Conflict, Freedom and the Great Middle
by John Wacaster
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There is a price to be paid for freedom. Freedom is not the natural state of affairs. Demagoguery has been the rule in most of the world throughout most of its history. Civilization is a painful process. Nothing good and lasting has been achieved without blood. I am not just speaking of war. I am also speaking of the blood of the innocent, the blood of the protester and civil disobedient. There is Lexington and Concord, there is Bataan-and then there is Tiananmen Square, there are Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and all the unknown activists and martyrs of a thousand worthy conflicts down through the ages. Conflict. The word is both salvation and curse. Life and death. Without it nothing changes. Without change nothing grows. Stagnant water becomes at first noxious and later poisonous. Freedom, in its very nature requires conflict and change. Those who wish to be free from conflict and change are not free, they are sleeping in the jungle. One aspect of the basic nature of freedom is that where freedom is there will be light and darkness, good and evil, harmony and chaos. You cannot legislate the light no matter what you think it is. You can legislate parameters for the preservation of the common freedom. Freedom is the ultimate right of life. That is why we value it so. As long as there is freedom there will be conflict, because life requires growth and growth requires change. Freedom allows both-self interest and the common good. Conflict maintains the balance between self-interest and the common good so that neither overwhelms the other. When conflict, growth and change are restricted there is a regression back towards the things that once prevented freedom. In other words, when you quit paying the price of freedom, which is conflict, you start losing the benefits of freedom. Conflict requires activism. A meeting of different views in an open forum weighted towards the common good. A democracy is only a means to freedom as long as it represents the fundamental interests of the populace and only so long as the people have a voice. Totalitarianism restricts conflict and change. So does fascism, communism and oppressive capitalism. Centralization of economic power in the hands of a select few restricts freedom. Whether by the dominion of the state or by the dominion of corporate lords in a sort of international feudal system- the result is the same. Corruption co-opts democracy by replacing representative government with government by special interests. The people who cause change and growth are the people who take a stand against the encroachments and natural entropy of our governmental and economic institutions. They cause conflict because they must in order to preserve the debate. Otherwise we all drown in the illusion that some benign big brother of bureaucrats, bankers, corporate officers, and congressmen will see to it that we all do just fine. In fact, the opposite is true. The conflict has to be unceasing and it is a conflict of ideas, interests, philosophy and spirituality. It is won and lost with words. The physical blows that ultimately follow the conflict of words and ideas usually just declare the winner. For example, today most of our goods are being made overseas. The American worker is being disenfranchised and the middle class is rapidly shrinking because of it. There are less and less good jobs for the average Joe and Jane. We were told that GATT and NAFTA would be good for America. The interests of American worker were defeated with words. If someone was to suggest that tariffs be introduced that would be shouted down by many as “restricting trade”. “Let free enterprise work it out”, they might say. Yet, trade is by no means free. I am not free to work for a decent wage because you are closing the factory so that you can make the product for ¼ the cost in a country where people do not have the right to speak their minds. They are grateful to do a days labor for a days bread and soon we will be too. You are keeping the difference in your pocket and I am unemployed, or underemployed. If we speak out against it (Hoorah Seattle) we might go to jail. If we don’t, most of our children will be working at McDonalds or Wal-Mart someday. Not everyone can be a doctor or a lawyer or even a teacher or some other kind of professional. The destruction of the working class- manufacturing positions, trades, farming and general labor results in greater poverty. It is a GOOD THING to be a carpenter, or an assembly line worker, or an independent farmer, or a shopkeeper. We are being deceived into rolling over for this great centralization and we are being told there is nothing that can be done about it. We are being told that globalization is inevitable. This is really just propaganda. The only people benefiting from this are the people whose interests go beyond borders. They are mining the whole world for profits. For a brief while in this country the press was an instrument of representation because they investigated and exposed corruption. Now the corporations own the media outlets and the news is tailored to what they want us to hear. The anti-trust laws that once protected Americans from just this kind of centralized economic control have been gradually dismantled or are just not enforced and the result has been the raiding of the economic trust. Pensions dissolve and are unsupported as corporations fail, due to white collar crime (many leveraged buy-outs are the results of insider trading and looting of corporate stores by operating officers and banks) and mismanagement. This after we were all told that we should not count on Social Security forever and that we should privatize our retirements through 401ks and funds, etc., etc. First they scraped off the pensions and now they are scraping off the markets. Corporate officers are receiving huge benefits for failing at their jobs as our future security disappears. We are seeing failure and fraud on a level that has a life and death impact on hundreds of thousands of American families- without a hiccup from the Justice Department. How does this happen? Corruption, that’s how. Our government is being co-opted at the highest levels by corporate money from all over the world and wealthy men are selling out the interests of their communities for more money and power. It is a bi-partisan effort. It is a war of words and the American working people are losing it without firing a shot. It may be too late to do anything