America is not a democracy. America is a plutocracy. Plutocracy is governance
by the wealthy.
America’s current form of government is based upon a constitution written
a little over 200 years ago by a small group of men that many today affectionately
call “our forefathers.” In this work, a somewhat more distant or
neutral term, the founders, will be used.
While claiming to have created a government that avoided favoring some particular
faction of people, the founders, a small group of privileged white men, aristocrats
of their time, created a government that in fact, both by its inclusions and
its exclusions, favored themselves, others of their class, their heirs, and
similar others through the generations. The constitution that they wrote protects
private property, private contract, and other interests that were of particular
concern to the American aristocracy while ignoring or minimizing the interests
of principal concern to everyone else. For good measure, this privileged few
made it nearly impossible to alter its constitution and then only by the privileged
elites who overwhelmingly populate the seats of government holding an unending
hegemony of power.
It is not that there is anything wrong with the protection of private property
and private contract. Indeed, they should be protected. However, the constitution
was not written in a vacuum but in the midst of a society already in existence.
At the time of the writing of the constitution the distribution of power and
wealth in America was already unfair and unjust, and the founders were already
among the beneficiaries of that injustice.
It was rather duplicitous of the founders to protect that which they and others
of their class already held in undue measure. Among the interests excluded from
the constitution that concerned non-wealthy people were that they be fairly
included politically and economically.
That which the founders protected benefitted mostly those who least needed
protection, the wealthy, while offering minimal protection to those who most
needed protection, the poor. Together with non-Wealth’s inability to change
the constitution, these fundamental injustices built into the constitution are
the principal foundation and cause of our historically and currently unjust
The founders wisely created divided powers—the legislative, the judicial,
and the executive branches of government—to avoid our slipping into monarchy.
But they then populated each of these powers with the same wealthy plutocrats,
themselves and similar others. (A plutocrat is a member of a plutocracy.) So,
despite the divided powers, supremacy of power permanently resides with the
wealthy, privileged few.
The result is an unjust society in which, despite the unending whining and
moaning of the economic upper half to the contrary, the lives of the economic
upper half are permanently subsidized by the lives of the bottom half. The upper
half uses the bottom half as a beast of burden.
Our government provides for the seemingly democratic election of some officeholders.
But this process is and always has been a farce, a show, a slight of hand, the
exercise of form without significant power, content, or result. To the extent
that our government feigns democracy, it is intended to be just something to
placate the majority, the common people, while avoiding the sharing of any real
Superficial political and social issues may be somewhat affected by the electorate,
but the fundamental essence and structure created by the founders—the
plutocratic form, governance by the wealthy—always remains in place. As
a result the electorate or society as a whole is always powerless to affect
any fundamental result or real change.
Almost all governments, including the most authoritarian, pretend toward democracy,
often even possessing constitutions which provide for elections. The former
Soviet Union and its several eastern European satellite countries often held
elections in which 90% or more of the electorates voted. The Catch-22 was that
all of the candidates were preselected by the officials of the state. And in
the authoritarian state, who are the officials of the state that preselect the
candidates? The powerful and the wealthy.
In America and in all of today’s so-called democracies the process is
the same: Wealth and Power1 preselect and finance the short list of candidates
for whom the electorate will later vote. Theoretically, any person who constitutionally
qualifies for an office may enter the race. But few ever do who do not possess
sufficient wealth or know beforehand that they have the blessings and financial
support of Power and Wealth. Few who try without the blessing of Big Money manage
to win elections. And all who win office owe Big Money big time. Thus, Wealth
always maintains an overwhelming hegemony of power.
The privileged few who end up in elective office theoretically serve all of
us. The sorry truth is that our government is owned and populated by Wealth
which serves itself. The result of our ‘representative’2 form of
government, our ‘republic,’ is a perpetual plutocracy in which wealth
and power become ever more concentrated in the hands of the few while the needs
of the many and the nation as a whole go unmet.
By our actions toward each other and through the institutions we create, we
may make our world a more humane, loving, and beautiful place or magnify life’s
difficulties manyfold. While producing a significant measure of material comfort
for the wealthy, plutocracy also creates abject poverty and magnifies many of
life’s inherent difficulties creating an unmanageable avalanche of problems.
America has a host of social ills: poverty; crime and violence; overcrowded
prisons; millions lacking healthcare; unemployment and homelessness; a stressed-out,
overworked populace; fragmented, dysfunctional families with a high rate of
failure and divorce; a host of addictions; alienation and loneliness; corruption
in government and business; and the loss of its moral compass.
