While the 25th Amendment to the Constitution is the legal mechanism for removing a mentally unstable psychopath from the White House, there is no democratic mechanism for the people of the USA to initiate that process. Similarly, while Article 2 – Section 4 of the Constitution allows for the removal of a criminal or a traitor from the White House, once again the American electorate has no tangible say in that process either. The fact that Trump is still in office is the evidence that there is no direct democracy in the USA.
And this shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone. The Constitution was written and amended over time by a group of rich and predominately white males to maintain an economic structure that protects the wealth of the rich, who are overwhelmingly white males through a political framework that concentrates power into the hands of, again, a group of mostly rich white males. And much as I applaud the passion and the sentiment of many of the commentators taking a stand against this now, history teaches us that not all forms of protest are equally effective.
Voting and letter writing won’t stop this. Quite the reverse in fact. If anything voting and lobbying our representatives in the ‘free market democracy’ model is encouraged precisely because it achieves nothing while giving the appearance of representation. At best, it can be considered a pressure release vale. Limiting our resistance to politely asking the political class if they would be kind enough to take the bottom 90% of the population into consideration has always failed. Even in the more extreme cases where the “approved processes” have effected change in the legislation, it has invariably done in such a way that within a few years it can be ignored.
When there are any genuine attempts to create a progressive political movement within the “approved processes”, such as in the cases of Syriza, Podemos, Sanders, and Corbyn, the political, economic and cultural arms of the establishment come together to jump on them from a great height. At every stage the system is constructed specifically to minimise representation while appearing to be representative. If anything, it is the pointlessness of this pantomime of democratic representation that has fuelled the upwards trajectory of popular dissent over the last twenty years.
It can be argued that Black Lives Matter came about because the promises made to the civil rights movement over fifty years ago were never kept. The same can be said for #metoo, and the failure to keep the promises made to the womens liberation movement forty years earlier. The examples keep on going. The growth of anti-austerity politics across Europe came about because the political class, after promising to address tax-avoidance and off-shore banking ended up siding with the bankers, ignoring the warnings of the anti-globalisation movement. And of course we have Extinction Rebellion, which arguably came about because the political class had ignored the warnings of the climate activists and scientists for the preceding two decades.
This ‘free market democracy’ model of managing our communities and societies is fundamentally flawed. What the American people are currently facing is the inevitable and largely predictable conclusion of a system that continually concentrates wealth and power into a smaller and smaller section of the population. The reason why racist psychopaths join the police force is because they know that this system requires them and will therefore protect them. And why does the system require racist psychopaths? For the same reason that it requires misogynists and rapists, and pay-day lenders and tax-avoiding sociopaths. Or to summarise those two arguments, because a population divided is far easier to control and exploit than a population united by common cause.
And as dire as that all reads, there is still a reason to be optimistic, even now. As people come together in ever greater numbers to stand alongside those being systematically oppressed, our shared deference towards the institutions and cultures that uphold that system begins to crack. And as more and more of us see the reality of the oppression and exploitation then more and more people join that resistance. This in turn increases the volume of our calls, which in turn brings more people to the resistance. By refusing to give up their exploitation and oppression, the resistance to it inevitably grows.
While there is reason to be optimistic, it must come with a degree of caution. Historically, the response of the exploiters to their privilege being threatened has been to increase the levels of the oppression. The cold reality of the current model is that the ruling elite are already on that authoritarian continuum. Extreme wage inequalities, tiered public services based on the ability to pay, tax avoidance, racial profiling, gerrymandering, pornography, sweatshops and forced labour in prisons, these are all built on the underlying assumption that one persons luxury is worth more than another persons life.
The social structure built on the master/servant relationship has not changed significantly in either economic or political terms in centuries. We think that the internet has somehow changed that but the reality is, as we can all now see playing out, that for many their place in society is defined by violent and brutal oppression and systemic and institutionalised inequality. By accepting the supposed benign culture of hierarchy we open the door to the most parasitic and psychopathic of the 1%. Fascism has always lived in the cultural cracks of the capitalist economic and political hierarchy, the US Constitution is no defence against that.
The real problem facing all of us is that when the global elite saw their privilege being threatened by the worldwide population coming together to demand equality, sustainability and freedom from oppression over these last two decades, they did what their forefathers had done before them and turned to the most psychologically unstable, emotionally stunted, and intellectually biddable puppets they could find among their ranks. The mechanism used to appoint them was the ‘free market democracy’ model, or to put it more accurately the neo-liberal strategy of cultural coercion were possible, and brutal oppression when neccessary.
Trump, Bolsonaro, Modi, Duterte, Orban and even the likes of Johnson and Macron were put in place by the political, economic and cultural establishments in each of their countries to do what they are now doing. They are appointed because they have no human compassion, no intellect to speak of, and a pathological need to be the centre of attention at any cost. This is not a global coincidence, it is a worldwide pattern.
The four police who conspired to kill George Floyd are the output of a system that is designed and maintained by the 1% to oppress and exploit the 99% at any and all costs.
A capitalist hierarchy fundamentally priorities the privilege of the few over the lives of the many because it has one objective, to concentrate power and wealth into fewer and fewer hands. In the United States the constitution, the electoral process, the banking system, law enforcement, even education and healthcare are all now subject to the upper tier of the capitalist hierarchy pursuing this objective. Voting and letter writing won’t stop this. Asking nicely won’t stop this.
If we are to survive the next few decades the model that we use to organise society has to change dramatically.