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News ::
Do the Poor Represent the Poor, Mr President?
24 Jul 2001
Modified: 28 Jul 2001
Do the Poor Represent the Poor, Mr President?
The increasing insolence of "world leaders."
With the increased awareness of the effects of capitalist globalization and the resulting militancy there has been a dangerously increasing level of arrogance coming from the world leaders still pushing for global capitalism against the tide. These leaders have the arrogance to proclaim that they have the right to continue with their plans to privatise every aspect of life since they are "elected representatives" and those in the streets don't represent the poor. Mr. Leaders, do the poor people in the streets represent the poor?

Firstly, it must be mentioned that although the corporate media and world leaders love to pretend that this movement of change is a recent development stemming from the events in Seattle, this is not true. The people of the "Global South," the ones who have been suffering the most because of capitalism, have been in a constant state of unrest and rebellion against capitalism for decades. These struggles have now reached the "Global North".

Concrete battles of the sort that should still be in our collective memory include the massive unrest in Indonesia in 1997 against IMF-imposed restructuring, portrayed through North American and European corporate media as the typical "unrest caused by corruption scandals." These battles also include that of the internationally renowned Zapatistas in Mexico who launched an uprising against the signing of NAFTA which rendered illegal the common ownership of land. This internationally renowned movement has inspired another now internationally renowned movement Ya Basta! which originated in Italy.

Weeks before Carlo Giuliani was murdered in Genoa by the Italian Carabinieri (paramilitary force), three students had been shot dead during demonstrations against IMF-imposed 'restructing' in Papua. Political murders of the sort are so frequent in South America that listing them would require an entire article dedicated to the subject.

When the corporate media ignores these events and pretends that the movement of change is isolated to what some call the "Global North" it has tremendous advantages for the propaganda machine. In fact, it permits George Bush the Second, 'leader' of a pseudo-monarchy and billionaire through inheritance, to make such arrogant claims as: "People are allowed to protest, but for those who claim they're speaking on behalf of the poor, for those who claim that shutting down trade will benefit the poor, they're dead wrong." Is that a threat after the murder of Carlo Giuliani?

Will you fly in the comfy Airforce One to Papua and sleep in private hotels to tell those who witnessed the murder of the three protestors that "they're dead wrong"? A sad taste of irony, Mr. pResident.

This kind of arrogance and ignorance might be contagious and could be transmitted during the "closed-door meetings" attended by these leaders. In April 2001 before the demonstrations against the FTAA in Québec City, Jean Chrétien Prime Minister of Canada looked down at the thousands of students and civil servants when he said they "are going to protest, and blah, blah, blah." Certainly, Mr. Chrétien, these students and civil servants of yours who have been the victims of forced privatisations and budget cuts have absolutely nothing to say but "blah, blah, blah"!

And as much as these leaders like to scream that their insolence is justified since they are "democratically elected representatives" it is, unfortunately, still necessary to remind them that an election in four years, with a voter turnout below 60% often simply choosing the "lesser of two evils", amounts to literally very, very little. Their little fantasy bubble should burst soon.

Mr. Presidents, do you know how foolish you seem when you scream that you want "dialogue" with the people you say are "misguided and wrong" (Tony Blair) from atop your isolated castles hidden behind 20 000 soldiers, tanks and missile launchers? But the poor can represent the poor infinitely better than a few rich white men... despite George Bush the Second's claims that they "don't represent the poor as far as I'm concerned."
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24 Jul 2001
hmm...... I never really thought about this, but if there is a voter turnout of less than 60% of the population and Mr. Bush won (at the very best) by a rough 51% of the votes than less than one third of the voting public voted for Bush!xtremely democratic when less than a third of the population chose the current president.
18% is the number.
24 Jul 2001
I hope I don't sound like a Green.

About 72% of the population of the USA can vote. Of those people eligible 48% cast their vote (let's not mention the number of people who cast their vote for the "lesser of two evils"). Then 50% votes for one of the two candidates. That's about 18% of the population choosing a capitalist representative to press forth an agenda that is disadvantageous to those inside and outside the borders of that country.

That's representative democracy for us. Casting a vote in this system can't change anything, so we have to develop the people's means of deciding what happens with their lives!
Yeah, so?
28 Jul 2001
The facts on scanty voter turnout are well known. This is a phenomenon thats been going on for many years in this country and is hardly news. But what to do about it? To vaguely state that we "have to develop the people's means of deciding what happens in their lives" isn't much help. The devil, as the old saying goes, is in the details. And statisticly those below the poberty line in this country are only a little over 15%; which is totally unacceptable, of course but not anywhere near a voting majority even if they did bother to vote. But good luck trying anyway. You wouldn't be the first that's tried. And as for the middle class, they don't usually need to vote, as most of them are generally pretty content and don't want to rock the boat. But seriously, don't ever apologize for sounding like a Green: that's the most sense you can ever make!