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  • Posted November 8th, 2016
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    The US presidential election is a circus, and the sooner we realise that power lies elsewhere the better

    The US presidential election is a circus, and the sooner we realise that power lies elsewhere the better

    As Adam Curtis recently explained, governments are no longer for deciding how we live, or for building a better society – they have slowly morphed into institutions for managing the affairs of the finance sector. If they manage those affairs well, they will be rewarded financially, and if they don’t, they will be punished financially. The Syrizas of this world are few and far between, only surface in times of real crisis, and are soon herded back into the fold.

    Here’s a video of Julian Assange talking with John Pilger about the most recent Wikileaks revelations about Clinton’s emails:

    ..and here are two of the most important points that came from that conversation:

    1. The US government works with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar like a hand in a glove, and yet ISIS are funded and supplied with weapons by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Not shady organisations and businesses within those countries – but governments. Why do the US want to help ISIS? With Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Saudi Arabia signed the world’s biggest arms deal with US weapons corporations (that are ultimately owned by financial institutions), and pumped enormous amounts of money into the Clinton Foundation. See here.
    2. Instructions on who should comprise Obama’s cabinet came from the finance sector – mainly from Citigroup – and the same will happen with Clinton’s cabinet. See here.

    Trump won’t allow Wall Street to choose his cabinet, may not be interested in dodgy deals with Middle Eastern countries, will talk with Russia, is against TTIP and is opposed by the corporate and financial establishment. I find the video below interesting, in which communist philosopher Slavoj Zizek, says he would vote for Trump if he were American, because Clinton represents the greater danger to democracy and freedom; because Trump could kick-start real change (although maybe not in the way he intends); and because Clinton is ‘a cold warrior, connected to banks, pretending to be socially progressive’.

    I see his point, but but for me, Trump is indefensible because he’s an oaf – his ‘locker-room’ conversation about sexually assaulting women was not as offensive as his suggestion that it’s how men talk to each other. We do not. I have conversations with men all the time, and if any one of them ever talked to me like that, it would be our last conversation. He’s not fit for high office, and there’s no telling what damage he’d do. However, Clinton isn’t a credible alternative, because it’s very, very clear what damage she’d do – she’d hand even more power to the corporate / finance sector and prolong war in the Middle East (risking much wider violence) in order to direct money to her supporters and further her ambition.

    In the Guardian yesterday, Paul Mason said: ‘The first thing we have to make is a rhetorical break with neoliberalism: the doctrine of austerity, inequality, privatisation, financial corruption, asset bubbles and technocratic hubris. It is entirely possible to construct a humane pro-business version of capitalism without these things.’ But how on earth can we have capitalism without those things – especially inequality? Capitalism concentrates wealth – that’s what it’s for. To suggest that we might change that assumes that we have the power to do so. We don’t, and I’m amazed that someone like Mason thinks that we do.

    The election is a circus, a distraction, a contest between two cartoonishly bad characters. It’s not unreasonable for Americans to decide not to vote – I’d say that it was the sensible decision in the circumstances. The lower the turnout, the more likely it is that we might come up with a better way to choose the people taking high office – and maybe even to direct power away from the finance sector and towards that office. And that’s the only way we’ll change things. If we want democracy we have to take power from the finance sector, and to do that we can’t rely on institutions like the Democratic Party, the Clinton family, the EU, TTIP, CETA, the Labour Party or any other party. We have to start talking about building something different, or stop whining and accept our servitude.


    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    2 Comments

    • 1Paul Jennings November 8th, 2016

      Spot on of course, Dave. The main purpose of the election is to create the impression of democracy, and to frame public debate in a way which doesn’t threaten the ruling elite.

      The question remains, what should people who understand, and who want to live in a radically different society, a properly democratic, egalitarian and ecological society do? My answer falls into two parts: we should build the new society we want to see, by, to whatever extent is possible, living and creating the pathways we need, broadly, this is the Permaculture approach, although it also chimes with Social Ecology and more pragmatic Anarchism; it’s slow and we won’t seem to achieve very much, certainly in a foot race against the forces destroying the planet we will seem nothing short of pitiful on the grand scale. And secondly, people who are brave enough and free enough should take direct action to destroy the infrastructure of control and ecological destruction by whatever means seem necessary.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t think either of these approaches will win in the sense of avoiding what I believe to be imminent ecological catastrophe, nor by quickly bringing about the sort of revolutionary social change that I believe we need. Nonetheless, in the longer term, by small increments, and in conjunction with the social and ecological crises precipitated by capitalism, they do offer the hope of building a world preferable to business as usual………. of course it is already reasonably certain that even this “better world” will be one deprived of the biodiversity of the Holocene, and of the relatively stable climate which allowed the rise of everything that we associate with civilisation.

    • 2Dave Darby November 9th, 2016

      ‘The main purpose of the election is to create the impression of democracy, and to frame public debate in a way which doesn’t threaten the ruling elite.’

      I could have just written that instead – would have saved a lot of time.

      I agree that ecological collapse is looking less and less avoidable. Did you see the recent WWF report that said we’ve lost over 50% of vertebrates since 1970 (not species, but sheer numbers)? This is horrific enough, but the bigger problem is that it’s not stopping. There’s going to be massive biodiversity loss in the holocene, but will it stop before it reaches a level that can’t support humans any more? That’s the big question. I’d favour the precautionary principle myself, but now we have a US president who doesn’t believe that anthropogenic climate change is real, that’s unlikely to happen any time soon.

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