Opinion by Bill Blais
It’s important to understand that there was never any democracy in the first place. That is, there was never a time when ordinary citizens actually had a meaningful say in governance. In school, we are taught about the Founding Fathers, who supposedly built the nation according to principles of liberty and justice (you know the phrases and their origins). But the brutal truth is that those “Founding Fathers” were a collection of oligarchs, who led a revolution because of oppression, yes, but the oppression they mainly objected to was handing over the wealth of the Colonies to England. The colonial oligarchs instead wanted to keep that wealth for themselves!
The real genius of the American Revolution was that the colonial oligarchs made their case to the rank and file — the principles of liberty and justice, the Founders told the public, would inure to their benefit. And mostly they have. But make no mistake: When it came time to create an American system, the “Founding Fathers” got together and created a system that looks fair, and sounds fair, and seems fair — and isn’t fair. And if you think I’m a tinfoil hat, go read what James Madison wrote about the Constitutional Convention.
So there was never any democracy, and there isn’t one now. What we actually have is a plutocracy, where a political class uses the mechanisms of government to plunder the public and give the public wealth to a favored few — who in turn, compensate the the political class, and underwrite the warring and confiscatory functions of government.
So, it’s not a matter of corporations ‘buying’ the democracy. Rather, it is a matter of corporations — as well as other kinds of businesses, and influential persons — colluding with government to amass wealth.
And it’s really important for people to understand that the great villain of our age is not the corporations, but the collusion between business and government. Once people realize that relationship drives the economic system, then we will be able to respond in a meaningful way.
More from Bill Blais:
Governments, large and small, across the world, and throughout history, have been repeatedly caught in the lie that they operated for the benefit of the governed. The truth— the truth that often comes to light— is constantly in the spotlight, if one chooses to look— is that governments function only for control, conquest, and confiscation. Governments control their citizens to steal their wealth. They use the stolen wealth to wage war against other governments, to conquer and confiscate the natural resources. All of the workings of all of the governments come down to this: Control and confiscation.
And yet, most who read this will deny it. Many will respond with defensiveness and hostility. The lie governments get caught in is that they are the greatest enemies of Liberty; but few will believe that.
Perhaps the seminal work on manifest destiny is Frederick Merk, Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History (1963). Despite its age, it remains a singular work on the spread of America across the continent of North America. Essentially, Merk argues that the westward expansion was not the product of any unified policy. Merk tends to favor the idea of “Mission;” that Americans saw the “civilization” of the continent as their mission; but in the end, what drove the expansion was the desire for conquest.
That said, the westward expansion is best viewed not as the product of ideology, but as the product of the desire to claim and dominate new lands and resources— and push out anybody who stood in the path. Those who gained were those who best controlled the lands and resources— individuals, but largely, corporate ventures such as the railroads and miners. Those who lost were those who stood in their path— individuals, but largely, Native Americans and people of Spanish descent. They lost everything; and much of today’s politics can be viewed in terms of those peoples fighting to regain their cultural identity.
The Greatest Empire.
The United States of America.
But American expansion originated with the idea of “manifest destiny”— that we were racially, intellectually, and temperamentally “destined” to conquer North America. In time, manifest destiny was overtaken by imperialism, the notion of extending a nation’s influence throughout the world, economically and diplomatically, but by force if necessary. At the turn of the 20th century, the prevailing arguments were for America to take its place as an imperialist nation. And it did.
In the 20th century, the concept of imperialism faded from public discourse, but the actions of imperialism did not. While the US did not “capture” a lot of land in the first half of the century, it did “capture” economies— when the US went down to the Depression, it took most of the world with it. During WWII, the US spread its military across the globe. After the war, the US followed its military with a complete domination of the world’s economies.
Today, the US dollar is the reserve currency for the world. By edict, transactions in crude oil can only be made with US dollars. The US keeps over 800 military bases in more than 70 other countries around the world. English— American English— is inexorably becoming the common language of the world.
By every indication and measure, and for good or ill, America is an empire. And it controls more territory, controls more of world’s economy, and has a vastly greater, more powerful, and farther-reaching military presence than any other empire in human history.