[Hpn] FW: [BRC-NEWS] An Anarchist View of Bush, Jr.

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Sun, 28 Jan 2001 20:17:14 -0700


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From: Brian Oliver Sheppard <bakunin@anarcho.zzn.com>
Reply-To: bsheppard@bari.iww.org, bakunin@anarcho.zzn.com
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2001 17:17:58 -0500
To: brc-news@lists.tao.ca
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] An Anarchist View of Bush, Jr.

January 27, 2001

An Anarchist View of the Presidency of Bush, Jr.

By Brian Oliver Sheppard <bsheppard@bari.iww.org>

Anarchists have a saying: "No matter who you vote for, the
government will get in." For the 2000 Presidential Election
this adage needs a little revision: "No matter who you voted
for, Bush got in."

It is true that anarchists have proclaimed, for centuries
now, the folly of humans entrusting themselves into the
guidance of nation-states. It is true that we see nation-
states as no longer benefiting humanity in any meaningful
way; we feel they serve, rather, to impede the free
development of humanity's powers, corralling people into
regimented lives of misspent energy in the service of more
powerful humans. Nation-states are mazes of man-made laws
that ensure some powerful people will be able to rule over
others, and that an economic system that safely perpetuates
this sort of hierarchy will function indefinitely, all at
public expense.

So it is that when George W. Bush assumed the mantle
of President of the USA, to many anarchists it was the
coronation of just another figurehead, replacing all the
other figureheads of the past, who, like so many inter-
changeable parts, simply ensure that the nation-state
will lurch forward as a legitimate social phenomenon.

What's so remarkable about George W. Bush, then, if he is
merely the inheritor of an office that anarchists see as
illegitimate no matter how it is won?

What's remarkable is that, even by the standards of those
who do accept states, and who think rulers are tolerable
inasmuch as they are popularly chosen - even by these
minimal standards, George W. Bush falls short of the
mark of acceptability.

With a disarmingly dopey, and even playful, demeanor, the
unelected Bush waltzed into the highest political office
in the land, serenaded by the vapidity of Ricky Martin, Lee
Greenwood, and other symbols of cultural mediocrity, in a
showbiz extravaganza inauguration. And while his outward
appearances so far have been marked by speeches consisting
largely of vague platitudes and vacuous, nice-sounding
political buzz phrases, he has been hard at work behind
closed doors, signing a flurry of executive orders and
appointing reactionary cabinet members. These actions
betray his true intentions more than any lip service
he has paid to being a "uniter" and a "compassionate
conservative."


BEDTIME FOR DEMOCRACY

Even by the logic that allows American power to credibly
refer to the country as a representative democracy - a
republic - the Bush presidency represents a step backward.
It represents a step backward to a time when coteries of
aristocrats installed leaders into power openly, and the
public accepted it because such was their lot in life.

As people in history became more unmanageable, more "curious
and arrogant" about the machinations of the State (to para-
phrase a statement often quoted by Noam Chomsky), elites
felt compelled to ensure that their representatives were
chosen through more indirect, less noticeable means.
Campaign finance, saturation of political ads across
all kinds of media, control over the Federal Election
Commission, the Electoral College - these are some of the
indirect ways that elites ultimately retain their power over
the country today. The placing of Bush and his big business
administration into power shows that the business community
feels confident enough to step out of the shadows and openly
place into office one of their representatives, even without
the public ratification that used to be, at least
superficially, necessary.

What are some of the reasons that the Bush presidency fails
to carry any legitimacy, even given the criteria for assuming
power that is inherent to a republic?

* Shortly after the election in November, 2000, it was
estimated by most that Al Gore, Bush's main opponent, had
won the national popular vote by about 300,000 votes. In
December the New York Times, Associated Press, and others
came out with figures that revealed this to be short of the
mark: Gore had actually won the national popular vote by at
least 500,000, they reported, after all state returns had
been certified.

* Bush had the largest war chest of any presidential
candidate in history. Wall Street and other sectors of the
moneyed elite backed him overwhelmingly. His loss of the
Presidency would have amounted to a failed investment for
them. As the most well-connected of candidates, and with
so much of an investment riding on his success, he had the
benefit of society's most powerful as allies, able to pull
strings to help him come through when things looked grim.

To wit: Business Week's December 11 issue stated that "Bush
has hooks everywhere. He has Florida Secretary of State
Katherine Harris, who certified his election two weeks ago
and who just happened to be his state campaign co-chairman.
He has his brother, the governor of Florida, to certify a
slate of Bush electors.... He has both houses of the Florida
legislature and the US House of Representatives.... And, it
seems, he has five justices of the US Supreme Court, all of
whom were either appointed by his daddy or by Ronald Reagan,
his daddy's old boss."

* Recounts that probably would have overturned his victory
were halted by the intervention of a Supreme Court stacked
with appointees from Bush family administrations. These
"justices" said the recount was stopped because allowing
it to go forward would cause "irreparable harm" to
Bush's chances of winning. Indeed, it would have.

