A People’s Party?

On Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, 4-7 pm, eastern time, there was televised on the internet, a convention to create a new political party. The live stream does not seem to be available from the producers. But there is the following version:

To get oriented about what is going on, watch the interview below.

Nick Brana, founder, executive director of Movement for a People’s Party talks with journalist Chris Hedges about the US’ two political party system, the need for third and fourth parties and his experience campaigning for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election.

My initial reaction

It is abundantly clear that both the Democratic and the Republican Parties represent the interests of the rich. And this message was superbly expressed by Chris Hedges (see below):

I found most of the other speakers boring and the whole program too long. Anyway, if the goal is to push for a third party, why out of all the speakers only Chris Hedges urged people to vote for the Green Party, and everyone else spoke as if there is no existing third party?

Bill Maher: Champion of the Lesser of Two Evils

I have watched Bill Maher, the comedian and political commentator, for a very long time. What has been appealing is the fact that he — like George Carlin — has couched his political [and, incidentally, religious] commentary in a comedic way by sarcasm, ridicule, pun, images — by whatever works.

He has also brought together all types of celebrities for interviews and discussion panels. All this is admirable and captured my interest.

What has displeased me is his insistence on rooting for the lesser of the two evils — I mean his preference of Democrats over Republicans (among other preferences). Consequently, he becomes annoyed when the evils of Democrats are pointed out — always saying that the evils of Republicans are much worse.

Few of his guests take the position that both Democrats and Republicans are evil — perhaps even to an indistinguishable difference. Two stand out: George Carlin and Cornel West.

Below is a clip of Bill Maher defending what he thinks is the lesser of two evils.

Below is Jimmy Dore commenting on how Trump is almost even with Biden in the polls. How does one really distinguish the lesser of two evils?

Matthew Cooke on the lies of Donald Trump

I found the video below very insightful in addressing various political concerns accurately, and exposing lies. But I was puzzled by what Cooke was recommending. I agree with him about the desirability of some of the recommendations of “some” of the Democrats. But these recommendations are not shared by the majority of Democratic politicians, because in reality both the Democratic and the Republican Parties serve the interests of the rich, i.e., the 1%. So I am left puzzled by his unstated conclusion: Vote for the lesser of the two evils?

Why I am a political pessimist

The primary reason that I am a pessimist is that from a Martian point of view the trajectory of human history is towards an ecological self-destruction, and there is no remedy in sight.

There are proposed remedies, but the politicians — if they know them, either can’t or don’t want to implement them. As to the masses of people, they are — what can I say? — ignorant and uninterested.

Let me unpack what I just said. The world over — except for Switzerland — executive power is in the hands of single individuals. These individuals are either dictators (or monarchs), or presidents, or prime ministers. In the case of macro liberal democracies — in which thousands or millions vote — both the president and the parliaments are in the hands of the rich. Why? Because it takes advertisement to win elections where thousands and millions are voting. And advertisement takes money which is contributed mostly by the rich. And the rich will support only a candidate that will be beneficial to them. And, as in the United States, we can see that all the Presidents have served the rich. And the trajectory for the future is more of the same: Biden or Trump. Go ahead pick the lesser of your two evils!

With Prime Ministers, the situation is equally dismal. Remember that parliamentarians too have to be elected by thousands or millions of voters; so, they too will predominantly represent the interests of the rich. And the Party with the most members will pick the Prime Minister — obviously he or she will serve the interests of the rich. Take note of Great Britain: Thatcher, Blair, May, Johnson.

What could change these political trajectories? A change, for example, towards Swiss style democracy. But is it in the offing? I am afraid not.

I come now to the masses — the voters. The masses are pessimistic as to any influence they may have on politics; so, many don’t bother voting. Of those who vote, I think that they too are disillusioned, but feel that they must choose the lesser of the evils.

As to my proposal about Switzerland, how many voters even know that there is such a country? And even if they have heard of it, can they locate it on a map? As to knowing what kind of government Switzerland has . . . Ask first if they know what a government is!

What is needed is a change in the system of governments. But such changes in the system of governments occur only rarely, and under starvation or chaotic situations. The so-called recent “revolutions” have not been more than changes in leaderships. And, as far as ordinary people are concerned, changing leaders is a revolution. Consequently, even if conditions become dire, people will clamor for a leader savior. And that is why I am a political pessimist.

Inverted Totalitarianism

Below is an eight-part conversation between Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin (1922-2015) about, what Wolin called, “Inverted Totalitarianism.” Briefly: Classic Totalitarianism = Politics trumps economics; Inverted Totalitarianism = Economics trumps politics. This is a conversation about political philosophy and a history of, primarily, American “democratic” politics and its precarious social institutions.


