeguards on our financial industries that stood the test of time and which had served this country extremely well.  He is clearly in the camp of wealth, privilege and power.  They are the very ones who are doing everything they can to restructure the system so they take as much and give back as little to society as they can.  The fact that economic, social and political power is stripped from the rest of us is of no consequence.  It is simply part of the grand design used by those who want to revamp society to fit their perception of what it should be for them, and the few crumbs for all of those they have deemed to be of lesser importance to their concept of what our society should be.  Get real.  Bill Clinton is a national disgrace.  To have awarded him the Medal of Freedom was a travesty and an insult to the country.  I seriously doubt that Hillary’s aspirations for the Presidency are any different.  It is a small club and they look out for each other.  Their brand of ambition and greed has no limits.    

·        Barrack Obama ran and was elected as a Democrat.  He should reacquaint himself with what that label means.  He sure as hell couldn't claim to be one now.  I think we have had enough of his pandering to wealth, power and privilege.  All the while he tries to mesmerize and seduce us with his lofty speeches, he proceeds to give away the store to his political adversaries in the name of “compromise” and “bipartisanship.”  I think we have been screwed long enough by him and his adoring fans.  Those who call themselves “Progressives” need to re-assess the color of their stripes, stand with and for the common people of this country, and stop lining their pockets with favors and "brown envelopes" at the expense of those barely keeping their heads above water.  Not everyone is a fool and they damned well need to keep that in mind. 

·        Justices need to stay focused on adjudicating, not stacking the deck and raping the Constitution for the sake of rendering opinions that clearly benefit only the most despicable among us – the oligarchs, plutocrats, the corporate capitalists, the financiers, the military-industrial complex, ad nauseum. 

·        We, as the traditional beacon of hope for so many around the globe, have a moral obligation to devote every conceivable effort and resource we can garner to saving this planet and conserving its resources for all of us.  No amount of disparaging the greatest scientific minds we have, by those who only care about great wealth and power, can trump science and ignore reality.  Science is focused on what it knows and its ability to use that knowledge for the greater good. I would submit that is a far more noble endeavor than the endless pursuit of greed in all of its sullied forms.  

·        It is almost quixotic that those who are hell bent on taking all of us down the road to ruin somehow have managed to convince themselves that they and their progeny will eventually own and control the entire world.  It would seem all that wealth, power and privilege has managed to blind them to a reality we all share.  I got news for them; the odds are against all of us, in equal measure, including the likes of them.    

The Brits might just have a better mouse trap.  Although not at all probable, in the final analysis I think I would rather have a parliamentary system of government representing us in Washington, D.C., if we cannot or will not clean up the mess we currently have.  Any way you look at it, a reigning monarch in the throne room of a proper palace has an aura of constancy and stability.  If you ask me, it sure as hell beats Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office of the White House.

Don’t give up hope.  Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.     

Cowboy Bob
December 16, 2013    





Thursday, December 12, 2013

"The Finest Take On Our Current Times I Have Read To Date"

December 12, 2013

I have been deeply touched by every person who has taken the time and effort to read this blog over the years that I have been writing.  I cannot thank you enough for the time and effort you have accorded me by your kind and generous patience.  However, nothing I have written or could write would ever compare with what I have just finished reading.

I make no apologies for my view of the world and what I think should be an integral part of the fabric of every decent, kind, generous and compassionate person occupying space on this planet.

I would encourage each and every one of you to go to and read the following article published by today, Thursday, December 12, 2013  by one of the preeminent intellectuals and journalists of our time, Bill Moyers.  If his wisdom does not touch your heart and your very soul, then you are much the poorer for it.

I thank Bill Moyers for what he has committed to paper and I sincerely hope you will be equally moved by his words, as well.

My very best wishes to you.  Now is the time to get involved while we still can.

Cowboy Bob

Re:  Published on Thursday, December 12, 2013 by
       Plutocracy Versus Democracy
       by Bill Moyers

Saturday, November 30, 2013

“Crow Is Never The Diet Of Choice”

I have to confess that I am painfully challenged when it comes to anything electronic or that which exceeds the bounds of elementary computer mastery.  That particular handicap of mine was driven home, recently, in spades   

I began writing this blog in 2007 and I subscribed to Sitemeter in order to monitor activity on my blog, augmented by Blogspot for posting my blogs.  I felt gifted that I was even able to manage all that.  However, I recently discovered that there is a provision for “comments” which I had never seen before!  I opened it and, voila, there was a treasure trove of comments that I had never looked at from the time I started writing.  It was like Christmas multiplied many times over, and I enjoyed every word that greeted my eyes.  I was overcome by the kind and generous assessment of so many of you with what I had committed to paper.  It was, to say the least, a humbling experience. 

Now, mind you, of the all the human frailties that any of us can commit, I regard taking anyone for granted to be one of the worst.  I feel ashamed that I have allowed this to miss my attention for so long, and I sincerely apologize to all of you who have been victim to my ignorance.  But, take some solace in knowing it was not deliberate. 

I write my blog, not for any recognition or praise that might follow.  Rather it is an expression from the heart and mind, such as they are.  Without all of you who have been so generous with your time in reading and reflecting on those words, my efforts would have been for naught. 

Starting off on a better foot, I sincerely wish each and every one of you a joyous and happy holiday season, and may the coming year be filled with renewed hope and promise for all who share a genuine concern for their fellow man and preservation of the fragile planet we all share.   

All the best.

Cowboy Bob

November 30, 2013      

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

“We Can Do Better If Only We Will”

Every once in a while we have a run of unusual weather in this part of the world.  The customary grey clouds have taken a brief respite from the sky.  The trees are barren from their loss of any residual bits of vegetation.  Instead, we are blessed with clear skies and brilliant sunshine.  The ground is atypically dry and covered with a light blanket of frost that lingers in shaded spots during the day.  It is a reminder of how, in the final analysis, we really are just living creatures being treated to a glimpse of an infinite universe.  It is easy to be deluded into believing all is well with the world.  But, a dose of the daily news and the talk shows staffed by pundits of every persuasion reminds us that it is quite the contrary.  God’s miracle of bright sunshine on a frosty landscape is only a reminder of how finite we are compared to what He can do with all He has it His disposal in the universe.  Mortal man, take note.  In the final analysis we are really nothing.  The magnificence of the wonders of how decent we, as human beings are, is dwarfed by the pervasive evil that surrounds all of us, and just how small we seem to be in our efforts to move into the sphere of wonderment which is our common lot.  It is the persistent pall that hangs over us all. 

