Voting in a Corporate State [Chapter 9]

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Test Pattern for Living


Nicholas Johnson


Voting in a Corporate State [Chapter 9].

[Note: Please see the 1996 Preface for an explanation of the unusual pagination.]

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 1972 by Bantam Books, Inc.; Copyright © 1996 by Nicholas Johnson.  All rights reserved.  This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any medium known now or in the future.  Provided, however, that permission is hereby granted to distribute this book under the following conditions:  (1) that it is distributed in its entirety, including this copyright notice and 1996 Preface, (2) that no charge is exacted, or revenue received, directly or indirectly, by anyone in connection with the transfer, and (3) as a matter of courtesy and information, that the author be informed, simultaneously with the distribution, of any distribution to more than one person or posting for availability on the Internet, Web, or publicly available directory.  Any other use requires the prior permission of the author:  Nicholas Johnson,, postal:  Box 1876, Iowa City IA 52244-1876, U.S.A.



# p. 132 #

Once the religious, the haunted and weary 
Chasing the promise of freedom and hope 
Came to this country to build a new vision 
Far from the reaches of kingdom and Pope 
The spirit it was freedom and justice 
Its keepers seemed generous and kind 
Its leaders were supposed to serve 
    the country 
But now they don’t pay it no mind

-Jerry Edmonton, John Day, and Nick St. Nicholas


Yes a new world’s coming 
The one we’ve had visions of 
And it’s growing stronger with each 
    day that passes by 
Coming in peace, coming in joy, coming 
    in love.

-Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil



# p. 133 #

Voting in a Corporate State [Chapter 9]

The times are changing. A new world is coming. And the surface indicia — hair styles, dress, music, sexual attitudes — are in many ways the least significant aspect of all. Everywhere people are trying to alter and humanize life for themselves, their families, and friends.

  • A number of artists have created types of art which by their very nature could not be shown in galleries, such as the “earthworks” movement, conceptual art with no conventional display forms, or outsized canvases and monumental sculptures. Other artists have sought alternatives to the gallery system by simply finding other places to exhibit.
  • In an attempt to alter family structure and experiment with community responsibility for child rearing, about ten collectively owned and supervised nurseries have been organized in New York City in the past year, and others are springing up around the country.
  • Source Coalition is a Washington, D.C. collective of ten people living and working together on one salary and food stamps. They are developing a series of catalogues which will serve as a guide for the alterative movement and community organizers — groups, projects, magazines, films, books, and tapes. Earth Liberation Front toured the country by bus providing and gathering information on Alternative America. When they acquired more information than they could carry, they decided to publish the catalogues.
  • One out of every three United States citizens owns shares in or works for one or more cooperatives; co-ops sold $477 million worth of goods and services in 1969.



# p. 134 #

The Revolution will not be televised. 
The Revolution will not be right back 
     after a message about the white tornado, 
     white lightning, or white people. 
You will not have to worry about a dove 
     in your bedroom, the tiger in your tank, 
     or the giant in your toilet bowl. 
The Revolution will not go better with Coke. 
The Revolution will not fight germs 
     that might cause bad breath. 
The Revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The Revolution will not be televised, 
     will not be televised, not be televised. 
The Revolution will be no re-run, brothers. 
The Revolution will be live.

-Gil Scott-Heron


The search of the youth today is for ways and means to make the machine — and the vast bureaucracy of the corporation state and of government that runs that machine — the servant of man. 
That is the revolution that is coming.

-William 0. Douglas


All over the world like a fever, freedom is spreading in the widest liberation movement in history. The great masses of people are determined to end the exploitation of their races and lands. They are awake and moving toward their goal like a tidal wave.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.



# p. 135 #

  •    ln 1970, home sewing accounted for almost $25 billion in sales.
  •    Since 1964, the number of men over twenty-one who smoke declined from 53 to 42 million; those who have quit has gone from 22 to 33 million.
  •    ln 1969, 412,690 mobile homes, new and used, were sold, accounting for a reported 46 percent of the single-family dwelling sales for that year.

These examples say, more effectively than I can, that (1) there are an awful lot of Americans of diverse backgrounds who are concerned about the impact of corporate pursuits on the quality of life; (2) we all have a lot more in common than our leaders and the mass media permit us to see; and (3) a great many of us are working out individual lives for ourselves that are, in fact, harmonious variations on the same themes.

