Monday, October 22, 2012

What if democracy is just an illusion?:

The late Steve Jobs, for instance, was a man of ideas. He was widely considered a visionary and a prophet of technology, and Jobs took great pains to encourage that way of thinking. After his death, however, Mike Daisey, the acclaimed playwright and monologuist, revealed something about Jobs that should have been plain to see - Jobs' prophecies came at the expense of poor Chinese sweatshop workers who make iPads and other Apple products for middle-class Americans to buy at affordable prices. The Great Man theory of history is more like intellectual cover (or what Marx called the illusions of the ruling class), for the exploitation of labour.

It's hard to imagine a better illustration of Marx's theory of the ruling class than Citizens United, the 2010 case brought before the US Supreme Court in which the majority decided that political action committees (or PACs) cannot be subject to campaign finance laws. PACs do not formally represent candidates and instead, express their own political views. So the money they spend is more like free speech. Therefore, political money is speech protected by the US Constitution's First Amendment.

In theory, this is an egalitarian ruling. Any citizen can spend any amount of money to promote or attack any issue they want. But we don't live in an egalitarian society. As Gore Vidal has said, America is a very good place to live if you have money and property. Not so much if you don't.