Freedom of Speech and the Rule of Law under Capitalism

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The curfew in Ferguson, Missouri against any kind of protest continues. Eight peaceful protesters were arrested just yesterday for continuing to demand justice for Michael Brown, who was shot and killed multiple times, execution style, while holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender, with the killer cop continuing to remain on police payroll.

Protests have been declared illegal in the city. But, not to worry because the curfew is not for ever; it will last only as long as the protests persist. Get it? You’re free to protest when you’re not protesting, but when you do, it’s illegal! In the land of make believe, where we can pretend there is no climate change, why not also make ourselves believe that we have freedom of speech – the so-called First Amendment Rights. But, if you look more carefully, you’ll see that the real use of the Amendment – or the Constitution in general – is for propaganda. If you pay attention, you will see that the government of the 0.1% has used the Amendment, and in fact the entire Constitution, as a propaganda tool far more than that Amendment or the Constitution has been used to protect the common man or woman – the remaining 99.9%.

Speaking of the Constitution, it grants the Congress and only the Congress the authority to decide matters of war and peace, not the Pentagon and not the generals leaning over and staring at a map in the War Room of the White House. And yet, US troops are routinely sent to wars and US bombers regularly bomb sovereign nations, often without even the prior knowledge of, let alone discussion and voting by, the Congress. As I write this, US troops are going back to Iraq after they left three years ago, according to an agreement signed by the then Iraqi government and President Bush, and US bombers are bombing Syria, another sovereign nation, against both US and international laws. And where are people’s representatives as all this is happening out of the War Room? On their 54-day Summer vacation! But don’t be surprised. That’s what a bought out Congress looks like. You see, the point isn’t to do things the right way or the legal and constitutional way. The point is to defend the interests of the class of wealthy owners who bankroll them and put them in office. And, as long as the corporate Empire gets its wars and the profits it seeks for its corporations and keeps the owners’ class happy and the population quiet and quelled, it matters not to them. Their attitude about people’s civil and democratic rights is the same: give them lip service for public relations and run roughshod over them when the interests of the 0.1% so demand. That’s what they call democracy and “the rule of law”, which in reality is the law of the rulers.

During the recent climate change march, which drew some 400,000 people to the streets of New York, many carried signs pointing to the root cause of the problem, which is none other than capitalism and that to fight climate change, we must fight capitalism and corporate profiteering that drives it. That this has become a subject being discussed on a relatively broad scale, after being shunned, avoided and censored for so many decades is a step forward and progress whose time has long come. But, that’s only one aspect of capitalism that’s come to fore and that’s only due to its cataclysmic effects looming over humanity and the planet. What capitalism is still successfully hiding from humanity is its incongruence and utter contradiction with basic human freedom and democracy, just as it does with care for the planet and environment. In that, black protesters of Ferguson have more in common with white marchers in New York than meets the eye.

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