The Warnings of History by Thom Hartmann The 70th anniversary wasn't noticed in the United States, and was barely reported in the corporate media. But the Germans remembered well that fateful day seventy years ago - February 27, They commemorated the anniversary by joining in demonstrations for peace that mobilized citizens all across the world. It started when the government, in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack.
And we are here in Salem, Oregon, interviewing Dr. Sheldon Wolin, who taught politics for many years at Berkeley and, later, Princeton. He is the author of several seminal works on political philosophy, including Politics and Vision and Democracy Inc. And we are going to be asking him today about the state of American democracy, political participation, and what he calls inverted totalitarianism.
And in your great work Politics and Vision, you reach back all the way to the Greeks, up through the present age, to talk about the evolution of political philosophy.
What do you mean by it? We have a relatively free media. You juxtapose inverted totalitarianism to classical totalitarianism—fascism, communism—and you say that there are very kind of distinct differences between these two types of totalitarianism.
What are those differences? Well, certainly one is the—in classic totalitarianism the fundamental principle is the leadership principle and the notion that the masses exist not as citizenry but as a means of support which can be rallied and mustered almost at will by the dominant powers.
And the contemporary one is one in which the rule by the people is enshrined as a sort of popular message about what we are, but which in fact is not really true to the facts of political life in this day and age.
In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling.
And they will take whatever steps are needed in the economy in order to ensure the long-run sustainability of the political order. In other words, the sort of arrows of political power flow from top to bottom.
And minority rule is usually treated as something to be abhorred but is in fact what we have. And democracy, I think, from the beginning never quite managed to make the kind of case for an economic order that would sustain and help to develop democracy rather than being a kind of constant threat to the egalitarianism and popular rule that democracy stands for.
In your book Politics and Vision, you quote figures like Max Weber who talk about capitalism as in fact being a destructive force to democracy.
I think he views it as quintessentially destructive not only of democracy, but also, of course, of the sort of feudal aristocratic system which had preceded it. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy.
They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy.
You talk in the book about about how it was essentially the engine of the Cold War, juxtaposing a supposedly socialist Soviet Union, although like many writers, including Chomsky, I think you would argue that Leninism was not a socialist movement.
Adam Ulam talks about it as a counterrevolution, Chomsky as a right-wing deviation. But nevertheless, that juxtaposition of the Cold War essentially freed corporate capitalism in the name of the struggle against communism to deform American democracy.
And also I just want to make it clear that you are very aware, especially in Politics and Vision, of the hesitancy on the part of our founding fathers to actually permit direct democracy.
But maybe you could talk a little bit about that. I think the system that was consciously and deliberately constructed by the founders who framed the Constitution—that democracy was the enemy.
And that was rooted in historical realities. Many of the colonial governments had a very strong popular element that became increasingly prominent as the colonies moved towards rebellion. And rebellion meant not only resisting British rule, but also involved the growth of popular institutions and their hegemony in the colonies, as well as in the nation as a whole, so that the original impulses to the Constitution came in large measure from this democratizing movement.
But the framers of the Constitution understood very well that this would mean—would at least—would jeopardize the ruling groups that they thought were absolutely necessary to any kind of a civilized order. And they felt that this was in the best interests of the country. And you must remember at this time that the people, so-called, were not well-educated and in many ways were feeling their way towards defining their own role in the political system.The British Empire lasted for half a millennia and stretched to the furthest corners of the Earth.
However, it was not hatched in isolation and was influenced by political, social, cultural, technological and scientific trends from the home country, immediate neighbours, Europe and the wider world. award-winning journalist, Democracy Now! co-host, and author most recently of News for All the People, which is just out in paperback this initiativeblog.com book Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in.
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The Galactic Empire, also known as the Old Empire, the First Galactic Empire, Palpatine's New Order, the Imperium or simply the Empire, was the galactic government established by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to replace the Galactic Republic in 19 BBY and bring Sith rule to the galaxy.
The. Oct 23, · A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.
From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose Status: Resolved. In recent years, the American impulse toward empire has been on the rise, especially since 9/11, and observers from across the political spectrum have remarked that this flexing of imperial muscle has come at the expense of American democracy.