As profound as some of our many ills may seem, almost all of them are merely
symptoms of our deepest ill. These symptoms cannot be cured until this deepest
ill is cured. To continue the medical analogy, our nation suffers from a life-threatening
congenital birth defect. Treating superficial cuts and bruises is merely a waste
of time, effort, and resources. Such actions distract from and delay the only
treatment that can save the patient’s life and make that life worth living.
Our deepest ill is, of course, that America is not a democracy but a plutocracy
owned and governed by the wealthy. The cure, the only possible cure, is to reorganize
the powers of our government by altering the wealth-serving, self-serving constitution
that the aristocratic founders created.
The status quo is the existing state or conditions of a society, that is, the
current political-economic relationship among the members of the society, the
current distributions of power and wealth, the current way of conducting government
and business, and the current laws, rules, and actions that produce the current
state. Any attempt to critically examine the status quo or to alter it in a
way perceived to be not in the interests of those who most benefit from it is
crushed by any means, however ruthless, illegal, or immoral.
The principal political strategy of America’s dominant class is to perpetually
maintain the status quo by avoiding any fundamental alteration of the system
which so abundantly benefits it. The principal political failure of everyone
else is their not organizing themselves into a focused power sufficient to the
task of fundamentally altering the system.
Is there anyone among us who has not thought of a solution to this or that
problem? Campaign finance reform, term limits, more oversight, more prisons,
alms for the poor…? Such measures are only band aids for scratches.
In this work, we do not apply band aids to scratches. We go right to the heart
of the matter, and we repair the heart.
We pay no attention whatever to the “horse races,” which political
party won this or that race over the last few years or decades and why. Political
parties are scarcely mentioned because they scarcely matter. Given the true
nature of our most fundamental problem, it does not matter which particular
people currently populate the seats of government. Election politics is totally
irrelevant, a circus for the masses. What is wrong is not merely the people
within government but the structure of the government, the division and distribution
of its powers.
In a Las Vegas gambling house, the house prospers simply by setting the gambling
odds slightly in its own favor, just slightly over fifty percent. Given these
slight odds in its favor, in the long run the house wins more than half of the
time and prospers.
Using the mechanisms of business and government, Wealth in America sets odds
in its own favor much higher than just slightly over fifty percent. Wealth does
not win all of the time. It is not and need not be an absolute power. (In fact,
it is best for Wealth not to have absolute power, which would dissolve the illusion
of freedom and democracy behind which it now hides.) It needs only to hold a
hegemony of power to win enough of the time generation after generation to amass
in its hands a fabulous mountain of our nation’s wealth, the fruit of
everyone else’s labor.
The American constitution and the resulting political-economic system are in
intent and result one giant scam perpetrated and perpetuated against the many
by the few.
The constitution, the supporting body of law, the resulting public and private
social, political, and economic institutions, and the current elite class (the
American aristocracy) all work together to keep the current system in place.
Rather than correcting the real cause of America’s many social ills by
moving America away from plutocracy, Wealth and our elected ‘representatives’
actively sustain the status quo while appearing to attempt repair by eternally
applying deliberately insufficient and ineffective patches to our unjust social
Wealth then cynically points an accusing finger at those who seriously attempt
reform calling them liberals, leftists, socialists, communists, radicals, and
activists (as if the many actions taken by Wealth to maintain the status quo
and its position of privilege were not an activist position). Any loaded, inflammatory,
or discrediting terms will do. The goal is not truth or real change but only
and always to win.
We tend to associate tyranny with a government ruled by one person as in a
dictatorship. And we associate freedom with a government ruled by many people
as in a republic or, even better, as in a democracy. While something can be
said for this line of argument, the principal sources of tyranny are the intent
of those who rule and the systems and methods they use to achieve their ends.
With wrong intent, systems, and methods even the most high-sounding and well-argued
system of governance may be used by the few to physically and economically imprison
and exploit the rest of the populace.
We have had no shortage of technological change. America is a technological
marvel. But one should not allow technological change to mask the fact that
we have the same unfair and unjust social structure and relationship with each
other that existed at the time of the founders.
Whatever we may think about the founders as a group or as individuals or think
about their methods of achieving their goals, the founders got a good deal right.
America has a long list of blessings resulting from their effort. But what the
founders got wrong they got profoundly wrong. What they got wrong holds us firmly
in the choke hold of our biological past and bars the way to our transcendence
into a more functional and beautiful society and a more perfect union.