about it but something ought to be tried. You see, we all- Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, independent, Christian, Jew, atheist, humanist, Buddhist, Muslim -depend upon the integrity and strength of our American freedoms. If we lose the rule of law to these oligarchs that keep us polarized and paralyzed as they rob us blind -there will be no more America. Only a hollow shell will remain. American Dream? Sleep on America. Unless a grass roots political uprising that incorporates the GREAT MIDDLE should occur, there will be a continuing slide back from freedom and prosperity in this country. The primary issues in America today ought to be campaign reform and the investigation and prosecution of political and corporate corruption. Nothing else we value can be preserved if our economic strength and personal freedoms are lost. Hillary Clinton made a little noise at one point during the primary battle in 2008 that maybe she really didn’t think GATT and NAFTA were such great ideas at the time and how she was just sort of supporting her party and her husband. Why did she say that? Because she was aware that the GREAT MIDDLE knows it has been sold out. She was trying to get elected. Anyone who is in tune with middle class working families knows this. Barack Obama began his campaign with promises to stem the tide of corporate greed and malfeasance, and lets hope he keeps that promise. Yet, the first things President Obama did after being elected were; 1)he rescinded his commitment to a proposed tax increase on the wealthy and 2)gave a ton of unsecured money to the very banks that have robbed the American people. My confidence is shaken Mr. President. Have they taken you aside already and told you that it cannot be done? That you must play the game by their rules or else? Or were those speeches of yours only rhetoric designed to enthuse the popular vote, a populist ruse to gain the White House? If you were sincere it is already past time to start taking back America. The only way to get the job done, Mr. President, is to use the bully pulpit with resounding persistence and reinvigorate the Justice Department of the United States of America. If we have to pay a short term price for procrastinating so long, so be it. Better to fight it out now. We may suffer withdrawals as part of the cure for our long, drugged sleep. Conflict, change and growth equals life, liberty and equity. Conflict is inevitable. Better to step it up while there are still a few minutes in the game. The world is not at peace. Everyone is not our friend. There are people who want to take what we have by stealth and propaganda, as well as by terrorism or by force. There is an economic war that never stops. We have allies, but we also have enemies, and many of them are in our own government and corporate boardrooms. Modern Benedict Arnolds. They are selling us out to international economic consortiums. We Americans have paid the price for our freedom and prosperity in wars without and conflicts within. Protests and conflicts and upheavals that would have been illegal everywhere but here. Now we are about to give it all away without a whimper to some rich con-men running a shell game. When our sons and daughters were dying in Iraq the oil conglomerates were gouging us at the pumps for record profits. When the banking conglomerates offered up all the Adjustable Rate Mortgages and other tail ended loans to working people they knew that many would eventually default. They promised continued low rates when they were selling these loans, but then raised them high while holding an economic gun to our heads. They provoked defaults by refusing reasonable replacement loans. It was a shell game. A war of words. Many of these bank executives should be in jail for committing wholesale fraud. They have suffered no consequence, which makes it government sponsored fraud. Now that the insurance companies own health care and the corporations control most of our agriculture and commodities there is very little commerce that a few controlling interests do not dominate. That is not freedom. The government is supposed to prevent this, not encourage and assist it.
Where there is freedom, there will always be conflict. The right to speak my mind is more important by far than the right to vote. There are many places in the world today where people line up at the poles to vote for one or the other of two equally corrupt officials and The United States is quickly becoming one of them. What can you do? Think about it. Talk about it. SHOUT and DEMONSTRATE about it. Send a letter to your congressman and especially, to the President of the United States. Send THIS letter if you agree with it. Call for, and watch for the development of a grass roots movement among the GREAT MIDDLE, people who can put aside their petty differences in order to rescue the core upon which we all depend. Everyone wants their children to be free to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Everyone with the exception of those who do not care about their neighbors children, and are only concerned with their own profit, even at the expense of the common good, and they are not really Americans at heart. Democracy is precious. It is NEVER free. The conflict that preserves it NEVER ENDS. Prepare to join selective boycotts to punish corporate robber barons. Prepare to join a march or a protest against the electoral elite ensconced like bloodsucking ticks in Washington. Raise your voice for campaign reform. Special interests own our Congressmen. Prepare to support the President should he turn out to be a man of courage and integrity and really go after these criminals and traitors like he said he would. Or just go back to sleep and dream- let the next generation pay the ultimate price of our lethargy, indifference and self indulgence.
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There is a lot here to digest, and I am not an American............but I think the issues adressed here are indeed world wide. I do not see a 'Middle' left, if there ever were one..........there are the very poor, the working poor and the wealthy. The very poor are so broken they cannot move, the majority of the wealthy are lost in their trappings, and the working poor, in general, are a dissillusioned and weary sector. I love that you have clearly stated it is a GOOD THING to be a carpenter , an assembly line worker, a shop keeper, or an independant farmer . It is more than good, it is HONORABLE. May God Bless you for still standing and being a voice for His people. Elizabeth.