Recently, Greece’s radical leftist party Syriza claimed victory in their national election. The party vowed to break ties with the European Central bank and roll back the EU’s neoliberal economic agenda. True to their word, they are already implementing some of those changes. From the birthplace of democracy, excitement is spreading across Europe and revitalizing the hope that real change may still be possible through the electoral arena.
Mr. Nader’s 25 points for change are all great, overdue, and well-taken.
But let’s look at the “everyone gets an equal voice” premise in a society that is itself not only glaringly sexist and racist and class-based, but becoming more so each day.
It’s like announcing equality on an all but level playing field.
This idea that all voices get heard usually means that voices become subsumed into a herd or group-mind that reflects the programming that created it; and that programming is hierarchical and largely in place to reward dominators. More often than not, the dominators end up the usual rulers: Caucasian males.
Women make up 25% of congress and I’m sure numbers along those lines when it comes to chairing corporations, academe, and courtrooms.
Until society’s representation is truly fair and balanced, this “give everyone a voice” is shallow.
In fact, this type of statement is precisely what right wing PR people like Frank Luntz use to disable things like Affirmative Action. They argue that the Black boy or Hispanic girl received the university entrance denied to a white boy with a similar academic record. “Fair and equal for all,” right?
Our interests are not all alike.
Prominent to the single mother is the issue of safe, affordable childcare.
Prominent to the anti-war Veteran is accessible health care.
Prominent to the factory worker is fair wages.
Prominent to the campus female is both her education and lately, protection from male rapist/predators
Prominent to the Black Mother is the safety of her sons out on the street.
And so forth.
Until the call for ONENESS respects, and takes into full account, the particular needs and challenges faced by each group, it’s disingenuous to pass off these major concerns as mere “identity politics.”
After all, how many within the White establishment gave a damn about Black rights until the Civil Rights movement took off?
How many males give a damn about women’s rights? The majority LIKE women to play subservient roles starting in intimate relationships. The whole of family life is built on God, the father giving orders to Mom, the unpaid maid and slave, and children forced to obey the father’s will or know his wrath.
Identity Politics must be part of a pie that regards the pieces that compose it with genuine respect. Different notes are what makes for music. One note can’t cut it… too often agreement these days subsumes differences so that one size is made to fit all.
Even the natural world–through mono-crop agriculture–is being fitted to this lifeless, MAN-made and MAN-managed uniform machine model.
“PABLO IGLESIAS: For necessity, because we understood very well that if you need to change the things, you need political power. And we were activists, and we used to work in social fields in the civil society, but we know that it’s very important to occupy the institutional powers in order to change things. It’s quite important to be in the Parliament. It’s quite important to win the elections.”
As for identity politics, I quite agree and have been saying so for some time - as long as we each define ourselves with some particular label that separates us from others, the divide and conquer strategy so well used by the duopoly will continue to succeed … Until we decide to unite under an “All Lives Matter” we will be continually vulnerable to being played against one another …
Thank you for reading and commenting. I hear you and I think you and I actually agree with the basic message of this article. I think we have a different idea of the word “ideology”. With what I said about true dialogue, I didn’t mean it would eliminate all of our differences by simply putting everyone under the banner of the 99% and failing to recognize the different degree of each person’s oppression and privilege that are associated with race, gender and social status.
I used the term ideology to indicate some kind of abstract manufactured image and narrow belief mostly imposed upon us (stereotyped image of ourselves, ex. Immigrants who take our jobs, Muslims that are associated with terrorism, for instance).
This is consciously set up by those in power to freeze our autonomous movement of thoughts and feeling (how we regard ourselves and each other). Many of us don’t know it, but I see how our internal process to define reality is deeply invaded by corporate forces (media and entertainment etc) and outright government propaganda. Much of what many of what we think as “independent free thoughts” are actually not our own.
I elucidated this as a tactic of ruling by divide and conquer, fueling ideology wars and how what is underneath this is a vice. Indeed this is a violation of a spirit of equality in the Declaration, the very foundation of the Constitution and governing structure. I see this violation is at the roots of many social and political problems that we have been and are facing now and this goes back to the very foundation of the United States.
From the onset of its development, the governing structure in the U.S. was never intended to be actually democratic. Representative government was a closed circle of old boy’s club (white property owners) and there always existed (still does) a gap between the ideals in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which was manifested in the hypocrisy and contradictions of founders.
Electoral politics in many ways has been a charade used as a way to preserve this unaccounted power of white racial supremacy. African cultures and indigenous people always worked with a principle of consensus and had to adopt and learn a system of voting. David Graeber talks all about this in his book “The Democracy Project”, if you are interested in exploring this more.
So, in order to truly realize the ideals of equality in the Declaration and create a governance of laws that are true to the foundation, we first have to recognize that we don’t currently have a democracy at the national level and this system of representation never intended to represent people of color, and poor (increasingly nowadays now middle class is being squashed and the system is becoming very oligarchical only to represent 1% or even less).
In the electoral arena, we never hear about poverty and Black agendas (i.e. that which Cornell West and Tavis Smiley are working to push forward), so the large majority of people indeed are invisible. As you and I know, most politicians don’t care about us and the system is so corrupt it prevents even good-hearted candidates from working for us even if they get in.
In this article, I was trying to elucidate the necessity of reversing this process of divide and conquer. We need to first divest ourselves from the system that does not represent us, from the system that tells lies about who we are and about fellow citizens. This was, to me, what Occupy was trying to achieve. One of the hallmarks of the movement was refusal to make demands. It is a discipline to not to engage with the illegitimate system that does not represent us with its ideologically divisive charade.
Voting is not a means to create democracy, it should be the outcome of a democratic process.