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The Common Good: Bang, Bang; They Shot It Down

1946-01-30 Four Freedoms stamp

(US Embassy, the Hague, via

When a nation’s rulers no longer consider the Common Good, it is clearly in decline. Dredd writes that as earlier consensus continues to evaporate, a society begins to feed on itself, in a form of cultural and social cannibalism; the common weal is no longer considered.  From the wiki on the common weal:

‘The “middle class and poor” is an obvious representative for the standard, because those are the common people, as shown by the history and definition of the phrase “the common weal” which is the old English form of “the common good”.

A song written by Tracy Chapman has been haunting me; it’s a metaphor for so many of the ills in our nation that keep us from enjoying any of FDR’s Four Freedoms:

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.

‘Anywhere in the world’ is too much to trace back, but the bang, bang, bangs in this country still resound from at least the middle of the last century.

Bang, bang: Sorry, no more worker strikes that might affect the bidness of America, which is it’s only bidness (gotcha, ya rotten Commies).  ‘People have  the right to work free of union interference!’

Bang, slam… went Reagan’s EO stamp pad: ‘Get back ta work or get fired, ya ignorant PATCO slaves.  Safety?  Sure, we got plenty of that…  We’d be fine if it weren’t for all those Welfare Queens robbing us blind.’  Freedom from government, trickle, trickle, bang, bang, bang. 

Then bang, bang, bang…Reagan ‘let the mentally ill out of hospitals’; they only needed some good pharmaceuticals, dogs run free, why shouldn’t they?  Whoosh; the homeless population ballooned.  Sorry, homelessness was a Latte Librul issue, but it was soooo intractable; let’s Save the Whales, instead.  Not so messy, not so visible, and a hell of a lot cleaner, to boot.  Whales don’t even need jobs or an education ( bang, bang)  Cities can take care of panhandlers, jail em, move em along, destroy their camps; at least we won’t have ta look at em any more; ish.  Urban Renewal, too!  And Housing Projects!  Three Strikes: Incarcerate, incarcerate!  A Living wage: whazzat?

And anyway, those who have benefited from the American Free Market will be ‘a thousand points of light’ providing helping hands to the lesser among us, proving once again that our Lords of Finance are the most generous folks on earth; didn’t Jesus say, ‘Let there be soup kitchens’?  Damn shame about those folks in the ghettos, those kids who run drugs for a living, but really, they only prey on their own.

If he preys only on his neighbors
Brothers sisters and friends
We’ll consider it a favor
We’ll consider justice done

But if he comes for you or me
And we can place a gun in his hand
Bang bang bang
We’ll shoot him dead

Anti-trust?  Nah…media consolidation and every other sort that is the bidness of America, cuz only the financier class should own the news and all the wealth; and they only believe the propaganda they want to believe, anyway. 

Give him drugs and give him candy
Anything to make him think he’s happy
And he won’t ever come for us
He won’t ever come

Deregulate the banks?  Deregulate the commodities market?  Easy: it just takes a Third (neoliberal) Way Democrat!  Bang, bang, flash-bang; Welfare Reform, and ‘the days of big government are over!’  (except for the Lemon Socialists and true Welfare Kings and Queens among us: the Predatory Class (sshhhhh…; see no evil, speak no evil).  Veal Pen Unions, great modern social movements captured by the Democratic Party, no one twigs, no one kvetches except for the goddam radical class (good thing most of em are in prison, eh wot?)  Common weal?  It’s dog eat dog, but The Big Dog heard our pain, and is the rock star of rock stars around the world (oh, so philanthropic, just like Brother Bill Gates, and Brother Bono, too, woh yeah).

