Politics and Philosophy

Exploring Political Issues Through Philosophy

 

Why Politics are Boring

Am I Dumb?

or

Why Politics are Boring

                                                                                         By

  Emma Borden

I. Politics or Government

II. Two Roles of Government

   a. 1st Role

       1. On what is, and what ought

   b. 2nd Role

III. An assessment of governmental roles

IV. Gaining a Point of View

VI. Political Relations in Everyday Life

VII. Why I feel dumb

VIII. Fixing Dumb

 

I hate politics.  Watching the political news makes me bored, confused, irritated and feeling deflated and helpless.  These moods never come on me in the same order, but boredom is always high on the list. Possibly, that is because political news conjures helplessness, followed swiftly by boredom as my act of self-defense. Does that make me dumb?  Perhaps it does, or perhaps it will end by making me dumb – but I’m not alone in this.  Tens of millions of Americans feel the same helplessness.  Just look how few of us vote.  Perhaps hating politics is an American past-time or maybe it’s some kind of world-wide phenomenon?  I am undecided on the world-wide aspect, but I do live in the United States and I know that helplessness and a strong dislike for the stench of politics is part of the atmosphere we all breathe.  So I must ask: why?  Why do I hate politics?

I have friends, a few, who tell me to pay attention.  Yes, they say, I should pay close attention and I’ll learn how politics affect me, how politics makes my life either livable or a living hell. That’ll keep me from getting bored, they say, even if not much happier.  They tell me that politics is the overall process that determines who gets what, how much and when, and that understanding is supposed to make me wiser, I suppose.  And, I am told, it should be obvious that all this parceling out of the nation’s goods is a process that can quickly lead to painful consequences and often to violence.  Sometimes the pain will be mine.  Sometimes the pain will belong to others. But inevitably, and at some level, this process will draw me, my life, my surroundings, my wants and needs, into the great political maw to be chewed, digested, and excreted – very often without me being consciously aware of anything except the helplessness. And, they insist, that there is no escaping this political process.

My friends say that even while I must take seriously the suffering roiling across the world’s stage, I should carefully note a principle cause of my aversion for the politics of these horrors.  They insist that while I witness the events of the world I will rarely see anything I might accurately call politics.  What I see is government, or governments.  Government is clearly related to politics, though it is not precisely the same entity. Government draws its design, meaning and energy from politics, but government is politics only in the sense that lava is a volcano. It is the misunderstanding of government, rather than politics, which leads to the fuzz of confusion and is a major source for those feelings of helplessness and my main defense against it, boredom.

It would seem that if I am to get at the actual causes of why politics, per se, is tiresome, I will need to address direct knowledge of political relations, rather than government, and specifically address how and why these political relations are not more obvious to us.  Politics, correctly understood, is far more omnipresent than government, but far less apparent.

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I. Politics or Government?  So first, what is politics?  Giving a definition to politics seems simple enough.  Politics is the process by which it is decided who gets what, how much of it they get, and when do they get it.  The “what” in this case is the sum total of the communal product of a given society.  A ‘society’ can mean the immediate locale, or it can mean the world-wide human community: that is, ‘society’ can range from the very micro, as found in the family and neighborhood, to the very macro, as found in the nation-state and the international arena.  Whatever the locale, distribution of the communal product is always a negotiated feature of organized societies.  It is this distribution that is the pivotal factor of human struggle, and this struggle is what is called political relations

One way to look at all this politicking is to see it as a form of negotiated discrimination.  That’s right, politics is a process that sorts and prioritizes and in the end, discriminates.  This raises an obvious question: is the discrimination just?  If the discrimination represents an act of justice, all is well and good, but if not, and the injustice is rank enough, we find that the discrimination that is usually hidden away by an act of government. This hiding of injustice demonstrates at least one function that government plays in politics.  It also addresses one of my observations concerning helplessness:  government is a confusing montage rather than a lens for clarity.  I feel helpless in the face of this obscurity.  Only hours of painful study can unravel the tortured turns of parliamentary complexities, pierce the fog of legal jargon, and grasp the murky subtleties of legislative discrimination.  Human justice should be clean, direct and immediately understandable.  Yet the human agency of government eviscerates the clarity and obscures the reality behind the political struggle.

Why is it that the workings of our world are so difficult and elusive?  The answer is found in the two roles played by government.

