Sunday, November 28, 2004

False Alternatives and Simulated Competition

First, welcome to all DUers. I have been participating in the Democratic Underground community for the past few weeks and some of those readers have visited GuvWurld. Thanks to Senior Citizen for starting a thread called The No Confidence Movement--what your town can do! I appreciate everybody who has kicked it back to the front of the listings in the election section and look forward to seeing more posts about steps people are taking to get the No Confidence Resolution passed where they live.

Please also visit the We Do Not Concede declaration. This absolutely captures the No Confidence sentiment and has caused a few people to remark about the similarities. One really strong aspect of their frame is putting the burden of proof on showing an election is fair and legit rather than having to prove it wasn't. I'll later make reference to where I diverge from WDNC.

The topic I've been encountering most lately is the false alternative. In the aftermath of the most recent "election" I detailed why John Kerry was a false alternative:
If Kerry had ever been in it to win it he should have given us a hopeful vision for a peaceful future; he could have pledged to reverse the media consolidation that has led to manipulative brainwashing; he would have feigned an interest in undoing the Patriot Act to restore civil liberties. A shrewd opponent of Bush would also support the 9/11 Truth Movement and the victims' families who last week successfully submitted a criminal complaint to NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

In this entire campaign, John Kerry never stood up for anything - he just stood in. He was like a sparring partner, there for a workout but not to knock you out. And wasn't he using Springsteen's "No Surrender" as a campaign theme? How do you ask a man to be first to concede a "contest" he may yet be "proven" to have won?

I suspect that to the powerful partisan insiders who cast Kerry in the role of candidate, he was also a hedge bet. President Kerry would keep the war machine revved and the secrets of 9/11 concealed; allow further restriction of information through anti-competitive and anti-capitalist media mergers; and perpetuate the illusion that two major corporate parties are actually fighting over how best to represent you. This campaign was not only simulated competition, John Kerry represented a false alternative.
Presenting this idea in other words, Carolyn Baker at Global Research wrote: Manufacturing Dissent: How "Progressives" Gave The Election To Bush:
Like children in an abusive family system, traumatized progressive Americans have been desperately willing to "settle for" a less odious parent who will beat them only once a month instead of once a day. Uninformed and relying largely on corporate media or ostensibly progressive journalists who towed the "anybody but Bush" line with pit bull tenacity, they were willing to sell their souls to Kerry rather than face the excruciating reality of living in a country where clean, democratic elections no longer exist (if they ever did), where corrupted electronic voting or a Supreme Court can, did, and will install a President. Rather than own that their government committed the pre-meditated murder of 3000 human beings on September 11, 2001 and used that homicide as justification for world domination, or face up to the realities of Peak Oil which will create a global energy crisis unprecedented in the history of the human race, progressives and their intellectual gurus have screamed in unison, "Conspiracy theory! Paranoia!"

Rather than confront the full implications of a USA Patriot Act, which has effectively nullified their Constitution and Bill of Rights or call their present government what it actually is, a fascist empire, progressives sentimentally proclaim that they are living in a democracy where they still hold a sacrosanct right to vote. Their reward for their implacable denial? The candidate they have "settled for" virtually bestowed the election on his Bonesman brother, and one more time, they were handed over to the wolves, but not before being toyed with and bled dry in the name of making a better America.

Progressives in their "adult children of dysfunctional families" syndrome, have failed to comprehend the authentic nature of the New World Order, that is, the corporate-sponsored, free trade global hegemony of the ruling elite, whether packaged in the blatant neoconservative agenda of the Bush Administration or the "Progressive Internationalism" of the Kerry camp. In their compulsion to choose "the lesser evil," their ability to decode the doublespeak of either one of the two faces of empire has been gravely impaired. As Richard Moore notes in his excellent article, "Doublespeak And The New World Order,"

Progressives must wake up to the attack, and somehow find a way to fight back. The Achilles heel of the NWO lies in its runaway successes: its high-handed treatment of nearly everyone has created an awesome potential counter-reaction -- if people can be made to see who the real perpetrators are, those who are engineering the decline of democratic civilization. Even its doublespeak successes can be turned against it, if people can learn to read the NWO agenda by learning to decode the propaganda it dishes out. The NWO crowd actually reveals all in their propaganda, so arrogantly confident are they that their doublespeak enigma device won't be seen through by the people.
Both Baker's GR piece and the Moore quote she cites reflect what I see as ruthless honesty. There is not one thing in what they say that reinforces any of the myths. Moore's essay goes back to January 1996 yet it is refreshingly timely and current and accurate. Another excerpt:
A very important point to notice is that the assault by the NWO on existing democratic institutions has reversed the field in the game of Radical vs. Conservative: for most of the twentieth century, it has been the democracy-minded progressives who sought radical change, and the capitalist right wing who were the conservatives. But since Reagan & Thatcher, the right-wing has taken the initiative for radical change (in the wrong directions), and it is now the progressives who have a vital interest in maintaining the political status quo (ie., constitutional democracy and national sovereignty).
Ruthless honesty here requires noting that democracy is no longer the status quo to be upheld. (I offer Moore the benefit of the doubt here, and suppose he now means progressives should end the myth of democracy and restore the genuine practice.) Otherwise, this is totally astute. I have long advocated for conscious framing of progressivism as centrist. It is not like it ever required spin to build the case, but Moore lays bare how obvious it has been all along.

His essay is long but so worth it, especially if you are new to the false alternative paradigm and trying to understand why I am spending so much time on it, as I did here and here in other DU threads. Both of these contain exchanges with supporters of We Don Not Concede. Here is another where I find their otherwise disciplined arguments still preserving myths:
pat_k wrote: "There is ample reason to suspect that the current "baseline" results have been corrupted. Whether the addition or subtraction of votes from an untrustworthy initial total will "change the outcome" is irrelevant. The issue is that the initial total is in doubt."

GuvWurld wrote: We agree changes should be made to how elections are conducted. All of your specific suggestions, as well as those found in the No Confidence Resolution, answer the question "what would be better?" The point is never to merely ask this question but to actually answer it as a means of providing a positive, forward-looking frame. We Do Not Concede does this already, albeit without consciously choosing this particular frame. "What would be better?" is not a rhetorical question but an all encompassing invitation to put all ideas on the table, and to then stimulate the competition among ideas.

So as I see it, we are both already using this frame, with a different degree of transparency. The difference is that I am applying it going forward only and you appear to be mapping it onto the recent "election" in retrospect, as if a "better" (more accountable) way of counting can offset myriad systemic flaws already acknowledged to leave us with no BASIS for confidence.
Current recount efforts serve the positive purpose of keeping uncertainty alive, and possibly delaying certain certifications or oaths of office. I see a general positive wherever we can resist the settling and acceptance of another fabricated reality. A recount may delay this but it still reinforces the bogus frame that a legitimate contest was held and a true measure of the will of the people was determined. This is incongruent with the No Confidence position otherwise embraced by WDNC and is the one point on which I hope we can help them evolve their message.

There is one more passage from the Moore piece I have to share:
"The elections themselves are circuses where certain topics are selected as being "the issues" and the crowd is entertained with an orchestrated wrestling match where Hulk Republican and Pretty Boy Democrat dance around the limited ring of issues. When the match is over, the establishment gets back to its un-discussed agendas."
This is a great characterization of simulated competition, as is the Nov. 2 event which so closely resembled an "election" that millions of Americans actually think we had one. I also like it because I've made the wrestling analogy too, including while imagining the No Confidence Movement on day one of the GuvWurld blog.



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