God is at peace in His Heaven while we consume the flesh of each other in our persistent efforts to satisfy a greed that is never satisfied. 

I happen to believe in the inherent decency of mankind.  I don’t believe that anyone enters this world less than a perfect example of the work of our Creator.  What lies ahead may well tarnish his being and compromise his soul, but we begin with perfection as our birthright.  Rather, it is what we do to each other and the insults that await us that make us fall from grace and do the unspeakable to each other without remorse.  We become ugly and rationalize that which we become but were never intended to be.

I cannot recall a time in my life when I have looked out on a landscape of living beings who have managed to sell their very souls to the darkest bidders for every conceivable kind of materialistic and hedonistic pleasure imagined by the human mind.  Instead of wonders of Creation, human beings are viewed as just another expendable commodity and consumable resource to be devoured in the pursuit of those who just cannot get enough at the expense of all those who have so little to give.

A decorum that once set limits on our darker natures has vanished.  Rather, the only norm of conduct is simply whatever the traffic will bear.  There are no more boundaries within which we are expected to live for the good of everyone.  There isn’t even a faint attempt to reign in those excesses.  And those who are at the bottom of the “social” ladder are their victims.  We all intuitively know that but do so little to try and right all those wrongs.  We just look the other way and continue with our feeding frenzy at the expense of other less fortunate souls.

We talk a good story but I see few genuine moral compasses that keep us pointed in the right direction.  I, particularly, am deafened by the particular influence of religion in all this.  They have fallen silent on a message of hope, peddling instead ecclesiastical bull dung in their futile attempts to seduce the lesser among us into believing they have our best and most desirable interests at heart.  And we remain mute as we drink in every word they utter and covet every perverted admonition they peddle.  They have managed to convince us that they hold forth knowledge.  Yet, they can empirically prove nothing.  All they have at their disposal is a battery of assertions; empty beliefs they euphemistically call “gospel.”  Knowledge is arduous, believing is folly.    

I ask myself, “Where is all the love, forgiveness, compassion, concern, understanding, redemption, and all the other superlatives that are supposed to be at the heart of their message?  Instead, they peddle fire, brimstone, damnation, discrimination, prejudice, and eternal hell for all those who dare to question what they have chosen to simply “believe.”  Where is the proof? 

I subscribe to the notion that we are all responsible for who and what we are.  No amount of rationalization can cleanse us of the darker aspects of what we become.  That is on our plate.  That is our burden.  I don’t believe that anyone comes into this world inherently bad or beyond redemption.  Nor do I believe that all we carry with us to death necessarily vanishes from our souls either.  The burden of our humanity is our greatest challenge that carries with it the responsibility for a level of introspection and reflection few of us ever master, but which most of us sorely need on our journey throughout this life. 

I cannot identify one religion that even comes close to the level of perfection that all forms of religion profess but which few actually practice.  Otherwise, why do we have a plethora of hypocrites and so few saints among us?  How is it that we manage to rationalize the darker side of our nature with such ease and condemn our transgressions with such difficulty?  The religious institutions that are there to guide us in this effort seem to have managed to overcome that liability with a minimum of effort. 

I find it rather incredulous at the amount of time and effort that has been spent on us over the ages regarding the basic need of humans, as living beings, to simply reproduce.  That would seem essential to the propagation of the species.  Moreover, decorum would suggest that the process should be a personal matter between two consenting adults.  How it has become an issue for public consumption and perverse pleasure takes it out of the realm of what, in my opinion, it should be.  On the other hand, it isn’t much of a stretch when you have members of the clergy immersed in pedophilia, those who advocate and practice polygamy, those who promote violence and discrimination, and those who have sold their souls for the almighty dollar and hold themselves out as paragons of virtue.  These are but a smattering of those who profess to be messengers of God.  All seem to have rationalized and codified all they need to feel righteous in the pursuit of their evil.  It should come as no surprise that they have so little credibility and those who used to listen to their messages of hope and salvation have turned to the more visceral forms of pleasure.  Then there are those who practice the most brutal and suppressive forms of politics, all in the name of the Almighty they ostensibly revere and who have the audacity to honestly believe “He” (whoever that is) actually communicates with them!  At the end of the day, it is Buddhism and the simplicity of its purity that wins - hands down.

I am most aggrieved by my own chosen faith, the Catholic Church, into which I came from a more generalized form of Christianity, but chose for the sake of familial homogeneity brought on by the institution of marriage.  Do I regret it?  Not in the least.  Am I comfortable with what I have learned about all its forms of perfection and dismayed by all its imperfections? Of course. The piety which it professes and the reality of its being have been a challenge, but I am reminded of the wise words of one who said, referring to any commitment in life, “Is it not better to stay and strive to change it from within than to simply condemn it from without?”  That fits for me and it is the path I try to follow, reserving the right to engage in constructive criticism where appropriate, balanced by the knowledge that there is nothing stronger and more potentially dangerous than a simple belief.

The ranks of the clergy are replete with examples of hypocrisy at its worst and virtue at its best.  Sadly, the darker side of human nature seems to have prevailed because of the denial of our human makeup at a tremendous cost to a belief that, somehow, celibacy made one more pleasing to God than simply being a good and decent person.  Marriage serves a good purpose and it should be an integral part of the lives of the clergy in the Catholic Church.  I cannot see where being a good husband and father has dampened the religious calling of legions of good men to different Christian faiths.  But, the pageantry and power coveted by so many men of the cloth in the Catholic Church seems to have been a much stronger calling.  Ambition and reverence for power seems to have won the day, but it certainly has not dampened the sheer force of hormonal energy.  But, at what cost?  One need only look at the damaged lives strewn over time, created by secrecy and lust tempered with a false sense of piety.  Yet, to this day, we still defer to the notion that celibacy is preferable to procreation.    