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II. Two Roles of Government.  Government acts out many roles. Some are subtle and refined.  Others are more blatant and heavy handed.  Some roles are mandatory and serve to help in defining government.  Others are covert and work only in the shadows.  Here I am most concerned with two of the most characteristic roles of government: mediation and coercion.  When all the sophisticated artifacts are stripped away, it is these two roles that most spell out the meaning of government, albeit in rather stark terms.  It is also the tangle of the overt and covert meaning of these roles that does more than any other to distort and disguise the raw struggle going on behind the facade of government. 

a. 1st Role.   The first of these roles played by government is political mediation. For a host of historical and social reasons, it is a practical role of government to establish the rules of the political contest, and then act as referee. This is the overt purpose to the role of mediation, which is another way of saying that government establishes and exercises a methodology for the ‘safe’ (i.e., non-violent) but unequal distribution of social wealth.  There is no society where the social wealth is distributed equally. Then too, where in history is the unequal distribution based on a system which can demonstrate that the inequality even approaches some sense of universal justification.  There is almost no governmental legislation or decree that cannot ultimately be traced to this fact of unequal wealth distribution.  For example, foreign policy can be tracked to a maintenance or betterment of status quo in international economic relations; the effect of civil rights legislation is to head off the widespread cost and economic dislocation produced by civil disobedience that threatens the to expose the unequal status quo; currency manipulation is easily traced to maintaining consistency in capital-intensive stock trading and fiscal stability in banking.  Governmental action may be corrective, prescriptive, or proactive, but ultimately it can best be understood in terms of the preservation of a certain economic status quo. Of course, these actions are not presented in such blunt terms.  And, in fact, the maintenance of the status quo is able to vanish beneath other positive terms: foreign policy can head off wars, civil rights legislation does appeal to a sense of fairness; currency manipulation can halt run-away inflation.  However, hidden behind these ‘positive effects’ of these governmental actions are the ever present facts of political inequality.

The precise understanding of the reasons why particular types of methodology arose is beside the point of this discussion. It is sufficient to note that the methods are adopted from what history puts forth as both available and conforming to the existing political relations and the ideological atmosphere.  What is immediately pertinent to us here is that the methodology used in the process of mediation generates an important ‘covert’ role for government.  It is this covert role that moves us toward the heart of helplessness and boredom

This covert role, as derived from the methodology and structure of mediation, is designed to cloak both the unequal distribution and the reasons for it.  The methodology issues a procedural mist that blankets and disguises the crude struggle for the communal product that writhes behind. Rather than work a rational distribution of the communal product into the mix, the cloaking itself served to hide the basic fact that the mediation is intended, via discrimination, to preserve some basic status-quo, a status quo that is fundamentally unequal.  Armed with enough facts and education, this veil can be pierced and drawn aside.  For example, enough study will reveal that distributing income to the wealthy may be hidden behind a surge of ‘tax-cuts for all.’  Specifically, a 2% tax cut for income earners making $30,000 means a savings of $600.00, while the same tax cut for incomes of $3,000,000 means a boost in income of $60,000, or an income hike of twice the total yearly income of the earner of $30,000.  This is upward distribution of wealth.  Such parliamentary maneuvering on behalf of the elite is not uncommon, but behind this smoke and mirrors most voters never really witness the strong bias toward the upper classes.  And these ‘tax-cuts’ are only one of the most obvious of the covert activities. Given the unequal distribution of power, every governmental action from budget cuts to executive cabinet appointees is tipped to toward the elite, which means tipped toward social-economic inequality.

1. On what is, and what ought. Some of this ‘hiddenness’ is obvious, even to the casual onlooker.  Other forms are less obvious.  This is because this covert role of government need not necessarily be of direct or deliberate intent.  The cloaking itself may be so completely integrated in the ideological playing field that it all but goes unnoticed. The referee, instead of finding a pattern for more rational redistribution of the communal product according to need and social contribution, finds the fact of social injustice appropriate and even natural.  The social injustice is distorted by unequal teams playing on a rigged field provided by an idea systems and ideological notions of legality and legitimacy. The first thing to notice about this rigged field is that the referee, that is the living government, finds it easier to play on the field of ‘what is’ as opposed to ‘what ought.’ 

