Belaboring the Obvious

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A couple of thoughts on "The People Speak"...

... coming up this Sunday on the History Channel. Zirin is right that the wingnutz are coming unglued at the thought of the series being aired. The usual suspects (BigHollywood, Newsbusters, Drudge, Andrew Breitbart, and, no, I'm not gonna link to them) are having a bad case of the vapors over this, with Breitbart, apparently, even suggesting that showing the program in a public school might be illegal, and is generally stamping his little feet about this being proof of the tendentiousness of the "liberal media."

Nice try, guys, but, I doubt it's gonna work. It's not going to get pulled just because you're all whining more loudly than usual, or because it makes your reactionary icons look like greedy racist fuckheads.

That said, the program is going to be an abbreviated version of Zinn's work, at best, isn't going to change the political dynamics of the country overnight, and there's the chance that the personalities might unintentionally outshine the words of the historical characters they portray.

It's the curse of television these days, but, it's better than nothing. One of the great lies told--mostly post-WWII--is that we have the highest standard of living in the world because of our brand of democracy wedded to the so-called "free market." Michael Parenti, in virtually every lecture of his on the political economics of the United States, reminds us that at the turn of the last century, the country was, for practical purposes, a third-world country, and that we have the efforts of countless ordinary citizens to thank for that standard of living, such as it is, because all the things which made middle-class existence possible in the U.S.--bans on child labor, women's suffrage, unionization, civil rights, old-age pensions, public education, the 40-hour work week, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage--were fought tooth-and-nail by the capitalist class, and that elite has been doing its damnedest ever since to undo those gains. In many instances, ordinary people made extraordinary sacrifices--bled and died--to gain those rights for which the capitalist class now takes credit.

Hopefully, that will be the message that comes through in this upcoming series--that democracy can't be defined for us solely by the financial and political elite, and that common purpose and the actual exercise of democracy, first and foremost, are what have given us our advantages.

That's what's got Breitbart and his ilk wetting their knickers. They don't like that sort of democracy.


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