The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Monday, September 01, 2014


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Labor's Demise Is America's Demise

 
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Cross-posted from Paul Craig Roberts

Thoughts for Labor Day
 
From youtube.com/watch?v=xPhLKARAve4: Labor Day's violent beginnings - The bloody Pullman strike in 1894 spurred the national holiday that recognizes American workers.
Labor Day's violent beginnings - The bloody Pullman strike in 1894 spurred the national holiday that recognizes American workers.
(image by YouTube)

Labor Day is a holiday that has outlived its time. Like Christmas, Labor Day has become a time-out period. As Christmas has become a shopping spree, Labor Day has become the last summer holiday.
The holiday originated in 1887 to celebrate the contribution made by American workers to the strength and prosperity of the United States. The first Monday in September was chosen by President Grover Cleveland to avoid a May date that would keep alive the memory of the previous year's Haymarket Massacre in which workers striking for an eight-hour day suffered casualties from the Chicago police.

As time passed union leadership became a career rather than a movement in behalf of a cause, but the labor movement in its initial years was reformist. It brought safer working conditions into industry and manufacturing. Unions served as a countervailing power and constrained the exploitative power of capital. An industrial or manufacturing job was a ladder of upward mobility that made the US an opportunity society and stabilized the socio-political system with a large middle class. A large and thriving industrial and manufacturing sector provided many white collar middle class jobs for managers, engineers, researchers and designers, and American universities flourished as did their graduates.

The labor unions provided the Democratic Party with a financial base in labor that served as a countervailing power to the Republican base in manufacturing and finance. Whether it was a plot or unintended consequence, jobs offshoring wrecked the industrial and manufacturing unions and destroyed the Democrats' independent financial base. The two-party system that had maintained a reasonable balance was transformed into a one-party system in which both parties were dependent on the same monied interests and thus answered to the same masters.

The consequence was the demise of the middle class and rise of the One Percent. Today the US has the most unequally distributed income and wealth of all developed economies and one of the worst in the entire world. Few Americans other than the One Percent have a stake in the American economic and political system.

The imbalance in the distribution of income and wealth cannot be corrected through the tax system. The imbalance is due largely to the loss of the jobs that provided the economic basis for the middle class. Correction requires a retreat from globalism and the return to a largely self-sufficient economy, which the US economy was during its glory decades. Globalism is a scheme for impoverishing First World labor and taking power and influence from the hands of the many and putting them in the hands of the few. The champions of globalism are the champions of America's destruction.
Today the Republicans are demolishing the public sector unions. These jobs can't be outsourced, but public schools can be replaced with charter schools, prisons can be privatized, and many public services can be contracted out to private businesses.

Public sector unions never had as strong a case for their existence as manufacturing and industrial unions. Moreover, strikes by firemen, police forces, school teachers, and trash collectors undermined public support for public sector unions as did many unpleasant experiences with the licensing bureaucracies of state and local government departments. Nevertheless, public sector unions could serve as a check on ambitious executive and legislative power.

Whether one has a favorable or unfavorable opinion of unions, their demise is also the demise of countervailing power. A system in which there is no countervailing power is a tyranny in which power is unconstrained and unaccountable.

The American people have been subdued and turned into a flock of sheep. Will they ever rise again?

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/


Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente's Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here. His latest book, How America Was Lost, has just been released and can be ordered here.


 

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Saturday, August 30, 2014


Florint.org

Wednesday, August 27, 2014



   
August 27, 2014, OpEdNews

America's Corrupt Institutions
 
By Paul Craig Roberts

Governments, media, and citizens share responsibility. They have allowed police to be militarized and to be inappropriately trained. Indeed, city, county, state, and federal governments have removed all barriers to the use of excessive force by police. Handed such power, the police use it.

Cross-posted from Paul Craig Roberts
From youtube.com/watch?v=mepzPpo43PU: Police Brutality In Its Finest. Police Brutality Is Not A Rare Scene Anymore in USA.
Every public institution in the United States and most private ones are corrupt.