To inject the ‘what ought’ into the field of ‘what is’ tugs at the edges of the ideological cloak. It is at the point of this tugging by ‘what ought’ that the systems of ideas, that is the pre-established idea patterns of how we go about organizing our reality inevitably comes into conflict with governmental institutions, especially in ‘democratic’ societies.  Often this provokes a conceptual stalemate.  And sometimes it generates governmental paralysis, as in the case of the presidency of James Buchanan, or worse, a governmental panic, as in the case of the Weimar Republic naming Hitler Chancellor of Germany. Between the two, stalemate or panic, stalemate is more common, though such a situation will not last very long without resolution.

Here is a paradigm illustrating the development of this stalemate and eventual resolution:  The ideology that suggests how things ‘ought to be’ comes into direct opposition with a governmental structure that is rigged to preserve a concrete ‘what is.’  Typically, this will occurs in a situation where there exists a reflex that tells us that we ‘ought’ to live in an equalitarian society, a society where cooperation and common goals will benefit all.  Opposing this is the very real ‘what is’ of inequality, a socio-economic inequality that receives active support from the governing establishment.  Such a situation was quite evident in the years following the American Civil War, where the actual inequality of the new Freedmen came into direct conflict with governing institutions, those institutions dominated by Southern planters and Northern mercantile interests.  For economic reasons necessary to the survival of these southern and northern interests, the government came to support a system where the Freedman continued to labor under near slave like conditions in order that the country’s greatest product, King Cotton, continue to reign.[1]  In this case, slave like conditions continued for the southern Black, fully sanction by government fiat and decree,

b. 2nd Role.   The second overt role of government is the application of force.  This is not necessarily the direct application of violence, but an ongoing and systemic coercion that plays-out through the monopoly on violence in the form of police agencies and a military at the beck-and-call of governmental institutions.  So by force, when considered in its broadest sense, is the threat of violence and well as its actual application. This role of government presents the social order with the coercive agencies by which political decisions on the distribution of the communal product can be enforced.  Typically, the mere awareness of the threat of violence is enough to gain compliance from the populace. The policeman’s gun can remain holstered, but its presence alone states the stark fact of what playing outside the rigged field can mean.

The covert role of force enters the playing field by an oddly convoluted pathway. The path begins with the presentation of coercion and enforcement as natural and just.  This mask is presented by legal rituals and constitutional mantras that serve to cloak force and violence behind the mantle of legitimacy.  Legitimacy serves as a misdirection of focus from the very real and unequal outcome of the distribution of social wealth and cloaks the winning and loosing factions involved in the power struggles.  By extension, the fulfillment of legitimacy allows for force, or the threat of force, to be applied with a minimum of debate or resistance.

It is important to note here that direct governmental application of force and violence is only one form that political coercion can take.  The others forms are less understood governmentally and more understood socially and economically; none the less, they are political in cause and effect. The dismissal of striking workers, discrimination in housing and education, restricted access to medical facilities, all serve as examples of violence in the service of unequal distribution of communal good and services.

To be fair, I should also note that not all coercive acts by government are negative or abusive.  Such things as mentioned above, where housing and access to various educational facilities are largely controlled by economic class, governmental roles of mediation and occasionally force can step in for redress on behalf of justice and equality.  We see this in such cases as the intervention of federal troops during the case of the desegregation of public schools in Little Rock during 1957.  Once could argue, I suppose, that the entire civil rights movement was only an effort to clean up the ugly image the US presented to the world-at-large.  On balance, Eisenhower’s motives (and a decade later, Lyndon Johnson’s) no doubt stemmed as much from a sense of fairness as it did from Brown vs. The Board of Education.  However, all too often experience feeds cynicism making good motives difficult to see.

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III. An assessment of governmental roles:  The roles of force and mediation work hand in hand because, to be completely realistic, the distribution of the communal product means that someone’s gain is almost always due to someone else’s loss. Politics is the intense struggle for the goods and services provided by the social order.  This makes for dog-eat-dog political relations.  This is not a pretty picture, but due to the nature of scarcity, and the caprice of human desires, such an intense struggle is an accurate image of the politics of socio-economic relations. As a consequence, it can be argued that what would be taking place in the absence of government processes is a fierce, often violence and unrelenting free-for-all over possession of the communal product.  This was a point of view of political relations and the necessity of government advanced by Thomas Hobbes. And Hobbes’ argument on behalf of government’s major roles of mediation and force seems to have held together for quite a while now. 

