There are two power centers in our American culture, business and government. But before we can proceed with an analysis, let’s look at what we think of when we hear the term “government.” We imagine “government” as being out there somewhere; corrupt, ineffectual, and against our interests. But this is a manufactured image of externalized government which is presented as real by the other power center. We have largely accepted this definition and fall prey to the perception that we are its victim.
Unless we are on board with the attempt to reclaim the term ‘government’ as representing all of us, unless we are focused with putting “We the People” back in the position of power, none of the following will make any sense.
Maybe you think this analysis is shallow and that business has dominated and corrupted government so thoroughly as to make government pointless, at best enfeebled. Or that they are both the same thing. Well then business interests have certainly prevailed because they rely crucially on this transference of the impression of “corruption” to the political sphere. They also count on the impression that you are now powerless to counter their maneuvers.
This gives birth to the premise that “government is the problem”. Again, if you operate from this premise then business interests have won their fight. I hear a lot about how “government should get out of the way”. A very important principle in how society is structured is; There is no such thing as a vacuum. When you hear phrases like these remember that government never disappears. Even narrow interests of the existing power structure require an arbitrator. The goal of this ideology is not some libertarian or anarchist Eden. The goal is to diminish or even remove the power of the voting public.
If we move to deny government its legitimacy (i.e.: the legitimate power of the vote) then sensible regulatory efforts that can benefit us all will no longer occur. Policy decisions that maintain the benefits of the existing power structure become the purview of business related lobbyists. By making “government” the bogeyman the beneficiary is not “the people” but instead, business.
Today we have a seemingly clean split between right and left. But both sides share the deeply held impression that we are caught in a corrupt system. How does this play out to create these diametrically opposed systems of analysis and solutions? The transference of our impression of corruption to the political sphere is the key. The Tea Party right sees government and “those Washington bureaucrats” as the problem. The Occupy left follows the money to analyze the source of corruption in the system. The moneyed interests rely on their ability to use political front men as a smoke screen. If our frustrations with the current state of America can be focused on the overreach of government then we will never see the true power behind the screen. Big business loves the foibles of Washington. The more we are impressed that the Federal government is inept the more leeway Big Money has to operate unhindered.
But wait… we are the government. We can’t permit ourselves to forget that.