WHY I WON’T VOTE, by Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, The Nation, 20 October 1956

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On October 20, 1956, W. E. B. Du Bois delivers this eloquent indictment of US politics while explaining to Nation readers why he won’t vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Du Bois condemns both Democrats and Republicans for their indifferent positions on the influence of corporate wealth, racial inequality, arms proliferation and unaffordable health care.

Since I was twenty-one in 1889, I have in theory followed the voting plan strongly advocated by Sidney Lens in The Nation of August 4, i.e., voting for a third party even when its chances were hopeless, if the main parties were unsatisfactory; or, in absence of a third choice, voting for the lesser of two evils. My action, however, had to be limited by the candidates’ attitude toward Negroes. Of my adult life, I have spent twenty-three years living and teaching in the South, where my voting choice was not asked. I was disfranchised by law or administration. In the North I lived in all thirty-two years, covering eight Presidential elections. In 1912 I wanted to support Theodore Roosevelt, but his Bull Moose convention dodged the Negro problem and I tried to help elect Wilson as a liberal Southerner. Under Wilson came the worst attempt at Jim Crow legislation and discrimination in civil service that we had experienced since the Civil War. In 1916 I took Hughes as the lesser of two evils. He promised Negroes nothing and kept his word. In 1920, I supported Harding because of his promise to liberate Haiti. In 1924, I voted for La Follette, although I knew he could not be elected. In 1928, Negroes faced absolute dilemma. Neither Hoover nor Smith wanted the Negro vote and both publicly insulted us. I voted for Norman Thomas and the Socialists, although the Socialists had attempted to Jim Crow Negro members in the South. In 1932 I voted for Franklin Roosevelt, since Hoover was unthinkable and Roosevelt’s attitude toward workers most realistic. I was again in the South from 1934 until 1944. Technically I could vote, but the election in which I could vote was a farce. The real election was the White Primary.

Retired “for age” in 1944, I returned to the North and found a party to my liking. In 1948, I voted the Progressive ticket for Henry Wallace and in 1952 for Vincent Hallinan.

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party. On the Presidential ballot in a few states (seventeen in 1952), a “Socialist” Party will appear. Few will hear its appeal because it will have almost no opportunity to take part in the campaign and explain its platform. If a voter organizes or advocates a real third-party movement, he may be accused of seeking to overthrow this government by “force and violence.” Anything he advocates by way of significant reform will be called “Communist” and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state. These things are on every Communist program; these things are the aim of socialism. Any American who advocates them today, no matter how sincerely, stands in danger of losing his job, surrendering his social status and perhaps landing in jail. The witnesses against him may be liars or insane or criminals. These witnesses need give no proof for their charges and may not even be known or appear in person. They may be in the pay of the United States Government. A.D.A.’s and “Liberals” are not third parties; they seek to act as tails to kites. But since the kites are self-propelled and radar-controlled, tails are quite superfluous and rather silly.

The present Administration is carrying on the greatest preparation for war in the history of mankind. Stevenson promises to maintain or increase this effort. The weight of our taxation is unbearable and rests mainly and deliberately on the poor. This Administration is dominated and directed by wealth and for the accumulation of wealth. It runs smoothly like a well-organized industry and should do so because industry runs it for the benefit of industry. Corporate wealth profits as never before in history. We turn over the national resources to private profit and have few funds left for education, health or housing. Our crime, especially juvenile crime, is increasing. Its increase is perfectly logical; for a generation we have been teaching our youth to kill, destroy, steal and rape in war; what can we expect in peace? We let men take wealth which is not theirs; if the seizure is “legal” we call it high profits and the profiteers help decide what is legal. If the theft is “illegal” the thief can fight it out in court, with excellent chances to win if he receives the accolade of the right newspapers. Gambling in home, church and on the stock market is increasing and all prices are rising. It costs three times his salary to elect a Senator and many millions to elect a President. This money comes from the very corporations which today are the government. This in a real democracy would be enough to turn the party responsible out of power. Yet this we cannot do.

The “other” party has surrendered all party differences in foreign affairs, and foreign affairs are our most important affairs today and take most of our taxes. Even in domestic affairs how does Stevenson differ from Eisenhower? He uses better English than Dulles, thank God! He has a sly humor, where Eisenhower has none. Beyond this Stevenson stands on the race question in the South not far from where his godfather Adlai stood sixty-three years ago, which reconciles him to the South. He has no clear policy on war or preparation for war; on water and flood control; on reduction of taxation; on the welfare state. He wavers on civil rights and his party blocked civil rights in the Senate until Douglas of Illinois admitted that the Democratic Senate would and could stop even the right of Senators to vote. Douglas had a right to complain. Three million voters sent him to the Senate to speak for them. His voice was drowned and his vote nullified by Eastland, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who was elected by 151,000 voters. This is the democracy in the United States which we peddle abroad.

