Progressive Calendar 08.24.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2008 06:20:30 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   08.24.08

1. Atheists/950AM     8.24 9am
2. Stillwater vigil   8.24 1pm
3. RNC/rights         8.24 1pm
4. YAWR/strike        8.24 1pm
5. YAWR/puppets       8.24 2pm
6. KFAI/Indian        8.24 7pm
7. Fr Smith/MidEast   8.24 7pm Northfield MN
8. Trumbo/film        8.24 7pm

9. RNC/speech/court   8.25 9am
10. Peace walk        8.25 6pm RiverFalls WI
11. Art/politics/KFAI 8.25 6pm
12. 11th hour/eco f   8.25 7pm
13. Witness v the war 8.25 7pm Red Wing MN
14. RNC/NLG/video     8.25 7pm
15. RNC infoline      8.25 7pm
16. EXCO deadline     8.25

17. Joshua Frank - Cindy Sheehan: targeting Pelosi (& the war machine)
18. Paul Street  - Totalitarianism: it can happen here
19. ed           - Day in the sun  (poem)

--------1 of 19--------

From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at]>
Subject: Atheists/950AM 8.24 9am

Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio show. Broadcast live from the
Minnesota State Fair.

Sunday, August 24, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time A discussion about

Sunday, August 31, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time A discussion about

We welcome questions during the program at (952) 946-6205 or
radio [at]

"Atheists Talk" airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
To stream live, go to Podcasts of past
shows are available at or through iTunes.
Program Notes are available at

--------2 of 19-------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 8.24 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------3 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: RNC/rights 8.24 1pm

Sunday, 8/24, 1 to 4:45 pm, Coldsnap Legal Collective sponsors free Know
Your Rights and volunteer training for the RNC and aftermath, Merriam Park
Library meeting room, 1831 Marshall Ave, St Paul.  coldsnap [at]

--------4 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: YAWR/strike 8.24 1pm

Sunday, 8/24, 1 to 2:30, meeting of Youth Against War and Racism to plan
the student strike on September 4, YAWR office, 3024 Chicago Ave S, Mpls. (Note: meeting may have changed to Bedlam Theater,
due to puppet making.)

--------5 of 19--------
From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: YAWR/puppets 8.24 2pm

Sunday, 8/24, 2 to 5 pm, Youth Against War and Racism makes puppets for
the protests against the RNC, Bedlam Theater, 1501 S 6th St, West Bank,
Mpls. Puppet workshops are led by Chris Lutter of
Puppet Farm Arts, Please RSVP
tytymo [at] gmail so they know how many folks to plan for.

--------6 of 19--------

From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at]>
Subject: KFAI/Indian 8.24 7pm

KFAI's Indian Uprising, August 24, 2008 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. CDT #279

Daryl Sager (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe), Energy Justice Program Associate,
Fresh Energy, Inc.

Fresh Energy of St. Paul, Minnesota is an organization leading the
transition to a clean, efficient and fair energy system.  Its goals are:
Healthy Economies, Healthy People, Healthy Environment and Energy
Independence.  Fresh Energy focus areas are: Clean Electricity, Energy
Efficiency, Transportation Policy, Global Warming Solutions and Energy

"Fresh Energy is the only nonprofit in Minnesota whose sole focus is a
clean, just energy future for the Upper Midwest. Often, the economically
disadvantaged are the most adversely affected by energy decisions. The
Energy Justice program at Fresh Energy works to pass policies that help
build the capacity of low-income individuals to have a strong voice in
those decisions."

Tom Goldtooth (Dine¹/Dakota), Director, Indigenous Environmental Network,
Bemidji, Minnesota

IEN (nonprofit) is a network of grass-roots Indigenous Peoples empowering
Indigenous Nations and communities towards sustainable livelihoods,
demanding environmental justice and maintaining the Sacred Fire of
cultural traditions. IEN is dependent on private foundations and
individual donations but does not solicit for federal grants.

One immediate concern, says Goldtooth, is the proposed 36-inch diameter
tar sand oil pipeline cutting through northern Minnesota running almost
1,000 miles, from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin, dubbed the
Alberta Clipper.

"The Real Price of Tar Sands Oil - Enbridge, a Canadian company, seeks to
build a pipeline to carry synthetic crude oil from Alberta, Canada, into
southern Illinois. Of the many problems with this project, the greatest
one stems from the energy approach driving its construction: bitumen
extraction from Alberta's tar sands.

Tar sands oil is produced through a destructive process that has
deplorable consequences. Extraction and processing of just one barrel of
synthetic crude oil from bitumen requires up to five barrels of fresh
water and 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas. The gasoline yield from that
single barrel is only enough to fill a Chevrolet Avalanche's tank
three-quarters full.

The environmental impact is severe. In 2007, greenhouse gas emissions from
tar sands plants were roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of 27
million American passenger vehicles. High levels of carcinogens in fish,
water and sediment have been found downstream from tar sands areas.

Meanwhile, annual production of tar sands oil from Alberta is expected to
at least triple by 2015, fueled principally by U.S. demand. While no one
enjoys reliance on OPEC oil, the alternative of a pending environmental
catastrophe is intolerable." ­ Brian P. Granahan, Staff Attorney,
Environment Illinois Research and Education Center (,
Jan. 2008).

Indian Uprising is a KFAI Public & Cultural Affairs program relevant to
Native Indigenous people, broadcast each Sunday on 90.3 FM Minneapolis and
106.7 FM St. Paul. Volunteer producer & host is Chris Spotted Eagle.
Note: Chris is taking a leave of absence for five months, starting
September 1st.

