Message for the new year
Since the election of Donald Trump as president, there has been a great deal of soul-searching. A number of explanations of this unfortunate event are popular. Some people blame the schools for not teaching children how our democracy works. Others blame the media for misleading the public. Others again blame the voters for making a very unintelligent and uninformed choice.
These and other explanations ignore a very important fact about the American public. Americans live by a number of myths which are widely shared and never subjected to any critical scrutiny. If the voters have proven ignorant in this election the ignorance is shared among all layers of the population and is supported and perpetrated by the media, by school teachers, and ministers.
No one wants to talk about capitalism. Creating jobs, for instance, was a big theme during the last electoral campaign. All candidates promised to create jobs. No one wanted to talk about why that was a necessity. Donald Trump blamed the export of jobs to Asia and has all kinds of remedies for that. But he did not want to talk about why jobs were exported to Asia. Nor did anybody mention, what should be common knowledge, that many manufacturing businesses are buying more and more robots that replace living workers. Why are they doing that? No one talks about that either.
The truth is that in our economic system profits are the main goal of all enterprises and making a profit is more important then treating good workers decently and preserving their jobs at a good salary. Jobs get exported to Asia where wages are much much lower than here. Robots replace human beings because robots do not join unions, robots do not go on strike for higher wages or better working conditions. Buying robots increases profits and in our economic system profits come before people.
There is a problem about jobs and pay for the working and the middle class because corporations care more for profits than they care for people. Corporations do not care more for profits because their managers are any greedier than the rest of us but because they work in a specific economic system which expects them to change well-paying jobs into jobs that pay really poorly, that anyone can do after half a day's training. That way the wage bill is lower and profits higher.
But nobody wants to talk about that. If anyone talks about capitalism they talk about its blessings, the newer and more powerful cell phones and all sorts of other gadgets which are making life easier - except if capital has taken your good job and converted it into one that barely keeps you alive.
For one group of Trump supporters - middle-aged white working-class men who have not gotten a decent raise in 20 years - their experience is totally incomprehensible as long as they're being told over and over again that the economic system is the best there is and is the source of their well-being. If the true nature of capitalism - its motto " profits before people " - were better understood by the people who are its victims, they would not be as likely to be taken in by Trump’s promises.
But the mythology of the benign capitalist system goes hand-in-hand with another mythology, namely that the U.S. is a democracy. In a democracy the people are the source and seat of power and they manage the government through the mechanism of periodic elections. But for the white working-class male who has been treated shabbily by the system for a long time that is again very confusing because if he has any power to change his condition he has not noticed that.
But, of course, the United States is not a democracy but an oligarchy run by the very rich and by the leaders of the economic system. They managed not only the government but also what everybody is told to believe every day. It is not surprising that the mythology of capitalism and democracy are so dominant.
That is just what a capitalist oligarchy wants everyone to believe.
While freedom of the press is always in danger it still exists to a considerable extent. If you want to inform yourself and be able to see behind the “great blessings” of capitalism and the US democracy, here is a list all websites that I would recommend. They are more likely than the New York Times, or Washington Post to give you an honest account of our current condition:
Common Dreams Your daily news presented without concealing the problems of the existing institutions.
Democracy Now! - youtube.com/user/democracynow. Democracy Now! is an independent, global weekday news hour anchored by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González.
The Guardian. Latest US news, breaking news and current affairs coverage from theguardian.com
The Nation. The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States, and the most widely read weekly journal of progressive political and cultural news, opinion and analysis.
Truthout is a progressive news organization in the United States that operates a web site and distributes original political news articles, opinion pieces.
Look at any of these sources of news and you are less likely to be misled by the dominant myths of our society.