Fruit of the Poison Tree

The majority of the people are toiling under the illusion that the moral abyss of American politics can be reformed and made to serve the people as well as the public interest. According to this line of reasoning, the malignancy is principally the result of a few bad apples mixed with the good. If they are correct, then removing the bad apples will affect a cure. Yet that has never been the case and it is not the case now. Otherwise, we would not be where we are today. Consider, for example, that America’s Middle East policy has remained essentially the same as it is today through eleven presidencies, consistently yielding the same results.

The fault lies in the unfounded belief that the poison tree can somehow bear edible fruit. We lobby for our candidate in the naïve belief that if only the other party can get into office things will improve. During the two plus centuries of the American experiment this has occurred many times. Yet the policy decisions have preserved a remarkable homogeneity down through the years. The policies enacted by both the Democrats and the Republicans have almost always disproportionately benefited the wealthy. They have led us into armed conflicts around the world that have resulted in the death of millions of people in war after war. That is because we are living with Plutocratic rule in which wealth, not we the people, holds sway and determines governmental policy.

Every aspect of American politics is enacted within the shell of Plutocratic corporate rule. Therefore, the Plutocratic tree will continue to bear the fruit of Plutocracy, regardless of which party is in power. During the past fifty years of the American experiment the difference between Democrat and Republican has become increasingly subtle. In essence there is only one party­that of wealth and privilege. The people and the public good are without meaningful representation in government. There are a number of small opposition parties operating in America but the system precludes them from becoming major players.

Where does this leave us? It leaves us with the sober realization that what ails America cannot be repaired through mere political reform. The poisonous tentacles of capital have enwrapped every political organ over which it exercises complete dictatorial control. The malignancy of capital is so pervasive and systemic as to require revolution for its removal. Otherwise, things will continue to worsen and our republic will suffer a slow and agonizing death, as we are now witnessing.

The American government in its various incarnations was not created to serve the interests of the people. It was designed to serve capital and to create wealth for the upper echelon by exploiting the working class and plundering the earth. In fact, it is a voracious predatory crime syndicate devoid of conscience that creates perpetual war while simultaneously pilfering the public treasury. It remains in power only through the collusion of its obedient servant, the commercial media and a disengaged public.

This continues against a specter of an ever widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, costly foreign invasions and occupations, and extended global hegemony. These policies have resulted in millions of innocent deaths world wide, obscene defense spending and the systematic demise of programs of social and spiritual uplift. Despite numerous changing of the guards things are getting progressively worse­perhaps exponentially.

Our continued faith in politics and political reform is unwarranted, I contend, given the judgment of more than two hundred years of historical evidence against this thinking. I realize that this is both a sobering and disturbing conclusion. The blunt truth is that social ills cannot be corrected through political reform within the framework of capitalism. Any form of government that serves capital rather than democracy cannot and does not have the interest of the people or the public good at heart.

If the core problem is capital, as I believe it is, the system cannot be reformed. Capital is by its very nature violent, coercive, oppressive and unjust, as revealed by the historical evidence. This history is particularly poignant in capital’s brutal oppression of organized labor, especially during strikes, and through spreading global militarization.

Because capital finances and controls the major political parties, it is always assured of both power and control, regardless of which party is in power. Thus capital will never allow meaningful reform that could usurp some of its power and redistribute it among the people. Capital demands complete power and total control over the political process. It will allow no more than minor change within narrow predefined limits that create the illusion of reform. Beyond those limits capital feels threatened and reacts with violent brutality.

Capital is particularly onerous in that it socializes costs but privatizes profits­an especially insidious form of corporate welfare that is inherently unjust. Long ago the corporate government and the commercial media conspired to create a propaganda empire without equal that keeps the people ignorant and inundated with superfluous lies. Virtually all other industrialized nations have socialized medicine and free higher education for those who seek it. But in America our wealth is plundered in wasteful and repressive militarism, massive corporate welfare and tax cuts for the wealthy.

Is there no hope for us? Yes, there is but it will require much of us; much more than we have been willing to pay for a long time. Revolution, a popular revolt of the people, is the only means by which power can be wrested from the Plutocrats and their corporate pay masters. Corruption never yields power willingly. It must be forced out and social democracy ushered in.

So the question arises: What form will the revolution take? While peaceful rebellion is the most desirable means to accomplish these ends, capital will most assuredly, as it always does, meet resistance with violence and brutality. Again, history provides bountiful examples.

According to labor historian James Green, during the thousands of labor strikes that have occurred in this country there were 160 instances in which state and federal militias intervened on behalf of the employers. There is not one instance where the militia intervened to protect workers from the tyranny of their employers. These actions reveal who is running the country and who is making policy. There are well over 700 labor disputes in which striking workers were killed by the police, militias, or the hired guns of industry­all of this within a span of 230 years. These are ultra conservative estimates. It is no coincidence that America, the nucleus of capitalism, is the greatest purveyor of violence of any nation on earth, as Dr. King rightly pointed out.

The people have two principle options. Either we stay the course and allow the republic to suffocate and die, or we revolt. Bush and his neocon cabal have no fear that the people will stop him. He and his ilk thumb their noses at the law with impunity and the working class people’s struggle to scratch out a decent living. His Plutocratic policies seem to say, “Let the people eat our shit!”

Whatever course we choose to take it should be evident that there is no easy way out. Either we accept whatever injustice the current regime and its corporate thugs dictate to us, or we refuse to co-operate with them. India’s Gandhi and our own Dr. King lead successful non-violent populist revolutions. Gandhi transformed a nation but Dr. King was assassinated at the pinnacle of the civil rights movement in 1968. Both movements suffered unspeakable brutality and cruelty at the hands of capitalists. Capital will certainly spill our blood. Are we strong enough and courageous enough to do what must be done?

The time will come when enough people will become sufficiently uncomfortable and disenfranchised that a massive upheaval will inevitably occur, as the chasm between rich and poor widens. As conditions deteriorate, a group of courageous and socially conscious agitators will appear to awaken and arouse the slumbering masses to action. Many of them will be imprisoned and killed for their political beliefs, as has been the historical pattern. But the time will come when either we fight or perish.

It would be better to act sooner rather than waiting to be motivated by sheer desperation, when are at our weakest and most vulnerable. Let us join a worldwide revolution of the working class that is already under way. We have only to look to Latin America for working models. With iron clad global solidarity the people cannot lose. Divided and fragmented we are doomed.

We must understand that capital government is right wing government in its purest, most violent and repressive form. It is radically anti-people, anti-earth and anti-democracy. The time has come to uproot the tree that bears the poison fruit.

Charles Sullivan is a photographer, free lance writer, and a social activist residing in the hinterland of West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at

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