Then, we come to those who feed on the stuff of Ecclesiastes at the bottom of the food chain.  One only has to look at those who claim to be members in good standing of the Tea Party, followed by your garden variety of politico in every environ and haven to be found in Washington, D.C.  No group can peddle chapter and verse of God’s Will with greater aplomb than politicians comfortably seated in the halls of government in order to plunder and pillage in the name of the will of a higher power.  None are better at pandering to the great wealth of our nation’s oligarchs, financiers and former government officials.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to spot them a mile away.  Despicable is my word of choice, but there ought to be one better.  I refer to those legions of self-professed hypocrites who know absolutely nothing about religion but believe everything it has ever peddled, and which gives respectability to their personal biases and prejudices that underscore what they know, with absolute certainty, is the word of God Himself.  Critical thought and analysis is “verboten.”  All it takes to become a member in good standing is a set of beliefs, no matter how shallow, vile or destructive they may be, so long as they are compatible with, not what they need to know but what they choose to believe.  That is their one-way ticket to redemption and the carte blanche claim to every kind of political largess they can allege as their inherent right.  Meanwhile, those who have the least are left to suffer the most.  After all, is that not God’s will?       

Then there are the barons of Wall Street, the august members in seats of power on the political spectrum to be found in government institutions ostensibly there to serve us and to be role models for a better society.  We have a sacred and protected two-party political system.  We have the White House and all who live and work there.  We have the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court, all living like kings and queens supported at the expense of the broader world of “serfs” who only want their fair share of their democracy and an equal shot at the spoils that spring from it.  What they, as taxpayers, cannot provide is garnered from the legions of lobbyists, myriad numbers and kinds of special interests, the military-industrial complex, the vast array of financiers, oligarchs, plutocrats and all of the other unsavory characters who have managed to worm their way into the national treasury.  Every conceivable kind of thief, philanderer, moral reprobate, and political hack that make the “system” work can be found somewhere within the Beltway.  Do we hold any of them to account?  Do we bind them to any standards to ensure their honesty, integrity and performance?  Not on your life. 

The most glaring example of how bold they have become was the recent and perverse comedy staged at the White House when the President and chief minion of William Jefferson Clinton awarded him the Medal of Freedom.  If that doesn’t prove to a numbed-down nation of citizens just how corrupt and self-serving the “people’s” government has become, I don’t know what does.  Bill Clinton gave away the safety and security of our financial and banking systems with the stroke of a pen and, also, reminded us that the term “fellatio” does not actually refer to any form of Italian food or work of art.  Yet, it is he who is held out by every kind of mass media known to us that he was a great president and our greatest living statesman.  Now I ask you folks, if that doesn’t confirm the reality of our lazy minds and shallow beliefs, I don’t know what does.  A preponderance of us actually believes all that crap.  Yes, we really do need a “free and unfettered” press to protect us against our proclivity to plunge headlong into a terminal case of calcified cranial tissue.

Let us not forget that this democracy belongs equally to each and every one of us.  It is a treasure we cannot afford to take for granted or to simply care for on an “as needed” basis.  It is a high-maintenance treasure we must nurture if it is to remain viable and healthy for us and all generations to come.  We must carefully guard and protect it from predators of all kinds; all those who claim privilege and power based on their self-perceived and claimed right to every entitlement imaginable.  It is the antithesis of “self” and the champion of “we.”  It is not for sale to the highest bidder, but rather the property of us all.  It is our individual and collective responsibility to ensure it will always be there to serve our mutual interests and the common welfare for us all. 

We, as individuals, must confront the perils to what we want to be as civilized people.  We must reclaim a sense of decency, justice, fair-play, and tolerance, a shared concern for everyone and the attendant affects they have on us as individuals.  We have to protect our individual rights but, also, our social responsibilities.  Our collective wealth must be shared equally with everyone valued as individuals. 

We must relearn respect for the great minds, the talented artists and learned scholars who have the means to delve into bodies of knowledge that will keep this planet we call home safe and viable for ourselves and all of those yet to come.  Our treasures are not there to be plundered for a few but, rather, to be the life-blood for us all.  Personal initiative is to be encouraged, but our common welfare must be a sacred obligation we have for one another. 

The temporal value of things must be kept in perspective for what they are.  Our human component must be kept paramount in our list of priorities lest we become like a pack of wild predators that see only opportunity in those of lesser means.  We must always remember that it is the blood of a patriot that saves a nation; not the blood of a nation that saves the wealth for a few. 

We live in the most perilous times I can recall in my entire life.  Nothing is to be taken lightly and each of us must remain vigilant against the most pervasive evil one could ever have imagined.  We must be careful not to allow the pursuit of pleasure, the acquisition of things and our own vested interests to dominate our lives.  We must join with others who share a common goal of preserving what we have and improving on what is yet to come. 

We must relearn the value of mastering the art and science of critical thought instead of memorizing shallow opinions.  We must relearn the value of intellectual pursuits and the ability to apply the results of those exercises to more noble actions.  We must relearn the value of talking to each other, touching each other, and seeing each other that only can come from the warmth of another person.  Let the texting and all of the other empty forms of social networking we have come to rely on die.  We will learn much more of lasting value from each other than we ever will from those who have made billions off gadgets that only numb our brains and give us nothing of value in return.  We are alive; they are not.  We can think ahead and conceptualize; they cannot.  We were created to be all we are and more.  They were created for one purpose only, with a limited life and valued only until the next model hits the market.  Who needs that?  Moreover, who wants that?                                           

Our most formidable enemy is those who believe it will never happen to them.  They are the ones who denigrate all of the great minds throughout history whose curiosity and determination are more attuned to the reality of our lives.  We are the repository of a broader scope of thought that takes in all that is around us and all of what we can imagine.  Theirs is a life of lifeless things.  Ours is a life of amazing wonder.

If you want to change your life forever, simply set yourself to the task of doing something nice for someone else.  Hold a door open for someone.  Pay the difference for something that another might not have, but thought he did.  Say “hello” to someone who would never have imagined that you would.  The sheer surprise by the recipient will warm the very cockles of your soul.  The residual feelings within you will stay with you longer than you think. 

