The Lawless Society

By Joe Firestone

The release of the Senate’s torture report reminds us of the central fact of American society, today. Any semblance of equal justice under the law is now gone from what our leaders claim is the world’s leading democracy.

Instead, of a constitutional democracy living under the law. We have a gangster government that fails to enforce the law, but instead prosecutes whistle blowers who make public, violations of it. Here is an off the top of the head list of our continuing and systematic failures to create justice.

— Failure to prosecute, indict, and convict violators of US laws and international treaties prohibiting torture who then lie about it under oath, and when found out justify their illegal acts by claiming that they worked to make America safer, as if this excuses law breaking;

— Failure to investigate, prosecute, indict, and convict government officials who engage in unconstitutional surveillance activities and then lie about it under oath;

— Failure to investigate, prosecute, indict, and convict financial banksters and fraudsters for crimes resulting in the loss of many trillions of dollars of asset value owned by middle and working class Americans

— Failure to indict, and convict some police murders, and to even investigate and prosecute most of them

— Failure to investigate, prosecute, indict, and convict police for rapes

— Failure to investigate, prosecute, indict, and convict police for unlawful seizure of private property

— Failure to investigate, prosecute, indict, and convict police violations of constitutional rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and press

— DHS collaboration in violations of First Amendment Rights by State and Local Governments

— Failure to enforce tax laws prohibiting 501 (c)(4) tax exemption claims by organizations not exclusively engaged in social welfare activities

— Failure to enforce immigration law.*

This is a crime wave composed of wholesale obstruction of justice. If we can’t end it, then democracy will be gone for good. And, if we take too long to end it, then “the beatings will continue” with much suffering among the vast majority of people.

On the other hand, ending the crime wave won’t be easy, because as we see from my list it results as much from political decisions not to enforce the law, as it does from the violations of law themselves. But this brings us to the political system and its present state of dynamics, which only very rarely results in outcomes that represent the public interest. One of our major parties seems completely consumed by the need to serve financial, defense industry, civil suppression and war making, energy, health industry, and other elites, While the other seems to be a bit less consumed by the need, but also very afraid of acting in ways that are hostile to what they want.

In short, the political system seems captured by money and power, and incapable of turning toward the public interest barring effective disruption of the two party system supported by mass communications networks serving as propaganda arms of elite ideology with its quasi-fictional interpretations of the way the world is and works. So, change comes down to the answer to this question:

— how can we disrupt the two party system, neuter the influence of mass communication elites, and render big money powerless in politics, so that voters can self-organize from the bottom-up in ever larger circles of widening consensus that transcend the bought political parties and produce emergent policy options that are likely to grapple with and solve our myriad problems?

I won’t try to answer that critical question in this post. But I will say that if we don’t arrive at an answer that will work and open up our political system again, then the result will be that the above crime wave will never end, but will eventually evolve into a feudal society where political power makes right and the only protection for individuals will be to join the political empire of one of the oligarchs who will be running the United States.

*I empathize with undocumented immigrants, and favor very aggressive action in getting them integrated into American society. However, the President’s decision to cease enforcing the law on this issue is part of the pattern, the crime wave, I’m pointing to above.

One can’t object to all the other instances of failure to enforce the law while ignoring immigration. Immigration law is unjust and inhuman, and it needs to be changed by Congress immediately, but the President, regrettably, doesn’t have the authority to fail to enforce it.

**Update: Tom Hickey provides a wonderful supplement to this post at Mike Norman Economics.

15 Responses to The Lawless Society

  1. The only thing you skimmed over is these same crime organizations creating scapegoat or blame classes to project their criminality upon. For the lending “industry”, it’s appraisers. For the title industry, it’s real estate surveyors. For the real estate sales industry, it’s real estate inspectors. And, of course, same utilizing the E & O insurance industries covering each of these scapegoats to recover their losses due to fraud, stupidity and carelessness. I’m sure many others can be identified.

  2. Do you think if big business wasn’t in favor of amnesty for illegal immigration- at least that is the case in Arizona- immigration laws would actually be enforced? Big business understands the obvious: exporting good paying jobs is the same thing as importing cheap labor. That’s why Cesar Chavez reported illegal immigrant strike busters to INS.

    And while it is certainly understandable why poor immigrants come here for a better life, we should also remember all the poor Americans living on reservations and inner cities who are losing the labor battle against illegal immigrants. I’ve met plenty of poor, hard working Americans who have no choice but to enlist and maybe die in a foreign war just for the chance the GI bill will help them escape poverty on the reservation. These Americans will absolutely work the same jobs illegals immigrants work; they just won’t do it for less than the minimum wage.

  3. I’ll be very interested in how to disrupt the 2 party system. This morning I see bloggers saying they are done with the democratic party but that just leaves the field open for the republicans who are even worse. Right now there are no viable alternatives because our 2 party system is so deeply ingrained. I’ve been involved with the Green party and their path to being on the ballot is frequently made difficult.

