What can we do about the great American lie?


From MICHAEL A. LEWIS
Transtion Voice

I. F. Stone told us many years ago that All Governments Lie.

Daniel Ellsberg, in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, told us why governments, including presidents, always lie, and must continue to lie about what they know to be true, but about which they cannot talk under constraints of “national security.”

Here at home, the lies place an impermeable barrier between those who know and those who cannot be told, a barrier that trickles down hill forever, separating the citizenry of the US from their government.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Today, the lies continue, as they must, though journalists, bloggers and other malcontents desperately chip away at the facade.

For example, the raid into Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden is revealed to have been not a one-off military adventure, but part of an ongoing campaign of covert military intervention in 120 countries around the world on the part of a highly organized and secretly funded cadre of 15,000 specially trained soldiers let loose on the world. There was never any intent to capture bin Laden alive. The goal of the raid was to kill this living embarrassment to the US government and remove any chance that he might say something awkward or revealing before he died on his own of kidney failure.

It’s not just the president who’s foisting lies on the public. Politicians of all stripes meet in smoke-filled back rooms with corporate lobbyists and industry representatives, barely deigning to conceal the bribes slipped under the table into their grasping clutches. Nudge nudge, wink wink. The press is summarily dismissed from these gatherings, as politicos hide their faces from the peering eye of the Internet, pretending we do not see.

Case in point: recent meetings of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a secretive corporate front-group that drafts pro-business legislation that pliant members of Congress often submit word-for-word as their own bills. The backslapping and glad handing continue safely within the confines of the Marriott, where laws are crafted far from the public eye. Would that they were only making sausage.

People? What “people?” Oh, corporations — those “people”

What do we do in the face of a government corrupt to the core — a government that professes to be “of the people, by the people and for the people”, yet continues to do the bidding of unaccountable corporate lobbyists, revolving door public-private political appointees, and an overweening military technology industry?

Do we continue to vote for new fodder for the corporate grist mill, aka Congress? Do we demand legislation that will stop the Congressional gravy train from those who are lined up at the front of the station platform? Do we demand a president to lead us out of the wilderness that is scheduled to be clear-cut for the corporate profits of his own big supporters?

If the people would lead, the leaders would follow

The central authoritarian government doesn’t have the answer, as it is the central problem.

Jeffersonian Republicans knew what they were doing when they opposed Alexander Hamilton’s Federalists at the turn of the 19th Century. They foresaw the coming excesses of centralized authority in a world dominated by capitalist greed. They viewed the Federalist agenda as anti-revolutionary, a continuance of the economic system that had strangled the North American British colonies until the Revolution tore them free.

The Anti-Federalists argued for small government, democracy, mutual aid, self-reliance and self-government. As foreseen, Hamilton’s paternalistic state has fostered a populous that cannot take care of itself, let alone serve as a beacon of democracy and freedom in an increasingly privatized world.

There’s only one path open to those few willing and aware US citizens: abruptly turn around and take a new step forward. We can’t solve the problem of corrupt government by appealing to the corrupt government. Jefferson was fond of the concept of public dissent and rebellion: “Every generation needs a new revolution.”

It’s time for our generation to expose the lies and foster a new revolution, a revolution that starts between the ears, and works outward through our families, neighborhoods, communities and bioregions. Not a violent revolution like the one that spawned this country, but a quiet revolution over backyard fences, neighborhood meetings in living rooms, public gatherings with local representatives, the anonymity of the polling booth.

By the time the central authority recognizes the revolution, it will be too late, a fait accompli, a done deal.

The challenge at present is to penetrate the fog of lies and mindless distractions of popular culture sufficiently to foster such a revolution.

Down with lies; Say “peak oil”

The solution is simple: we tell the truth.

The Orwellian bumper sticker tells us: “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

Whenever we encounter a lie, we respond with the truth. From local neighborhoods to the White House, in the coffee shop or city council chambers, we never let a lie pass unchallenged. This accomplishes two goals: we raise the consciousness of all within reach, and we challenge those who lie to us and expect to get away with it.

Thus the revolution begins.
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