At the end of the day, get to know humanity all over again.  See the beauty and worth in every individual.   Feel his pain and share in her dreams.  Share the burden of fighting for all our dreams, hopes and aspirations.  When the sun sets on the total worth of all of that wonderful effort, the magnificence and value of all we are and can be will change you forever.  Moreover, it will sow within you the desire to preserve the very best about us and renew our collective hope for a future yet to come, giving each and every day new meaning. 

One of my long-departed Grandfathers left me with one very profound pearl of wisdom.   “When a man waves the Bible in your face, keep your back to he wall.”  Truth may be elusive but it is the greatest gift of all.  May it always have the power to become your personal goal and our common bond. 

Cowboy Bob
The Sagebrush Philosopher
November 28, 2013   



Monday, November 4, 2013

“Where Is Our Shame, America?”

Just when I thought we could not sink further into the mire, an entirely new set of subhuman behavior rises from the cesspool of living things to remind me of just how fragile we are as civilized people. 

As if the concerted action by the Republicans in Congress to impede approval of the Federal Budget, followed by their collective efforts to refuse approval of the Debt Ceiling, we are greeted by their concerted action to stick it to the poorest among us by cutting back on food stamps and reducing the most impoverished within us to yet another low in their standard of living, such as it is.  Typical of some of our most distinguished faux Democrats representing us in the White House, the Congress and appointees to various commissions, there are backdoor conversations going on relative to cutbacks in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.   All of this is justified by the incestuous relationship between Republican demagogues and plutocratic Democrats to effect further reductions in government spending, alleging there is an increasing need to create more jobs and get people back to work.  Clearly, a patent exaggeration that has no basis in fact.  Rather, it is precisely what the Republicans advocate if you listen to their rhetoric.  The tune and the lyrics have not changed.      

In case any or all of them may have forgotten, who among them have been the greatest advocates and facilitators of free trade (i.e., Clinton, Obama, and their cadre of minions), enabling the plunder of the nation’s financial resources by Wall Street (i.e., Rubin, Summers, Geithner), and corporate capitalists, all aided and abetted by a compliant news media and a gluttonous corporate system totally out of control.  Then, of course, there is the burgeoning military/industrial complex.  The irony of this ruse is that it is they who have caused the plunder of our nation’s wealth that has caused the precipitous drop in jobs and the soaring increase in the number of the nation’s poor and underprivileged, all creating the increased demand on our nation’s resources.  Contrary to what we are led to believe, it is not due to the the majority of Democrats.  Rather, that result can be laid squarely at the foot of the Republicans.  And, not to break a long tradition of dutiful compliance, mainstream America remains indifferent and unmoved by what is going on around them.  Complacency is so easy on a full stomach, a good sleep in a warm bed and the solace of a regular and secure job.

The super rich see astronomical increases in their share (not necessarily fair) of the nation’s wealth, all the while brazenly going to the people’s government with beggars’ bowls in hand, seeking only a mild rebuke for their criminal behavior instead of being called out and prosecuted for their egregious assault on the public institutions of the American people.  Any way one may choose to view their conduct, they continue, with impunity, to claim ever greater proportions of the nations’ resources, all the while reducing the opportunities for a fair share of the nation’s wealth accruing to the average citizen by shipping jobs overseas and moving their fortunes into offshore banks.  Led by our first plutocratic President, William Jefferson Clinton, they are the champions of free trade agreements that are negotiated and ratified in secret which, in reality, usurp the proper authority of governments, and suck the life-blood out of domestic commerce and industry to the lasting peril of the disenfranchised and working people of this country.  No government should have the authority to negotiate and adopt free trade agreements without prior approval from the voters in a general election.  Otherwise, we are simply giving away our national sovereignty and control of our economy to foreign governments.  To me, that sounds terribly contrary to a democratic, free and open society which we believe in and extol so eloquently. 

I dare say few, if any, of those vile proponents have ever known a hungry day in their lives.  It is time to introduce them to that facet of human existence which they have created, but which they so vociferously deny and which they dismiss in such a cavalier fashion.    

If we had a real president rather than an obedient plutocrat, he would have been on a soap box a long time ago, raising holy hell in demanding a more equitable system so every American could reasonably expect a fair share of the American Dream.  Instead, we got the Tea Party zealots and, if history repeats itself, we could once again see more extreme measures advocated by their collective ignorance residing in the House.  We may not see tattooed numbers on their arms, or incarceration in internment camps, or wooden bowls from which to eat and into which they defecate, compounded by a standard diet in order to feed the maximum number at the lowest possible cost to the “taxpayers.”  But, it happened at the hands of the Third Reich and the mistaken notion that they were the “super race.”  It happened before and with the schism that exists between the “haves” and the “have-not's” in this country, I have no doubt that it could happen again.  All the characteristics indigenous to the super-rich and the privileged today are becoming more ominous.  Until our better angels rise to the occasion, I see their warped value systems as something to be taken seriously.  As was once so aptly stated, “The evil that men do shall proffer so long as good men do nothing.”  The silence of an indifferent majority among us is deafening. 

I have a particular disdain for the Tea Party and all that it represents.  There is not one scintilla of real intellect among them.  They are incapable of original thought or reflective analysis about anything.  If anything, they seem to be proud of their much coveted ignorance.  They live by the credo, “Tell me what I want to hear, not what I need to know.”  They spout “freedom” and “scripture” as if they know what they are talking about.  After all, God has imbued them with a zealous need to spread the Divine word far and wide, and to subdue the “nonbelievers” by whatever means is necessary.  As for scripture, given that the interpretation of those written works occurred over several centuries, I rather doubt that any of them can be given any credence today.  All they stand on is nothing more than a motley collection of admonitions that serve their own personal and political ambitions, honesty and integrity be damned.  They are a disgrace to politics (such as it is) and to basic human decency, the meaning of which is probably totally alien to the majority of them, as well. 

The time has come for real statesmen and stateswomen to stand up and be counted.  There is a real sense of urgency to opening the coffers of state and to dispel the growing hunger and despair from the lives of all those good and decent people who only want to survive with a modicum of respect, and an honest shot at the opportunities and the legacy that used to be afforded to all the people of this country.  Is that too much to ask?  I think not.           