To tell this story would be a multi-book task. Lawrence Stratton and I have written one small volume of the story. Our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, now with two editions and multiple printings, documents the corruption of law in the United States and has been cited in rulings by Federal District and Appeal Court judges.

Law is just one public institution, but it is a cornerstone of society. When law goes, everything goes.
Only about 4 percent of federal felony cases go to trial. Almost all, 96 percent, are settled by negotiated plea bargains. Law & Order Conservatives condemn plea bargains for the wrong reason. They think plea bargains let criminals off easy.

In fact, plea bargains are used by prosecutors to convict the innocent along with the guilty. Plea bargains eliminate juries and time-consuming trials; that is, plea bargains eliminate all work on the part of prosecutors and police and lead to high conviction rates for prosecutors, the main indicator of their career success. Once upon a time, prosecutors pursued justice. They carefully examined police investigations and only indicted suspects whose convictions they thought could be obtained by a jury. Sloppy police work was discarded.

No more. Once indicted and provided with a lawyer, the defendant learns that his lawyer has no intention of defending him before a jury. The lawyer knows that the chances of getting even a totally innocent defendant found not guilty is slim to non-existent. Prosecutors, with the consent of judges, suborn perjury for which they are permitted to pay with money and dropped charges against real criminals, and prosecutors routinely withhold evidence favorable to the defendant.

If a prosecutor detects that a defendant intends to fight, the prosecutor piles on charges until the defendant's lawyer convinces the defendant that no jury will dismiss all of so many charges and that the one or two that the jury convicts on will bring a much longer sentence than the lawyer can negotiate. The lawyer tells the defendant that if you go to trial, you will be using up the time of prosecutors and judges, and the inconvenience that you cause them will send you away for many a year.

In some state and local courts it is still possible on occasion to get an almost fair trial if you can afford an attorney well enough connected to provide it. But even in non-federal courts the system is stacked against the defendant. Many prisons have been privatized, and privatized prisons require high incarceration rates in order to be profitable. The same holds for juvenile detention prisons. Not long ago two Pennsylvania judges were convicted for accepting payments from private detention prisons for each kid they sentenced.

Judges prefer plea bargains despite the fact that plea bargains amount to self-incrimination, because plea bargains dispense with time-consuming trials that cause backed-up and crowded court dockets. Trials also demand far more work on the part of a judge than accepting a plea bargain.

The fact of the matter is that in America today you are expected to convict yourself. Even your lawyer expects it. The torture is not physical; it is psychological. The system is severely biased against the defendant. Conviction by a jury brings a much heavier sentence than conviction by a deal that the defendant's attorney negotiates with the prosecutor's office. All the prosecutor wants is a conviction. Give him his conviction for his record as an effective prosecutor, and you get off lighter.

The injustice lies in the fact that the rule applies to the innocent as well as to the guilty. The prosecutor and often the judge do not care whether you are innocent or guilty, and your lawyer knows that it does not matter to the outcome.

The police have learned that such a small number of cases go to trial that their evidence is seldom tested in court. Consequently, often police simply look for someone who might have committed the crime based on past criminal records, select someone with a record, and offer him or her up as the perpetrator of the crime. This police practice is one explanation for high recidivism rates.
In the totally corrupt American criminal justice (sic) system, anyone indicted, no matter how innocent, is almost certain to be convicted.

Let's take the case of Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman. Judging by the reported evidence in the media and testimony by those familiar with the case, Don Siegelman, a popular Democratic governor of Alabama, was a victim of a Karl Rove operation to instruct Democrats that their political party would not be permitted a comeback in executive authority in the Republican South.

There is no doubt but that the Alabama Republican newspapers and TV stations are political tools. And there is little doubt that former Republican US Attorneys Alice Martin and Leura Canary and Republican US federal district court judge Mark Fuller were willing participants in Karl Rove's political campaign to purge the South of popular democrats.