The level of ferocity in this free-for-all depends on the proximity of two elements.  One is the availability of the communal product, and other is control over distribution of the communal  product.  Keep these two factors in mind, ‘availability’ and ‘control,’ for these operators, more than any other, serve to govern the level of coercion and violence present in a particular social order. Government is both the mask behind which this struggle is carried out and the negotiator that attempts to keep the ferocity from spilling over into open warfare.  Throughout various societies these two factors controlling political relations might be configured and arrayed differently, but they are always present and always in play.  The political relations define the players in the struggle and greatly affect the nature of the government that keeps all the players in check, but in this real world the struggle that is political relations is always present.

The methods of government action – the overt and covert – are elements interwoven, and to a considerable degree, symbiotic. The very visible machinery of mediation also provides the legal infrastructure that covertly masks the factions involved in the struggle over social wealth.  The second role of government, that of providing the concentration of force that safeguards the distribution of social wealth, also generates the covert misdirection by a legal ‘understanding’ of force.  The ‘legal understanding’ provides the fog of legitimacy that disguises and facilitates the suppression of agitation for a change in distribution. This is so even when democratic forces press for changes that may result in greater equality or fairness of distribution.  For their part, the 'rewarded factions,' in exchange for their hiddenness and gain from peaceful distribution, steady and bolster government against both coups and revolts.

For the vast majority of us it is natural to sense something in the complex methodology of governing that, if not openly hostile, feels oppressive and beyond our control. Most individuals in any given society see this picture of alienation as simply an inevitable outcome of the machinations of government. The majorities of citizens are remote from government and estranged from the intimacies of politics that afford distribution of the communal product.  They need no elaborate descriptions to justify their sense of alienation. For them, the majority, government is witnessed as a hurtful and depriving entity.  The fog of government does not allow for fast and ready analysis of the underlying politics, so denied the time to accelerate expertise, the vast majority suffers frustration, depression and boredom.  It is this fog of government that is the major cause of voter apathy.

On the other hand, for those who benefit from the governmental system of social distribution, the minority, the opposite is the case.  The more you receive from the political mediation, the more government appears in a favorable light and the more involved you are likely to become.  And for those who acquire the lion’s share of social distribution government is not seen merely as good and temperate, but as a Capricorn of beneficence. For these, the natural inclination is to support the source of this plenty with all the resources at hand, i.e., money and influence.

With this understanding of overt and covert, it is easy to gasp that seeing government, rather than politics, generally accounts for why most activities in the political arena are confusing, difficult to understand and disturbing to follow.  It is always best to remember that it is politics, not government that is the actual struggle to determine the distribution of the communal product as a whole.  This distinction is more than analytically useful.  This distinction between politics and government will go a long way toward charging your interest in the political world.

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IV. Gaining a Point of View.  One thing that should not be mysterious is that along with the mediating efforts of government, the actual fogging (i.e. constructing a lattice of legalities that conceal the real power relations) is not readily available for viewing. This cloaking of the real relations by rituals of legitimacy is so interwoven with the ideology of the times that witnessing the stark reality is best accomplished by the position and stance of the viewer.  This is to say that exactly how the dynamic between the real struggle and the facade is perceived depends largely on where the viewer is positioned in relation to the operation of the distributive processes.  A closeness to the decision making process causes the viewer to see the relations as less enigmatic and threatening than for those standing further away.  When one stands close enough to the levers of power to actually influence their pulling the process appears natural and appropriate to the events of the day.  But regardless of position, the process must fit into current ideological interpretation otherwise legitimacy could not occur. Government must be ideologically views as ‘democratic’ and ‘for and by the people’ otherwise legitimacy will collapse, often with grave consequences for the status quo.

This dynamic is also true of “representative democracies” as the “representatives” determine the distribution of the communal product according to the actual political relations (i.e., the socio-economic structural reality that animates and directs the government’s distributive goals) and not the constitutional veneer that shield these relations from view. That is, the ‘representatives’ represent certain socio-economic groups, and typically not the groups suggested by the legal and constitutional facade.  Because the ideology serves to mask the relationship between the actual nature of the distributive process and roles of government, the players can themselves be fooled into denying the underlying dynamic.  This is, however, not as common with the hands-on players as it is with the estranged bystanders.  As pure democracy remains a theoretical entity (i.e., where the population at large would pull the levels of power and distribution) it is difficult to determine the practical consequences to social distribution under such a forthright democratic system.

