“I seem to have lost my way” said Alice.
“What do you mean, ‘your way?’ asked the Red Queen. “‘Round here all ways belong to me.”
—Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass”
In the famous myth, Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Although this didn’t, in fact, happen, Nero was documented to have been a tyrant who was insensitive to the needs of the common people, and it wouldn’t have been out of character.
Nero was said to have had Christians doused in oil and set on fire to light his gardens. Among those he executed was his own mother.
Throughout history, we see a great many examples of leaders all over the world who are known to be psychopaths, wreaking horror on the masses.
We find few examples of beneficent leaders who tended to the interests of the common people, and we ask “Why is this true?”
A ruling class has always organized itself, and kept the masses as ignorant as possible to rule. Howard Zinn describes how the early rule in the American colonies had poor whites moving Westward on the frontier so as to anger Native Americans as their land was stolen, keeping these groups at each others’ throats. Black slaves were forced to work under the management of poor white overseers to keep those groups hostile toward one another. Imagine if the Native Americans, slaves and poor whites had united, the great fear of those in power. Divide and conquer has worked well for ruling classes throughout history.
It seems to me that most of those in power support ruthless people and help them to take control of the economy and government. There may be some variance in the choices of billionaires, but they are no different than variances between the Democratic and Republican Parties in practice, which both serve the billionaires and their corporations, employing primarily differences in rhetoric.
To be a billionaire requires that one care about nothing more than acquiring more wealth at any cost to the public interest. It doesn’t matter to them how much poverty, homelessness and hunger result from siphoning so much wealth out of the world economy.
To be a major corporate leader in the USA, one must prove that one is willing to be ruthless in the quest for profits through serving these wealthy investors. One must be willing to trash the environment, take the nation to war, wipe out the savings of the masses and take their homes—whatever is necessary to that end. People with hearts need not apply.
Such corporate leaders and their wealthy investors (who invest in corporations to avoid responsibility that might come with a sole proprietorship) support equally ruthless candidates for office who will devotedly serve them.
And these powerful people control the mainstream press, for the purpose of obfuscating it all to the masses, reporting on elections as though they weren’t rigged to bring servile psychopaths to power, people willing to sacrifice our natural environment or take us to war for profit.
If we look at the millions of innocents slaughtered by presidents of the USA in the name of the greed of those who sponsored them, we must be shocked, unless we are completely brainwashed by the corporate media and the corporate textbooks which teach extremely slanted history.
Did the Spanish really blow up the battleship Maine? Did the Japanese really bomb Pearl Harbor for no reason at all? Did the People’s Republic of Vietnam really attack the US Navy in the Gulf of Tonkin? Did soldiers deserve 20 medals of honor for the “Battle at Wounded Knee,” and was it really a battle or part of an extensive genocide?
Taking only one of the justifications Arabs might have for the 9/11 attacks, the UN reported that over 500,000 children under age five in Iraq died from the US-pushed sanctions there. Laid end to end these dead children would stretch from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The psychopathic secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, said “We think it was worth it.” Presidents Daddy Bush, Clinton and Offspring Bush had to know what they were doing and must have thought it was worth it as well.
It’s difficult to imagine how a normal brain might justify that.
One of the challenges those of us on the left must have is to convince good people to run for office. I have tried to convince a great many people, and nearly all have declined, uncomfortable with the thought of being in a position of power or not believing such a thing to be possible.
Margaret Flowers is running for the Senate in the state of Maryland this year with the slogan “Let people power bloom.” She has labored to make a better world by opposing the draconian free trade agreements, strived to support women’s rights, a clean environment, to end racism, championed organized labor and she’s opposed all of the corporate wars that so enrich our ruling class.
Read about what she stands for and donate to her campaign here.
Most of us don’t live in Maryland, but she would represent us all, the common people, like no other person currently in Congress.
One person can’t do it all, but we need to start building for the future, and a Margaret Flowers victory would be a good place to start. The day I heard that she was throwing her hat in the ring I sent a donation, and encourage everyone to do the same.
Why don’t good people run for office? Well, they don’t get support from the billionaires and corporations, nor do the corrupt corporate media give them attention. But you, dear reader, can defy all of that and give your support to help build a better world.
Jack Balkwill has been published from the little read Rectangle, magazine of the English Honor Society, to the (then) millions of readers USA Today and many progressive publications/web sites such as Z Magazine, In These Times, Counterpunch, This Can’t Be Happening, Intrepid Report, and Dissident Voice. He is author of An Attack on the National Security State, about peace activists in prison.