“The reason I have a clean conscience is that I know I did my job right.”
~ Darren Wilson

One of the reasons that political reform persistently fails is the fundamental error in perceiving a broken system which is actually operating as it was designed. Efforts to reform political corruption presume that corruption is a flaw – which is true only from the perspective of those who are neither able to sell their positions of power nor wealthy enough to buy influence. Policies that dismay reformers please the politically influential.

You oppose the war on drugs. You are aware that it was begun a century ago to promote racism, to excuse attacks on minority populations, to ban certain trades and products in order to benefit competing products, and to gain more power for the state. You lament the millions arrested each year, the tens of thousands brutalised by the police state, the thousands falsely prosecuted, the hundreds injured physically, and the dozens killed each year, both in the USA and in other countries, to prosecute the drug war.

But it empowers police agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. It provides contracting for corporations that derive enormous profits from selling police equipment and supplies to federal, state, county, and local agencies. It fills prisons run by corporations that profit enormously. The drug war empowers cartels including the CIA. It empowers police agencies, including the FBI. It provides civil asset forfeiture funds to police agencies at federal, state, and local levels, and also provides rewards to finks and prosecutors who help steal the seized assets. The drug war ensures jobs for police officers and the unions that represent them. There are millions of people who benefit directly or indirectly from the war on drugs.

Does Obama end the drug war? He could legitimately argue that the treaties against narcotics trafficking were racist when ratified. He can show that the drug war disenfranchises and harms minorities disproportionately. But Obama loves the war on drugs. He’s a conservative and corrupt politician. He despises any attack on power, especially his power.

Consider the tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions, including contributions from big finance, big pharmaceutical, big military contractor, and big conglomerate companies. Consider that after he stops running for public office, he can put the remaining campaign funds in his pocket to do with as he pleases. He’s been paid to have the role he has, to do the things he does.

Does Obama end the war in Afghanistan? He does not. In fact, it appears that at least 10,800 combat troops are to remain in Afghanistan after 2014, possibly for many more years to come. Does Obama end the war in Iraq? He does not. Judging by the 3,000 plus combat troops that have recently been sent into Iraq, along with drones, air strikes, and those troops defending the world’s largest “embassy” it seems very unlikely that the war in Iraq is going to be ended by this president. The same is true for the espionage of everyone in the world by Obama’s government.

Does Obama close the prison in Guantanamo? No, he does not. Why not? He has transferred a very small number of prisoners over the last few years. He seems willing to allow the other prisoners to go away through the attrition that comes from poor care, past torture, hunger strikes, and other factors that lead to death. Perhaps when the last prisoner dies in captivity, Obama will shutter the prison there, so that a future president can re-open it.

Would Obama take the far more radical step of ending the cold war with Cuba? Of course not. He doesn’t want to end the trade sanctions, travel restrictions and other embargo policies with Cuba. He would never consent to return the military base at Guantanamo Bay to the people of Cuba from whom the United States stole it during the Spanish-American War. Why would he? It would not be consistent with his preference for more power for the president.

Nor would Obama ever engage in a peace treaty process with North Korea to end that decades-old war. The armistice which established the militarily-occupied “demilitarised zone” where tens of thousands of American troops are stationed every year isn’t a peace treaty. A peace treaty might lead to increased freedom for the people of the Korean peninsula, to travel, to live as they see fit, but that doesn’t interest Obama. And it never will. Ending the war with North Korea would mean reducing the military presence there, and that would not be consistent with the aims of those who put Obama in power.

Consider the “torture report” a summary of which is to be released tomorrow. It doesn’t name the names of anyone who actually engaged in torture. It identifies the behaviours that Dick Cheney and George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld defended, authorised, and supported as torture, which means that those men, and all the agents of the government who implemented those policies, engaged in treason. It is treason, and a betrayal, to torture human beings when that is clearly forbidden by the constitution those men and women were sworn to uphold and defend. But nobody is going to be prosecuted by the Obama administration for the crimes of torture perpetrated by those in government because such prosecutions would erode the power that Obama loves. And if somewhat less torture, or somewhat fewer drone strikes, or somewhat fewer wars of foreign occupation occur under one president, there is no reason not to expect those things to increase under another.

The military spends between hundreds of billions and trillions of dollars every year on everything from the occupation of bases on every continent, including Antarctica, to the prosecution of war, to the procurement of equipment and supplies, to the pensions and health-care it gives generously to generals and sparingly to enlisted personnel. The finance industry enjoys billions of dollars in profits from financing the national debt.