Republican US district court judge Mark Fuller was arrested in Atlanta this month for beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel. The judge, in whose honor courts must rise, was charged with battery and taken to the Fulton County jail at 2:30AM Sunday morning, August 10. If you look at the mug shot of Mark Fuller, he doesn't inspire confidence. Fuller was a bitter enemy of Siegelman and should have recused himself from Siegelman's trial, but ethical behavior required more integrity than Fuller has.

Among many, Scott Horton, a professor of law at Columbia University has provided much information in Harper's magazine involving the corruption of Fuller and the Republican prosecuting attorneys, Alice Martin and Leura Canary. See: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and see OpEdNews February 6, 2012, "Why did Karl Rove and his GOP Thugs target Don Siegelman in Alabama?" and here.

Google the case and you will see everything but justice.

The Republican frame-up of Siegelman is so obvious that various courts have overturned some of the bogus convictions. But the way "justice" works in America makes courts fearful of discrediting the criminal justice (sic) system by coming down hard on an obvious frame-up. To make the fact obvious that federal courts are used for political reasons is detrimental to the myth of justice in which gullible Americans believe.

Siegelman's innocence is so obvious that 113 former state attorneys general have come out in his support. These attorneys general together with federal judges and members of Congress have written to Obama and to US Attorney General Eric Holder urging Siegelman's release from prison. Instead of releasing the innocent Siegelman, Obama and Holder have protected the Republican frame-up of a Democratic governor.

Remember, what did President George W. Bush do when his vice president's chief aid was convicted for the felony of revealing the name of a secret CIA operative? Bush wiped out the sentence of Cheney's convicted operative. He remained convicted, but served no sentence.
Remember, President George H. W. Bush's administration pardoned the neoconservative criminals in the Reagan administration who were convicted by the Reagan administration for crimes related to Iran-Contra.

So why hasn't the Obama regime pardoned former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman who, unlike other pardoned parties, is actually innocent? Siegleman was bringing the Democratic Party back in the corrupt Republican state of Alabama. He was a successful governor who would have been US senator, and Karl Rove apparently exterminated him politically in order to protect the Republican hold on the South.

It is extremely ironic that the formerly solid Democratic South, plundered, looted, and raped by Republican armies, votes Republican. If anything shows the insouciance of a people, the South's Republican vote is the best demonstration. The South votes for a party that destroyed the South and its culture. There is no greater evidence of a people totally ignorant of, or indifferent to, their history than the Southern people who vote Republican.

Obama can't pardon Siegelman, which Justice requires, because Obama cannot confront the self-protective mechanism in the Justice (sic) Department. Obama is too weak a person to stand up for Justice. Obama has acquiesced to the Republican and DOJ frame-up of a popular Democratic Governor.

Justice in America? It is not worth 5 cents on the New York stock exchange.

If you want to stand up for justice, click here.

Police are as remote from concerns of justice as are prosecutors. Generally speaking, while there might be a few exceptions, the ranks of the police seem to be filled with violent psychopaths. The police seldom show any self-control and their violent nature makes police a great threat to society. Invariably, police bring violence to the scene.

Killing unarmed black men seems to be a police specialty.

Assaults and killings by police seldom make it beyond the local news. The lack of national coverage of crimes committed by police against the public leaves Americans with the incorrect impression that the use of excessive force by police is an occasional and unfortunate result but not a real problem. Police apologists say that an occasional mistake is the price of being safe. But police violence is an expression of police culture, not an unfortunate mistake, and what we hear is only the tip of the iceberg.

The large number of violent acts that police commit against members of the public are not entirely the fault of the police. It is well known that bullies and psychopaths are attracted to the power over others conveyed by a police badge. Considering this known fact, police should receive training in anger management. Instead, they are trained to regard the public as an enemy against whom the police should take no chances. Police are trained to subdue a suspect with violence and question the suspect later when the suspect is under control in jail. This procedure means that even those who are totally innocent bear all the risks of being confronted by police.