* As the newspaper Haiti Progres noted shortly after the
election in November: "Fraud, corruption, voter intimidation,
confusing ballots, racial profiling, lost ballot boxes,
destroyed ballots, incompetent and abusive polling site
supervisors, polling sites closing early, and many other
irregularities" all played a part in the election. The
butterfly ballot alone caused many elderly Jews to
vote for anti-Semite Pat Buchanan.

* In many states in the US, a criminal conviction means that
the State strips you of your "right" to vote for the rest of
your life. Florida is such a state. This sort of voter dis-
enfranchisement (which acts upon the assumption that the
legal process under which one is branded a criminal is fair
and just) has resulted in one out of every three African-
American men in Florida being unable to vote. Republicans
hired Database Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of ChoicePoint,
to determine which ex-convicts should not be allowed to vote.
A "scrub list" of 173,000 persons was generated. Katherine
Harris distributed this to county election officials. It
was presumably felt that ex-cons, which tend to be ethnic
minorities and poorer white people, would probably not
vote for Bush.

There are some other failsafe devices built into the
process: the fact that a state legislature can override
voting outcomes and choose a state's electors itself,
electors who will be present in that undemocratic
institution, the Electoral College, which really
chooses the President.

Also of interest is that Bush, who has played up the
traditional Republican motif of "giving powers back to
states" and away from the federal government, decided not to
respect the decision of the Florida State Supreme Court, but
went over its head to the federal Supreme Court. He also came
out against hand recounts despite his having signed legislation
approving hand recounts while governor of Texas. Ironically
these moves, which run counter to his professed ideals but
which were the only options left if he wanted to be
President, ultimately saved him.

This simply shows that those who make their careers by
ruling others have very flexible, supple ideologies that
tend to accommodate, above all else, their desire for power.
This isn't particular to Bush or to Republicans in the least.
It is the nature of all rulers, no matter their affiliation.


NO MATTER WHO YOU VOTE FOR...

Truth be told, Gore would not be much better than Bush. They
are both men dedicated to preserving the basic framework of
our system, which is a system that depends upon class division,
exploitation, and varying degrees of racism and sexism, simply
to exist. With Gore we would have gotten this same old program,
albeit swathed in political correctness and an occasional bone
tossed to the poor. With Bush we will have the same program of
state-subsidized capitalism without any of the sugar coating.

Gore did contest the election up to a certain point. But he
held back from taking the fight in a direction that would
"irreparably damage" the country, he and his officials
told us. And this says it all - because what constitutes
"irreparable damage" to elites and their institutions is
what is actually in the public's best interest.

The irreparable damage would have been the tarnishing of
the sanctity of some of America's most entrenched political
institutions. The nearly mystical aura that surrounds such
processes as the electing of "the leader of the free world"
would have been dragged through the mud; perhaps these
institutions would never have been able to recover their
credibility in the eyes of the American people. However,
it is precisely such a thorough examination that needs
to happen if we are to take notions like "freedom" and
"democracy" seriously.

Politicians like Gore would rather make sacrifices in their
own careers than shine too bright a light on some of the
ways in which our system is inherently corrupt. Taking a
fight for the White House too far would damage the eventual
winner's ability to govern effectively - and this ability
to govern, above all else, must be preserved. Because it
ultimately matters not so much who governs, as that someone
is allowed to govern, and is able to do so in a manner that
is meaningful to the wealthy. A "crisis in governance," in
which elites cannot command the obedience necessary to push
forward their agendas, would be destructive from their point
of view. From the point of view of the governed, however,
averting a "crisis in governance" merely guarantees that the
old order continues - an old order that means there is still
ruler and ruled, employer and employed, rich and poor, and
all the other changeable, man-made disparities in society
that people have let themselves become too apathetic to
challenge.

There are many people that know Bush lost the national
popular vote; they know that his victory in Florida was
questionable - but they simply don't care. For some, he was
their man, and so if he won, no matter how, democratically
or not, it is welcomed. His victory, for them, is more
important than the integrity of any process used to boost
him into power. And, from their standpoint, if you have a
problem with Bush being an unelected President you are
simply a "whiner" or a "sore loser" or any other thing that
implies that a political victory, no matter how unjustly
attained, is something you should just shut up and accept.

For others, for perhaps the vast majority of the American
public that didn't even vote, a Bush win or loss is not
worth any fuss because it doesn't matter. They know, perhaps
only on an intuitive and inarticulate level, that no matter
who assumes the office of the President of the United States,
the President will act as he has to act in such a role, and
that nothing substantial, nothing fundamental, will ever
really change. They will still wake up in the morning and
have to go to work, they will still have bills, and they
will still have the same day to day worries and concerns
they have always had.

Anarchists are often told that eliminating positions of
authority, while a "nice idea," is dangerous because people
are too dumb to manage things for themselves. Bush is an
excellent response to this objection. With Bush we see that,
as an alternative to dumb people running their own lives, we
can have an exceedingly dumb person as our leader, vested in
all the raiments of statehood that will enable him to magnify
and extend the power of his stupidity the world over.

Copyright (c) 2001 Brian O. Sheppard. All Rights Reserved.


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