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VI. Political Relations in Everyday Life.  My every activity is a part of political relations, although because of the fog of ideology daily activities are not often regarded as such.  To be precise, acting out ‘political relations’ can mean deciding which restaurant to eat at, or which book to buy, or simply getting up in the morning and going to work. All of these activities represent aspects of the communal product, together with the management and distribution of that product.  Of course, describing these commonplace activities as ‘political relations’ sounds strange as one is inclined to think of some or all of these acts as being trivial, voluntary and far removed from issues of force and power.  But consider, what if everyone stayed home today instead of going to work.  This is typically called a general strike, and is an overt political tool used at times to bring down governments.  Distribution of communal product can be disrupted by voluntarily boycotting particular commercially available items.  Deliberately disregarding civil or even criminal laws – this usually called civil disobedience – has an immediate impact on government and will quickly activate the two roles of government.  These are mass movement requires the participation of large numbers of people.  A single person’s action is easily contained by the machinery of government, but it is recognizable as micro civil disobedience.  Likewise, continuing in a mode of obedience, rather out of fear or out of belief, is also political, and outwardly reinforces the legitimacy of the governing system.

A complete consideration of the above seems to provoke a secondary issue.  This issue can be best stated by asking the question: are not these voluntary acts of obedience, and many other mundane actions, such as going to a movie, selecting a newspaper, and so on, completely free of overt coercion, that is, free of the active ‘intrusion’ of government?  For if it was true that my daily life was non-political, then the decisions I make in my daily life would be free of coercion, or so this would seem to follow.  But is this really the case, and do I honestly feel this way?    

Consider first that government, while having a monopoly on ‘legitimate’ violence, is only one face of political coercion, and that every one of my actions, no matter how pedestrian, is a locked into the web of social experience and political relations in which I live.  Ponder the above illustration of the general strike. Were I to alone refuse to work – act out my own mini general strike – I would suffer the force and power of the social order in short order. My action would not only be contained and go unnoticed, but likely cripple my life’s chances. The matrix of these social relations that crushed my little protest is ultimately rooted in the relationships of power existent within my society. These actions are not always governmental, but are political. Let me make this point with a more positive example: the restaurant in which I decide to eat is within my ‘free’ decision-making range principally because of the power of a politically managed economy that widely influences employment, income, advertising, food distribution, mortgage lending, and the business class to which the owner of the restaurant, and myself, belong, etc. Even this seemingly prosaic action is interwoven with many of the social and economic elements within which I live and make choices.  Without being aware of it, a system of subtle economic and social force guides my actions through the decision making surrounding events.  Even within these social and economic actions that seem trivial and relatively unimportant political coercion is at work.

The fact that we do not ordinarily consider such daily activities where we bank, or shop or eat, as in any way coerced by the existing power relations, is testimonial to the pervasiveness of an ideology that obscures and misdirects much of our thinking.  The media and government offer legitimacy to these modes of thought easily making them appear axiomatic and beyond question.  These modes of thought, facilitated by mass decimation, are the premier way in which we are turned away from acknowledging the power relations at work to influence even apparently random decisions.  We are turned away from realizing life itself as political and are instead channeled into viewing government as politics; or rather I should say the fog of government as politics.  To escape helplessness and boredom I need to recognize that with very little exception, every act has some implication for this web of power relations.  My every act is, to some degree, political.

It is also true that seeing the extent of this system of thought may be beyond our prevailing consciousness.  You, and I, as distasteful as it is to contemplate, are creatures, (but not marionettes!) of coercive (i.e., political) forces of which we are typically unaware.  These coercive forces are not ghosts or spirits that live inside the social machinery, but are the ideas that allow us to seamlessly negotiate our way through actions that make up the circumstances of our everyday lives.  We are immersed in the ideology of our society to such a degree that we give this coercion not a thought, for the ideas we employ seem to us as natural as the hands at the ends of our arms.

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VII. Why I feel dumb. The role of government, therefore, while having considerable bearing on questions of distribution, is also a dominate player in why I feel stupid in the face of ‘politics.’  As government is mask for a raw, underlying political struggle, it must misdirect my attention elsewhere into ‘safe’ understandings of the political relations and their tireless jockeying for position.  The real divvying up of the communal product, which might be of genuine interest to me, is spirited away behind a bland and boring apparat soup that is not intended to excite my interest least I be tempted to enter the struggle actively.  This last, my actively entering the struggle for communal product, is never a desirable factor for the power relations that are the structural determinates of society. This reality is most obvious in a ‘democratic’ society, where the appearance of participation must overwhelm the reality of alienation, apathy and anomie.  In reality, however, my every move is wrapped up on this struggle for the communal product. 