Governments, media, and citizens are also responsible. They have allowed police to be militarized and to be inappropriately trained. Indeed, city, county, state, and federal governments have removed all barriers to the use of excessive force by police. Handed such power, the police use it.
In response to my column about Ferguson, former police officers wrote to me to report that they left the police force because they could not accept the culture of violence that is now ingrained in police departments. What these former police officers could not accept causes no problem for the Fox "News" talking heads.

Can police departments be cleansed of their violent culture? Can prosecutors serve justice instead of career? Can Fox "News" talking heads cease being racists? Don't hold your breath.



Submitters Website: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Submitters Bio:

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente's Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here. His latest book, How America Was Lost, has just been released and can be ordered here.

Friday, August 22, 2014



   
August 21, 2014, OpEdNews

Turning America Into a War Zone, Where 'We the People' Are the Enemy
 
By John Whitehead

Life in the American police state is fast becoming an endless series of don'ts delivered at the end of a loaded gun.
::::::::
From flickr.com/photos/47422005@N04/14924476621/: Peace Officers/ militarized police
"If you don't want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you."--Sunil Dutta, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department for 17 years
 
 
For those who resist, who dare to act independently, think for themselves, march to the beat of a different drummer, the consequences are invariably a one-way trip to the local jail or death.
What Americans must understand, what we have chosen to ignore, what we have fearfully turned a blind eye to lest the reality prove too jarring is the fact that we no longer live in the "city on the hill," a beacon of freedom for all the world.
 
Far from being a shining example of democracy at work, we have become a lesson for the world in how quickly freedom turns to tyranny, how slippery the slope by which a once-freedom-loving people can be branded, shackled and fooled into believing that their prisons walls are, in fact, for their own protection.
 
Having spent more than half a century exporting war to foreign lands, profiting from war, and creating a national economy seemingly dependent on the spoils of war, we failed to protest when the war hawks turned their profit-driven appetites on us, bringing home the spoils of war--the military tanks, grenade launchers, Kevlar helmets, assault rifles, gas masks, ammunition, battering rams, night vision binoculars, etc.--to be distributed for free to local police agencies and used to secure the homeland against "we the people."
 
Is it any wonder that we now find ourselves in the midst of a war zone?
We live in a state of undeclared martial law. We have become the enemy.
In a war zone, there are no police--only soldiers. Thus, there is no more Posse Comitatus prohibiting the government from using the military in a law enforcement capacity. Not when the local police have, for all intents and purposes, already become the military.
 
In a war zone, the soldiers shoot to kill, as American police have now been trained to do. Whether the perceived "threat" is armed or unarmed no longer matters when police are authorized to shoot first and ask questions later.
 
In a war zone, even the youngest members of the community learn at an early age to accept and fear the soldier in their midst. Thanks to funding from the Obama administration, more schools are hiring armed police officers--some equipped with semi-automatic AR-15 rifles--to "secure" their campuses.
 
In a war zone, you have no rights. When you are staring down the end of a police rifle, there can be no free speech. When you're being held at bay by a militarized, weaponized mine-resistant tank, there can be no freedom of assembly. When you're being surveilled with thermal imaging devices, facial recognition software and full-body scanners and the like, there can be no privacy. When you're charged with disorderly conduct simply for daring to question or photograph or document the injustices you see, with the blessing of the courts no less, there can be no freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
 
And when you're a prisoner in your own town, unable to move freely, kept off the streets, issued a curfew at night, there can be no mistaking the prison walls closing in.
 
