Bread and Circuses, an Old Idea in a New Era By Timothy V. Gatto

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By Timothy V. Gatto
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
December 19, 2009

The way words are used, the way people, places and things are described, will make a difference regardless of the subject matter. Today I was reading USA Today (Friday Dec 18, 2009), specifically a letter titled “Independents Unite!” about the possible creation of a third party. In the letter the writer (Alan Mohr) wrote that we should drive the extremists from both political parties from office. I agree whole-heartedly with him, but in the next paragraph he writes;

“Another solution would be to have a new national third party, one that would appeal to independents and the moderates of the two major parties. Such a bloc could control Congress and be a positive influence and do what is best for America.”

I mentioned this particular letter because of the word extremists and moderates. Just what is considered an extremist? The extreme left is constantly mentioned when referring to the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Yet, I have not really read anything that actually describes what is so extreme in their views. Does supporting a single-payer health care system brand one as extreme? Does supporting a withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan make one an extremist? Does favoring cutting the American military budget that currently accounts for over 42% of the entire world military spending count as extreme? Just what makes the left of the Democratic Party so extreme?

What about the right of the Republican Party? Do hard core beliefs about immigration make the far-right extreme? Does supporting the endless wars against “terrorism” make these people extreme? Much more has been written about the extreme right than the extreme left, probably because of the change of government from Republican to Democrat. Still, much of what is written about the extreme right and the extreme left, describes a minority of the two parties.

The other part of the letter, the part about the moderates, disturbs me. Just what is a moderate? From what I have come to understand, a moderate is someone that disagrees very little with the leadership of the two political parties. If you put Republican moderates against Democratic moderates, I doubt that you could tell them apart. Then why does the writer of this letter support a new party of moderates? Wouldn’t this leave the two major parties at the hands of extremists? Maybe a better idea would to have new parties for the so-called “extremists”? In fact wouldn’t it be better just to have more strong political parties than to have only two powerful ones?

I believe that while I agree with the writer that we should have another party or two, people in America have deluded themselves into believing that the Democrats and Republicans represent any type of real choice for the people of this country. I have written time and time again that the two parties are controlled by the corporate interests that not only control the Federal government, but also the major media outlets that provide the information most Americans rely on to make their political decisions.

The two political parties operate without regard for the wishes of the electorate. They are confident that whatever party is in control, the same basic strategies, political and military, that they plan behind closed doors will happen regardless of public opinion. If there is opposition to the policies of the government, the media will eventually bring the people along.

Except for the extremists, people such as me and others like me that don’t get their news from the MSM. We are the people that the media and government need to marginalize. This country would be a far different place if people started to look for their news from different sources than the major networks. Great Britain may be another “security state” like the U.S., but their media has remained independent of government interference to a greater degree than ours. We have free and independent media, but these sources are found mostly on the internet. Television, because of corporate sponsorship, is a very meager outlet for true, independent news. This may be why many politicians belittle the internet as a source for news.

This nation is in dire straits. The letter that Alan Mohr wrote was close to identifying the problem, but he missed the mark. When the government controls the sources of information to the people, than they control the people, but we are not at that point yet. There are many sources of information, national and international and they can be found using a computer. The problem is that Americans don’t feel that they need to have alternatives to network news. This is the crux of the problem. Many of us are making decisions about our political future and evaluating our elected officials without the facts we need to make informed decisions. We hear more about celebrities than we do about what is really happening on the planet. This is not by choice, it is by design. The Romans Empire controlled their people with bread and circuses. That example has not been lost on modern leaders. Don’t believe the myth of “American Exceptionalism”; we are just as gullible as any other civilization. We live in a “security state” of huge proportions. We are led to believe we are in a constant state of siege, hence the need to constantly mention the threat of terrorism. We can change the way things are. It’s as simple as expanding our sources of information and of re-learning to “question authority”.

Read Tim Gatto’s new book Complicity to Contempt.


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2 thoughts on “Bread and Circuses, an Old Idea in a New Era By Timothy V. Gatto

  1. Exactly why real liberals and progressives should join the Green Party. The Green Party has the infrastructure in place to push if not directly challenge the major parties from the left …

    Eventually parties of the left, IF they want be relevant, much join together to move this country left … The Green, Peace and Freedom, Socialist and other parties of the left, under one banner, could have major success moving the government to the left …

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