Election Schmelection 2004

A View from the Schools

Rich Gibson. College of Education, San Diego State University, November 5

School workers, students, or parents, have no more reason to shudder at the Bush victory than they would have had to cheer about a Kerry win. Official schooling, after all, is no longer about forging citizens for democratic citizenship, nor about creating talented future employees, nor even wise consumers.

Schooling is now about killing people. At issue is who, when, where, how, and, in rare instances, why. Of the 49 million kids in public school now, about one-half will be eligible for the draft in the next five years. Preparing them for that eventuality is becoming a vital aspect of schooling through curricula regimentation and high-stakes testing. Educators, today, are simply expected to be missionaries for capitalism. Kerry would expect nothing less.

Voting against mass murderers has never been successful. The Masters have never adopted the ethics of the Slaves.

The Democrats could never betray their allegiance to a system based on exploitation and imperialism, that is, capitalism (http://www.pipeline.com/~rgibson/OllmanCapitalistsHide.htm), so they could not forcefully challenge the Republicans on questions of imperialist oil wars, or the intensification of class struggle, the international war of the rich on the poor and working class causing a boom in inequality.

Therefore, the Democrats ran on nearly nothing, thrashing about in search of an issue, and pandering to the lowest motives of the Bush electorate. Kerry was invoking God as much as Bush in the closing days. All the Democrats could promise (and usually the elected all break their promises; read my lips) was more war, with health care, maybe.

Karl Rove's tactics of appealing to the various forms of fear and irrationalism that propel an obese, consumerist society habituated to spectacles were powerful.

However, liberalism is a hollow bell, having organized a steady retreat since Lyndon Johnson's broken vows of no wider wars, Carter's decision to empty the mental hospitals, creating the massive homeless problems, and Clinton's promise of health care triumphed by his assault on welfare. It was liberals who demolished the California economy, the sixth largest in the world, by engineering the privatization of energy and the Enron theft. It was liberals who designed and supported the NCLB, with the teacher union bosses in the lead, NEA and AFT taking out joint ads with the Business Roundtable and Chambers of Commerce in the New York Times. It was liberals who spent the treasury on jails, not schools.

Indeed, by relying on a government devoted to the rule of the rich to solve problems, by refusing to build a mass action-oriented class conscious movement in workplaces, schools, and communities, and by intellectually as well as practically disarming poor and working people, liberals just set the stage for the radical right to step forward.

Conservatives can, at least, say what they are about. Clearly, liberals don't want a fight-because they share the same concerns. Indeed, liberals don't know how to fight. Pointedly, take the clenched fist of liberalism: the AFL-CIO. Nearly nobody left in the labor movement has ever led a strike, and of those who have, the overwhelming majority of the strikes lost. The AFL organizes concessions, when concessions clearly are like giving blood to sharks-the bosses just demand more.

The liberal's foot-soldiers, the failed grouplets of the old Communist Party USA and the union hacks, are so distanced from their rank and file base that they cannot even deliver the union vote-subverted by their own leadership's unwillingness to really fight.

Liberal presidential analyst Richard Reeves suggests, "the Democrats must recognize that ½ the US is Christian and build their base around that." So opportunism trumps even secularism (CNN November 3 2004).

The Democrats could not put forward a talented alternative to Bush, et al. None of the potential Democratic candidates were of such caliber that they could beat an incumbent-not even Bush, saddled with two failing wars, a collapsed economy, one-in-seven citizens without health care and more about to join the throng, open promises to smash social security, and a profound official fear of sexuality-when the pornography industry is bigger than baseball and football combined . Kerry never pursued the matter of corporate crime, the Enron-Kenny-boy-Lay ties, the accounting frauds, nor even a minimum wage hike--passed in Florida along with the Bush vote. A Hillary-Oprah ticket would have done Democrats better. But in the wreckage of the Empire, neither party can muster more than Bush/Kerry, Yale Skull and Bones millionaire twins, one a self-admitted war criminal, and the other just a war criminal.

Still, the Empire required clear and decisive victory--another assault on the Dignity of the Office ala Nixon, or Florida 2000 could not be allowed-- and that is what happened, Dignity reigns, by cheating or not; one will never know. There were a lot of players in this who had huge stakes on one side or the other, and all of those players were capable of doing some big cheating.

It is interesting that the CIA was so active for Kerry in releasing material on the wars, yet the companies the intelligence community feeds upon and sometimes controls had huge stakes in a Bush victory---like Brown and Root Haliburton. Tweedle Dee may have done some picking of Tweedle Dum's pockets.