This is not just happening in Ferguson, Missouri. As I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, it's happening and will happen anywhere and everywhere else in this country where law enforcement officials are given carte blanche to do what they like, when they like, how they like, with immunity from their superiors, the legislatures, and the courts.
You see, what Americans have failed to comprehend, living as they do in a TV-induced, drug-like haze of fabricated realities, narcissistic denial, and partisan politics, is that we've not only brought the military equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan home to be used against the American people. We've also brought the very spirit of the war home.
 
This is what it feels like to be a conquered people. This is what it feels like to be an occupied nation. This is what it feels like to live in fear of armed men crashing through your door in the middle of the night, or to be accused of doing something you never even knew was a crime, or to be watched all the time, your movements tracked, your motives questioned.
 
This is what it's like to be a citizen of the American police state. This is what it's like to be an enemy combatant in your own country.
 
So if you don't want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, by all means, stand down. Cower in the face of the police, turn your eyes away from injustice, find any excuse to suggest that the so-called victims of the police state deserved what they got.
But remember, when that rifle finally gets pointed in your direction--and it will--when there's no one left to stand up for you or speak up for you, remember that you were warned.


Submitters Bio:

John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead’s aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and accomplishments, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom. His concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization in Charlottesville, Va. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson. His thought-provoking commentaries call people to action and address a wide range of contemporary issues from faith to politics and television to constitutional rights. He is also a frequent commentator on a variety of issues in the national media, as well as the editor of the award-winning pop culture magazine, Gadfly. Whitehead's book A Government of Wolves will be published in June 2013. Please visit On Target to view Whitehead's weekly video commentaries. He also blogs daily about the emerging police state at http://agovernmentofwolves.com/


Thursday, August 21, 2014


Wednesday, August 20, 2014




   
August 20, 2014, OpEdNews
 
Supremacy: A Social Order of Division, Control and Enslavement
 
By Kali Ma
 
To varying degrees, most socio-economic systems in the world today are hierarchical. In a system of hierarchy, individuals occupy social ranks based on their levels of income and wealth, which significantly affect their access to vital resources such as food, shelter, healthcare, and education. In all hierarchies there is a ruling class on top that holds significant social, political, and economic power...
 
From flickr.com/photos/126377022@N07/14783391065/: Hierarchy: Image from page 190 of .The world: historical and actual. (1886)
Reprinted from hamptoninstitution.org
 
"It seemed like Mrs. Elliott was taking our best friends away from us."
 
These are the words of a third-grader from Riceville, Iowa. Her schoolteacher, Jane Elliott, had just put her class through an exercise that showcased the viciousness and injustice of white supremacy in the late 1960s. Jane Elliott has since replicated this exercise countless times, but her original lesson remains a groundbreaking insight into the mechanisms of supremacy as depicted in the documentary A Class Divided. By labeling the blue-eyed students in her class smarter and better, and giving them more privileges than the brown-eyed students, Jane Elliott instantly creates division and hostility between the two groups. She constantly reinforces the superiority of her blue-eyed students who suddenly feel more confident and perform better at tasks than their now demoralized and dejected brown-eyed classmates. This division creates conflict between the students, which greatly upsets them and even leads to physical fights. Jane Elliott is stunned by the results of her exercise, saying: "I watched what had been marvelous, cooperative, wonderful, thoughtful children turn into nasty, vicious, discriminating little third-graders in a space of fifteen minutes."
 
Jane Elliott's exercise clearly illustrates how simple it is to ignite conflict between people once a group of individuals is elevated above another. It also demonstrates how supremacy creates powerlessness in the "inferior" group and that the loss of personal power eventually leads to hostility and violence. This is the system we live under today - a hierarchy that ranks people based on their "worth" and socio-economic status.
 