--------7 of 19--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Fr Smith/MidEast 8.24 7pm Northfield MN

Father David Smith on the Middle East

Sunday, August 24, 7:00 p.m. St. Dominic's Catholic Church, 104 Linden
Street, Northfield. Professor Smith teaches at the University of St.
Thomas and is known for his presentations describing his extended living
and traveling experiences in the West Bank of Israel. Free and open to the
public. Olive oil from Bethlehem will be available for sale. Sponsored by:
Northfielders for Justice for Palestine/Israel.

--------8 of 19--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Trumbo/film 8.24 7pm

Friday, AUG. 22 thru Thu, Aug 28: (2:20 BARGAIN MATINEE)7:00 LAGOON
THEATRE on Lagoon 1 block from Hennepin Ave. in uptown MINNEAPOLIS

TRUMBO is a documentary of the great screenwriter and McCarthyism, the
1950s Cold War anti-communist "Red Scare", blacklist victim Dalton Trumbo
in TRUMBO. The writer is best known for his anti-war novel JOHNNY GOT HIS
GUN - a searing portrait of a wounded vet who can not see, hear or move -
but, is locked in with his thoughts and emotions about what war does to
human beings.

Steven Holden of The New York Times says: "Today few would dispute
Trumbo's assessment of that very dark period McCarthyism): 'The blacklist
was a time of evil, and no one who survived it on either side came through
untouched by evil'.

--------9 of 19--------

From: Jodin Morey <organize [at]>
Subject: RNC/speech/court 8.25 9am

Jodin Morey
Cofounder: Impeach for Peace
1111 Elway St. Suite 505
St. Paul, MN 55116
Phone: 612-328-1451
organizer [at]

RNC Free Speech Legal Battle set for August 25th

A date has now been set for August 25th at 9am at the Ramsey County
Courthouse in front of Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin (15 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul , MN) for a lawsuit filed by Impeach for Peace (IfP), along with
others looking to demonstrate at the Republican National Convention (RNC)
with the help of the ACLU of Minnesota demanding the right to free speech.
Plaintiffs include: Jodin Morey and Mikael Rudolph of Impeach for Peace,
Colleen and Ross Rowley, and Ron Deharporte.

Impeach for Peace is a grassroots, nonpartisan organization based in
Minnesota with chapters in twelve states throughout the country working to
achieve the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President
Dick Cheney and holding them and future elected officials fully
accountable under the Rule of Law.

The RNC is having their election year convention in St. Paul, Minnesota at
the Xcel Energy Center.  During this event, the St. Paul Police have
decided to relegate most speech activities in what they call the "Primary
Event Area" to an inadequate "Designated Public Assembly Area" or free
speech zone. The "Primary Event Area" remains to be fully defined by the
police, making it impossible for people to know where in St. Paul they can
exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.  At the
convention, members of congress, mayors, governors, the President and
Vice-President of the United States are expected to be in attendance. This
provides IfP and other potential demonstrators with a unique opportunity
to express their political messages to these governmental officials.

The lawsuit alleges that the St. Paul City Council and police have created
guidelines for the RNC which restrict free speech to areas that are
³inadequate and unacceptably small.²

The ACLU also alleges that the City Council/Police denied IfP their due
process rights as stipulated in the Minnesota State Constitution by
failing to give notice of their plans regarding free speech restrictions,
which would have allowed for public comment and a public hearing.

The ACLU also contends that the City Council/Police has also reserved the
right to modify the guidelines at any time in ways that the ACLU contends
are in violation of the Minnesota State Constitution.

The lawsuit seeks to have the guidelines declared by the court to be in
violation of IfP¹s free speech rights, to have the Primary Event Area and
the Designated Public Assembly Area clearly defined and officially
released to the public, and to have the Designated Public Assembly Area
include additional areas that are within sight and sound of the

John Choi, the St. Paul city attorney has said "These two [lawsuits]
represent an attempt by the plaintiffs to get another bite at the apple in
state court." He continued that the city has afforded "unprecedented
access and accommodations for the protesters."

Mr. Choi is incorrect regarding IfP¹s ³bite at the apple,² as the
plaintiffs on this lawsuit have not previously been a plaintiff in a
lawsuit regarding their free speech rights at the RNC.  There was a
previous lawsuit with different plaintiffs, but it dealt primarily with a
march planned, not the specifics of the Designated Public Assembly Area.

Secondly, while Mr. Choi and Impeach for Peace may differ as to what is an
acceptable amount of restriction on free speech, these differences could
have been worked out if the city had engaged in its constitutional due
process requirements.

For details on Impeach for Peace's plans to protest, sign up for action
alerts at
For more information please contact Jodin Morey, Cofounder of Impeach for
Peace, at 612.328.1451.
Additional Contact Information: organizer [at]
minneapolis [at]

--------10 of 19--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 8.25 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

--------11 of 19--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Art/politics/KFAI 8.25 6pm

Radio Documentary: "Art is Patriotic!"
August 25, 27, 29 and September 1, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. KFAI Radio, 90.3 fm
in Minneapolis and 106.7 fm in St. Paul.

The Republican National Convention is coming to the Twin Cities, and local
artists have heeded the call: art is patriotic! One hour audio documentary
explores the relationship between art and politics, and covers a diverse
array of arts initiatives in response to the RNC, including the
Unconvention, the Provention, the Peace Island Picnic, Ripple Effect,
Spark 24 and more. Interviews include former FBI agent and peace activist
Coleen Rowley, Rock The Vote blogger Rebecca McDonald, Chris
Lutter-Gardella of Puppet Farm Arts, musicians John Munson of Semisonic
and Adam Levy of the Honeydogs, Tru Ruts' e.g.bailey and Sha Cage, and
Lydia Howell, host of "Catalyst" on KFAI.

