Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Guest editorial reprinted, with permission, from The Naysayer by Phil Goodstein.
“Free political discussion is the best medicine for the fear of heresy.” – Carey McWilliams
As could have been foretold, the Democratic Convention was a scripted sham. In addition to providing the police the opportunity to show how mean and tough they are, it was an exercise in hot air, a make-believe event which wasted countless energy resources. But the supposedly environmentally conscious supporters of the farce paid for their right to pollute. This was illustrated by their “carbon offset” fee.
As the Democrats slobber over their illusions of retaking the White House, they systematically ignore how they lost it in 2000. Al Gore personified the most arrogant wing of the party. His push for the right to pollute through a series of carbon transfers is worthy of Milton Friedman and apologists for a culture of filth and waste. The message is not that capitalism will ruthlessly despoil everything and anything as it grasps for profits; on the contrary, the Gore Democrats reward capitalists by simply transferring around pollution.
Advocates of carbon transfers project themselves as having a special aura. They showed this in their efforts to dictate the food at the Democratic convention. In their self-enlightenment, they called for banning all fried foods and requiring that 70 percent of the dishes be of organic origins. The food, moreover, had to be 50 percent fruits and vegetables dispersed among various color groups. No wonder, amidst this eager desire to impose their pompous schemes on others, the environmental crowd has been amazingly silent about how their beloved candidate for the United States Senate, Mark Udall, has embraced off-shore drilling while promising to be Ken Salazar II. They were also silent about the massive clouds of tobacco smoke in public places, meaning those allergic to this pollution could not participate in many of the activities surrounding the convention. (The leftist protesters were even worse than the Democrats in this regard.)
The more the environmentalist establishment has embraced the Democrats and adopted panaceas like carbon transfers, the more it has ignored the fundamental premise of the ecology movement: that the world has limited resources. Consequently, it is necessary to understand and work with the forces of nature. Far from doing this, the carbon-offset ideology is a means by which the affluent are able to assuage their guilt by dumping their pollution on others. Its adoption by the Democratic National Convention reveals the essence of the party and how it is as much an enemy of the earth and human freedom as the Republicans and the rest of the Bush League.
The Democrats will not debate this issue. The party’s compete alignment with corporate came out before the convention. To celebrate the conclave, the city hung banners on streets advertising AT&T, Pro-Logis, Western Union, and other big-money backers. (Among those sponsoring banners was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a union which, for all intents and purposes, is nothing more than a business brokering its members’ labor power.) Far from decorating its meeting hall with slogans embracing idealism and hope, the party filled them with comparable advertisements. This is the true “green” of the Democrats, the color of cash.
A key purpose of the convention was to dispel any doubts that the Democrats listen to Wall Street. They do not want to hear from anybody else. That was why they were so fearful of protests and dissent. Street politics illustrate that there is far more to civic involvement than simply registering, attending caucuses, and voting. These activities have never changed anything. At the most, elections have ratified mass discontent, upheavals, and protests. Only those who would be happy with a continuing American military presence in Iraq would achieve their ends by slobbering over big-money interests while embracing police-state tactics against popular expressions of dissent.
In 2004, the Democrats showed they were losers. Instead of seeking to mobilize voters and attack the militarism and dictatorial actions of the Bush administration, they vowed they could be as tough and mean as the president. In the process, they did far more to attack Ralph Nader than they did the Republicans. By denying Nader a ballot spot, they openly stated that their left-wing critics do not have the right to vote for a candidate outside of the narrow elite consensus.
City hall’s smug hypocrisy on protests is unending. The administration, which has eagerly sought to seal parks to the public for private profit-making events while encouraging the ever greater consumption of alcohol in them, screamed that inebriated protesters might leave the parks and wander through residential neighborhoods. It pays no heed to the ravages of drunken yuppies. The Hickenlooper camp is blind to the activities of the latter, especially considering that the mayor made his fortune by appealing to that crowd. The mayor’s backers apparently only complain about substance abusers when they have the wrong kind of politics.
Far more than the infantile prattle of protesters who vowed to “disrupt Denver,” city hall took all such bluster extremely seriously while doing far more to inconvenience locals and disrupt everyday life through massive traffic closings and police-state tactics than anything protesters could ever produce. In the process, the administration’s backers showed themselves having all the wit of J. Edgar Hoover with his endless warnings of communist subversion. Like Hoover, Hickenlooper and company used a selective editing of protest manifestos to prepare to crush anybody and anything that got in the way in the gathering of the “green” Democratic aristocrats.
(At the last minute, Hickenlooper finally stated what he should have said months earlier: violence was not the preferred way of dealing with disagreement. He only expressed such views after arranging for a massive, overwhelming, intimidating police presence. Even at that, his approach was far more calming than anything that could have be en expected under the brutal police administration of Wellington Webb.)
The silence of Barack Obama about why Denver and the Democrats so eagerly sought to muzzle all voices who express anything but ultra establishment views shows he is part and parcel of the system which has produced cynicism, corruption, and a hatred of mass action. The candidate is at one with those who view dissent as heresy. Obama and the Democrats have shown they clearly prefer witch hunts and prosecution of demonstrators to free political discussion. This, in turn, reveals the “change” Obama promises: a change in the tilt of the deck chairs on the Titanic as the ship of state continues to recklessly sail through a sea of icebergs.
By Phil Goodstein
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