If we cannot bring change to the needy, we need let those who are impeding that long over-due change feel the pressure of the population.  The good among us have to stop procrastinating, get serious about how grave our political system is and set themselves to the task of changing the entire system for the better.  Our “one-party” political system, rather crudely divided between conservatives and liberals, no longer passes the means test – for any of us.

I would be the first to admit that our entire system of social, political and economic intercourse has been hopelessly corrupted by the appetite brought on by out-of-control avarice and greed.  However I, also, believe there are pockets of people in our society who know the meaning of honesty, integrity and personal commitment by virtue of their academic allegiances, who could be called on to serve the better aspects of our society.  They are people who, in my estimation, are generally more influenced by and aligned with the principles of their profession.  They are more likely to have the confidence of the people.  They are not likely to be found among those who own our government, which the majority seem to use as their personal slush funds and party favors. 

What we think of as “our” government has been co-opted by so many vested interests that to even try and isolate what is and what is not a legitimate part of that “elected” government would boggle the minds of the most astute among us.  We deserve better and it is time we demanded better. 

For those of you who are at the mercy of these villains who claim respectability by their membership in government, stand your ground, be proud of who and what you are, and don’t let the bastards get you down.  You are not alone.      

Cowboy Bob
November 4, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

“How Do We Right The Ship and Where Do We Go From Here?”

I have had a burning desire to address the deteriorating state of this country, the forces that are operating contrary to the interests of the common people and what, if anything, that might be within the realm of improving our common lot. That has led me to correspond with a few notable individuals in Congress with whom this will be shared. Out of respect for them and to avoid any appearance of trying to apply pressure on them, I have chosen to preserve the anonymity of those people. In the final analysis, they are in far better positions to “put the meat on the bones” of this issue than am I. They all are seasoned statesmen who are among the “movers and shakers,” and in whom I have the greatest confidence.

As I reflect on the wasteland of what remains of our democracy and the human toll that has been taken by the chain of events on our national stage going back to the administration of George H. Bush, followed by the decimation of a financial system that had served this country extremely well, all at the hands of William Jefferson Clinton and his unholy alliance with some of the most notorious and skilled white-collar bandits of our time, I am awe struck by how fragile and fluid the foundation is when evil is tolerated, legitimized and becomes the norm.

Clinton is what he is. Nothing will ever change that and no amount of effort to remake the man will make him any more respectable. His record stands. However, in the lead up to the spoils of 2008 by the charming and mesmerizing personality of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and his happy band of thieves rose from the ashes and gave the Obama administration all of their experience and dubious successes, self-serving and otherwise. President Obama has become just as disingenuous as his mentor. The same rogues were imported from the Clinton camp directly into the administration of Barack Obama. And what did we get for it? We got more of the same from President Obama at the expense of the health and welfare of this nation, and at significant cost to the people. We are the victims and the rogues remain the profiteers.

When, I ask you, are we going to say “enough is enough,” and it is time to restore our national commitment to a deep-seated sense of morality, honesty and integrity that is the hallmark of what we are as a people. Ill-gotten wealth and the power it nurtures do not make those who covet it any more respectable than they have always been. They are what they are and that is just an inescapable fact of life.

I doubt that time is on the side of virtue for this country and all who believe in what it stands for. We must get serious, stop the process of redefining the merits of wrong and how irrelevant good is to us all. Wishing will not make it so, and a cultivated and perverted regard for everything material and pleasurable does not change a thing. We remain what we have become and what we are. At the end of the day, the most precious and valuable among us are the human beings that are the backbone of this democracy. They are what it is all about. This country belongs to all of us; not just to those who have led us to believe that somehow they are superior and their sense of entitlement and privilege trumps our common membership in the club of mankind. That is not what the Founding Fathers foresaw and it is not what today, tomorrow and the future should be.

I happen to believe that the terms we use when we speak of morality, honesty, decency, integrity, and all the other forms of nomenclature we attach to our finer angels is a language of the absolute. They are not to be twisted and redefined in order for those who seek our demise to invoke in order to appear to be acting on behalf of the interests of us all. It is time to stop according them the dubious respect and authority they claim, and to start calling them out for all they have been, all that they are and all they are destined to become.

Every institution of our federal government is no longer there to primarily serve the people of this country and to work for our common welfare. Rather, they are there to serve the oligarchs, the plutocrats and all of those who have managed to delude themselves and to seduce us into believing they are, indeed, the superior among us and whatever they deem is theirs and what little is ours is, somehow, akin to Divine Will. Now I ask you, how can any sane and rational mind buy into all of that nonsense? If we are to be the people we are intended to be, we must cast off all the forms of manipulation and mind control they so skillfully use to further tighten the noose around our necks and cast us into the dungeons of irrelevance by their insatiable greed and avarice. It can and must be done, and soon. It has to be done within the framework of the law and the bounds of decency. But it won’t be easy. It will take a lot of determination and an iron-clad will, but it can happen if we manifest the will to make it happen.

What we euphemistically refer to as a “government of the people” is, in reality no longer a democratic government. It is a club of exclusivity that has laid claim to all this country is and which, rightfully, belongs to all of us. We have a two-party system that has managed to elevate themselves to positions that were the purview of kings and emperors in days gone by. We have become the serfs who live in a complacent state while they decide the ration of crumbs they will throw our way in order to keep us quiet and obedient. Is that the mettle of an American? I think not.

The time has come to call on those few but noble and courageous leaders who, also, believe that the time has come to restore this nation to all its people; “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” It has to be an effort with the avowed purpose of restoring our government and all it represents to the will of the people who are the governed. It will require a renewed commitment to egalitarian principles with no special privileges and entitlements that are not shared by all of us.

We need an independent citizens’ commission for good government that has no ties to those who currently serve in government. It has to be clearly in the hands of citizens who have the talent to organize such an endeavor, and that is clearly an instrument of all the people of this country. For it to be anything less simply compromises the fundamental premise of what it is all about.

