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Breaking Up With the Corporate Duopoly of Democracy

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In recent years, waves of whistleblowers have emerged, exposing the unprecedented scale of government and institutional corruption. From Chelsea Manning to Edward Snowden, their courage and conscience not only revealed a system virtually devoid of morality, but it unmasked some of the operators of its machinery; those who act remorselessly without any regard for others.

This callous and conniving sector of society has a name. They are psychopaths. Psychopathy expert Robert D. Hare called them “social predators”. Social worker Steve Becker depicted them as “exploitative-consciously violating individuals”. He described how a psychopath possesses an extreme sense of entitlement; an attitude of getting whatever he wants, and in his pursuit, others are simply an object that exist mainly “to satisfy his gratifications”.

The existence of this small population has been mostly hidden and our ignorance about them allowed this unknown minority to infiltrate society. These predators among us seemed to have risen to the top of social hierarchies and gradually alter their environment in a way that mimics their nature. Modern corporations have come to function as one nucleus of this predatory system. Law professor and the co-creator of the film “The Corporation”, Joel Bakan examined the characteristic attributes of the typical corporation and asserted how corporations are psychopathic by design, as they are “purely self-interested, incapable of concern for others, amoral, and without conscience”.

Corporate influence has been increasing within virtually every aspect of life. The electoral arena in the US is especially infested with covert control by Big Pharma, Monsanto and the weapons industry, to name a few. With the unlimited corporate financing of candidates, US politics has degraded into a charade of what amounts to a two-party duopoly, where most candidates from left to right cannot even run a campaign without in some way becoming puppets on a string for these corporate masters behind the scenes.

The Illusion of Democracy

In The Mask of Sanity, Psychiatrist Hervey M. Cleckley articulated how deception is at the core of psychopathy. Psychopaths feign empathy to hide their claws and teeth. With superficial charm, they cover up their lack of conscience and manipulate people. Systems of representative democracy have become a mask that is used by these ruthless individuals to gain a grip on a populace, making victims complicit in their transgression.

As the US 2016 presidential election approaches, the whole country has once again been transformed into a football stadium, with waves of media frenzy and people cheering for their favorite quarterback. Preselected candidates who masquerade as representatives of the people are often deployed like salespersons to allure citizens into this illusion of democracy.

In Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work, Hare and leading organizational psychologist Paul Babiak described how after assessing the value and utility of their targets, psychopaths work to create an instant connection. They call this the “psychopathic bond” upon which these predators exercise their control. They outlined the four main messages that psychopaths convey to their targets in this process. These are: 1) “I like who you are”; 2) “I am just like you”; 3) “Your secrets are safe with me”; 4) “I am the perfect friend, lover, partner for you.”

In this 2016 presidential primary, a new face appeared on the scene. Republican candidate Donald Trump joined the show business of American politics. He confidently spreads false statements to gain support. By tapping into people’s desires, he promises to make America great again.

Entrenched Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton has been calling the American people to side with her with a message, ‘I am your perfect candidate for president’. It appears she is masking her real motives by mimicking her opponent Bernie Sanders and presenting herself as progressive. In reality, her words lack concrete ideas and are certainly not backed by real actions. For instance, a recent leak of her speech to Goldman Sachs shed light on the contradictions between her words and who she really serves. On one hand she indicates in the speech to this investment firm that she is on their side and is working for them, even telling them to ignore what she says on the campaign trail. At the same time, she tells the voters whatever they want to hear. It was also revealed through her emails that despite her pledge to promote debt-free education, she acted contrary to this public stance by actively pushing for-profit companies to participate in shaping education policy.

Claiming Power

As an essential platform of psychopathic control, elections are now used to divide and conquer, giving people false choices and illusions of freedom. Behind the spectacle of staged democracy and sound bites, the psychopathic system is extremely adept at hiding its real nature. In this bipartisan theater of Kleptocrats, the underlying power structures of the corporate state and American imperialism are never challenged and the resource wars never end. This becomes apparent as retired Colonel Andrew Bacevich pointed out that no candidates in the 2016 president race are offering an alternative to the intensely militarized US foreign policy and no questions are ever asked about nuclear weapons.