--------12 of 19--------

From: Christine Frank <christinefrank [at]>
Subject: 11th hour/eco film 8.25 7pm

There will be a free screening of the documentary The 11th Hour, produced
and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Leila Conners Petersen
and Nadia Conners.  The film examines the ecological crisis we face on the
planet and cites the solutions that are a viable means for change while
pointing to the need for immediate action.

The screening will take place on Monday, August 25th at 7:00 PM at Mayday
Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South, West Bank, Minneapolis.  The event is
sponsored by the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities and is free
and open to the public.

At 5:00 PM there is a Clean Energy Vigil to Cool Down the Planet outside
on the plaza and at 6:00 the 3CTC Business Meeting takes place prior to
the forum.  All are welcome.  For further information, EMAIL:
christinefrank [at] or PHONE:  612-879-8937.

--------13 of 19--------

From: pepperwolf [at]
Subject: Witness v the war 8.25 7pm Red Wing MN

Their journey began July 12 in Chicago, site of the 1968 Democratic Party
convention in the midst of the Vietnam War.  The walk will conclude on
August 31 in St. Paul - in time for the start of the 2008 Republican Party
convention in the midst of the Iraq war.

Walkers including Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, are men
and women who have traveled and lived in Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Jordan,
Lebanon, Israel as human rights workers and one as a soldier of the US

Hear stories of their witness at a presentation on
Monday August 25
7:00 pm
Hobgoblin Music
Hwy 19 Red Wing

Join us at 6 pm for a potluck (optional)
pepperwolf [at]

--------14 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: RNC/NLG/video 8.25 7pm

Monday, 8/25, 7 to 8:30 pm, NLG sponsors legal observer/videographer
training for RNC, Hamline University Law School, Moot Court Room, 1536
Hewitt Ave, St Paul.  RSVP to genab [at]

--------15 of 19--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: RNC infoline 8.25 7pm

Monday, 8/25, 7 pm, RNC Infoline volunteer training for Arise information
hotline (612-871-2283) to be staffed from 8 am to midnight on Friday 8/29
through Friday 9/5, for information about public protest/action schedules,
transit and transportation, community resources, rumor control and
referrals for medical and legal, Arise Bookstore, 2441 Lyndale Ave S,

--------16 of 19--------

From: excotc <excotc [at]>
Subject: EXCO deadline 8.25

*Want to teach an EXCO class this fall? *The final deadline for Fall
Applications is Monday August 25th, and we are happy to receive
applications from now until then.

*Want to take EXCO classes?* Classes will begin the week of September
22nd, though that is flexible based on the needs of facilitators and
participants. By September 1st you will be able to find individual class
schedules and register online at

*Want more information information about EXCO?* Check out the Fall Course
application attached or online at Also, feel
free to contact us with your questions or to receive an application at
excotc [at] or 651-696-8010.

--------17 of 19--------

An Interview with Cindy Sheehan
Targeting Pelosi (and the War Machine)
August 23 / 4, 2008

Cindy Sheehan's independent antiwar campaign against Rep. Nancy Pelosi is
beginning to gain steam in San Francisco. I recently caught up with Cindy
to discuss her bid for Congress as well as the Democrat's perpetual
incompetence. . JF

Joshua Frank: Cindy, you recently obtained ballot access in your campaign
against Rep. Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco. It was a hard fought battle
from what I heard. Can you talk about the whole process a little bit, and
what you're campaign had to overcome in order to get on the ballot in
November's election?

Cindy Sheehan: Well, Josh, as you know, last May I renounced my membership
in the Democratic Party in response to yet another multi-billion dollar
Iraq/Afghanistan war funding bill that Pelosi's Congress handed to George
W. Bush.

In July of 2007, I decided to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in
San Francisco's 8th District if she did not reverse her treasonous
position of the Constitutional remedy of impeachment being "off the
table." As I didn't belong to any political party at that point, I weighed
my options and decided to re-register as "Decline to State." Although I
resonate with many parts of third party platforms, I thought to retain my
independent integrity I would make my bid unaffiliated with any party.

We found out early this year that the requirements for obtaining ballot
status as a non-partisan in California are the 4th most rigorous in the
nation. If one belongs to a party it is far easier to obtain ballot
status. I was required to get signatures from 3% of the people in the 8th
District who voted in November 2006. That came to an unbelievable number
of 10,198.

When we first contacted the DOE (Department of Elections) to pull the
first petitions. In lieu of filing fee -- which I had to obtain 3000
signatures and pay a fee for 400 signatures, the staff there told us that
we could register people and write the form number next to that person's
signature on the petition after they signed. Well into the process, we had
registered hundreds of new voters and we were told that the DOE would not
accept signatures of new voters unless the office had the time to
"process" those forms. The first time we turned in our "Nomination"
papers, the DOE invalidated 44%, saying that over half of those people
weren't "registered."

Ten days in advance of the August 8 deadline for the signatures, we needed
to turn in 7,694 (out of the original 10,198) more signatures and we
turned in 10,856. Our campaign volunteers and staff rejoiced because we
were sure that we had made it with those signatures. However, we got
"Supplemental" to the nomination papers and continued to collect
signatures "just in case." Well, it was a good thing that we did, because
the DOE invalidated almost 5,000 of those signatures and we were lacking
just under 1,700.

We discovered this information the four days before the papers were due
from a phone call from the DOE. We were shocked, but we mobilized dozens
of people to collect signatures.

