Velvet Banana, Part Four: The Velvet Dictator
by Jack Rabbit
One: The Coup d'etat of 2000
Two: The Era of Good Stealings
Three: An Attack on Freedom
Those who have read The Republic know that it foreshadows
Jung's Psychological Types more than The Federalist Papers.
It is principally not a work about politics but psychology.
Plato considers the state to be an extension of the individual;
therefore, just as one can classify a state as aristocratic
or democratic according to its characteristics, so the same
classifications can be assigned to individual men.
For Plato, the ideal man is a philosopher; a philosopher
is not merely an intellectual, but a man who is imbued throughout
his being with self-discipline and courage. Think of Shakespeare's
far-sighted young men, the ones left standing at the end of
the great tragedies. A common theme in Shakespeare is the
growth of unpromising youth into this philosopher king, such
as how Prince Hal, the boy who keeps company with Falstaff,
grows into Henry V.
Plato did not trust democracy as we do. However, his fears
about it are not something to dismiss easily. For Plato, democracy
- both in states and in individuals - is something that descends
directly into tyranny. The element which he distrusts is freedom,
which for Plato connotes a certain lack of self-discipline,
a hedonism. A tyrant will stop a nothing to satisfy his passions.
There is no bond he will not betray, no custom he will not
violate (The Republic, 565e).
In Shakespeare, this is Falstaff. The jolly man sits at the
table in the tavern, eating Manningtree ox and pudding, drinking
cup after cup of sack and all while dodging payment of the
bill. This is Falstaff as those uninitiated to Shakespeare
think of him - Santa Claus with a drinking problem. But if
Falstaff is in need of money, he will carry out a robbery
on the highway. If given money for the purpose of recruiting
troops for the king's army during a rebellion, he spends it
on drink. He uses his friendship with young Prince Hal in
hopes of gaining an office by which he can loot the royal
treasury once Hal ascends to the throne. He leaves the tavern
hostess, whom he has not paid, to fend for herself in debtors'
prison. He leaves his lover, a prostitute who carries his
child, to fend for herself as she is led off to court to face
morals charges. In the end, Prince Hal becomes King Henry
when he banishes Falstaff from his court.
Now, imagine Prince Hal continuing to be a follower of Falstaff
rather than rejecting the old man. After all, Hal is born
to wealth and power, therefore he is entitled to wealth and
power and to use it as he sees fit. Nobody will tell him what
to do. He would be like a spoiled child in a man's body.
This is George W. Bush, the spoiled frat boy who did not
Perhaps nowhere is Bush's tyranny more evident than in his
handling (or mishandling) of foreign policy. The term isolationist
has often been used, but this would imply that Bush, like
Warren G. Harding, wishes to withdraw America from the world
and let foreign nations solve their own problems and go to
war among themselves. There is something isolationist in Bush's
expressed contempt for "nation building." Even now, in
the wake of his attacks on Afghanistan, he seems content to
leave the rebuilding of the country to the United Nations.
But Bush's foreign policy is really too engaged to be called
isolationist. He is an exponent of trade liberalization, something
that itself requires engagement with other nations.
However, Bush would loathe dealing with another nation as
an equal. Like any tyrant, he believes that his interests
are superior to all others. Thus, Bush engages with other
nations, but as a unilateralist. He does not negotiate or
listen to the concerns of others, he tells them what he is
going to do and expects them to fall in line. This is the
kind of unilateralist structure that may befit the CEO of
a modern multinational corporation or a eighteenth-century
French king - to name a couple of offices made-to-order for
tyrants - but it bodes ill for a modern national leader, especially
the leader of an industrial democracy. Bush's unilateralism
is the expression of the inner tyrant in him that, like a
spoiled child, wants his way.
He does not need to listen to the concerns of others about
global warming. Bush's way is to forget about global warming
and let fossil fuel industries pollute unabated so that they
will have more money to give to his election campaign. The
planet is his toy and he can break it if he wants.
If Bush wants to build a new missile defense system, but
existing international treaties prohibit that, he may go through
the motions of negotiating but in the end, if the ABM treaty
stands, he'll simply tear it up, throw it to the ground and
stomp on it. None of Putin's concerns matter. Putin is Bush's
new best friend, as long as he does what Bush wants. After
that, bets are off.
