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Caitlin Johnstone

May 23, 2024

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

The Biden administration has reportedly approved of an Israeli assault on Rafah, the last slightly safe city in the Gaza Strip, and is openly preparing to work with Congress to punish the International Criminal Court for seeking arrest warrants of Israeli officials for war crimes. Biden is a monster who belongs in a cell at The Hague.

I talk about Biden’s criminality a lot, but I should probably clarify that I don’t do so because I believe Trump or even Kennedy would be acting any kinder toward the people of Gaza if they were president. All three of the arguably viable US presidential candidates are virulent Zionists who have all made it clear that they would back Israel’s genocidal atrocities with adamant fervor.

A lot of fuss gets made over the west’s brand of democracy. Wars of aggression have been waged under the banner of spreading it throughout the world and allowing the people to control what their government will do. But what you very seldom see discussed in mainstream discourse is the fact that there are a great many issues that this form of so-called democracy never allows the people to vote on.

The genocide in Gaza is arguably the single most urgent matter in the world right now — partly for how horrific it is in and of itself, and partly for its potential to explode into wars which would bring far greater devastation to the region. But nobody’s allowed a vote on whether this will continue or not, even in the heart of the US empire which is making it all possible. 

The only candidates who stand any chance of getting elected are all committed to making sure this mass atrocity continues, because if you ever want to get anywhere near the presidency you have to make a whole lot of deals with powerful forces who were never elected by anybody.

And this just says so much about the nature of this “democracy” — a word which literally means “rule by the people”. If the people were actually in charge, there would be some option available to them to end the worst thing happening in the world right now. But the people are not in charge. When it comes to matters of the most importance, they never get a vote.

Americans don’t get a vote on whether or not vast fortunes should be poured into funding a war machine which stretches around the globe; the option is never on the ballot. 

They don’t get to vote on whether or not the drastic action needed to prevent environmental collapse should be taken. 

They don’t get to vote on whether or not the US empire should be escalating against nuclear-armed nations like Russia and China with ever-increasing aggression. 

They don’t get to vote on whether the wealthy should be getting richer and richer while the poor have to struggle harder and harder to survive. 

They don’t get to vote on whether the wealthy should be allowed to use their wealth to influence political affairs in a way that gives them more and more wealth and power.

They don’t get to vote on whether they should have their minds pummeled with empire propaganda 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by rich and powerful people who are invested in manipulating the way they think, act, vote, shop and work.

They don’t get to vote on whether their police force should be getting more and more militarized, or whether the surveillance practices of the US intelligence cartel should be getting more and more intrusive.

They don’t get to vote on whether the US should have the highest incarceration rate in the world and the profoundly unjust legal system which gives rise to it.

They don’t get to vote on whether the internet should be getting more and more consolidated and censorship-heavy as Silicon Valley megacorporations move into more and more collaborative relationships with the US government.

They don’t get to vote on whether there should be billionaires when there are people living on the streets.

They don’t get to vote on whether their government should be encircling the planet with hundreds of military bases and working to destroy any nation which disobeys it while their own people struggle and suffer at home.

If you want to vote on something the powerful don’t care about, there’s a possibility that your vote might have some sway. You might have some tiny degree of influence over women’s reproductive rights, for example, or whether or not gay people can get married. But when it comes to the mechanisms of the imperial machine like war, militarism, propaganda, oligarchy, capitalism or authoritarianism, your hand will get smacked away the instant you move to touch them.

So it’s not really democracy then, is it? It’s not really rule by the people if all the most important and consequential decisions are made by forces with no accountability to the electorate, while the people are confined to a toddler’s playpen in the corner arguing about pronouns and fatphobia.

And what really sucks is that so many people believe this is freedom and democracy. The people will never know freedom until they first understand how profoundly unfree they really are.

Republished from with thanks

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