Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

China Kowtow

by JAMES ROTHENBERG

President Obama has been under media fire for kowtowing to China on his visit there, specifically for not publicly mentioning the host country’s human rights record. No wonder! Hypocrisy is the favored tool in foreign policy diplomacy, and here the President failed to utilize it. He gave it a day off.

It’s possible that some of Washington’s managers take the idea of U.S. moral superiority seriously, a recurring symptom of myth overdose. It’s also possible that the merchants of official state information take it seriously, for the same reason. Even the man on the street is not immune to its pervasive reach.

But a moment’s thought should suffice in ridding ourselves of this notion of U.S. moral superiority. People are basically the same wherever you go. People are not states. States rule over people. States are amoral. States propagandize their people.

Here’s a U.S. propaganda theme with its desired result, illustrating that when used artfully, propaganda goes unrecognized:

Question: Can the U.S. be a pariah nation?

Answer: Only those that resist the U.S. can become pariahs.

It’s only with a blind eye that policymakers and media enablers can trumpet our democracy and moral uniqueness. Thus the criticism of Obama, allowing for an eye that is not blind, is that he has failed to display the customary degree of hypocrisy – call it a dearth of hypocrisy – in dealing with the Chinese.

Behind our democratic facade lies a capitalist dictatorship, devoid of morality. The manager of this capitalist dictatorship is the Republican/Democratic Party, essentially one party in that they both represent the economic interests of big business. Through the hands of either its Republican or Democratic faction, big business is always in complete control of state power. The party apparat is beyond the reach of ordinary citizens, yet it controls all citizens and is not beholden to them other than the ritualistic and periodic seeking of their “approval” at the voting booth.

The citizen (particularly if well educated) looks upon the state, in something closely akin to superstition, as the only entity capable of providing for the common good. Through generations, this long teaching permeates the public consciousness until we willingly place the state, and its political managers, above ourselves. This we do in spite of the fact that the two political factions that alternately take possession of state power have long been, and remain, inherently corrupt.

Oddly, the inherent corruption of political managers is not a subject of controversy. It is readily accepted by the common man. Politics is more popularly regarded as a business, rather than a profession, putting it a level beneath prostitution (Eliot Spitzer’s experience notwithstanding).

The crisis is not one of misunderstanding on the part of the citizen. It is a crisis of impotence. As a remedy all the Republican/Democratic Party can offer is the ballot box, this after controlling the entire election pageant down to the debating commission itself. The continued impotence of the citizen is paramount to the keepers of the status quo, whereby power rests in the hands of the permanent few over the obedient many.

This system will not change itself. Short of a military defeat by a foreign power, or an internal revolution, control will not be wrested from these party interests. There is, however, a modest proposal that will mitigate the unbalanced power that the politician has over the people. A single term limit – one – of suitable length for all offices. The term “reelection” to disappear from our jargon. This will, simultaneously, free up and devalue the politician.

This could come about through a national referendum (We don’t have many of these, do we?). Don’t expect a politician near you to initiate it.

You might think, in a country that huffs and puffs about being a beacon for democracy, that all citizens would be consulted about important decisions (And what national decisions are unimportant?).

There is an argument against this. That it is too unwieldy and time-consuming, and that the public is ill-equipped to make such decisions.

There is a counter-argument to this. Secrecy serves the powerful and the hidden agenda. In a true democracy, it is the job of the state to fully inform its citizens, trust them, and allow them to control their own destinies.

JAMES ROTHENBERG can be reached at: jrothenberg@taconic.net

James Rothenberg can be reached at:  jrothenberg@taconic.net

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
Michael J. Sainato
How the Payday Loan Industry is Obstructing Reform
Robert Fantina
You Can’t Have War Without Racism
Gregory Barrett
Bad Theater at the United Nations (Starring Kerry, Power, and Obama
James A Haught
The Long, Long Journey to Female Equality
Thomas Knapp
US Military Aid: Thai-ed to Torture
Jack Smith
Must They be Enemies? Russia, Putin and the US
Gilbert Mercier
Clinton vs Trump: Lesser of Two Evils or the Devil You Know
Tom H. Hastings
Manifesting the Worst Old Norms
George Ella Lyons
This Just in From Rancho Politico
September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
Gareth Porter
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]