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Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Tipping Point For The Social Contract - Society

Conservative media personalities try to throw the word "socialism" or "socialist" into everything they say about politics. It's time to call them at their game, and show how they are using psychology to manipulate the American electorate.

Words are symbols, which have deep meaning in our subconscious minds. For those in my generation and older, "socialism" means the old Soviet Union, the "evil empire" that dominated Russian life for over 70 years. That was a system that famously did not work. So using the word in conservative rhetoric is a way of triggering our subconscious memories about something very evil and bad.

We must ask ourselves an important question. What was it about President Obama's message of "Change" that resonated so deeply with the American people? The answer is quite simply that the "Social Contract" is broken in our country, and we want it fixed!

Just one poignant call from "WeArethe99Percent" sums up the problem:

"The Best and Brightest of my generation are bagging your groceries. I am the 99%!"

Most of us have been feeling the pinch of the many ways the "Social Contract" is broken for decades, but finally the pain has reached a tipping point where the American people are ready to come out into the streets and proclaim that the status quo is unacceptable.

Many of us, me included, are disappointed with the first three years of the Obama Administration, because it has proven itself a toady of Wall Street instead of creating the change we sought. Any cursory glance at the situation that caused the global financial meltdown tells us that there was huge fraud and much felonious behavior going on across the full spectrum of the financial industry. And yet, disappointingly, except for hapless Bernie Madoff, no one has really been held responsible for that collapse. Instead, both the Bush and Obama Administrations threw a trillion dollars at the financial industry, and the "Masters of the Universe" went right on paying themselves $100 million bonuses for their brilliance in manipulating the rest of us. That needs to stop!

Americans have allowed ourselves to be distracted by endless debates about fraudulent family values like abortion, gay rights, and "intelligent design", while Wall Street has picked away at our children's future. I have been regularly reading a web site called "WeArethe99Percent", which perfectly sums up the fact that our "Social Contract" is broken in the United States. The quote, which appears at the beginning of this article, is an example, as is the following:

"It is unacceptable that my situation is considered one of the "fortunate" ones and that I owe my life to what very little I do have. I want to work, and make an honest wage. I want to make a difference in my community and to my country. But every part of our financial system is preventing me from doing it. My peers are giving up their dreams in order to survive in this country. This has to change. We are the 99%."

What is the "Social Contract"? Since the time Jean-Jacques Rousseau explained the term, it amounts to our fundamental understanding about how society is supposed to work. People in each society intuitively accept different rules, but each society has its understandings among the people at large. As Rousseau put it, "Each of us places his person and authority under the supreme direction of the general will, and the group receives each individual as an indivisible part of the whole."

Americans have understood that fundamental to being Americanour "Social Contract"--are the rights to live, be educated, have a job or build a business, raise a family, enjoy our retirement, and die with dignity. The Occupy Wall Street Movement reflects the fundamental fact that our "Social Contract" is broken. Each person coming to a rally may have a different point of pain, a different specific reason for coming into the streets, but we all feel in our bones that something is not right.

This is why the media has had such a difficult time of explaining what Occupy Wall Street is about. Each of our voices expresses a different point of pain, but the sum total of our voices is saying that the American "Social Contract" is broken. Somewhere in our fundamental understandings about what it means to live in America and be an American has been taken away from us while we were distracted by "Dancing with the Stars", Major League Baseball, and a polarized politics that uses symbols like "socialism" rather than talking about our real issues.

There is a huge difference between the "Social Contract" and "Socialism". We want our Democracy back! We are the 99%!

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