Hierarchy - A Tool of Supremacy
To varying degrees, most socio-economic systems in the world today are hierarchical.[1] In a system of hierarchy, individuals occupy social ranks based on their levels of income and wealth, which significantly affect their access to vital resources such as food, shelter, healthcare, and education. In all hierarchies there is a ruling class on top that holds significant social, political, and economic power and whose interests are in direct opposition to those of the masses. A hierarchical structure is, in essence, about power - the ability to control and shape outcomes that further the interests of the ruling class. Since money is the way to greater freedom, most people intend to move up the hierarchy andbuy their way into a new reality. After all, those at the top have the freedom to act in ways most people cannot: they make the rules and break them with impunity; they have access to resources, people and capital that allows them to easily perpetuate their wealth; and their occupations often include those of "socialite," "philanthropist," and some even get paid to party.
 
As an economic system, a hierarchical structure is inefficient and creates unnecessary scarcity because it allows the ruling class to hoard wealth and resources while the majority fights it out over "leftovers." Additionally, because its structure grants disproportionate power and privilege to those on top, it creates a system that is only beneficial to a wealthy minority. Economic inequality is particularly insidious in a hierarchical social order in which wealth determines social status. Such systems create extreme inequality where the gap between the rich and poor is great and social mobility is particularly difficult.
 
Supremacy is the hallmark of hierarchy where being a "winner" depends on someone else being a "loser" and where wealth is created at the expense of other people and the environment without concern for the collective good. Hierarchies are inherently coercive because they grant dominant groups the authority to impose their rules and ideology on those below them. It is thus a system of dominance, commanding its full power, authority and coercive nature against "weaker" subjects (i.e. the "have-nots" or "inferiors"). However, it is by no means a "natural" arrangement or, as many would say, "just the way things are." A hierarchical social system is closely linked to the systemic subjugation of women under patriarchy, which emerged as a dominant structure in the last 5,000 years of modern human history and helped spur on the agricultural revolution. [2] In effect, humans have lived in hierarchical systems for a fraction of our existence; yet during this new time period we have exhausted much of the world's resources and are quickly heading for a collision course with nature itself.
 
The purpose of hierarchy in a socio-economic system is not to create opportunities but to protect the supremacy of the ruling elite by controlling people's autonomy and dividing the working class amongst one another through social and economic stratification.
 
'Divide and Conquer'
While a hierarchical structure places the ruling class on top, it also divides the working people into various "levels" of socio-economic status, with money determining the place in the pecking order. Because there are various "levels" of social status with millions of people competing for the few spots on top, solidarity and cooperation between the people becomes virtually impossible. As a result of this stratification, the lower classes compete against each other and become divided along social, political, and economic lines. In other words, a hierarchical structure breeds competition, division, and outright hostility amongst the various members in society.
 
Social Conflict within the Working Class
In addition to fostering general class conflict and powerlessness in "inferior" groups, supremacy also creates a hierarchy of worthiness that is directly linked to how closely each of us resembles the '"supreme" image. This "supreme" ideal has traditionally been white, wealthy and male. If we do not meet that profile, then we can at least strive to behave and speak like them, think and believe as they do, or shape our personas in countless ways to appear acceptable to them or as close to the "supreme" image as possible. Economic worth and, in turn our ranking in the hierarchy, are directly linked to how closely we resemble the "supreme" image of white, male privilege. Those who least reflect this "supreme" ideal are deemed "inferior" and labeled as the "other." Because we internalize the "supreme" image early on in our lives, we grow up judging ourselves and others based on that standard. We are effectively pit against one another and through our judgments dehumanize, disrespect, marginalize, and deem unworthy individuals who do not meet the "supreme" standard and who occupy a lower rung on the hierarchy. This dehumanization and "otherness" of individuals who are different from the "supreme" standard is inherent in a hierarchical structure and is at the root of sexism (male supremacy), racism (white supremacy), classism (class supremacy), homophobia (heterosexual supremacy), ethnocentrism (cultural supremacy) and all other social and political divisions under the sun. Victim-blaming and general hostility towards those who are "different" or "inferior" becomes a staple of hierarchical society.
 
