George Carlin said it bluntly a few years ago, and it was dismissed as comedy by more than a few who saw that it wasn’t – who saw that he he was using the comedic stage as a platform to deliver a serious warning, to pass on the truth as he saw it clearly:
They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations, they’ve long since bought and paid for the senate, the congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets, and they own all the big media companies so they control just about all the news and information you get to hear.
They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else.
But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting f*cked by a system that threw them overboard 30 f*ckin’ years ago. They don’t want that.
You know what they want? They want obedient workers – obedient workers – people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paper work, and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime, and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.
And now they’re coming for your social security money.
They want your f*ckin’ retirement money. They want it back. So they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street.
Carlin was a unique talent – he had a stage presence that was fun to listen to and he had a way with phrasing and delivery that made the depressing message he had to pass on a little easier to swallow than dry facts would have.
This is a thought-piece about whether democracy is worth anything at all in this era. I start with reflection upon a short paragraph from Ellen Meiksins Wood’s Democracy Against Capitalism, which suggests that elites both before and after capitalism have had a social basis for their assertions of privilege. The current assertion of privilege is substantiated by “money,” “property,” and “capitalism,” all of which are said to limit the sphere of democratic decisionmaking. But since “money,” “property,” and “capitalism” are the business of society, one must then question whether or not there is really anything left for democracy to decide, and whether people will actually get enough power to make democracy decide anything of substance.