Let’s stop belaboring what we have been led to think we are. Rather, let us look it squarely in the eye, call it out for what it is and do something about it. We have an abundance of some of the greatest minds and thinkers to be found on earth. I have no doubt that most of them would respond to such a call and, moreover, would give their hearts and souls to seeing it through to the end.
  • Economists: We are awash in some of the best economists in the world. We routinely see and listen to many of them on a regular basis. There is Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and the experience and wisdom of Robert Reich to name just a few.
  • Legal minds and Constitutional Lawyers: Jonathan Turley and Glen Greenwald, for starters.
  • Investigative Journalists and watchdogs on government in the persons of David Cay Johnston and William K. Black, both with a long history of standing on the side of what is right and in what is in the best interests of the common man.
  • Matt Taibbi, Chris Hedges and a whole cadre of those who regularly write for various contemporary publications are a wealth of insights into what our reality is, what it should be, and what we have to do in order to make it our reality.
  • Bill Moyers and the staff around him are all well versed and committed to the principles on which this country was created and what needs to be done in order to recover from this respite in darkness.
  • Then, of course, there are those who serve in government and whose service is based on the finest ideals that should underscore the efforts of all those who genuinely believe in the concept of service that we revere and which we have every right to expect.
  • There is no point in my belaboring this further. Suffice to say there are many superior minds and more notable people than I who could, and would, provide all the skills, experience and knowledge such a commission would require.

I believe our system of government is so compromised that any semblance of what we have vs. what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers is, at best, coincidental. Rather, I see a system that is rigged in favor, not of those who have a desire to give of themselves, but largely comprised of those who seek to indulge themselves from the treasures that belong to us all. They must and need to be stopped from their plunder and the gross misuse of power they flaunt for their own ends.

It is time to abandon the notion that ours is a two-party system. That is nothing but a ruse for keeping exclusive control of our government in the hands of the Republicans, Democrats and the mutations within each. There is absolutely no reason why legitimate political parties who have a genuine interest in actively participating in government should not be accorded the means to do so. It should begin with an open invitation to all those who seek the highest office in the land to have equal time on the stage at all presidential debates. There should be no exclusive club of just two from which to choose. Further, representatives of all of those parties should be invited to participate in the activities of any commission that might be created along the lines I have proposed.

The Office of the President: It has all the earmarks of a reigning monarch with far too much exclusive and discretionary power than is reasonable. Those who serve on the White House Staff should be there for the knowledge and experience they carry with them, rather than the political clout and influence they may offer.

The Senate and House of Representatives: The air of superiority and the absolutely vulgar display of compensation and perks they have garnered for themselves at the expense of the taxpayers gives them the aura of a privileged few who are, in the final analysis, there to serve themselves, not to serve the rest of us. Their compensation and perquisites should be determined by a vote of the people, not at their own discretion. Further, they should work full time. That is why they are where they are! Contrary to what we have come to believe, they are not imperial. They perform all of the same basic functions we do and, I suspect, in the same manner.

The Supreme Court: Say what you will, but the “Court” has come to represent the elite among us and it plays to that constituency. They engage as much in litigation as they do in adjudication, if you ask me. They, too, should be elected by popular vote of the people, with only the appointment of the Chief Justice determined by the President. I think their sense of superiority has inflicted far more harm on this country than has accrued to our benefit. In the final analysis, it is the common people who should determine issues such as the status of corporations and other organized forms of self aggrandizement; not those who are destined to become their benefactors and “colleagues.”

The Press & News Media: I think it was made perfectly clear by the framers of the Constitution that there should be “a free and unfettered press.” My notion of that term means the press should be independently owned and its sole purpose should be to serve as the watchdog for the people on the institutions of government. Nowhere can I find any indication that it was to be owned by corporate institutions of commerce, government or any other organized form of business and commerce. I think it is time for us to revisit the “intent” and “wisdom” of the Founding Fathers and restore real independence to every aspect and brand of anything that could remotely and reasonably be classified as a member of an independent press.

Some of the specifics that I believe should be inherent within our institutions of government and should be universally applied to each member are:
  • Term limits
  • Public financing of political campaigns
  • Salaries and perquisites that must be universally applied to members and must be ratified by a majority of the voters from the district of each office holder.
  • Gifts and gratuitous favors should not be allowed.
  • There must not be as much as the appearance of a conflict-of-interest or a self-serving practice on the part of any office holder bound by these requirements.

I sincerely believe that the only way we can restore any semblance of what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers is to have a citizens’ commission that is organized and operated independently from any alliance other than to that of the common people who comprise the population of this country. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a cadre of people out there who have the will, the means and the desire to restore this country to the true democracy it was intended to be. It can and should be done with all due haste before we have nothing left but a landscape of ruin, ashes and hopelessness.

The work of such a commission must, obviously, be transparent and operate exclusively in the light of day. It must have the support of the people and it must clearly be devoted to carrying out the will of the people. It cannot have the slightest appearance of exclusivity. There is no shame in being common. If anything, that is a long-forgotten virtue. The essence of what it is all about must be rooted in what serves the many, not the few. Most importantly, its work and its conclusions must be clearly rooted in the intent of the Founding Fathers who laid the groundwork for all this nation should be, not for what it has become.

In the final analysis, its work must be published for all to see and its work must be ratified by the common people who will live by what it accomplishes. If its advocates do not serve the public interest, then their participation should be suspect and their role in this endeavor should be re-evaluated.

In conclusion, I believe a cardinal rule regarding business and commerce, in particular, is “if it is essential to the public interest, then it must be publicly owned by and accountable to the people.” That is not, nor should it be, the stuff of the oligarchs, plutocrats and ruthlessly ambitious among us. All they have done, and continue to due, may be the stuff of those who see themselves above the rest of us, but if it does not serve the common good, it is by definition suspect. Nothing is sacred that does not serve all of us. We live in perilous times and we live on a planet in peril. This is not to be taken lightly and no few should denigrate or dismiss the will of the majority. Time is no longer on our side.

Let us join in a common commitment to, once again, give new life to and full support for the principle that we are “A government of the people, by the people and for the people.” We must hold tenaciously to that belief and protect it with our very lives.

Cowboy Bob The Sagebrush Philosopher October 7, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

" The Sparks of Rebellion"

Few writers and activists capture the temper of our times as well as Chris Hedges.  His ability to articulate the essence of the reality of contemporary life in the United States is a rare gift and he has been an inspiration to me in a great many ways. 