Nevertheless, I disagree with Charles Reich in his prediction that individuals’ greening is going to bring the downfall of the corporate state. I think not. Meaningful reforms are still going to require more conventional political action and legislation. There are going to continue to be an awful lot of people who, for a variety of reasons, can’t or won’t break out of the corporate trap. They would rather continue to tell themselves that they really want to drive that car, and smoke those cigarettes, and use that hairspray. Under it all may be the fear that if they went out in search of themselves they might come back empty handed. Almost any alternative is preferable to that nightmare.

It’s not just that we don’t like what our government’s doing and want to change it. That’s to be expected in a democracy. The dangerous thing is the extent to which people are turned off to government



# p. 136 #

I can’t help feeling this would be a better country if we all leveled with each other. I don’t hold a man’s views against him so long as he tells me what they are. All politicians learn to sugarcoat the truth. I don’t believe 90 percent of what they say. I guess they look down on the ordinary American workingman. I guess they don’t trust us. I guess they figure they can con us, all the time con us.

-a gas station attendant


What this country needs is a “New Populism.” We need “a positive coalition” to bring the hardhats and the students, and Americans everywhere, black, white, red, and yellow, together again.

-Fred Harris


I believe this country is made for the rich. The tax laws are written for them, and they hire those high-priced lawyers who can get you out of anything. It’s the little guy who suffers; it’s the little guy who works like a dog and keeps the country going. I’ll tell you, I feel sorry for the colored person. They’ve had an awful time in this country. Sometimes I wonder how I’d feel if I was colored. Sometimes I stop and think: They do the dirty work in this country — just like I do.

-a policeman


We must remember that we are bound together as a people not by brute force, or ethnic homogeneity or geographic compactness. We are bound together by a common faith that ours is a nation which is trying to assure to all its citizens the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If that faith is shattered, we will have lost what no weapons and no armies can ever secure us.

-Edward M. Kennedy



# p. 137 #

altogether. The troublesome polls are not those that tell us half the American people think Nixon is doing a bad job as president. Nixon has brought us together — in spite of Agnew. Hardhats, students, and farmers stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Des Moines protesting the president’s policies. No, the alarming polls are those that report the growing number of Americans who believe themselves totally alienated from the mainstream of American society.

Even those who support the two major parties have little enthusiasm for them, as the 1970 elections demonstrated. There is, today, none of the spirit that a Roosevelt, a Kennedy, or even a roughhewn president like Truman, could bring forth from the people.

The enthusiasm is for individuals; almost any individuals. There has been a common thread through much of the support for men as seemingly disparate as Barry Goldwater, George Wallace, Eugene McCarthy, Robert F. Kennedy, and George McGovern. They are all individuals, courageous and outspoken.

People know what’s wrong. Listen to the taxi drivers, the waitresses, the filling-station attendants, the factory workers. They can speak with considerable eloquence about corporate and other institutional pressures. They see through a politician whose solution to inflation is to slash away at appropriations for education the same week he urges billion-dollar weapon systems. They’ve tried to fish in the polluted streams. They’ve had to return the defective and overpriced goods.

We have long passed the time when concern for the real quality of human life can be dismissed as mere romanticism, or naive idealism. Not only do we have



# p. 138 #

They’re only puttin’ in a nickel 
And they want a dollar song 
Oh yeah they’re only puttin’ in a little to get 
     rid of a lot that’s wrong.

Well I don’t know so many things 
But I know what’s been goin’ on 
We’re only puttin’ in a little to get rid of a lot 
     that’s wrong.

-Melanie Safka


It is my very strong feeling that real pacifism, real positive political change, cannot be effectively motivated by guilt, but must come instead from a joyful reverence for life, from a fervent desire to make our own lives more glorious and more ecstatic, and from the very selfish desire to share that joy with all the people and all the living things of the universe.

-Mayer Vishner


Give people bread and 
let them make their own 

-Paul Goodman


The world needs a reason to clap its 
The world needs a leader for its band.

-Red Lane, Larry Henley, and Johnny Slate



# p. 139 #

the economic opportunity to create a self-fulfilling society, not only do we have the moral imperative to do so, but we are confronted with the political and social necessity of doing so if we are not to perish in our own self-inflicted violence and insanity.