Negroes hope to muster 400,000 votes in 1956. Where will they cast them? What have the Republicans done to enforce the education decision of the Supreme Court? What they advertised as fair employment was exactly nothing, and Nixon was just the man to explain it. What has the Administration done to rescue Negro workers, the most impoverished group in the nation, half of whom receive less than half the median wage of the nation, while the nation sends billions abroad to protect oil investments and help employ slave labor in the Union of South Africa and the Rhodesias? Very well, and will the party of Talmadge, Eastland and Ellender do better than the Republicans if the Negroes return them to office?

I have no advice for others in this election. Are you voting Democratic? Well and good; all I ask is why? Are you voting for Eisenhower and his smooth team of bright ghost writers? Again, why? Will your helpless vote either way support or restore democracy to America?

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev, this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest. Yet if we protest, off the nation goes to Russia and China. Fifty-five American ministers and philanthropists are asking the Soviet Union “to face manfully the doubts and promptings of their conscience.” Can not these do-gooders face their own consciences? Can they not see that American culture is rotting away: our honesty, our human sympathy; our literature, save what we import from abroad? Our only “review” of literature has wisely dropped “literature” from its name. Our manners are gone and the one thing we want is to be rich–to show off. Success is measured by income. University education is for income, not culture, and is partially supported by private industry. We are not training poets or musicians, but atomic engineers. Business is built on successful lying called advertising. We want money in vast amount, no matter how we get it. So we have it, and what then?

Is the answer the election of 1956? We can make a sick man President and set him to a job which would strain a man in robust health. So he dies, and what do we get to lead us? With Stevenson and Nixon, with Eisenhower and Eastland, we remain in the same mess. I will be no party to it and that will make little difference. You will take large part and bravely march to the polls, and that also will make no difference. Stop running Russia and giving Chinese advice when we cannot rule ourselves decently. Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln, and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let’s vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.

 

BOTTOM FEEDERS

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There have been 5 generations of African Americans since the end of the civil war. A single generation is a span of 30 years from birth. 

A generation of people begins as a discharge of energy which is triggered by the coming together of opposites which when done opens a portal which releases energy and allows the conduction of energy in a clearly defined cultural pattern.

That in turn translates into motion and power which moves a generation of people freely in all directions.  That free movement in all directions is what it means to grow.

A successful generation of people is one which moves in a circle and for that reason comes back upon itself to regenerate itself or to give birth to a new generation people.

To do that a generation must have in itself enough power to overcome resistance otherwise it will cease to flow and thus that generation will fail to regenerate.  Evidence of a failure to regenerate is low power or no power.

So our problem today is the problem of ethnic generation and regeneration versus ethnic corruption and death.

When we adjust for technological and scientific advancements in the United States and the world African Americans are generally just as educationally and economically backward today as they were 5 generations ago.

Highly motivated business and professionally trained African Americans remain just as isolated from the masses of African Americans as they were 5 generations ago.

African American intellectuals are isolated because their conceitedness, narcissistic, and in some cases duplicitous behavior prevent them from pooling their mental energies so that they can accomplish a greater good for all.

And this is so because about 80% of African Americans remain an emotionally reactionary people. They are only motivated to a higher level of consciousness when they experience, witness, or hear violence or of a police killing. 

They, too, have fallen down into the rabbit hole of endless frivolous and self-destructive self-indulgences driven by every superficial fad spun off by the commercial and media industries. They have the most intricate tattoos on their bodies but will not learn a mechanical or medical skill.  They are the walking dead.

Most African Americans do not see the hand writing on the wall warning all people of historically unprecedented economic changes now occurring in the world.

Generally, the nations of the world are in debt to a few global banks one of the debtor nations is the United States of America.  Their citizens’ roles have shifted from national support to debt repayment to the global banking elite.

Generally, the aggregate wealth of African Americans is what it was 100 hundred years ago.  It is less than 1% of the aggregate national wealth in the United States and since the 1960s African Americans have constantly suffered twice the unemployment rate as Caucasians.

 And in every category of social advancement African Americans are disproportionately lowest in number. While in every category of social, economic, and medical dysfunction African Americans are disproportionately highest in number.

The November election results show that Republicans won enough seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to control both houses of congress.

The Democrats have lost power in congress and the Supreme Court is more conservative than ever before.  So what should we expect?