As you can readily see, this article was originally published by Truthdig on September 20, 2013 and re-published on on October 2, 2013.  I claim no credit for anything contained in this article.  However, I do believe that the message is of such import that I am taking the liberty of sharing it with those of you who have taken an interest in my blog. 

All caring and concerned Americans should read and contemplate the profound insights provided by Chris Hedges in this article.  I think the time has come for us, as a good and decent people, to stop deluding ourselves into believing that those infected with greed in its most virulent form have a modicum of concern for the plunder in which they have engaged and the misery they have inflicted on this country.  The time for niceties and tolerance for their evil must end.  For as long as we remain complacent in the name of civility, the more blatant they will become and the greater peril they will pose for all of us.

I genuinely thank Chris Hedges, Truthdig and Common Dreams for bringing this wise and timely message to all of us.

Cowboy Bob
October 3, 2013  

Published on Monday, September 30, 2013 by Truthdig

The Sparks of Rebellion

I am reading and rereading the debates among some of the great radical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries about the mechanisms of social change. These debates were not academic. They were frantic searches for the triggers of revolt.

Photo by Poster Boy NYC (CC-BY)

Vladimir Lenin placed his faith in a violent uprising, a professional, disciplined revolutionary vanguard freed from moral constraints and, like Karl Marx, in the inevitable emergence of the worker’s state. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon insisted that gradual change would be accomplished as enlightened workers took over production and educated and converted the rest of the proletariat. Mikhail Bakunin predicted the catastrophic breakdown of the capitalist order, something we are likely to witness in our lifetimes, and new autonomous worker federations rising up out of the chaos. Pyotr Kropotkin, like Proudhon, believed in an evolutionary process that would hammer out the new society. Emma Goldman, along with Kropotkin, came to be very wary of both the efficacy of violence and the revolutionary potential of the masses. “The mass,” Goldman wrote bitterly toward the end of her life in echoing Marx, “clings to its masters, loves the whip, and is the first to cry Crucify!”

The revolutionists of history counted on a mobilized base of enlightened industrial workers. The building blocks of revolt, they believed, relied on the tool of the general strike, the ability of workers to cripple the mechanisms of production. Strikes could be sustained with the support of political parties, strike funds and union halls. Workers without these support mechanisms had to replicate the infrastructure of parties and unions if they wanted to put prolonged pressure on the bosses and the state. But now, with the decimation of the U.S. manufacturing base, along with the dismantling of our unions and opposition parties, we will have to search for different instruments of rebellion.

We must develop a revolutionary theory that is not reliant on the industrial or agrarian muscle of workers. Most manufacturing jobs have disappeared, and, of those that remain, few are unionized. Our family farms have been destroyed by agro-businesses. Monsanto and its Faustian counterparts on Wall Street rule. They are steadily poisoning our lives and rendering us powerless. The corporate leviathan, which is global, is freed from the constraints of a single nation-state or government. Corporations are beyond regulation or control. Politicians are too anemic, or more often too corrupt, to stand in the way of the accelerating corporate destruction. This makes our struggle different from revolutionary struggles in industrial societies in the past. Our revolt will look more like what erupted in the less industrialized Slavic republics, Russia, Spain and China and uprisings led by a disenfranchised rural and urban working class and peasantry in the liberation movements that swept through Africa and Latin America. The dispossessed working poor, along with unemployed college graduates and students, unemployed journalists, artists, lawyers and teachers, will form our movement. This is why the fight for a higher minimum wage is crucial to uniting service workers with the alienated college-educated sons and daughters of the old middle class. Bakunin, unlike Marx, considered déclassé intellectuals essential for successful revolt.

It is not the poor who make revolutions. It is those who conclude that they will not be able, as they once expected, to rise economically and socially. This consciousness is part of the self-knowledge of service workers and fast food workers. It is grasped by the swelling population of college graduates caught in a vise of low-paying jobs and obscene amounts of debt. These two groups, once united, will be our primary engines of revolt. Much of the urban poor has been crippled and in many cases broken by a rewriting of laws, especially drug laws, that has permitted courts, probation officers, parole boards and police to randomly seize poor people of color, especially African-American men, without just cause and lock them in cages for years. In many of our most impoverished urban centers—our internal colonies, as Malcolm X called them—mobilization, at least at first, will be difficult. The urban poor are already in chains. These chains are being readied for the rest of us. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread,” Anatole France commented acidly.

Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan examined 100 years of violent and nonviolent resistance movements in their book “Why Civil Resistance Works.” They concluded that nonviolent movements succeed twice as often as violent uprisings. Violent movements work primarily in civil wars or in ending foreign occupations, they found. Nonviolent movements that succeed appeal to those within the power structure, especially the police and civil servants, who are cognizant of the corruption and decadence of the power elite and are willing to abandon them.

“History teaches that we have the power to transform the nation,” Kevin Zeese said when I interviewed him. Zeese, who with Dr. Margaret Flowers founded and helped plan the occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., continued: “We put forward a strategic framework that would allow people to work together in a common direction to end the rule of money. We need to be a nationally networked movement of many local, regional and issue-focused groups so we can unite into one mass movement. Research shows that nonviolent mass movements win. Fringe movements fail. By ‘mass’ we mean with an objective that is supported by a large majority and 1 percent to 5 percent of the population actively working for transformation.”

Zeese said this mass resistance must work on two tracks. It must attempt to stop the machine while at the same time building alternative structures of economic democracy and participatory democratic institutions. It is vital, he said, to sever ourselves from the corporate economy. Money, he said, has to be raised for grass-roots movements since most foundations that give grants are linked to the Democratic Party. Radical student and environmental groups especially need funds to build national networks, as does the public banking initiative. This initiative is essential to the movement. It will never find support among legislative bodies, for public banks would free people from the tyranny of commercial banks and Wall Street.

The most important dilemma facing us is not ideological. It is logistical. The security and surveillance state has made its highest priority the breaking of any infrastructure that might spark widespread revolt. The state knows the tinder is there. It knows that the continued unraveling of the economy and the effects of climate change make popular unrest inevitable. It knows that as underemployment and unemployment doom at least a quarter of the U.S. population, perhaps more, to perpetual poverty, and as unemployment benefits are scaled back, as schools close, as the middle class withers away, as pension funds are looted by hedge fund thieves, and as the government continues to let the fossil fuel industry ravage the planet, the future will increasingly be one of open conflict. This battle against the corporate state, right now, is primarily about infrastructure. We need an infrastructure to build revolt. The corporate state is determined to deny us one.