  4. You said it, sir, America is a completely fraud-based society, the land of the lawless.

  5. I have just one point. We hear the phrase “nation of laws” very often. But the fact is we are supposed to be a nation not of laws but of our peers assembled in a jury. The right and power of a jury to nullify a law was established a very long time ago but the legal system does everything in its power to cloak and hide that power and option of a jury. A “fully informed” jury would go a very long way in alleviating some of our ills.

  6. «We have a gangster government that fails to enforce the law, but instead prosecutes whistle blowers who make public, violations of it.»

    That’s the usual ridiculous misdescription. What the USA have is gangster *voters* who have resoundingly elected and re-elected governments on a platform of gangsterism and running proudly on their record of gangsterism.

    Consider that two lawless presidents from both parties have been re-elected on their proud, declared record of lawlessness; plus hundreds of congresspeople.

    The voters have applauded and strongly and repeatedly endorsed torture and spying, arbitrary imprisonment and murder, foreign invasions and banker bailouts.

    These are all very popular causes with *voters*, and the result is pretty damn obvious at elections.

    Voters are very pleased with government gangsterism also because it is mainly directed at “untermensch”, and those don’t matter to most voters.

    Consider the feelings of a middle aged middle class woman voter: she is somehow afraid of “untermensch”, and she wants something done to those “untermensch”, and she does not care what happens to them, because after all they are just “untermensch” to her.

    The woman voter’s principles tend to be “I have a right to be better safe than sorry”, “I have a right to feel safe at any cost (to someone else)”, “You can never be too safe (at someone else’s expense)”, and the conclusion is “take the gloves off” (against the untermensch who make her feel unsafe).

    If you want to change this, change the culture and psychology of USA voters. The gangster government is just the consequence of gangster voters electing a government that represents them. It is a demonstration that democracy works.

  7. «Consider the feelings of a middle aged middle class woman voter: she is somehow afraid of “untermensch”, and she wants something done to those “untermensch”, and she does not care what happens to them, because after all they are just “untermensch” to her.»

    Put another way, the gangsterim of the government is essentially the bureaucratized, slow-motion, lynching of those that a middle aged middle class woman voter might consider “untermensch” that make her feel unsafe.

  8. It is also worth noting the ease with which the rich and powerful grow comfortable with the idea of extreme violence directed at individuals, i.e. torture. Our former Vice-President was a very successful corporate CEO of a very successful company, one with a long history of close relationships with governmental power. He apparently sees himself as an objective and pragmatic individual. As the man said, Power Corrupts. What is ironic here, and maybe even politically important, is the Libertarian wing of the Republican Party’s infatuation with Ayn Rand, who, if nothing else, found the threatening gun pointed at the brain anathema. With the Republicans now in power we may be about to witness a civil war between the James Taggart and the Dagny Taggart wings of the Republican party.

  9. Joe Firestone wrote: “One of our major parties seems completely consumed by the need to serve financial, defense industry, civil suppression and war making, energy, health industry, and other elites, While the other seems to be a bit less consumed by the need, but also very afraid of acting in ways that are hostile to what they want.”

    Its not fear, which drives the Democrat Party, but campaign funding. US Day of Rage (one of the four primary groups, which initiated the Occupy Movement) made the most salient point early on. (Unfortunately, it was subsumed by the likes of anarchists, such as David Graeber urging people to ‘tune in and drop out’ of the ‘system’.) As Alexa O’ Brien of US Day of Rage reminded us: We need a system of ‘one-person-one-vote’, not ‘one-dollar-one-vote’. But too many of us want to believe the Democrat Party is redeemable within the context of political oligopoly, within a two-party dictatorship.

    It seems this is one of the impediments to people of conscience seeking political clout. It seems progressives and liberals agree with radicals and revolutionaries on many of the major issues. However, it seems liberals cling to some unrealistic hope that the Democrat Party can sincerely represent the people, the working class, whilst being funded by the FIRE sector and predatory elites. We must be able to distinguish a good cop-bad cop routine when we see one. This is what the two-party dictatorship represents. In the past, when Republicans have lacked sufficient congressional votes to pass legislation, they have relied on sufficient Democrats ‘crossing the aisle’ to provide the necessary votes. But when Democrats have lacked votes, the political flow of support has been shown to only flow in one direction. This is why the political centre keeps shifting to the right. And Obama, for example, is now widely viewed to be to the right, for example, of Ronald Reagan. This is what comes from tenaciously clinging to the morally bankrupt Democrat Party.

    Bill Cash says, he’ll “be very interested in how to disrupt the 2 party system.” The two-party dictatorship is already being disrupted by its own corruption and moral bankruptcy. Voter turnout hovers around, what, 35%? This is because the majority of the people understand the Democrat and Republican parties to be fraudulent. People are already “done”, Bill Cash, with both parties. And the “field” is already “open”. The only people who really bother to vote are the outliers of the political spectrum, the die-hards who cling to their traditional party.

    What we, the people, need is a sincere people’s opposition party, which can only exist in a political climate conducive to political alternatives. This is why the struggle against the national rash of ‘Top-Two Primary’ legislations must be rejected and resisted. Ballot access to alternative political parties is being closed off legislatively.

    As one economics professor said the other day, to have elections without meaningful debates over the important ideas is a political sham. It is not even close to a democratic process. And a sham is exactly what we have when we have election debates, especially at the national level, which are restricted only to the ‘Top Two’ political parties. This is why we get political theatre instead of meaningful debate. This is why it’s easy for the ‘Top Two’, like a cartel, to collude. And this will continue until we, the people, work for political clout and for the rights of alternative political parties. We allow for political extremes on the right, but not on the left. This is why the political centre keeps shifting to the right over time.

    Supplication will never be as effective as political power. The status quo, which is a perpetual slide toward the regressive, will continue until we see socialist, communist, social democrat, greens, and other political parties represented during elections and debates across our national discourse. There may not be viable alternatives on some convenient political menu drafted by the elite funders of the two-party dictatorship. But nothing, but our own cynicism, is stopping us from taking the long view and building, from the ground up, those viable political alternatives we so claim to desire.

    • Joe, I agree that most people are fed u with what we have but there is a dilemma. One person suggested a meeting to impose rules on the parties but from my reading of history that won’t work unless we overthrow the government. The system has to be changed from within the way FDR did it. He was able to do it because he gained the strength within the system to do it. He had extreme circumstances that enabled him to get elected and to actually have the government do something for the people.

      The conservatives have been chipping away at it ever since and have succeeded in shredding many of his accomplishments. They are gunning for the others like social security. Third parties have seldom achieved any success because the system is rigged against them. You’d have to show me your ideas for a third party challenge. The Green party has not been successful even though they espouse many good ideas. Same with the Working People’s Party.

      Can we build within a party and take it over much as the right wing did with the republicans? Changing the existing system is impossible without taking over. The supreme court has to be dealt with and they are very pro corporation with those 5 justices. FDR was able to change some of the justices because they became fearful of the number of people who supported him. Packing the court didn’t work.

  10. Veintitres Deseptiembre

    Although most of what you write in this post is inarguably true, suggesting that one party is largely to blame mischaracterizes the problem.

    Most Congressional Democrats, the Democratic Party and, perhaps most of all, the President are delighted to have the cover of Republican control as they continue to roll out their every-day-citizen-crushing neoliberal agenda.

    The thing is the Democratic Party has been doing this since Clinton’s first term, picking right up where the Republican neoliberal project left off. Most so-called liberal leaders went right along and voters, like little children being offered candy, were content to accept the niceties of social reforms such as gay marriage rather than insist on future economic security for (egads!) all classes.

    So here we are. It took more than 40 years for the robber barons and governmental looters to solidify their position. And, while I’m glad that those who have been saying this all along are still speaking and that more people appear to be listening, how the hell do we put the toothpaste back in the tube?

    No. Unfortunately, too many have waited until the neoliberal project failed them personally to bother to reflect on or even notice whether it was working out for the economy and democracy as a whole. It sickens me to say it, but I think it’s over.

  11. Your vote counts. And the difference between an R vote and a D vote is zilch. We have been repeatedly lied to by both parties.
    For the Demos, this is 1968 revisited. They will not be able to win with a warm mongering Wall Street advocate like Hillary. Andy they probably can’t win with a peacenik either. Except if the Rs nominate someone that says more than 2 or 3 words per day.

  12. Start by calling a nationwide meeting of concerned citizens, hopefully from every state.

    Invite them to deliberate on the means of enforcing obedience on the representatives, for example one year parliaments, dismissal during office for acts contrary to declared principles, etc. Creation of a new institution, perhaps comprised of students on completion of schooling, a domestic Peace Corps, that will observe Congress, report debates in brief, supervise elections, ensure balance of the three separate powers and basically enforce the Constitution on the representatives with powers to discipline and expel. Consider restoring the subject formerly called civics to the High School syllabus.

    Invite these state reps to elect candidates for state and federal government.

  13. Surreal isn’t it?! The scale of the aberrance alone gives one pause to consider the mental balance of the aristocrats that drive this phenomenon. They have to be lunatics. Only a lunatic would be so greedy as to pauperize his own markets and corrupt his own government. What we are witnessing is the destruction of civilization. This is how Rome fell. It seems that, in the end, greed becomes a socio-pathological mania. One is reminded of Caligula.

  14. Justice in America, like economics, is a mess. Our current approach to justice (retributive justice) is concerned only with laws and the appropriate punishment of those who break them. Other approaches to justice (reparative, procedural, distributive) are ignored. Reparative/restorative justice is being used with some young offenders, but only in a few jurisdictions. BTW, MMT advocates are advocating distributive justice – the fair and just distribution of resources.