 Ironically we should expect things to remain exactly as they have been for the last 65 years because both Democrats and Republicans apply the same political policies. Like a football team run the plays from an approved play book every President has an approved play book.

That is why whether or not you have democrats or republicans controlling congress there will never be significant changes to domestic or international policies.

Democrats and Republicans cater to the interests of Finance Institutions, Wall Street, and the Major Global Corporations. They cater to them because money controls government at every level in the United States.

What is their procedure, the algorithm of U.S. political policy?

It stares at us in the congressional auditorium. It is the twin Faseces or Fascist symbols on the wall of Congress; it is the ‘Bundle of Sticks with an axe blade protruding’, the sticks symbolize the power to punishment by whipping and the axe symbolizes the power to behead.

It was the ancient imperial Roman symbol for power. It was the power of the secret society over life and death of its people.

It stared at us in the face of Andrew Johnson who empowered the southern Democrats when he repealed reparations for freed slaves and Ulysses S. Grant who ended reconstruction under the Freedman’s Bureau. 

It stared at us in the face of Woodrow Wilson, a democrat, when he sanctioned Jim Crow and the segregation of Federal Agencies by race.

It stared at us in the face when Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act of 1933. He signed it into law knowing that it contained a clause which excluded African American agricultural and domestic workers from receiving social security benefits but compelled them to pay into the system which would support Caucasian people upon their retirement. Roosevelt also knew that there was widespread housing discrimination under the Federal Housing Authority and Servicemen’s Readjustment Act.

It stared at us in the face when Richard Nixon applied the policy of ‘Benign Neglect’. That policy was proposed to him by a democrat named Patrick Moynihan. Its purpose was to stunt the social and economic movement of African Americans in the 1970s.

It stared at us in the face when Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2 pushed a war on drugs policy which harvested African American men and women for the prison industrial complex slave system. It is a system in which the incarcerated ‘body’ would generate wealth for private businesses.

So now here we are at the end of the year 2014.  Since the end of World War 2, we have watched the United States rise from a 17th ranked world power to the number one world power.  We have witnessed the United States peak in its economic power during the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.  And now the party is over and African Americans never got into the party.

I have a question. Why is it that we do not see the obvious fact that our democracy is governed by the idea of corporatism? Corporatism is the idea that government should be privatized according to the business paradigm. 

Now, if it is true that corporate and Wall Street interests have dominate control over the outcome of elections at the local, state, and federal levels; and if  it is true that corporations fund political candidates who run for office; and if it is true that some of those candidates win election in local and state elections as well as in both the senate and house of representatives, then the only reasonable conclusion that a person can reach is that corporations are dominate over the U.S. government. In fact, corporations and financial institutions are the shadow government.

You have to conclude the above conclusion because politicians in office sign the bills written by A.L.E.C. (The American Legislative Exchange Council) which when signed by the president become law.  So, most of our laws are formed by corporate and wall street interests to serve their purposes.

All of those facts point to the globalization of powerful corporations and international banking companies such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Bank of International Settlements. But what does it mean for us?

Globalization means that the people of the United States are occupying a new rung in the global hierarchy. You can call it a global class structure but for many it will be a global caste system. They will be born, live, and die on the same street or in the same village they were born into.

The global hierarchy is not structured so that nations are listed from top to bottom. Rather, the new world order is structured so that banks and corporations are on top of the global hierarchy followed by nation states and their populations of consumers and laborers. And even more, the global economic infrastructure will be subservient to the profit making goods and services of financial institutions and corporations not the needs of the local people.

That means that the place of African Americans in the global hierarchy is no longer defined by the constitution because new global trade treaties like NAFTA and soon the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partners have and will open up borders so that people everywhere are shuffled into a mass global population most of whom are poor and dependent upon corporate policies.  

African Americans should know that we are seeing the end of Sovereign Nation States; in the new world order we will occupy the same bottom caste in a global plantation hierarchy as Africans do, the untouchables in India do, Mexicans do, Central Americans do, South Americans do, Indonesians do, Philippinos do, Palestinians do, Asians do, and every other economically destitute population in the world.

Their place in the global hierarchy is to play the role of bottom feeders. For example, in the country of Liberia its economy is controlled by Indians and Lebanese not indigenous Africans and in the United States Indians and Arabs control the ghetto inner-city stores not African Americans.

The indigenous Africans’ role is to borrow money from the banks; it is to receive a beggar’s handout from fascist governments; it is to consume goods and services endlessly and then to get sick and pay for treatment or die, and it is to labor day and night so that they grow wealth, power, and prestige for the global finance and corporate elite on this emerging global slave plantation.