Of course there are exceptions and a privileged upbringing can cancel out many "inferior" traits. However, exceptions are just that: rare occurrences that do not reflect the rule and the reality that happens every day, all day, everywhere. In fact, exceptions are often used to distract us and falsely convince us that society has overcome classism, racism, sexism, or homophobia. In reality, society has gotten much better at hiding its inequities by commercializing, fetishizing, and pop- culturulizing the lives of individuals who are subject to real, everyday discrimination. It is privilege and supremacy we must challenge in all their forms, which are still deeply rooted in white, male, privilege and power.
 
Economic Conflict within the Working Class
The hierarchy of worthiness also plays out in our economic system. In a hierarchical economic structure, the lower classes are the foundation upon which the successes of others are built. For instance, professionals such as doctors and engineers occupy higher socio-economic standings than Wal-Mart cashiers who ring up their groceries or janitors who clean and maintain their offices. Of course, not everyone possesses the skills and talents to be a doctor or engineer, or for that matter, a cashier or janitor. But when more privileged individuals blame others for being poor, "unaccomplished," "unsuccessful," or unemployed, they do not take into account that the reason they are in a superior position is because someone else is in an inferior, lower position. This is how hierarchy works - someone has to rank at the bottom in order for those on top to be recognized as the "winners." Without such ranking, everyone would be equal. Moreover, society absolutely depends on workers to clean, maintain, repair and service various sectors of society, including private property and public commons. These individuals provide an extremely valuable service that allows society to function yet the system gives them no credit and, in fact, looks down on them and blames them for being in that position. Just imagine a society without sanitation workers to haul off your waste and keep the streets clean, or maintenance workers to keep your buildings running and the AC flowing when it's 100 degrees outside, or grocery clerks who stock your food and water so you can conveniently pick it up and feed your family. Without them, doctors, lawyers, engineers and other members of the professional class could not go about their business. But society has little respect for these individuals who are often paid minimum wage with no benefits; yet they are the very people who make society function.
 
The "winner" in this unequal arrangement is always the wealthy ruling class who owns the factories, corporations, businesses, and most other institutions and profits from the labor of the working class. The "owners" of society, essentially, sit back and watch their profits soar while the working class slaves over increasingly lower wages and deteriorating working conditions imposed on them by the same people their labor enriches. Individuals of privilege occupy "leadership" positions in all areas of society, from corporations, government and non-profit organizations to the medical, legal, and academic fields. The privileged play both villain and superhero, terrorizing and rescuing the lower classes who are simply pawns in the ruling elite's game of interest and intrigue. The supremacy of the ruling class is legitimized by the meritocracy myth that the most intelligent individuals in society naturally succeeded. The truth, however, is that the wealthy and privileged always end up on top in a system that is created by them to protect their own interests and power.
 
The meritocratic rationalization for why the wealthy have so much wealth - namely that they are smart and worked hard - is simply ridiculous. Janitors, secretaries, sanitation workers, and plenty of other people are smart and work hard - sometimes at 2 or 3 different jobs - yet their incomes can be as much as 1,795 times lower than that of the "owners." The excuse that elites are smarter is equally absurd seen as how the education system is set up to favor individuals of privilege and serves to protect the power of the ruling class. But for the sake of argument, if indeed they are rewarded by wealth because of their hard work and intelligence, when does the time of rewards come to hard-working lower class people? Shouldn't they be rewarded for their invaluable work that keeps society and the world functioning? And what about the fact that the "superior" ruling elite has completely failed at leading society on all levels, pretty much driving us off the cliff into global suicide? The truth, of course, is that in a system based on domination, the few on top who make the rules can do no wrong regardless of their incompetence. All that matters is the supremacy of their position, which is attained through wealth that has, for the most part, been passed down through generations.
 
