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A couple of years ago, I dressed in black.
Put on a black cape.
Stuck a big silver letter N on my chest.
And went out to a Halloween party as Negativo Man.
Why Negativo Man?
Because people often asked me –
“Hey Russell, why are you so negative?”
“What do you mean?” I would ask. “Just because the name of my publication is Corporate Crime Reporter?”
“What would you have me call it — Business Ethics?”
“Confronting reality is a negative process,” writes John Ralston Saul in his book The Unconscious Civilization (Free Press, 1995).
The corporatism that has overtaken our democracy is an ideology that “insists on relentless positivism — that’s why it opposes criticism and encourages passivity.”
In the book, Saul argues that we live in a corporatist society with soft pretension to democracy.
We live in a society of corporatist groups — some are public, some are private, some are well intentioned, some not well intentioned.
The primary loyalty of the individual is not to the society but to the corporatist group.
“Real expressions of individualism are not only discouraged but punished,” Saul writes. “The active, outspoken citizen is unlikely to have a successful professional career.”
“The human is thus reduced to a measurable value, like a machine or a piece of property. We can choose to achieve a high value and live comfortably, or be dumped unceremoniously onto a heap of marginality.”
Saul is a big fan of Socrates — for always doubting.
And a not so big fan of Plato — for being so sure of himself.
“Socrates — oral, questioner, obsessed by ethics, searching for truth without expecting to find it, democrat, believer in the qualities of citizens.”
“Plato — written, answerer of questions, obsessed by power, in possession of the truth, anti-democratic, contemptuous of the citizen.”
Socrates — the father of humanism.
Plato — the father of ideology.
Corporatism versus democracy — that’s the battle.
And Saul lays the blame for the drift into corporatism on you — and me.
“If democracy fails, it is ultimately the citizen who has failed, not the politician.”
Saul reassures us that “nothing in our current crisis is untouchable because of great mystic forces of inevitability.”
We must choose doubt over certainty.
Consciousness over the comfort of remaining unconscious.
Responsibility over passivity.
Delight in the human condition over self-loathing and cynicism.
“The very essence of corporatism is minding your own business,” Saul writes.
“The very essence of individualism is refusal to mind your own business.”
“This is not a particularly pleasant or easy style of life.”
Our civilization is locked in the grip of an ideology — corporatism.
It is an ideology that “denies and undermines the legitimacy of the individual as the citizen in a democracy.”
It’s an ideology that results in the worship of self-interest and a denial of the public good.
“The practical effects on the individual are passivity and conformism in the areas that matter and non-conformism in the areas that don’t.”
What’s a citizen to do?
“Citizen based democracy is built upon participation, which is the very expression of public discomfort,” he says.
And the corporate system depends upon the “citizen’s desire for inner comfort.”
We must confront the reality in front of us.
That is — we must accept a state of “permanent psychic discomfort.”
“The acceptance of psychic discomfort is the acceptance of consciousness.”
We are doing this now, every month in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
Our first meeting, in January, drew more than 70 people.
Our February meeting drew more than 100.
We hope to continue to build throughout the year.
To stand up to the corporatist state.
As conscious citizens of a democracy.
Rejecting passivity and cynicism.
Until we topple the two party corporate dictatorship.
RUSSELL MOKHIBER edits SinglePayer Action.