Afraid to Reflect
from the book
Toward an American Revolution
by Jerry Fresia
South End Press
Afraid to Reflect
... because so much of what corporate-government elites believe
to be in the national interest violates accepted standards of
decency, many public policies are formulated and carried out covertly.
... the Framers [of the Constitution] decided that they needed
the present political system to protect their power and privilege.
... the Framers ... felt contempt for common people and their
Constitutional Convention was profoundly undemocratic.
We are not encouraged to think because it is understood that
thinking sometimes leads to disagreement, or worse, to the challenging
of some sacred text. Instead we are encouraged to believe.
We live in an undemocratic system that is a major source of
terror and repression, both at home and around the world. In large
measure this is due to the tremendous concentration of unchecked
corporate power. Our responsibility, as citizens and as a people,
is to challenge the structure of power within our society, particularly
the private power of the corporate - banking community.
The government of the United States does not, in its policies,
express the decency of its people.
A System of Injustice
The vision of the Framers, even for Franklin and Jefferson
who were less fearful of the politics of common people than most,
was that of a strong centralized state, a nation whose commerce
and trade stretched around the world. In a word, the vision was
one of empire where property owners would govern themselves. It
would be a nation in which ambitious industrious (white men would
be finally free from the Crown and from the Church to do with
their property as they pleased and as their talents permitted.
It would be a nation organized around private power where there
would be freedom to acquire wealth and the function of the state
and of its executive would be to protect these freedoms and opportunities,
defined as natural rights. Meanwhile, it was perceived that the
only real threat, to paraphrase Madison, to the rights of the
few virtuous citizens and therefore to the "common good",
would come from the overbearing majority, the people without property.
For it is the less virtuous and less industrious people, the people
in debt for example, who would seek to redistribute property and
invade the rights of others.
There is a tension, then, between the elite who privately
own productive resources and the multitudes who are made dependent,
who, as Karl Marx noted, must sell their lives in order to live.
Within this relationship of power, the Constitution protects the
power of the more powerful. It does this because the Framers believed
that it was the right of a few "better" people to own
and control much of the earth's resources. And it does this because
the Framers believed that the lives of women, people of color,
and the poor ought to be defined in terms of the desires and interests
of the rich. Resistance to this tyranny, from the Whiskey Rebellion
of 1794 to the revolutionary leaders of today who are genuinely
committed to directing meager resources to the majority poor in
the Third World, are and have been brutally repressed because
the national army created by the Constitution is directed by that
document to preserve these relationships of disparity. Of course,
relationships of disparity are not referred to as such by elites.
They would prefer to call them "our rights" and "our
freedom." Thus "our" concepts of rights and of
freedom are interwoven with the Framers' vision of conquest and
empire and privilege.
an American Revolution