In the end, we figure that we collected right around 20,000 signatures,
and on afternoon of August 8 we received a phone call from the DOE that
turned out to be good news: We had qualified!

I became only the sixth non-partisan candidate in California history to
qualify for ballot status, and the first Congressional Candidate since
1996! The signature process was very labor intensive, and time consuming,
but we were able to obtain about 20,000 votes and dozens of energized
volunteers that will be with us until November 4th, when we celebrate

I am sure there will many more obstacles thrown in the path of our
campaign, but we are experts at overcoming obstacles and fearless in the
face of adversity.

Frank: Some may laugh when you say, "celebrate victory". Do you really
think you can beat Nancy Pelosi? Also, do you believe it is more effective
to challenge the Democrat's position outside of the party, instead of
inside, like the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) are trying to do?

Sheehan: Well, I always say that there's not enough laughter in the world
today ... but seriously, we have a society where "winning" is the only
acceptable outcome of any event: from sports, to American Idol to
politics. I believe that every day our campaign office is open and
functioning and attracting more volunteers and positive energy is a
victory. I go to sleep every night convinced of this fact and wake up
every morning ready to get back to the important work of confronting what
Nancy Pelosi represents to many people: corporate militarism and a fascist
police state.

Besides the daily victories, and the major victory of just getting on the
ballot as a non-partisan candidate, I do think that this election is
winnable. There is excitement from all over the world, really, for this
race. We have a comfortable amount of money right now that we are planning
to use to wage a fierce-issues based campaign. I can't really believe that
the people of the 8th District would vote for Pelosi when they find out
that she knew about torture and sanctioned the inhumane practice as well
as her other failures for the people (but victories for the war machine).

I tried working the whole inside/outside strategy of the PDA, and was, in
fact, on its national board until they refused to endorse me in my race
against Pelosi. I believe that the only way we are going to save our
representative republic and restore some kind of peace and economic
equality is to challenge the two party duopoly that only suppresses these

Frank: Progressive Democrats of America did not endorse your candidacy?
Did they give you a reason as to why? What has your support been like
among Democrats in general this year?

Sheehan: PDA only endorses Democratic candidates, so to the organization,
it's not how progressive a candidate is, but what letter comes after their

They won't endorse Pelosi, I don't think, at least that's what I have been
told, but I think the organization should enthusiastically endorse me
because of my platform and the work I have done with them.

I have had some very private endorsements from Democrats, but nothing
public. I also have a few top people in the California Democratic National
Committee who are helping me behind the scenes because they have been
warned away from my campaign.

I know I have to appeal to progressive Democrats to win, but I think my
message does this directly. However, "Decline to State" makes up the
second highest amounts of registration here in San Francisco, so we just
need an aggressive campaign to get the progressive message out there.

Frank: Why did you decide to target Pelosi out of all the bad Democrats
out there?

Sheehan: I decided to target Pelosi because she is the number one Democrat
in Congress and she was the number one obstacle to ending the occupations
of Iraq and Afghanistan.

My reasoning was and is that if she refused to hold Bush accountable, then
someone needed to hold her accountable. I am not the kind of person to
wait for someone else to do something that needs to be done. So here I am.

Frank: How has she responded to your campaign or the issues you are
raising? Can you talk about those issues a bit?

Sheehan: When we qualified for the ballot she said something like she
"welcomes" the challenge and has the highest "respect" for me. I don't
respect her because I believe she has taken the amazing power that was
bestowed on her and has further diminished the causes of peace, justice,
environmental sustainability and economic equality. But since she has sold
out to the war machine, she knows who her masters are.

We saw one interesting step slightly to the left for her when she allowed
Congressman John Conyers to have the non-impeachment hearings last month.
Otherwise, she has effectively destroyed the 4th Amendment by granting the
telecommunication companies and the Bushites immunity from warrantless
spying, and she has proudly funded the war until the middle of next year.
She was also fully briefed on torture in 2002 and sanctioned the practice.
There are many other ways she has abused "We the People."

Frank: Now that you are on the ballot, has Pelosi agreed to any formal

Sheehan: That's an easy one: No. But we will press her and press her to
come to San Francisco and debate her opponents, which include a Republican
and a Libertarian, and answer for her deplorable record.

One thing I forgot to mention in your last question is her unforgivable
backslide to the oil companies in offshore drilling. I haven't seen poll
numbers that address this issue here in the 8th, but I sense that this is
as big of a betrayal to most voters here as it is to me.

Frank: Ultimately, what you expect to achieve by running against Pelosi
this year? And what can members of the antiwar movement do to learn more
about your campaign?

Sheehan: I expect to achieve victory against the war machine.

I realize that win or lose, we still have a long way to go in achieving a
better world, but taking out Pelosi will be a significant step in the
right direction.

I believe that we have marched as far as we can go; signed as many
petitions as we can; knocked on too many Congressional office doors; and
sang too many verses of "We shall overcome." This campaign is the most
significant action an anti-war person can be involved in until November

To learn more about our campaign, people should visit our site at

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of Left Out! How
Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and
along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of the brand new book Red State
Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK
Press in July 2008.

