Tuesday, April 19, 2005

PROBLEM: public attention deficit vs. corporate terminator

A serious problem with making any lasting reform is that it is difficult to get the public to pay attention for more than a couple of years to trying to fix a problem, and once fixed after a while they forget the problem that required the solution in the first place--like the followers of the right wing who have forgotten why we needed the New Deal or even unions.

The good side of this is when a society goes off the deep end religiously like Iran now or England under Cromwell, or politically like Stalinist Russia or China during the Cultural Revolution. Most people get tired of "the cause," it's requirements for zeal and sacrifice of liberty or other things.

The downside of this is that we face opponents, corporations, that are designed to accumulate money and power irrespective of the people who tend the "machine." If someone loses interest, they are replaced. The goal is constant, the people change. They are the Terminator, and money and power is Sarah Connor (the rest of us are the extras that get shot along the way).

Democracy is the opposite. We have roughly the same people to work with for long periods of time, but absent some catastrophe, those people don't act together, and even when they do, they dribble away and drift off to other things over time, collecting Hummel figurines or watching Croatian yard darts on ESPN.

It's like we're all holding a door shut, and the terminator is relentlessly ramming against it. When a certain number wander from holding the door, he busts in, kills who he wants, and makes a mess of everything else. We curse, get together, and try to make a new room with a new door we can stand against--until we lose interest.

Right now, the terminators are break dancing in our family room.

In real life, this is the cycle of robber barons and reform.

This wastes a hell of a lot of time, energy, and money that could be used for real progress instead of fighting these same battles over and over again.

What I want to know is how we can build a door we don't have to stand against.

How can we reshape our political structure so that it is as single-mindedly focused on the broader public good (the way corporations are on ass-raping us) and can't be over-whelmed or hijacked during periods of relative political apathy.

I think when we get to the end of this Buzi push to pull us back to feudalism, we will see a period of FDR-like idealism...and then the forgetting will start and the terminator will start ramming the door.

When we get a chance to clean up, this should be part of what we do.

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