Would George W. Bush betray a friend? Ask General Pervez
Musharraf, Pakistan's dictator, who stuck his neck out for
Bush over the Afghanistan action; when it just became convenient
to allow the Northern Alliance to ride into Kabul, Bush was
either unable or unwilling to stop it. This increases the
possibility that Musharraf will face serious domestic strife
in Pakistan's north, dominated by Pashtuns, the same ethnic
group that dominates Afghanistan's south. Musharraf could
lose his country in a coup lead by the same kind of Islamic
fascists as the Taliban and al-Qaida. Some friend he is, George
Of course, following international law and going through
the United Nations before attacking Afghanistan is simply
out of the question. Bush doesn't have to do that. They might
tell him he has to play fair, by the rules. Everybody else
may have to follow those rules, but not Bush. Don't talk to
him about an International Criminal Court. He's not going
to play if you're going to have one of those. Besides, this
spoiled brat has bigger and better toys than anyone else.
This tyrant has the military might of the world's last surviving
superpower to help him get his way.
It is not just in international affairs that Bush has acted
tyrannically. Plato's description of a tyrant had to do with
the ways a tyrant would betray any sacred trust. We were being
a hint of that this time last year, when Bush betrayed the
trust Americans have in their system of elections and seized
Although it is not a popular position to take in America
at present, the only way to rein in Bush's rampant tyrannical
approach to foreign policy is to support an International
Criminal Court. There is a move in Congress, led by like-minded
unilateralists, to only deal with the Court if American leaders
and military personnel are exempt. Furthermore, some of the
more extreme in this group, such as Tom DeLay and Jesse Helms,
would even authorize military action to "rescue" any American
being held under the jurisdiction of such a Court. What kind
of arrogance is this? These people either believe that Americans
are so enlightened that they just don't commit war crimes
- the evidence of the Indian Wars and Vietnam to the contrary
- or that Americans are above the law.
If there is to be an International Criminal Court, as there
should be, then Americans are subject to its jurisdiction
as Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
Yes, that includes spoiled frat boys.
This series now concludes.
We have seen Bush has betrayed the trust of his country's
traditions. He has subverted its tradition of free elections
in order to take power. Had the election been a free and fair
election, he would have lost. The election was stolen. There
are not two ways of looking at it. Officials in the state
of Florida conspired to illegally disenfranchise voters from
groups within the population with Democratic voting profiles.
It was an election theft right out of a banana republic. From
whom did the Florida Republicans learn these techniques? Ferdinand
Marcos? Manuel Noriega? Alberto Fujimori? They did the job.
We have seen how Bush, with callous disregard for the will
of the people, looted the federal budget surplus and gave
the lion's share of it to his wealthy friends, the ones who
contributed to his campaign. He has allowed other friends
to use market manipulation to overcharge utility ratepayers
in California and other western states. He would allow other
industrial friends, who contribute to his campaign, to continue
to pollute the air unabated by any international action to
deal with such problems, and has made every effort to subvert
implementation of any such action under the Kyoto Protocol.
In foreign affairs, he has acted unilaterally and without
regard for international law.
We have seen how Bush now shows disregard for the very principals
that he claims to defend - the American Bill of Rights. He
has actively conspired with other members of his administration
to institute a system of secret detention, to effectively
deny defendants the right to an attorney and of defendants
to a fair and impartial trial by jury. He has sought to intimidate
and censor the press.
This is tyranny. Mr. Bush feels, as a man of wealth and power,
he is entitled to do what he would with that wealth and power.
He has become a law unto himself. He rules without the consent
of the governed. He is not the President; he is a dictator.
Much of his power has come with the consent of other institutions
of government. For many of his crimes he can claim Congress
as an accomplice. The Supreme Court gave him the White House,
cementing a coup d'etat that cast aside the will of the voters.
Congress grants his request to loot the treasury on behalf
of his friends. And it is Congress, frightened as we all were
in the wake of attacks directed against our country by a madman,
that granted him extraordinary powers to make war and an excuse
to abridge liberties.
Were this man President, he would be deemed unworthy. We
will take back that he stole from us. We will not give this
tyrant our freedom. It is a dictatorship gained by means that
wear a velvet glove, but a dictatorship nevertheless. A dictatorship
does not befit the American people.
We must let our dictator know that we defy him and his corrupt
and decadent friends. We support our right to speak out. We
support our right to read balanced and complete news analysis
- and the right of fine journalists to produce it. We support
the right of the accused - no matter how heinous the crime
- to a fair trial. We support the right of every citizen to
vote with the expectation that the vote will be counted.
Americans, do not surrender your freedom. Reclaim it from
the dictator. Take back Constitutional government.