--------18 of 19--------

Totalitarianism: It Can Happen Here
by Paul Street
August 23rd, 2008
Dissident Voice

Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted
By Sheldon Wolin
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0691135665
ISBN-13: 978-0691135663

Domesticated Democracy

It is by now commonplace to observe that democracy is in a weakened state
in the United States. But could it be that the U.S. is no longer a
democracy at all, if it ever truly was? According to Princeton emeritus
political scientist Sheldon Wolin's chilling new volume Democracy, Inc:
Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (2008), the
United States is becoming a totalitarian state posing as a democracy.
Under the rules of what Wolin calls "inverted totalitarianism," corporate
and state power have become deeply "co-joined" and practically
"unbridled". The popular majority of the citizenry - the People - in whose
name U.S. "democracy" purports to function is politically uninterested,
infantilized, obedient, distracted, and divided. An increasingly
spectator-ized and subordinate public is shepherded by the professional
political class across a painfully narrow business- and Empire-friendly
field of political, policy, and ideological "choices". Those harshly
limited options are presented in periodic superficial, candidate-centered
and corporate-crafted elections that function as anti-democratic exercises
in capitalist marketing and managerial control. These spectacular rolling
extravaganzas privilege candidate image and other trivial matters over
substantive questions of policy and ideology, with campaign consultants
and advertisers selling candidates like they sell candy or cars. They help
keep the interrelated issues of the ever-growing rich-poor gap, corporate
power, and imperial militarism (the last two topics are taboo in
"mainstream" U.S. political life) "off the table" of acceptable debate and
public scrutiny even though they are of primary interest to most American
citizens. By Wolin's account:

The citizenry, supposedly the source of governmental power and authority
as well as participant, has been replaced by the "electorate," that is, by
voters who acquire a political life at election time. During the intervals
between elections the political existence of the citizenry is relegated to
a shadow-citizenship of virtual participation. Instead of participating in
power, the virtual citizen is invited to have "opinions": measurable
responses to questions predesigned to elicit them. (p. 59)

"In elections parties set out to mobilize the citizen-as-voter, to define
political obligation as fulfilled by the casting of a vote. Afterwards,
post-election politics of lobbying, repaying donors, and promoting
corporate interests - the real players - takes over. The effect is to
demobilize the citizenry, to teach them not to be involved or to ponder
matters that are either settled or beyond their efficacy. (p. 205)

Once votes have been counted (or not) in America's totalitarian system,
"the people" fade back into the woodwork. Politicians from both sides of
the nation's corporate-sponsored "one-and-a-half party system" - the more
explicitly authoritarian Republicans or the "inauthentic opposition"
advanced by neoliberal corporate Democrats (whose 2004 presidential
candidate made a point of stating his opposition to the redistribution of
wealth)  -  proceed to do precisely what the American ex-citizenry wishes
them not to do. They advance empire, inequality, and repression,
concentrating riches and power ever further upward in what has long been
the industrialized world's most unequal and wealth-top-heavy society.

American "democracy" has been "domesticated" by modern managerial business
technique. Its wild democratic risk has been removed for and by the Few.
It has been quietly subsumed by corporation, whose mission is to guarantee
returns on capital by minimizing chance and maintaining a "stable"
environment (including a safely supine domestic population) for investors.
Democracy has been incorporated.

In this pseudo-democratic Brave New America, corporate power no longer
answers to political controls. The needs of the popular majority are
relentlessly subordinated to the "quest for 'economic growth'" - and to
the foreign policy elite's imperial perceptions of "Superpower's" needs
and the so-called "national interest". "Economic growth" and "national
interest" are code words for whatever capital wants and cloak the regular
state-capitalist practice of funneling wealth and power from the Many to
the Few. The demoted "people" are kept in perpetual fear and prodded to
cower under the umbrella of the National Insecurity State by an endless
so-called "War on Terror," heir to the imperial Cold War. The Few steal
elections, shred civil liberties, and launch illegal, immoral, and
aggressive wars and occupations without serious fear of popular
resistance. Young black males - formerly a leading source of protest .
are dragooned into the burgeoning mass incarceration state. The use of
state power to alleviate poverty and ameliorate inequality is shamed as
dangerous public overreach but the use of that power to shamelessly
advance corporate interests and pay off big money election investors is
celebrated in the ironic name of the "free market". Working peoples'
living standards are savagely rolled back and working-class sons and
daughters are shipped off to kill and die in bloody campaigns of colonial
conquest - wars that are waged on false pretexts and serve the interests
of the Few while the costs are spread across society and fall with special
force on the poor. It's a "Hood-Robin" system.

Policy-relevant political power is "monopolized by the Few," who "possess
the skills, resources, and focused time that enables them to impose their
will on a society the vast majority of whose members are overburdened and
distracted by the demands of day-to-day survival" (p. 277). Those demands
grow ever more difficult as corporate and imperial masters deepen their
stranglehold over American politics, policy, culture, and "life". It's a
vicious circle that threatens to blow out democracy's last glowing embers
in the "land of the free".

This American "totalitarianism" promotes more than just specific policies
and practices that serve the corporate and financial "elite". It also
advances a "totalizing" and authoritarian notion of the perfect and final
society. The 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States defines
America's grand historical mission as advancing "freedom" and the "single
sustainable model of for national success: freedom, democracy, and free
enterprise" along with "development, free trade, and free markets". As
Wolin notes, "the freedoms dangled before the unfree are, in reality,
disguised power" - the heavily state-protected and publicly subsidized
power of multinational corporations, global high finance, and the military
empire required to advance and protect capitalist profit ("development")
on a global scale. "When the NSS document presents the 'free market' as
one of the three components of the ideal political system," Wolin
observes, "the market is a surrogate, a stand-in for
globalization/empire". (p. 85)

And the deeply authoritarian reality of empire, Wolin notes, is an
unmentionable topic under American totalitarianism. "The subject of
[U.S.] empire," Wolin observers, "is taboo in [U.S. political] debate. No
major politician or party has so much as publicly remarked on the
existence of an American empire". (p. 192)

