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Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal/Prison Radio

"Democracy's Demise"

Rec. 6-15-06

1) 2:58 Radio essay Mp3

 

DEMOCRACY'S DEMISE
====================
[Col. Writ. 6/15/06] Copyright '06 Mumia Abu-Jamal

With the recent bombing of Jordanian-born al Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, his spiritual advisor, and several others, the White House is crowing about 'victory' in the illusive 'War on Terror.'

This isn't the first time we've heard such political boasts; it won't be the last.

As these words are being written, members of Congress are scuffling over the wording of a resolution that all but promises such a victory.  With such a resolution, Congress all but announces its own irrelevance as anything more than a cheering section for the imperial presidency; a kind of Greek chorus that can only intone echoes.

Something like this must've occurred some 2,000 years ago, when another senate granted titles to an ambitious general, making him the most powerful official in the nation.  We remember him as Julius Caesar, who introduced (by adoption) his grandnephew Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus (named Augustus) the first Emperor of Rome, an institution which would rule with unbridled tyranny over the next 400 years.

The great British historian, Edward Gibbon, in his matchless *The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire* (1776), found the senators themselves engaged in a dangerous kind of political fiction, where it appeared that things were unchanged, but, in fact, all power resided in the Emperor:

"To resume, in a few words, the system of the Imperial government; as it was instituted by Augustus, and maintained by those princes who understood their own interest and that of the people, it may be defined an absolute monarchy disguised by the forms of a commonwealth.  The masters of the Roman world surrounded their throne with darkness, concealed their irresistible strength, and humbly professed themselves the accountable ministers of the senate, whose supreme decrees they dictated and obeyed.  [p. 73]

The senate played this game, bestowing honor after honor on Augustus, until they became hereditary honors and rights of the imperial blood.  In fact, the senate, Gibbon explains, was a virtual construction of Augustus, who received the flattery and submission of the legislators:

"He was elected censor; and in concert with his faithful Agrippa, he examined the list of the senators, expelled a few members, whose vices or whose obstinacy required a public example, persuaded near two hundred to prevent the shame of an expulsion by a voluntary retreat, raised the qualifications of a senator to about ten thousand pounds, created a sufficient number of Patrician families, and accepted for himself, the honourable title of Prince of the Senate, which has always been bestowed, by the censors, on the citizen the most eminent for his honours and services.  But whilst he restored the dignity, he destroyed the independence of the senate.  The principle of a free constitution are irrevocably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive." [p. 66]

In order for an Empire to be born, democracy must die.

All it takes is a senate sufficiently subservient to power, and voila! -- the nation is transformed.

In our day, we have a Congress that rushes to grant more and more power to the executive -- the power to wage war on a whim; the power to wiretap Americans without court order; the power to establish secret prisons; the power to torture; and the power, not only to rewrite the laws, but to ignore the will of Congress!  Some will say, but the Congress hasn't written such laws; yet Congress *has* allowed such actions!  As these acts occur, Congress rushes to affect a flag burning ban; or a same-sex marriage ban; or a ban against protests at military cemeteries.

Irrelevance.  Political grandstanding.  Subservience.

This country isnt a democracy simply because we *say* it's a democracy.  How can it be a true democracy when those in power represent the interests of a tiny slice of the people?  And if this isn't a true democracy, how can we claim to be in a war to 'bring democracy' elsewhere?

U.S. politicians are, for the most part, puppets of their corporate paymasters; they serve those who can afford them.

Was the tightening of bankruptcy laws for you, the people, or for big business?  Was the fight to shed estate taxes for the working (or even the dwindling middle) classes, or for the super-rich?

Let's stop this rap about 'democracy'.  How about plutocracy (rule of the rich); or aristocracy (rule of the elites); or kleptocracy (rule of thieves?).

Surely we can come up with something.

[Source: Gibbon, Edward, *The History of the Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire* (Abridged ed.) (London: Penguin Classics, 2000) [orig. publ. 1776/1731-88).]

Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal

 

[Check out Mumia's latest: *WE WANT FREEDOM:
A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.] 

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is
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========================================

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The Power of Truth is Final — Free Mumia!

PLEASE CONTACT:
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI-Greene
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370

WE WHO BELIEVE IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!

Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa