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Commentary Last Updated: Dec 12th, 2007 - 01:38:55

"Consentership," far more pernicious than dictatorship
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 12, 2007, 01:36

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America, more than anything else, more than the proverbial land of opportunity, is very definitely something else. This nation of ours appears to be, first and foremost, a land of contradictions where, while the polls indicate most people feel the nation is being led in the wrong direction, we seem inclined to follow the same Pied Piper foreign policy.

Like it or not, in the US you cease to be an American (or rather, a �good American�) in the mind of your family, friends and neighbors the moment you deny the sacred dogma of inerrancy in US foreign policy. It may seem irrational to some people -- either the statement on its face or what iis implied by it -- but deep inside that is the attitudinal belief of a vast majority of Americans I know and, I would venture to guess, most Americans anyone might know. And yet, that �patriotic majority,� so similar to me to the �moral majority� of time past, prefer not to think of themselves in any way, shape or form as nativists, jingoists, or otherwise exclusionary . . . convinced they are just down-to-earth regular folks: Main Street America.

Shortly after 9/11, political America -- Democrats and Republicans -- decided that it was about time to set aside their minute differences in foreign policy and act as a true united front. After all, they could always maintain some semblance of independence in the domestic arena, keeping a presumed differentiation alive and well . . . as if the gross mislabeling of the conservative and liberal labels defined how either party stood.

To our national detriment, including America�s standing in the world, such an unnecessary and unwarranted united front was adopted by our political duopoly without as much as the blink of an eye; its ideas quickly permeating, and finding acceptance through much of the citizenry of Main Street America. That citizen�s consent to relinquish rights and freedoms, giving blind permission, authorization, license and sanction allowing Bush�s White House to do as it pleased -- all too often in open acts of criminality -- has made it starkly clear that even if we claim to live under democratic rule, a so-called rule of law, our republic operates under a much different rule: the rule of consentership. And we, the citizenry, are simply the consenters! Such role reversal has made Americans the doting citizens of their Uncle Sam, an embarrassingly felonious uncle at that.

Let�s stop being hypocrites! Let�s stop blaming Bush for our own cowardice and lack of civic guts. Empowering a selected -- not elected -- government; granting clearance for the neocons to act; giving Bush the green light to invade Iraq; tolerating the usurping of our rights and freedoms; and going along with blatant economic malfeasance that is sure to bankrupt this nation, is unmistakably defining the highest level of consentership: what some of us would call the ultimate political pass.

Could it be that we are consenting because that is exactly what we want? That deep inside we know that someone needs to do the dirty work on our behalf, and that there needs to be a price paid? Are we really accomplices as much as we are consenters? Isn�t this a form of a dictatorship by that antidemocratic triumvirate that rules our lives: predatory capitalism, wasteful consumerism, and religious fundamentalism?

It�s beginning to look as if in early 2008, consentership will continue to dominate our Tweedledum-Tweedledee politics with Republicans and Democrats achieving renewed solidarity in foreign affairs, be it the forever-occupation (or negotiated presence) of Iraq, a non-stop continuing demonization of Iran and other �terror-villains,� or the constant denunciation of any nation that challenges our imperial hegemony and right to collect tribute in any way we see fit. Bush will soon be on his way out, but rest assured that his replacement will be a clone; or, as it is now starting to look, �a Bush in drag.� Perhaps we continue to be led astray with the promise of a lesser evil approach in domestic governance, but it will not be a lesser evil in the areas that are essential to bringing trust and understanding among peoples of the world; it will not be a recipe to achieve peace on this earth, just as the organic compounds were to achieve life.

Of late, we have been looking at what is happening in Greater Russia, and are totally befuddled by the confrontational attitude of Mr. Putin. A man that not so long ago our own Duce, after looking into his eyes, tabbed as his straightforward, trustworthy friend, Vladimir. My God, can someone explain how our prophetic, infallible Bush was able to get a sense of Putin�s soul and just a few years later have him turn against us?

But we shouldn�t fret over Putin�s reaction to our accustomed imperialist behavior, nor should we be surprised at his popularity in Greater Russia. Just like here in the US, there is also an apparent consensus in the neo-czarist land of Vladimir Putin, with an overwhelming majority matching their consentership against our very own. If we can be bipartisan in adopting -- preserving might be a more appropriate word -- an imperial foreign policy, it�s understandable that the Russians� newly found economic success and national pride have turned their political behavior into one of consentership. The US should not expect anything better after our �screw-you� behavior during their cold turkey exit from communism, and now our insolence of trying to park missiles at their borders.

Consentership may not be dangerously consequential for small groups or nations that have no influence beyond their memberships or borders. For an imperial superpower, it can turn out to be the most extreme among political extremes, perhaps the worst form of dictatorship. After all, we are consenting to the rule of a very few . . . and those few have been granted the power to push the nuclear button at will, to turn daylight into permanent night.

And we have the gall to criticize some nations because we tag them as dictatorships!

� 2007 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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