                        Brave New America

Wolin calls the American pseudo-democratic political system "inverted
totalitarianism" to differentiate it from the openly statist
totalitarianism of classic European fascism (principally German Nazism)
and Soviet Stalinism. The earlier totalitarian systems mobilized millions
to rally behind centralized state power and a single personal ruler. They
explicitly and rapidly demolished democratic and parliamentary
institutions and elevated personalized state rule over markets and private

The American model, by contrast, has evolved more slowly and under the
guise - and in the name of - of democratic institutions and ideals,
without open authoritarian intent. It "succeeds by encouraging political
disengagement rather than mass mobilization". It "relies more on 'private'
media than on public agencies to disseminate propaganda reinforcing the
official version of events". (p. 44) It makes "capitalism" its official
"regime ideology," trumpeting the virtues of "free markets," "free trade,"
and "free enterprise" (code words for authoritarian state-capitalist
corporate-managerial rule), which are falsely conflated "democracy".

"Inverted totalitarianism" wraps itself in the language and lingering,
watered-down legacy of democratic freedom and constitutionalism. It
advances "leaders" who are the products but not the architects of the
system. It does not crush popular government under the iron heel of
dictatorship but rather renders democracy ever-more feckless and
irrelevant through regular systemic corruption, popular exhaustion,
cultural privatism, popular division/diversion, mass misinformation, and
mass entertainment.

Unlike classic 20th century fascist and Soviet (red fascist)
totalitarianism, it requires no great sacrifice or strength on the part of
its subject populace. It creates a "soft," childish, and fearful citizenry
that is asked mainly to buy things, to watch their telescreens (which
largely filter and package the world in terms fit for corporate and
imperial hegemony), and perhaps to occasionally vote for its favorite
corporate-vetted and "misrepresentative" political candidates every few

"Inverted totalitarianism's" ideal "good Americans" pretty much stay at
work, home, the bank, and the mall. They are happy to leave big political
and policy decisions and public affairs to designated experts and
protectors from the professional political class that has emerged to serve
the combined and interrelated interests of the corporate and imperial Few.
In Wolin's view, they represent the corporate-era fulfillment of the
British political philosopher Thomas Hobbes' arch-authoritarian notion -
developed in Hobbes's book Leviathan (1651) - of the good society as one
that combines the absolute power of the ruler with a populace that loathes
and runs from political engagement:

Leviathan was the first image of superpower and the first intimation of
the kind of privatized citizen congenial with its requirements, the
citizen who finds politics a distraction to be avoided, who if denied "a
hand in public business," remains convinced that taking an active part
means to "to hate and be hated," "without any benefit," and "to neglect
the affairs of [his] own family". Hobbes had not only foreseen the power
possibilities in the oxymoron of private citizen, but exploited them to
prevent sovereign power from being shared among its subjects. Hobbes
reasoned that if individuals were protected in their interests and
positively encouraged by the state to pursue them wholeheartedly, subject
only to laws designed to safeguard them from the unlawful acts of others,
then they would soon recognize that political participation was
superfluous, expendable, not a rational choice. Civic indifference was
thus elevated to a form of rational virtue, "[justifying the emergence of]
an apolitical citizenry" [immersed in] private concerns". (p.75)

Classic totalitarianism assembled, rallied, and projected the "masses". It
beat up, intimidated, arrested, tortured, and killed dissenters. By
contrast, the American model of totalitarianism demobilizes and inverts
the populace, keeping it (us) focused on personal, private, and family
concerns - and on its corporate telescreens. Antiwar and social justice
activists don't generally have to be beaten and jailed; they are deleted
and occasionally mocked and marginalized on the Ten O' Clock News, leaving
little mark on degraded public perceptions and history.

"Inverted totalitarianism's" pacified, apathetic, ignorant, and deceived
public is content to leave history to be made by supposedly wise and
benevolent masters like Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, James Baker, and Donald
Rumsfeld, who follow in the Nazis' footsteps by launching criminal and
supposedly "preventive" wars of aggression sold on brazenly false pretexts
that are dutifully advanced by dominant media, including the Orwellian
claim to be exporting democracy through colonial conquest. Since the Few
learned from Vietnam not to send a citizen's army into bloody colonial
"service," today's wars are fought by a safely segregated caste of mostly
working class imperial mercenaries.

In Brave New America, the People do not need to be hardened and rallied to
inflict violence on designated ideological and ethnic enemies of the state
at home or abroad. Their main jobs are to buy stuff, watch their
telescreens and pursue their private interests. The definition of
meaningful popular participation in the polity is reduced largely to
casting an occasional vote in carefully crafted elections where none of
the candidates are foolish enough to think they could run viably funded
and broadcast campaigns in the name of the social-democratic and
anti-imperial beliefs that most Americans privately and passively tell
pollsters they hold. Meanwhile the ex-citizenry is encouraged to believe
that it is in charge of the nation.

