A common argument used by supporters of U.S. global hegemony, runs as follows: the U.S. as a human society has “human”
shortcomings, the faults that are all too "human", it might not be perfect (they say) but it is still “better”
than most other societies around the globe. There are several problems with this line of argumentation. First, it erroneously
assumes that societies are mere sums of individuals that inhabit them. The total, society, is greater than the sum of its
parts. Problems of societal structure might not be problems of individual members that inhabit those structures. Such reasoning
confuses public issues, things that have to do with social structure and institutions that transcend individuals, with personal
troubles of individual character. Take the example of marriage: Inside a marital relationship, personal problems might exist
between the couple which may lead to divorce, but when almost half of all marriages attempted end in divorce in a society,
it has to do with the social institution of marriage and family, how it is changing and how other institutions are affecting
or causing such change, in short it is a issue involving social structure.
Arguments that seek to excuse social issues as mere “human shortcomings” assume, as a premise, that what is
happening in the various countries of the world is happening in vacuum-like conditions, where all nations are separate and
compete fairly based upon merit and goodwill. They also assume that history is being made in the U.S. by the will of the people.
Both these assumptions are incorrect: in a capitalist society, when wealth, power and administrative control of the major
institutions of society becomes enlarged and concentrated, the decisions (that have enormous consequences) are made by a microscopic
minority that controls the wealth and the machinery of the various institutions. Further, the decisions of this power elite
have global ‘life and death’ consequences for hundreds of millions; they are not limited by geographic boundaries
of countries. For example, distributional deprivation caused by the flow of enormous wealth from the poor countries towards
the rich industrialized countries, in the form of massive military contracts together with debt dependency (and structural
adjustments by the money lending institutions like the IMF and World Bank), result in over 40,000 preventable deaths every
single day, according to UN statistics.
Further, the public in the U.S. is not making history; it has become the utensil of history makers: the power elite. As
part of the technique used by these elites for legitimating their rule, are the use of morally loaded master symbols in the
form of slogans promoting democracy and freedom. These slogans are fed to an otherwise starving world through their domination
of the public-relations apparatus. However, the reality of the situation in the U.S. is that there is no substantive democracy.
A highly bureaucratized social system molds and guides peoples aspirations and choices, thereby totally restricting their
freedom. As ‘cheerful robots’ (see http://robots.asadi.org) they work the best parts of their lives in the corporate world thinking, due to bureaucratic adaptation and media programming,
that life spent in an office cubicle is heaven on earth. In their free time they mass consume based upon desires that have
been insinuated into them by a massive advertising industry.
That this “mass society” plays no part in the decisions that affect them is evident by major decisions being
made by un-elected elites that populate the president’s cabinet, influential policy boards and think tanks. The fact
that institutional mechanisms ensure that major decisions, policy parameters, campaign issues, campaigns and the people who
will compete are predetermined before any voting takes place shows that the “mass society” is a mere spectator
or forced actor in this ‘democracy’ facade. The ability to mobilize resources for effective interest group formation
as well as access to power networks for successful lobbying are dominated by the wealthiest. Supplementing this is the fact
that the few that diligently vote among the U.S. public are given extremely restricted choices: choices restricted by a two
party monopoly, not much different than a one party dictatorship, and further restricted by being structured through mass-mediated
information controlled by privately owned media.
How else can you explain the fact that a microscopic minority, 1% of the population of the U.S., controls greater wealth
and resources than the rest of the 99% combined, with little or no objection? It does not require great intellectual skills
to conclude from this that the resulting access to "life chances" and success in a society based upon ‘purchasing power’
is inherently unequal. In this context, consider the case of the highly advertised “freedom of speech”: Five large
corporations dominate the media in the U.S. that reaches tens of millions. These corporations are “for profit”
businesses and as such have highly structured filters that manage the way in which news is selected and reported.
As Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman document in their book Manufacturing Consent, bias in favor of government and big business
is structured into the news media by a few large bureaucracies subsidizing the content of what is used as ‘certified’
news by this media. It is also structured by the over whelming use of “experts” by them for their commentaries,
which are or were (a disproportionate majority) on the payroll of government or big business. In addition to this, their dependence
on the ‘market’ for advertising, which is purchased by big corporations- and the fact that they themselves are
‘big business’ or their parent companies are corporate giants like General Electric etc., results in ‘self
management’ and uniformity of output. The product that is produced by them as a result, is scientifically predictable
within a ‘propaganda model’, in that it seldom deviates from the official/corporate economic, social and political
agenda. Thus, only the elite have access to millions by domination of the media airwaves, while the rest of us reach almost
no one and have no part in the production of information. The First Amendment without information is not of much use. When
the information that the public receives is being supplied by the mass media, controlled by a few, the First Amendment (to
the U.S. constitution that guarantees freedom of expression), is by fact and practice rendered null and void.
How do we reclaim our freedom in the face of these overwhelming social forces of control and domination generated by the
elite? The first act of emancipation from this condition is to recognize it for what it is, total enslavement. It is an act
of understanding the fact that the vast majority of humankind in the world today have no say or control over major decisions,
economic, political or military, they are mere spectators. They are acted upon but cannot act, or when they do act, their
actions have no structural consequences for their societies or the world. At any point when we recognize the true nature of
our oppression and develop “human consciousness” (not merely class consciousness), we are forced to come to terms
with the fact that as individuals we cannot change the social structures that exist in our societies and the world system.
However, we can surely learn how these structures function and consciously reject them. In this act of rejection is the first
step towards eventual global change.
How can one reject the rising tide of bureaucratic control and not be marginalized in the process? As individuals in a
capitalist society, we are objectively among a crowd, the “mass society” but still subjectively alone (as psychological
fact). It is in the emotional void that exists in capitalist societies that the advertising industry finds its effectiveness
as cultivator of interests, seeking to create mythic symbols of affinity between the consumer and material objects that are
being offered for sale. An alienated individual, with weak family and group ties, makes the ideal consumer- the type sought
by corporations for maximum profitability. Once a person’s “inner world” awakes, reason replaces material
desires insinuated into us from outside, consciousness develops and as a result, life is experienced more fully compared to
the narrow existence offered by mere consumption. The corporate elite, whose mode of production is geared towards profit maximization
and not human need fulfillment, are mortally afraid of the emergence of a conscious society. This act of rejection is by itself
a magnificent victory over their domination.
The American power elite are killing the world, directly through wars and indirectly through perpetuating underdevelopment
upon the world by implicit control of the state and military institutions of developing countries. It is no secret that the
profits of the American corporations depend upon access to cheap resources, cheap labor and the inability of the poor countries
to manufacture what they buy at “monopoly price” from these industrialized countries. Their practice, as objective
fact, of relocation and domination of global trade empirically reveals this relationship. If the poor countries developed
and started manufacturing products that would compete with the products of these corporations, they would go out of business
and the economies of the over-developed countries, as centers of power, would collapse. Operating with a specific worldview,
driven by the profit motive, in control of the world’s wealth and the apparatus of public relations, these power elite
ensure that their decisions will prevail over all others. As a result human misery perpetuates generation after generation.
We must begin by rejecting their official myths and distractions. In this first act lies our declaration of independence as
a global human community.
Publisehed by Public Affairs Magazine