Political factors blend into the social matrix in such a way as to misdirect an accurate view of the power arrangements and cause the coercive factors to appear normal and fitting, that is, make them appear a-political.  This misdirection represents another transforming power of the prevailing system of ideas.  In the most general sense all of my social relations (e.g., who I choose to marry, what university I plan to attend, etc.) are political in that the parameters of my living is an expression of historically determined power relations. Living within this idea system means that from the moment of my birth I have inhaled the idea-system of my time, making all that I witness seem as normal as water to a fish.  Where I am born, into what time in history, into what class, into what race, has profound implications for me and the idea systems that influence my thinking.  I am consciously aware of actions overtly related to the governing structure of our society – elections, party affiliation, taxes collection, police activity, and so on – but all of my other acts, no matter how trivial, and most of my thinking, have elements of power relations about them and are also political, only I am not completely conscious of them. It is actually more accurate to say that I am politically unconscious of the world around me, which makes me feel stupid and bored in the face of politics.  But I am not stupid or dumb, only unconscious of the power relations swirling around me, so that I am compelled and coerced by forces that are invisible to me leaving me feeling helpless and inept.  All this seems very tedious and although I may understand it, I would prefer not to dwell on it.  Many times the obscuring mist and the ubiquitous threat of force actually provoke one to prefer unconsciousness to political consciousness. 

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VIII. Fixing Dumb.  It is not that government represents an outright lie.  That government is an outright lie is not only a cynical view, but an incorrect view.  Government, in terms of alienation and confusion, is like a stone in the flow of political consciousness.  Government is misdirection, an obstacle to clear thinking about where I am in relation to the struggle for the communal product. This is a challenge and one that I must accept in order to surmount the anger working against a clearer vision of my world and my power in it.  Once I look deep, push past that veneer of government, my interest is piqued by tapping into where the real social factors jockey for possession and control of the forces of production and distribution.  I can see that the real forces at work are human forces, only hidden by working through the apparatus of government.  The value of studying government is to see where it is going about its business, working through the rituals, the procedures, and how this offer clues as to the nature of the social forces involved in the struggle.  Through the workings of government I can begin to see the alignment of these social forces with the governmental overlay, see how the forces direct the levers of government to accomplish the self serving tasks, and see why the obscurity is necessary to the subterfuge.  In short, the true value of studying government is found in using the acquired knowledge to push beyond the artificial contrivances to a naked vision of the social forces struggling for control of the communal product.  The veil of government must be pushed aside, and that can only be accomplished through a deep study of the veiling pocess.

At another level, clear vision demands that I focus on the possibility for the introduction of high doses of direct democracy.  Besides bringing presentation inline with reality it would bring the actual power relations into much sharper relief.  At stated above, it is not clear how the actual practice of direct democracy would work in reality, but as the introduction of democracy would cause govermental interference to be a minimal factor in obscuring a correct view of power relations, its consideration cannot help but produce clarity.  Partly because of the practical changes a form of direct democracy would bring, and partly because of the change in perception it would produce, there is also a very good chance that the power relations would be strongly encouraged to reconfigure. Real democracy can do such things.  Rather such a change is for the better is a question of point of view, which is dependent of on the position of the individual in relationship to the communal product.  But one thing seems certain.  Being dumb is to a great extent a political act. It is an act driven by helplessness in the face of government. Even the contemplation of direct democracy would give me the feeling of having my hands on the levers of power, give me a direct view and not a misdirected view of the distribution of the communal product, and thus empower my vision to blow away the fog of dumb.

At the very heart of this awakening is the understanding that politics is not government.  Government is one of a most serious misdirection working against a true understanding of political relations.  Getting at an accurate picture is a liberating experience that correctly directs my energy at the actual nature of the struggle over the communal product.  This is a struggle I cannot avoid, not ever, as I am part of my society’s political relations from my birth to my death.

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] For probably the best treatment of this shameful era of governmental oppression of the Southern Blacks see: Eric Foner, Reconstruction, America’s Unfinished Revolution, Perennal Classics, (New York, 2002).  Especially see chapter six.

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