The corporate state, unnerved by the Occupy movement, has moved to close any public space to movements that might reignite encampments. For example, New York City police arrested members of Veterans for Peace on Oct. 7, 2012, when they stayed beyond the 10 p.m. official closing time at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The police, who in some cases apologized to the veterans as they handcuffed them, were open about the motive of authorities: Officers told those being taken to jail they should blame the Occupy movement for the arrests.

The state has, at the same time, heavily infiltrated movements in order to discredit, isolate and push out their most competent leaders. It has used its vast surveillance capacities to monitor all forms of electronic communications, as well as personal relationships between activists, giving the state the ability to paralyze planned actions before they can begin. It has mounted a public relations campaign to demonize anyone who resists, branding environmental activists as “ecoterrorists,” charging activists under draconian terrorism laws, hunting down whistle-blowers such as Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden who shine a light on the inner secrets of power and condemning them as traitors and threats to national security. The state has attempted—and in this effort some in the Black Bloc proved unwittingly useful—to paint the movement as violent and directionless.

Occupy articulated the concerns of the majority of citizens. Most of the citizenry detests Wall Street and big banks. It does not want more wars. It needs jobs. It is disgusted with the subservience of elected officials to corporate power. It wants universal health care. It worries that if the fossil fuel industry is not stopped, there will be no future for our children. And the state is using all its power to stymie any movement that expresses these concerns. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show Homeland Security, the FBI, the Federal Protective Service, the Park Service and most likely the NSA and the CIA (the latter two have refused to respond to FOIA requests) worked with police across the country to infiltrate and destroy the encampments. There were 7,765 arrests of people in the movement. Occupy, at its peak, had about 350,000 people—or about 0.1 percent of the U.S. population.

“Look how afraid the power structure was of a mere 1/10th of 1 percent of the population,” Zeese said. “What happens when the movement grows to 1 percent—not a far reach—or the 5 percent that some research shows is the tipping point where no government, dictatorship or democracy can withstand the pressure from below?”

The state cannot allow workers at Wal-Mart, or any other nonunionized service center, to have access to an infrastructure or resources that might permit prolonged strikes and boycotts. And the movement now is about nuts and bolts. It is about food trucks, medical tents, communications vans and musicians and artists willing to articulate and sustain the struggle. We will have to build what unions and radical parties supplied in the past.

The state, in its internal projections, has a vision of the future that is as dystopian as mine. But the state, to protect itself, lies. Politicians, corporations, the public relations industry, the entertainment industry and our ridiculous television pundits speak as if we can continue to build a society based on limitless growth, profligate consumption and fossil fuel. They feed the collective mania for hope at the expense of truth. Their public vision is self-delusional, a form of collective psychosis. The corporate state, meanwhile, is preparing privately for the world it knows is actually coming. It is cementing into place a police state, one that includes the complete evisceration of our most basic civil liberties and the militarization of the internal security apparatus, as well as wholesale surveillance of the citizenry.

The most pressing issue facing us right now is the most prosaic. Protesters attempting to block the Keystone XL pipeline can endure only for so long if they have nothing to eat but stale bagels. They need adequate food. They need a system of communication to get their message out to alternative media that will amplify it. They need rudimentary medical care. All of these elements were vital to the Occupy movement. And these elements, when they came together, allowed the building of a movement that threatened the elite. The encampments also carried within them internal sources of disintegration. Many did not adequately control some groups. Many were hijacked or burdened by those who drained the political work of the movement. Many found that consensus, which worked well in small groups, created paralysis in groups of several hundred or a few thousand. And many failed to anticipate the numbing exhaustion that crushed activists. But these encampments did provide what was most crucial to the movement, something unions or the old Communist Party once provided to militants in the past. They provided the logistics to sustain resistance. And the destruction of the encampments, more than anything else, was a move by the state to deny to us the infrastructure needed to resist.

Infrastructure alone, however, will not be enough.  The resistance needs a vibrant cultural component. It was the spirituals that nourished the souls of African-Americans during the nightmare of slavery. It was the blues that spoke to the reality of black people during the era of Jim Crow. It was the poems of Federico Garcia Lorca that sustained the republicans fighting the fascists in Spain. Music, dance, drama, art, song, painting were the fire and drive of resistance movements. The rebel units in El Salvador when I covered the war there always traveled with musicians and theater troupes. Art, as Emma Goldman pointed out, has the power to make ideas felt. Goldman noted that when Andrew Undershaft, a character in George Bernard Shaw’s play “Major Barbara,” said poverty is “[t]he worst of crimes” and “All the other crimes are virtues beside it,” his impassioned declaration elucidated the cruelty of class warfare more effectively than Shaw’s socialist tracts. The degradation of education into vocational training for the corporate state, the ending of state subsidies for the arts and journalism, the hijacking of these disciplines by corporate sponsors, severs the population from understanding, self-actualization and transcendence. In aesthetic terms the corporate state seeks to crush beauty, truth and imagination. This is a war waged by all totalitarian systems.

Culture, real culture, is radical and transformative. It is capable of expressing what lies deep within us. It gives words to our reality. It makes us feel as well as see. It allows us to empathize with those who are different or oppressed. It reveals what is happening around us. It honors mystery. “The role of the artist, then, precisely, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through the vast forest,” James Baldwin wrote, “so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”

Artists, like rebels, are dangerous. They speak a truth that totalitarian systems do not want spoken. “Red Rosa now has vanished too. …” Bertolt Brecht wrote after Luxemburg was murdered. “She told the poor what life is about, And so the rich have rubbed her out.” Without artists such as musician Ry Cooder and playwrights Howard Brenton and Tarell Alvin McCraney we will not succeed. If we are to face what lies ahead, we will not only have to organize and feed ourselves, we will have to begin to feel deeply, to face unpleasant truths, to recover empathy and to live passionately. Then we can fight.