Dubya’s de facto jobs program was an all-volunteer military and the defense industry complex, bang, bang, flash-bang, shock-and-awe.  Lies for fear, lies for war, lies for profit…  Returning vets with nowhere to turn for good medical care?  No Common Weal even for the soldiers they profess to honor?  Ka-ching, bang, bang, not enough extra bucks to upgrade VA hospitals; sorry.  So glad he hung some Medals of Freedom on Wolfie,  Maximum hypocrisy rules; tie a yellow ribbon round the soldier’s family…

But who in their right mind mightta thought that any of us might actually be half-pining for the Dubya Days as ruler of this Ship of Fools?  Not I.  At least on some issues there was some Democratic opposition to the ways his administration disregarded the Common Weal or the planet’s health; but not now.  The Progressive movement is just another PR con by the elites who control our futures by funding groups that might have made a difference, but self-kettled in return for the big bucks.  (Not, as Stauber maintains, OWS, though; he doesn’t know it’s still up behind the scenes, preparing for America 2.0 as fast and hard as possible.)

But hell, yeah, some of us have been paying close attention to what these folks and organizations, and this administration do, instead of what they so theatrically profess to be doing…for the Common Good.  Our Good…the Peoples’ Good.  And lots of us have been VanJonesed and DemocRatted, ‘n Librul Caucused till we can’t take no more! But at least we’re not living under Republican Rule, thank goodness.  Instead, our President’s bang, bangs are sweeter, and delivered with candy and pretty smiles, boy-howdy.

Fifty million Americans are living in poverty, the highest spike since LBJ’s War on Poverty, while this man is offering more cuts to Social Security, and took his ‘stimulus’  money out of his new budget (except for stuff to benefit Catepillar).  Wealth inequality is higher than ever, but…Wall Street’s doin’ just fine, or so the pundits like to proclaim, while 20% of our children are classified as living poor, and one in six of us are on food stamps, a meager help these days.  The Too Big to Fail banks are bigger than ever, more toxic derivatives are being sold than before the crash in 2008 (but at least a lot of them are covered by the FDIC, better known as your tax dollars at work); further deregulations are happening while we keep our eyes on other nearly quixotic battles.

Obomba’s DoJ fails to prosecute bank fraud almost religiously, and makes ‘deferred prosecutions’ The Rule, or settles massive frauds like MERS with small fines, and a bit of watch-dogging by (heh) ‘regulatory bodies’  (bang, bang to the foreclosed-upon; ya shouldn’t have bought into ‘the ownership society’ schtick.)

Bang, bang: Obomba’s Executive Order stamp pad slamming down, and pushing the fast-tracking of BigPharma’s drugs, genetically modified zombie crops, extractive mineral leases galore, defying his own EPA  on some toxic emissions levels, deporting far more immigrants without green cards than Dubya ever did, and prosecuting whistle-blowers and journalists like crazy.

And there was Obomba, even braggin’ in his recent SOTU about fast tracking all those items in addition to the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Unfair Trade bill, a permanent game-changer for the peasant class both in the USA and around the world (an updated overview here).  No recourse under the law for the peasant class, we’ve now been deemed the disposable class, and are only seen as Consumers and Servants to the Empire.  We are all becoming Chapman’s ‘Little Man’:

If he wants the chances that you took from him

And nothing that you own
Then there’ll be no place to run to
There’ll be no place to run

And if he finds himself to be
A reflection of us all
Bang bang bang
He’ll shoot us down

Before you can raise your eyes to read
The writing on the wall
Bang bang bang
He’ll shoot you down


Seriously, is it any wonder that so many of us are becoming more radicalized by the day, when in addition to all the rest, we understand that this administration’s DHS has been regularly spying on and monitoring all non-violent civil disobedience, and militarizing the nation’s police departments with every tool imaginable to keep down massive resistance?  When we see so clearly that the behaviors that are celebrated by the Powers that Be…are so wrong, and that everyday people are forced into roles and life situations that they never would have chosen for themselves?

How can folks here imagine that many of us here ever came with any intention other than to report on the doing’s of our state and federal governments, tell our stories, listen to others’, and ask hard questions, and offer opinions as to the  current State of Our Union?   Why is this increased radicalization among our denizens seen as anything but a natural evolution…a progression…in accumulated understanding of the massive forces arrayed against us, and The Common Good?  And one that we must push back against with all the strenth we can muster, even if just using the printed word.

 Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have become, refuse to bear them.

~ William Faulkner

(h/t: My.FDL’s Isaiah)

(I’ll edit it later; out of time for now.)

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