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Saturday, September 20, 2008


Karl, Abe, and "Dictatorship"

I mention in the post below this one something I called a "harsh-sounding" phrase: "Dictatorship of the Proletariat." The two problems with the phrase are rather obvious. First, people associate the word "dictatorship" with a single, usually brutal, power-mad, and self-serving person. And second, it's hard enough finding anyone (in the United States, anyway) willing to use the words "working class"; "proletariat" just sounds way too 19th-century (incidentally, a momentary digression - why do politicians always use the phrases "working families" and "middle class," but never "working class"?)

Anyway, there's really a much better phrase for Americans to describe the same concept, one originated (in its final form, anyway) by a well-respected American hero - Abraham Lincoln. And that phrase, of course, is "government of the people, by the people, for the people." Clearly, that phrase doesn't apply to the United States. "Of" the people? A country where at least 40 Senators are millionaires, and where Joe Biden and his wife, with an income (not wealth, income) of $319,853, is one of the "least wealthy" people in the Senate but still richer than 99% of all Americans. "By" the people? Not when money is called "free speech" and hundreds of millions of dollars are required to run for office. "For" the people? Not when the government can spend hundreds of billions of dollars on war or bailing out Wall Street, but when it comes to rebuilding New Orleans, or providing health care, or a thousand other things, you're on your own waiting for the "free market" to solve your problems.

There is a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" not far away, and their response to hurricanes is just one of many pieces of evidence of that. 23 people dead in ten years in Cuba, a remarkable record, but one which is matched by a similar record in health care, education, and other human needs. That's what a "dictatorship of the proletariat" - a government of the people, by the people, and, most especially, for the people, can accomplish, even with the meager resources of a blockaded Caribbean island. Just imagine what a government of the people, by the people, and for the people could accomplish in the United States or other wealthy countries.

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