In 1963, Hannah Arendt wrote a 368-page book called On Revolution—It is a hard slog to get through but basically boils down to one sentence. “It takes a village to raise a democracy.”
And yet here we are, in America, almost 70 years later—and only allowed to have our say once every four years, for perhaps 30 seconds spent in electronic voting booths that are rigged—if we are even allowed to vote at all.
Professor Arendt, you were living in dreamland. In America today, our much-touted yeoman citizen-voice of freedom simply doesn’t exist. Republicans tell us to vote for Ken dolls. Democrats tell us to vote for anyone who isn’t Bernie, Elizabeth or Tulsi.
Instead, we got numerous public relations firms, endless commercials and whole bunches of media-savvy billionaire pundits telling us how to vote and even what to think. “Vote for me,” the guys at the top always tell us. “We will stop abortion, stop gay marriage, stop affirmative action.” Seriously? Those three agenda items were Jesus’s major concerns? Give me a break.
Meanwhile the guys at the top of the American pyramid scheme are stealing our money, our jobs and our values—while laughing all the way to the bank as millions die in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, the slums of Mumbai and Brazil, and the homeless camps on the fringes of San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Washington DC.
You don’t have to read Hannah Arendt to know which way the wind blows in America right now—but her major premise is still spot-on even today: democracy can only truly exist at the village level. We’ve been conned democracy in America hasn’t existed in over a century.
Professor Arendt’s ideal of the citizen-democrat might still be a possibility, even in this modern age of billionaire politicians, mega-corporate lobbyists and electoral pyramid schemes. We might still be able to demand “government by the people, of the people and for the people”—government by individual town-hall meetings like she advocated for, where everyone has his or her say and we aren’t kicked around by power-mad leaders in a top-down Ponzi scheme where we at the bottom lose all.
But if that is ever going to happen, we gotta start organizing locally. Join a union. Join a town-hall meeting. Speak up. Participate. Join the freaking PTA!
And perhaps our town hall meetings could also be electronic. Don’t laugh. Perhaps this new utopia could be called “FaceBook” or “Twitter.” If only. If only FaceBook and Twitter weren’t part of the current top-down pyramid scheme too.
What do you think?
PS: Professor Arendt also went on to say that freedom is a really big deal—even more important than food or shelter. And yet RepublDems tamper with our freedom even more than they tamper with our food and our shelter. Forget that. Why can’t we have all three?
Some of us are sick and tired of being at the bottom of America’s pyramid scheme.
Jane Stillwater is a freelance writer who hates injustice and corruption in any form but especially injustice and corruption paid for by American taxpayers. Her latest book is “Road Trip to Damascus.”