Wolin’s major books are:
  • Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (Part I – 1960; Part II – 2004)
  • Tocqueville Between Two Worlds: The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life, 2001.
  • Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, 2008.

  • The problem is overpopulation; not the nature of the energy!

    Below is the new film “Planet of the Humans.” The director is Jeff Gibbs and the executive producer is Michael Moore. The thesis of the film is that using alternative sources of energy is not the solution to our ecological problem because, for one, it takes traditional sources of energy [such as oil, coal, gas, and biomass (eulogism for lumber)] to produce and back-up the machinery for harnessing solar or wind energy. The real problem is that we have too many people on the planet, using too many resources, eviscerating other life forms, and polluting the globe with almost everlasting garbage.

    Michael Moore film Planet of the Humans removed from YouTube

    See also The Silent Lie [about Overpopulation]

    The Political Views of Martin Gardner

    If you are like me, you have collected many books which you intend to read, but don’t get to them for years, and then there are those “archaic” books which take up your attention instead. The result is missing out on what is currently published or in fashion.

    Well, I finally read some of Martin Gardner’s “The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivner” (1983); “Postscript” (1999). He tells us that he believes in a God, in soul, in immortality, and in the efficacy of prayers. And he has no justification for any of these beliefs except for the fact that he believes them. Period. So much for the Enlightenment project!

    Well, I am not interested in his personal faith, and so, most of his book is of little interest to me, except for the three chapters in which he expounds his political views. These are chapter 7: The State: Why I am not an Anarchist; chapter 8: The State: Why I am not a Smithian; chapter 9: Liberty: Why I am not a Marxist.

    These three chapters could have been combined with the title: Why I am a Social Democrat.

    He correctly points out that political labels are ambiguous and vague; so we must understand them as used by Gardner. Extreme socialism (which he identifies with Marxism), for him, is a position in which the State owns and operated the means of production; every industry in nationalized, as it was in the Soviet Union. By “Smithian” he mean laissez faire capitalism with a minimal State, as expounded, for example, by Robert Nozick in “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” and by Milton Friedman in “Freedom and Capitalism.” By “anarchism” he means a Stateless society (which he extends to mean “governmentless”).

    He thinks a Stateless society is now unfeasible in view of industrialization. But he does not want industry to be totally in private hands. He wants some industries to be nationalized, private industries to be regulated by government, and he wants a welfare State. And he wants a constitutional democracy. This conglomerate of ideas he calls “social democracy.”

    He points out that most States are a mixture of free enterprise and government control. The problem is to find the right balance between the two.

    In response. From my perspective the problem is “constitutional democracy” — which Gardner talks about only in a peripheral manner. He writes: “Democracy clearly functions best to the degree that voters are intelligent and well informed, which means, of course, that the efficiency of democracy is strongly tied to education.” … “education may not keep pace with extensions of the franchise, that ignorant voting will substitute a rule by boobs for a rule by the wise.” p. 120.

    And we do have rule by boobs.

    But the problem is not simply that we have an uneducated electorate. The problem is many-fold. Given mass democracy (as contrasted with micro democracy), a candidate for office must rely on advertisement (which takes money), and, as Gardner pointed out, in 1967, in Picoaza, Ecuador, a foot powder, called Polvapies, was elected mayor. Gardner confesses to not knowing how to solve this problem except through better education.

    Also given mass democracy and the need for candidates to advertise, the probability is that only the rich and the friends of the rich will be elected. And once elected, they will work for the rich — as is definitely the case in the United States.

    We also have right now in the U.S. a President, who happens to be a boob. In Switzerland they don’t have this problem. They have a Federal Council of seven individuals. So, even if one of them is a boob, there are six others to keep him in his place.

    Gardner, I fear, never understood what was capitalism. It is a free-enterprise system which is aided by a government which forbids people from free access to subsistence land. And given the nature of mass democracy in which the rich rule, there never will be passed a law which gives people a free access to subsistence land.

    This can only occur with anarchism, which is based on micro democracy in which the unit of government is a small community of some 100 families federated with other such communities into a confederation. Gardner was unaware of this form of anarchism in Ukraine under Nestor Makhno during the Russian Civil War 1918-1921; nor of the anarchism which flourished in Spain during their Civil War and Revolution 1936-1939, with worker-controlled enterprises both in industry and agriculture.

    Gardner rejected anarchism because he did not know what it was.