Every four years, America always ends with a victory for the oligarchic super-minority while bringing massive disappointment for everyday working people. Betrayal of promises creates a trauma bond that is hard to break, where victims remain attached to the abusers. Time and again, citizens jump back into the electoral arena to chase after the changing faces and empty slogans. Then, as campaign promises fall flat, expectations are managed down once again to the ‘lesser of two evils’. This fateful script seems to be rolling once again.

Veteran senator Bernie Sanders has been fighting inside the belly of the dragon to resist this oligarchic control. So far, he has had success in arousing many Americans, bringing up issues of economic inequality and big Wall Street banks and achieved unprecedented independence from the two party campaign channels in financing his campaign. Yet, the nomination process is rigged, with the system of super delegates overruling the popular vote. As writer Audre Lorde once said, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” The question remains, how can working within it dismantle such an insidiously psychopathic system.

So what can we do? How can we break this abusive cycle? Citizens are entrapped in this corporate marketing. They are defined as consumers who buy into prescribed solutions, which in the end are a fraud on the people. Recovery from psychopathic abuse requires us to stop participating in their monopoly game and begin playing on our own terms.

Tremendous wisdom, will and creativity reside within us. People are finding solutions through working together. As this nation falls into the madness of red and blue fever, many are now beginning to create the world they wish to see by moving outside of the electoral arena.

Innovation without Permission

Where are these new initiatives happening? Tesla Motor’s Elon Musk is a good example of leading this new path. Instead of engaging in the political process, he helps progress society by simply innovating alternative systems. Tesla is based on Musk’s belief that creating sustainable and affordable vehicles would directly address the issue of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels and effectively combat climate change. His projects such as rechargeable batteries and Solar City are a part of changing the world by creatively breaking up monopolies of energy and transportation through innovation.

This effort is showing to be extremely effective. After the unveiling of Tesla Model 3 electric car, the company received over 276,000 pre-orders in the opening weekend, which is now nearly 400,000. One observer noted how this is a game changer, spearheading a revolutionary shift away from the internal combustion engine and petroleum dependency. Musk’s approach to building the model 3 was ingenious. He started by first building high range luxury models to break the mindset associated with the electric car. The sales of these first cars funded the model 3, a more affordable car and had an effect similar to progressive taxation. But, in this case it was done voluntarily with all parties involved, inspiring wealthy people to participate positively in making a difference in the world.

Other permissionless innovations are happening in the realm of finance at a global scale. Projects to create alternative currencies are challenging the corporate monopoly of money. Community Exchange System creates gift economies at a global level, allowing people to share what they have to offer by using various types of exchange methods.

A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin takes the creation of money out of the secretive, undemocratic system of central banks. Using math-based currency, new citizen initiatives are emerging that aim to deliver social services without relying on governments. Group Currency is one example of a basic income project. It is software that enables the capacity to distribute universal dividends and funds to all participants in the network. StartCoin, combined with its own unique crowd-funding platform called StartJoin, offers new way of funding the public directly. Spearheaded by Max Keiser, host of the popular financial program on RT, it creates the effect of quantitative easing (QE) for the people, allowing a direct avenue for public finance. Teambrella is the first Bitcoin based peer-to-peer insurance platform that allows users to set the terms, covering each person’s different needs through working collaboratively.

These new innovations have created a spark among millennials. Now, many are gathering to reinvent democracy itself. Iceland, a country which successfully put bankers in jail for crimes relating to the financial crisis of 2008 is leading this trend. In the wake of the recent Panama Papers leak, as many as 20,000 protesters took to the capital demanding the resignation of the prime minister. As the old guard there loses power, the popularity of the Pirate Party is surging. In America, journalist Geoff Gilbert put forward the idea for a new movement toward building a truly democratic political party upon Sanders’ accomplishments. Creative application of voting systems are arising with local ballot initiatives. Through the direct writing of laws and voting on them, people can manifest their true interests by bypassing representatives altogether.

A relationship with psychopaths is like a castle made of sand. Over time, it becomes unsustainable as its very parasitic nature eventually begins to kill the host. In the end, the façade crumbles and truth reveals itself. The illusion of American democracy inevitably will dissolve, it is just a matter of when. Will we allow this pathological pursuit of power to destroy our world and all that we cherish and hold dear? The power to break up the corporate duopoly of democracy is in our hands. We simply have to wake up and claim it.

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Nozomi Hayase, Ph.D., is a writer who has been covering issues of freedom of speech, transparency and decentralized movements.  Find her on twitter @nozomimagine

CounterPunch Magazine


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