Controlling our Bodies
Slavery is the ultimate control of people's bodies for economic exploitation. A slave has no autonomy, because his actions depend on the permission of another who "owns" him. Within our society today, slavery is not as obvious as it used to be when blacks were "owned" by white slave masters. Today, the control of our bodies takes on many different forms: the use of our bodies and labor as economic goods to be traded on the market in exchange for security in the form of monetary compensation; the steady supply of mostly poor minorities into the private prison system whose bodies are used as slave labor for the benefit of corporations; the control of women's bodies through legislation under the guise of "protecting" the woman and the "unborn" which deprives women of their fundamental choice to make decisions about their bodies; regulation of homosexual conduct and relationships which deprives consenting adults of making decisions about how to use their bodies in a sexual way; the vindication of the George Zimmermans of the world who - with the full backing of a systemic and cultural ideology of white supremacy that views black bodies as worth less - internalize these poisonous values and believe in their inherent right to decide the fates of innocent black people and deprive them of their right to exist as dignified human beings without being stalked, marked, harassed, and murdered with impunity. And even those of us who are victims of oppression in some other way, nonetheless, often become agents of the system, internalizing its values and beliefs and turning on those below us in the hierarchy who are deemed "inferior" or "less than." In this way, hierarchy not only controls our bodies, but also our minds.
 
Working Toward a New Paradigm
A hierarchical system that facilitates social and economic relationships is extremely harmful because it creates relationships of power that are based on coercion in which freedom cannot exist. Power and freedom are essentially opposites: power seeks to control and dominate while freedom is about autonomy and self-determination that yearns to determine its own path of expression. While there are varying degrees of freedom that can be bought by moving up the system of hierarchy, no one is truly free - not even the ruling class because its supremacy solely depends on the subjugation of the masses.
 
Our goal then is not to move up the hierarchy because this only legitimizes and perpetuates a dysfunctional system of inequality and oppression; the goal is to completely abolish hierarchy, which only the people can do. We cannot look to those in power who depend on the system for their privilege to make things better for the majority of people. Logically, the ruling class will not threaten its own interests and power. Our immediate short-term goal must be to stop further inequality by building mass movements of solidarity with one another. It is important to note, however, that not every person must get out into the streets to protest; rather, each person can contribute to this movement in different ways, even if it means just standing up for truth instead of "going along to get along." Awareness is key, but we also need to take action. What that action is, each person must determine for themselves.
 
A violent uprising against the most technologically sophisticated military in history is certain to fail and will do little to improve relations between various social groups. Because the system of supremacy has - through its divisive nature - literally "taken our best friends away from us" and discriminated against many of them, we must confront our own shadows and acknowledge all the ways we personally perpetuate the system's ideology and judge ourselves and others based on its oppressive values. As a result of the division, there is much distrust between various social groups and if we wish to move forward in solidarity, we must work to repair those social bonds. Likewise, we must also confront the internalized fear and desire for acceptance that pushes us to sacrifice truth in favor of comfort and privilege. In other words, we have to reach into the depths of our souls and take our individual power back. A power that is not dependent on the approval of the system, but rooted in self-acceptance and self-awareness. It is truly a radical process that seeks to transform human consciousness by bringing about a revolution from the inside out. We certainly have our work cut out for us; but, at this point, evolving into a new consciousness is our only hope.
 
Notes
[1] The system we live under is often described as capitalism, oligarchy, corporatocracy, or plutocracy. Regardless of the label, all of these structures are extremely hierarchical where most benefits flow to the ruling class at the top at the expense of the majority of people. While hierarchies occur in all systems - even socialism and communism - in those structures inequality between the different classes is much less pronounced and resources are much more evenly distributed.
[2] Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy, (Oxford University Press: 1987)



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Submitters Bio:

Kali Ma is a writer and social justice advocate currently living in the United States. Her interests include the study of society and human behavior, particularly the role of power in individual and group interactions. Her writing focuses on the "big picture" and attempts to connect the dots between dominant ideological perspectives, social policies, and their impact on working class people.


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The Beloved Poet, Rumi.

“Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek & find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.”

~ Rumi