So, vote all you want. Nothing changes in the political system, no matter for whom you choose to vote. Don’t vote if you’d rather not encourage them. But don’t imagine that voting is going to bring about change, or that the election of some new set of rascals is going to bring about reforms. Consider Congress. Recently, Congress has been noteworthy for passing fewer laws in the last two legislative sessions than nearly any Congress since the start of the 20th Century. Why not? Clearly, they like what they see, they like things as they stand, and they want the system to continue as it is.

Why does Congress continuously increase the debt “ceiling”? In order to benefit the finance industry that supports so many of their campaigns, of course. I’m really not at all comfortable with terms like “limit” or “ceiling” when applied to something so very evidently unlimited as the national debt. Consider the architectural metaphor: even the ceiling of an elevator can only go up as high as the structure in which it is enclosed. The national debt, which is properly the debt of those politicians who voted for it and those corporations that benefited from it, is not limited, at all.

It seems to me that Robert P. McCulloch is a white racist from the Democratic Party political machine that has controlled St. Louis County and its environs for well over a century. He seems to have a personal issue with black men, given that one seems to have killed his father while his father was a police officer in the 1960s. He certainly worked very hard to exonerate Darren Wilson, presumably because he wanted Wilson to kill Michael Brown. If you asked him, I think McCulloch would say he did his job.

Wilson was right to say that he did his job. In just the same way, Woodrow Wilson saw the role of government to disenfranchise and re-enslave minorities a hundred years ago. So, Darren Wilson saw his job as attacking and abusing black teens in Ferguson for such daring “crimes” as walking down a city street. Killing them was his job. That’s why he wouldn’t wear a taser.

The system cannot be reformed or repaired because it is functioning the way it was designed. The people who run it derive enormous material benefits from it. They don’t want it to be changed. If some parts of it are changed, those who derive those benefits will work to change it back.

Do you think the Democratic Party political machine that has run St. Louis since the 1860s is corrupt and disgusting? Try Chicago if you want to see how much worse it can get. Obama is a product of Chicago’s corrupt Democratic Party political machine, so of course he does not want to change the St. Louis machine.

What does he want? He’ll be wealthy and fairly young in 2017. He might like to be permanently a senator. After all, being selected senator for Illinois in 2006 (or, if you insist on imagining that the political process counts the votes that are cast, “elected” rather than selected) catapulted him onto the political stage in a way that made it possible for him to become president. Certainly, he understands the machine politics, and it understands him, well enough that he would expect to be re-elected, as so many incumbent senators are, every election. Or, perhaps, a future president from his party would name Obama the chief justice of the supreme court. He might like that kind of power, and the life appointment that is involved. Certainly he has a willingness to look at constitutional law, although he seems entirely unwilling to do anything with it.

Please don’t misunderstand me. The Republicans are even more corrupt, more overtly racist, more confident that it is right for them to have total power. Nor do I expect any meaningful changes should Tea Party Republicans come to power. If the Libertarian Party were to elect a few people to national office, it would do very little to make changes happen. Even if the Libertarians elected many people, I don’t expect much change, because in order to have the kind of political power they would need to get elected, they would have to use the powers that exist, and would be unwilling to alter that power structure once in power.

Given these views, you probably suppose me to be some sort of pessimist. In matters of the very near term and the political, I am extremely pessimistic. I don’t expect reform. I expect the system will go on protecting the system, and that efforts to make it better, or less violent, or less corrupt, will fail. Many people are going to suffer as a result.

But in the long term, human beings are extremely innovative and have great fortitude. People keep finding better ways of doing things. More people are being fed and getting better nutrition than ever before. A greater percentage of the population has more access to technology and prosperity than ever. People are finding new ways to extend lifespans, to explore the universe, and to develop technological solutions.

Indeed, people have already created technologies for privacy, for monetary alternatives, for free exchange. Using those systems makes it possible for people to do whatever they please, without the political system of authoritarian control.

Given that Darren Wilson did his job, and McCulloch would think he did his job, that Obama and Congress seem to think that they are doing their jobs, what is your job? I believe you have a moral obligation to avoid contributing to the systems of authoritarian control that serve to impose a slave society, not only upon Americans but upon everyone in the world.

So, learn encryption. Learn privacy tools. Learn how to keep your browser from “outing” you to every police agency on Earth. Learn how to turn off scripts, cookies, and geo-location. Learn what security certificates are, and how to monitor them. Learn about open source software and hardware and why it is better for you than proprietary alternatives that you cannot be sure are only doing the things you want done. With this knowledge, do what you can to avoid the system, undermine it, circumvent it, and supplant it. Make things that people need and want, perform services that you can be compensated for, and do so in a way that does not cause you to lose any share of that money to the authoritarian system.

If you oppose totalitarian authority, you have a friend in me. And if you want to do a better job of it, please let me know.

Your future, your destiny, is in your hands. Nobody is in charge here.