FIRST PERSON-In her book Democracy inChains, Professor Nancy MacLean of Duke University in North Carolinalays out how the over 40-year master plan funded by the Koch brothers and other mega-rich oligarchs has dumbed down the American electorate to the point that it is now incapable of understanding what she is talking about because they no longer have the requisite critical thinking skills needed to do so. In 2018, we see that these skills have been systematically removed from our public education system, much like in the Orwellian “newspeak world” presciently described in George Orwell's novel,1984.
This didn't just happen. Step by systematic step, the "dismantling of the administrative state," has been accomplished by monomaniacal oligarchies being able to give themselves a disproportionate and undemocratic say as to what goes on in this country. This is in derogation of the fundamental democratic principle of "one man (or woman), one vote," and completely compromises the checks and balances that exist in the three branches of government, highlighted by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizen United giving them the ability to spend unlimited amounts on elections and lobbying under the guise that their fictional but legal corporations (allowed initially for the purpose of limited liability) have individual civil rights.
What doesn't seem to occur to the liberal intelligentsia in this country is that the majority of Americans of whatever ethnicity no longer receive the Renaissance-based public education that existed up until the late 1960s, when Koch and his boys started to go after it. This public education system has been systematically dismantled, to the point that, even in a so-called democracy like the United States, most Americans no longer understand the historical context in which they live or about which Professor MacLean writes.
In the beginning of our history, corporations existed at the will of the sovereign. If they broke the rules set down by the State, the State could revoke their charters and put them out of business. But in 2018, we have gotten to the point where the corporate oligarchy -- which now runs this country -- can revoke or change any aspect of government that dares to stand up to or question its unfettered right to make unlimited amounts of money, no matter the cost to our earth's environment and the future of our species on the planet. Yes, this is insanity.
Although there is now a super majority of people in the nation who don't like what's going on, with commercial media run by five corporations and public media controlled by their foundations, that super majority no longer has the means to fully understand its majority status and act accordingly.
In this context, the fight for Net Neutrality becomes more important because any opposition to the oligarchy juggernaut must have an uncensored venue in which to express itself and educate the citizenry as to what is really going on and what they can do about it.
It occurred to me as I went over Professor MacLean's rich text in Democracy in Chains and watched her several appearances on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now, that a good teacher might use her work the way I used Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, to lay out a critical thinking framework that could provide an alternate, more viable educational formation.
Don’t forget that, at least for now, the technology the Kochs have used for the last 40 years to enslave this country is amoral, not immoral. When all is said and done, the captured U.S. government was unable to shut down Ed Snowden or anyone else willing to speak truth to power -- no matter the cost to them personally.
(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles, observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second- generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at Lenny@perdaily.com.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.