Follow the Money. One billion dollars was spent on campaigning, more than 630,000 TV ads were run; all of it a spectacle. Nothing significant was learned in this massive educational effort. Even Caudillo Castro could have taught an entire nation something worth knowing with that kind of money-like labor creates all value. The main lesson from the campaigns was the same main lesson being promoted in US schools: You cannot understand and change the world. Find someone else to save your butt.

Michael Moore's predictably anti-working class, self-building movie left no movement behind it, because his only critique, or his con, is bad people rule us---not: we are ruled by an evil system. Michael Moore, who supported General Wesley Clark's campaign to wreck Howard Dean, lives on Central Park, a millionaire. How are you doing? Or, how are the people of Flint?

Where is the lasting self-actualizing movement behind those thousands of honest people who wasted six or eight months pouring energy in the wings of the Democratic Party, only to be left with, "Too late and too short, sorry about that." Where is the clout of the nation's largest union, the National Education Association, which poured millions of dollars and the hard work of thousands of skillful educators into the Kerry diversion? Where is the MoveOn treasury, outspent by the Gates/Rocky crowd with ease. The working class will never out-bribe the ruling class.

The desperate search to find someone else to think and do for the vast majority of the people, everywhere, is still on. The desire to submit, to find Dad, is significant. That is learned in schools, where teachers teach curricula so incoherent that kids learn to not like to learn, where the promise of learning becomes wasted time, and in homes where families teach fear of pleasure, and the joy of domination.

Racism still plays well. Racism is always tied to dread of sensuality, terrorist poisoning of the gene bank, and that is no leap to the tactical homophobia the Republicans mobilized in anti-gay marriage amendments. Fortunately for the Bush crowd, the famous crack addicted twins of Florida managed to stay out of the news, off the strip club poles.

Still, what ties together the religious nuts and the racists and the people in the Democratic Party who think it is somehow their duty to accept this and not call a general strike, call for mass civil disobedience against the war, etc, is the Continuing Appeal of Nationalism.

Fredy Perlman did an interesting piece by that title which still has something to it. http://www.pipeline.com/~rgibson/PerlmanNationalism.htm

Sure, the fundamentalists, the Aschcroft snake handlers, the Order, the anti-abortionist Catholics led by their rapist priests and bankruptcy lawyers, all of them are cheering now, but what puts their children on the ground in Iraq under the common flag is nationalism. The idea of the corporate state dominates every US union; the unity of labor, business and government in the national interest, the idea we are all in this together, when the rich know full well that they are at war with the poor. It is also the ideology of a nation whose economic base is based two-thirds on consumerism, tying the customer to the bosses at Walmart, voting against state funded health care for Walmart workers in California.

The corporate state is a the pump that now sucks profits, but it is also a key pillar of fascism. Witnessing, and fighting, the persistent development of fascism is unsettling, at best, but fascism cannot last. With all its horrors, in each instance it has been smashed by the dispossessed of the world.

Not to worry? Well, worry. Arnold, the Austrian, is waiting in the wings. He called me seven times in the week before the vote, offering to, "Pump vu up!"

Capital's unique ability to pit all against all, segmenting people down to the last dime of infinitesimal privilege, instilling grotesque panic about the future should the dime be lost; the old divide and conquer technique made real to each individual, can only be answered by movements that live with equality and democracy as ethics.

On his guitar, Woody Guthrie wrote, "this machine kills fascists." That is drawn pretty clearly in the new kids book, This Land Is Your Land, issued by Scholastic, and the topic can be discussed with fifth graders. http://www.pipeline.com/%7Ergibson/fascism.html

Kids in Baltimore and Detroit are burning their schools. Kids are walking out of the Big Tests. Casino workers are on strike on both coasts. Troops are mutinying. Grocery workers prepare for another big walk-out to save their health care, and lives. People resist because they must. The US economy is in a profound crisis from which there is no retreat. The multiple invasions of the world are failing. The Chinese, Russian, Euro Imperialists can see the end of the US empire at hand. But Chinese peasants are fighting the "Red" Army. Argentine workers are seizing factories, while Uruguayans hope to vote out capitalism. The dollar collapses against the Euro as the guarantee of perpetual war becomes expensive.

All the bosses are weak, vulnerable, unable to see beyond domination. Crises, though, do not make people wise. Often, they make people fascists. Only a massive patient-yet-urgent educational effort against capitalism itself, a mass change of mind about how we must live, coupled with organized mass resistance, can bring lasting change.

Election, schmelection. Phooey. If voting mattered, they wouldn't let us do it.

Fight back, in schools, on the job, in communities.

There are not more of us than there are of them, now. But there can be, as the opposition has really nothing of value to offer. We do: from each according to our commitment, to each according to their needs.

But in the interim, Death to the Fascists.


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