There is no serious push back in the corporate media, naturally enough, or
even in the universities, since "the Academy ha[s] become self-pacifying".
(p. 68) As for the Democrats, Wolin observes that they offer no real or
relevant opposition to the more explicitly plutocratic and militarist
despotism of the Republicans. If anything, Wolin argues, the Democratic
Party deepens "inverted totalitarianism's' hold by capturing and co-opting
reformist impulses within a broadly corporatist framework and by enhancing
the illusion of meaningful popular representation within a system designed
to keep the populace and democracy at bay:

"The Democrats' politics might be described as inauthentic opposition in
the era of Superpower. Having fended off its reformist elements and
disclaimed the label of liberal, [the Democratic Party] is trapped by new
rules of the game which dictate that a party exists to win elections
rather than to promote a vision of the good society. Accordingly, the
party competes for an apolitical segment of the electorate, "the
undecided," and puzzles how best to woo religious zealots. Should
Democrats somehow be elected, corporate sponsors make it politically
impossible for the new officeholders to alter significantly the direction
of society. At best, Democrats might repair some of the damage done to
environmental safeguards or to Medicare without substantially reversing
the drift rightwards. By offering palliatives, a Democratic administration
contributes to plausible denial about the true nature of the system. By
fostering an illusion among the powerless classes that the party can make
their interests a priority, it pacifies and thereby defines the style of
an opposition part in an inverted totalitarian system. In the process it
demonstrates the superior cost-effectiveness of inverted totalitarianism
over the crude classic versions". (p. 201)

  Capitalism v. Democracy: "The Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie"

Wolin's book is not without problems. Its annotation and detailed
reference to current and recent events is painfully thin. It spends too
much time on classical antiquity and past thinkers (the U.S. Founders,
Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Tocqueville) relative to more modern U.S.
business and political history and current events. It pays essentially no
attention to the concrete empirical record of corporate evolution and rule
and narrow-spectrum, business-friendly politics in U.S. history - a record
that predates the Progressive Era (1900-1920), when the American
philosopher John Dewey rightly proclaimed that U.S. "politics are the
shadow cast on society by big business". As the historian Richard
Hofstader noted sixty years ago in his widely read text The American
Political Tradition: "the range of vision embraced by the primary
contestants in the major [U.S.] parties has always been bounded by the
horizons of property and enterprise. They have accepted the economic
virtues of capitalist culture as necessary qualities of man. That culture
has been intensely nationalistic".1

Wolin seems remarkably unaware of, or unwilling to cite, Left thinkers who
have written valuable works on capitalism, imperialism, and the trumping
of American and Western "democracy" by concentrated economic and political
power. Some of the ignored names that come to mind are Charles Derber (who
writes in interesting and informative ways about successive "corporate
regimes" that have ruled American politics since the late 19th century),
C. Wright Mills, G. William Domhoff, Ralph Milliband, Ellen Meiksens-Wood,
Alex Carey (an expert on corporate propaganda's longstanding war on U.S.
democracy), William T. Robinson, Jeff Faux, Joel Bakan, William Greider,
David Montgomery, and (last but not least) Noam Chomsky.

Given Wolin's taste for historical texts and theories on politics, I was
disappointed that he did not join Chomsky in citing Aristotle and Thomas
Jefferson on the core contradiction between wealth inequality (an inherent
characteristic and tendency of capitalism) and democracy. Then there's the
largely invisible (in Wolin's book) Karl Marx, for whom capitalist
democracy, being a system of class rule, amounted to a "dictatorship of
the bourgeoisie". Democracy and capitalism have never mixed and never
will, as generations of progressive thinkers have long argued.

Wolin underestimates or ignores the significant extent to which German
Nazism reflected and acted on the desires of the German bourgeoisie.

Wolin writes in often excessively abstract and academic language despite
his book's popular, general-audience title. This style cannot help but
ironically limit his book's relevance as an antidote to elitism.

He missed, I think, a good opportunity to capture the often forgotten
significance of Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World, as relevant to the
United States. particular brand of authoritarianism as George Orwell's
more Soviet-focused Nineteen Eighty Four. In Huxley's dystopia,
corporate-state masters divert people away from meaningful matters of
serious public concern, transporting them to politically harmless states
of childish amusement, personal preoccupation, and drugged, narcissistic

Wolin shows no appreciation of left "cultural theory" since Antonio
Gramsci and the Frankfurt School, ignoring thinkers (themselves admittedly
often hyper-abstract) who contributed critically to the analysis of
corporate totalitarianism and capitalist cultural hegemony.

Wolin ignores the large number of Americans who do seem to represent
efforts towards a mobilized far-right project. I am thinking here
especially of the evangelical "American fascists" that Chris Hedges has
warned us about across the vast swaths of so-called "Red State America".
And I can't escape the possibility that a harder form of more explicitly
fascist-like totalitarianism (already experienced by millions of very
disproportionately black inmates and permanent felons in the United
States' Prison Nation) awaits Americans who have been softened up by the
"inverted" variant Wolin describes.

The iron fist lives on beneath the silk glove of corporate neoliberal
paternalism. I wonder how many (if any) mass antiwar or immigrant rights
or global justice demonstrations Wolin has attended in the last decades.
It is not uncommon to directly confront the reality of state repression
right here in the U.S. during such events, as I would guess many Dissident
Voice readers can attest. (We shall see how many protestors get tasered,
beaten, and perhaps even [we hope not] killed in Denver and St. Paul over
the next few weeks).

Last but not least, Wolin's terminology is problematic. Charles Derber's
more concrete historical notion (developed in his 2005 book Hidden Power)
of successive and inherently authoritarian corporate regimes - Derber
places us in the age of the "third corporate regime," dominated by the
transnational corporation, aggressive global Empire, and rampant social
insecurity at home - is much better than Wolin's somewhat abstract and
potentially bewildering concept of "inverted totalitarianism". As a
Kansas-based progressive- Democratic activist (who prefers to remain
anonymous) recently wrote to me in a thoughtful reflection on Wolin's

Wolin's term "totalitarian" is a fabulous contribution, but to say it is
"inverted" is not a viable, easily grasped, understandable label. It is
too easily interpreted as "opposite". I think it is far better to say the
corporate regime IS a form of totalitarian governance or is totalitarian
via managed, intentional propaganda, apathy, ignorance, passivity, a lack
of spare time, and a two-party, money-controlled, corrupt, plutocratic
system. If I had to pick one adjective to distinguish American
"totalitarianism" from the fascist, violence-based systems of Hitler and
Stalin I wouldn't say "inverted" but would say (ala Huxley) "pacified
totalitarian" or "propaganda-based totalitarian" or "money-controlled
totalitarian". "Inverted" seems confusing at best.

