Imagine a woman who has been in an abusive marriage for so long that she no longer knows that she is in one. Her husband defines the world for her. She is on her knees all the time, anticipating his wishes, giving him what ever she has, telling him what he wants to hear, working overtime to please him. Her world is grey, depressing, anxiety-ridden and dark. She has forgotten the dreams of her childhood, and she doesn’t know there is an alternative.
One day she meets someone who offers hope – a minister, a rabbi, a therapist, a friend. Suddenly everything brightens and it seems that she can find a way out. She will leave her husband, or transform the relationship. One way or another she will regain her sense of self. But then it doesn’t happen. The person who was expected to help her tells her that there isn’t much that can be done, and besides he or she has already done so very much for her. That’s the way the world is, she is told. You can’t really change things that much.
The American people today, a year and a half after electing Obama, are in the position of this woman. A concentrated claque of banks, insurance companies, corporations, and the Pentagon dominates their entire world. For two thirds of a century, after winning their great victory in World War Two, they have known nothing but war. They have been told, and they believe, that they live in a world overgrown with enemies of their “interests,” meaning the interests of their rulers. For most of that time, the enemy was an ill-defined “communist conspiracy,” a catch-all phrase that included anti-colonial nationalists, pan-Arabs, Latin American state-builders, and simply those who criticized America. Today there is scarcely a nation in the world in which they have not placed land mines, barbed wire, tanks, and stands of explosives; there is no sea they have not polluted with blustering, oil-dripping ships; no quartile of near space is not surfeited with their satellites; no half-formed nation they have not transformed into their serf.