Published on Online Journal, by Nick Egnatz, August 11, 2010.
Latest estimates are that man has existed for 2.5 million years. Capitalism for only the last couple hundred or so of those years. Before capitalism there was always the understood social contract that the leader or leaders of a society were expected to provide for the general welfare of the society’s people. Whether it was a tribal chief or king, there was always the implication that at some level there was a duty to provide for the safety and general welfare of the people.
Some societies were more egalitarian and shared better than others, but there was always the duty of the strong to provide for the weak. It would be foolish to postulate that the majority of civilizations and societies were more egalitarian than the U.S. after the Revolution. Many were not, but there was always the duty for the strong to protect and provide for the weak. It may not have been done well, but it was there.
When U.S. plutocracy (rule by the wealthy elite) and capitalism entered the scene, the social contract was broken. Contrary to the popular myth, the U.S. has never been a functioning representative democracy; it has always been a plutocracy. The Revolutionary War saw the rule by the British Crown replaced with rule by the wealthy landowners. Native Americans, blacks, women and non-property owning whites were not allowed to vote or hold office in our country. Over the years, the voting franchise has expanded while the choices available have narrowed so the end result is the same: plutocracy or rule by the wealthy elite. We now have the choice of voting for a corporate Democrat or a corporate Republican, both of whom support a continuation of the two-party monopoly they enjoy, U.S. capitalism and its handmaiden, U.S. militarism. Anyone not espousing this worldview is not given any attention by the corporate media or the monopoly political parties and thus has a snowball in hell’s chance of winning a congressional or presidential election.
Capitalism defined: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market. (Merriam Webster)
It all sounds relatively benign, but let’s examine the results. Private ownership means that the whole concept of promoting the general welfare, called for in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, is no longer a concern. As private interests are given special consideration and protection, common interests or the general welfare correspondingly suffers … //
… To buck the system one must deny the legitimacy of an undemocratic U.S. state which:
- Places the property rights of the wealthy over the right to a basic existence for the poor and working class
- Is the third most unequal industrial nation in the world trailing only Turkey and Mexico
- Committed genocide against Native Americans
- Supported slavery of the African American people for two centuries and then segregation of them for another century
- Throughout its history has pursued a policy of U.S. Empire to benefit originally U.S. and now transnational corporations at the expense of the poor and working class at home and abroad
- Has historically pursued a policy of aggressive warfare against the First Americans, Mexico, Spain, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq
- Has historically tortured people from the non European nations we have fought
- Has used its Central Intelligence Agency to overthrow democratically elected governments across the globe in Cuba, Haiti, Chile, Greece, Iran, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Congo and numerous others not democratically elected
Trying to reform such pervasive and all encompassing criminality by acknowledging the legitimacy of the institution responsible for the criminality is a fool’s errand. The U.S. nation and its Constitution have failed its people miserably in both promoting the general welfare called for in the preamble to the Constitution and promoting the doctrine of equality called for in the Declaration of Independence.
People of conscience have a duty to divorce themselves from this criminal system and call for a new nation to emerge from the ashes of capitalism, militarism and elite rule; a new nation conceived in the concept that all men are indeed created equal and that the duty of the state is to promote the general welfare for all its citizens while respecting and supporting the rights of others across the globe to the same. (full text).
(Nick Egnatz is a Vietnam veteran. He has been actively protesting our government’s crimes of empire in both person and print for some years now and was named “Citizen of the Year” for Northwest Indiana in 2006 for his peace activism by the National Association of Social Workers. Contact Nick).