Still, Wolin has done some very important and properly dark descriptive
work on the United States' dangerously constricted political culture at
this terrible stage in the development of Brave New America. As the
liberal political scientist Robert Dahl noted in 1959: "[If] political
preferences are simply plugged into the system by leaders [business or
other] in order to extract what they want from the system, then the model
of plebiscitary democracy is substantially equivalent to the model of
totalitarian rule".2

That's pretty much where we are half a century later in "America, the
greatest democracy that money can [and did] buy". In its presidential as
in its other elections, Laurence Shoup noted last February, U.S.
"democracy" is "at best" a "guided one"; at its worst it is a corrupt
farce, amounting to manipulation, with the larger population projects of
propaganda in a controlled and trivialized electoral process. It is an
illusion, Shoup claims - correctly in my opinion - "that real change can
ever come from electing a different ruling class-sponsored candidate".3
Beneath and beyond the regular, much-ballyhooed election spectacles,
wealth and power are concentrated ever-further upward over and above the
sadly irrelevant U.S. public's secretly progressive, social-democratic and
anti-imperial policy preferences. Because of this chasm between public
opinion and policy, the People find no meaningful institutional and
political expression in "Superpower's" "managed" and "ersatz-," "pseudo",
and even "anti-democracy" - thus the reality of its totalitarian nature.

And it is probably useful to have the full authoritarian darkness of this
harsh reality acknowledged and described by someone like Wolin, who has
long operated in the belly of the beast. He is an Ivy League academician
who has long functioned within the elite mainstream of U.S. social science
and not on the "lunatic fringe" to which serious left-progressive thinkers
are sadly consigned in the American ideological system - consistent with
the notion that U.S. government and political culture are totalitarian.

                         Brave New HOPE?

For what it's worth, my new book Barack Obama and the Future of American
Politics suggests that the ongoing "Obama phenomenon" is more than
consistent with Wolin's bleak thesis. It exposes Barack Obama as a
conservative, corporate, militarist Democrat posing as a democratic
progressive and suggests that the phenomenon is helping de-mobilize,
co-opt, and contain (incorporate) the citizenry at the same time that it
may be expanding the electorate.

In the United States' dangerously narrow, corporate-totalitarian political
culture, many people can't process serious and substantive criticism of
the Obama phenomenon from the left as anything but an argument to elect
John McCain and/or a purely personal assault on Obama. But my dichotomy is
not Obama versus McCain. It is (i) corporate- "managed democracy" versus
grassroots popular activism against Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "triple
evils that are interrelated" (capitalism, racism, and imperialism) and
against other and related evils (sexism, corporate-eco-cide, state
terrorism and repression) as well. It is also about the timeworn battle
between capitalism and democracy. Understood in terms of these deeper
dichotomies and conflicts, what people do for two minutes on the holy day
of the quadrennial election spectacle is a secondary matter.

My main concern is that citizens and activists find or maintain some
relevant way to be and stay true to the actual historical Left's
commitment to popular resistance and mobilization under either an a McCain
or an Obama presidency. And while a conservative corporate-neoliberal
Obama victory may be preferable to an extremist and neoconservative McCain
triumph in the short term, I fear that an Obama ascendancy carries serious
related risks of excessive progressive self-pacification and threatens to
dangerously re-legitimize the totalitarian politics of corporate rule and
Empire. As Greg Guma recently noted in a thoughtful reflection on Obama as
"The New Jimmy Carter": "the truth is that, in Obama, a worried
establishment has found the vessel through which they hope to restore
international and domestic stability". As Guma rightly observes, "Obama,
like Carter, can be useful [to the U.S. power elite] in calming things
down and re-establishing confidence in the legitimacy of the current
political order. In short, he can reinforce the argument that 'the system'
still works".4

Our current corporate-totalitarian political order doesn't "work" for any
but the Few. It is a grave threat to human survival and peace, justice,
and democracy at home and abroad.

1. Richard Hofstader, The American Political Tradition and the Men Who
Made It (New York: Vintage, 1989 [1948]), pp.xxxiii-xl. [.]

2. Robert Dahl, "Business and Politics: a Critical Appraisal of Political
Science," in Robert Dahl, ed., Social Science Research on Business:
Product and Potential [New York, 1959], p. 53. [.]

3. Laurence H. Shoup, "The Presidential Election 2008," Z Magazine,
February 2008, p. 31. [.]

4. Greg Guma, .Barack Obama: The New Jimmy Carter,. ZNet, July 28, 2008.

Paul Street (paulstreet99 [at] is a veteran radical historian and
independent author, activist, researcher, and journalist in Iowa City, IA.
He is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since
9/11 (Paradigm 2005); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the
Post-Civil Rights Era (Routledge 2005): and Racial Oppression in the
Global Metropolis (Rowman&Littlefied 2007). Street's new book Barack Obama
and the Future of American Politics can now be ordered.

This article was posted on Saturday, August 23rd, 2008 at 6:00 am and is
filed under Book Review, Corporate Globalization, Democracy, Democrats,

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