“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.” —Propaganda, Edward Bernays, American publicist, 1928
The substance of original American freedoms exists today but as hollow forms. The people have been sold down the river – especially since the Constitution of 1787. But for most, to believe so would be patriotic heresy.
The 1775 start of the American Revolutionary War and subsequent 1776 “Declaration of Independence” began the journey of colonial liberation from the British Empire. “The great experiment” of America celebrated the rising of an autonomous United States of America. Going forward, the development of all aspects of life (law, politics, education, science, medicine, finance, food, agriculture, religion etc.) would no longer be for the sake of the monarchy but for the benefit of the people. The problem is it didn’t turn out that way. Today, the very same institutions more often serve their own self-interests than those of the people.
“The truth that survives is simply the lie that is pleasantest to believe.” —H.L Mencken, twentieth century journalist
Enter “The Protestor”
The fact that today’s social institutions function as profit-driven corporations, (including non-profits) is a fact not lost on the people of the world. In 2011, TIME magazine declared “The Protestor” the “Person of the Year,” the poster child for discontent echoed across the planet. Considered as a demographic of mostly young people, protestors are young and old alike of all colors and stripes of varied ethnicity and backgrounds. Registering their dissatisfaction in every way imaginable, they vote at the polls, write letters, sign petitions, and withhold their consent and their money.
Yes, political and philosophical differences divide them, but at the end of the day, their differences mask the same, deeper message of all who are fed up with the direction of their country. The message arises from an informed awareness transcending country, color, age, and background; something must change.
Yet in America, a country founded on the principle of dissent, the free speech of protest has gone on the chopping block. As of March 2012, subsequent to Tea Party and Occupy Movement activities of the fall and winter of 2011, President Obama signed into law Executive Order HR 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act.
This Act is a trespass law of chilling implication. No, it does not directly prohibit free speech nor does it change the right to protest. However, at any time, free speech and the dissension of protest can be curtailed by the law’s restrictions and criminal felony charges of up to ten years imprisonment. Most protesters won’t find out until it is too late. HR 347 excerpt:
“Whoever attempts or conspires to knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.”
The Never Ending Quest for Freedom and Liberty
The trespass law represents but one example of many laws and regulations counter-intuitive to what it originally meant to be American. Colonists fought the American Revolution for freedom from the British Empire and, for the liberties they stood to gain – the same reason protestors dissent today. What began as “government by consent of the governed,” by all indications now waxes as government above the law.
Roman emperor Julius Caesar and French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte were no fools. They used a strategy of divide et impera (divide and conquer) to control their empires by inciting their subjects to war amongst themselves. Known today as the American two-party political system, this same strategy keeps political partisans fighting each other while deeper issues concerning all people remain unnamed and unexamined. The cruel joke of divisive partisan loyalties is that upon closer scrutiny, we find ourselves all in the same boat.
“The bane of patriotism” is “commerce.” —The Life of Henry Laurens, David Duncan Wallace, 1915
When both the right and left policy makers fall under the control of the same corporate money interests; when a government is bought and paid for by special interests; the gods of commerce are in control. While Nero fiddles (the right and left fight among themselves); Rome burns (as wealth is extracted from the masses). The culture-wars of right and left alienate us one from another at a time when strength in numbers is needed. Jesus of Nazareth reminds us when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Time is of the essence as less and less legislation reflects the will of the people and dire personal and national circumstances continue to unfold.