I don’t mean to detract from the issues of the 1960’s, which are still very much with us. We simply must stop the bloodbath in Southeast Asia. We must substantially increase spending for the obvious domestic needs — poverty, employment, education, housing, environmental control, medical services, and hunger. We must recognize the rights of all our minority groups — 104 million women; 20 million over sixty-five years of age; 20 million under five; blue-collar workers — not just Blacks, Chicanos, and Indians. None of this can be accomplished without making corporations more responsive to all of us, consumers, employees, and shareholders. All of it would be aided by meaningful decentralization: “participatory democracy.”

But, for the 1970’s, I think we are looking for more, much more. First, we want to find ourselves; to become more fully human. That single goal pervades a great deal of the highly disparate kind of searching we are witnessing today. We seek a moral purpose to life, a vision, idealism, truth, love, excitement. Second, we want a return to old values — not necessarily of our parents, but of our grandparents. All about us — in furniture, clothes, entertainment, the return to nature — we see the nostalgic looking back to a simpler life. We are coming to reject the very corporate life style being sold by the major corporate contributors to both parties. And I think any party, or candidate, who fails to recognize these facts will have little political influence.



# p. 140 #

What [young people] . . . say they want doesn’t sound so different, you know, from what our Founding Fathers said they wanted — the men who wrote our Declaration of Independence, our Mayflower Compact, the Bill of Rights, the other early documents that laid the foundation of the American Dream. They said they wanted the freedom to be their own man, the freedom for self-realization. We have lost sight of that a bit in this century — but the young people are prodding us and saying, “Look, Dad — this is what it’s all about.”

-Louis B. Lundborg


Perhaps most disheartening of all, is the way consumers are demonstrating their disaffection with the average commercial break — by simply walking away from the set. In early days, between 1961 and 1963, it was normal to lose an average of 15-18 percent of our audience automatically when the commercials came on. Our latest information indicates that last year, when commercials interrupted the program an average of 27 percent of the people had left their sets before we even got on the air. Sometimes departures ran as high as 50 percent.

-Edward H. Meyer



# p. 141 #

The American people may not be calling for revolution in the classic sense, but they are calling for some straight talk. We don’t want the government overthrown, we just want it to stop tapping our telephone. We don’t want to declare war on our government, we just want it to stop waging undeclared wars on other governments. We don’t mind paying taxes, we just don’t like taxing the poor to fatten the rich.

We want something useful to do. We don’t want to have to use up our civic pride and energy preventing our government’s ill-considered actions — keeping the Supreme Court free of Carswells and the sky free of SSTs.

We are willing to work for good government, but we shouldn’t have to outbid ITT in our effort to buy publicly responsive officeholders.

How can the two major parties — as presently funded — offer solutions? They are the problem. There is no way to raise millions of dollars from big corporations for a campaign and elect officials who will represent the people who are manipulated, oppressed, and employed by those corporations. There is no way to fashion honest speeches and legislation about pollution that strikes a compromise with polluters who are a major source of campaign funds. There is no way to “clear” with the industry appointments to regulatory commissions that will then regulate them. There is no way to debate the issues freely with the electorate while corporate television controls the time available to candidates and officials.

But the total corporate domination of television — television entertainment, politics, and commercial messages — is producing a backlash. Every child knows that television lies to him. (One survey found that 20



# p. 142 #

Nine years ago, Newton Minow was shrugged off when he warned TV was selling our kids short. . . . Now . . . critics ask — “How much of their contempt for American institutions is a backlash against the crassness projected at them from the TV tube?”

-Stanley Cohen


All men . . . are endowed . . . with 
certain unalienable Rights . . . Life, 
Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. 
To secure these rights, Governments are 
instituted among Men. . . .

Our repeated Petitions have been answered 
only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose 
character is thus marked by every act which 
may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the 
ruler of a free people. . . . Whenever any 
Form of Government becomes destructive . . . 
it is the Right of the People to alter or 
to abolish it. . . .

-Declaration of Independence



# p. 143 #

percent of the people who watched Nixon talk to the astronauts during their televised walk on the moon believe the astronauts were never there.) In the course of selling products to America, as Mason Williams has observed, “Big Business has created an America that will no longer buy its products. Their how blew their what.” Because politicians in the age of multimillion-dollar campaigns are just another product “brought to you by” the largest corporations, people don’t believe the politicians either. In short, whether 1972 is the year or not, the time is coming when the American people will no longer buy packaged politicians.

Somebody’s going to start telling it straight in this country. Somebody’s going to bare his soul and offer a human being to the American people. Somebody’s going to do it at the corporations’ expense — not on their expense accounts. Somebody’s going to recognize that politics alone is not enough, that the people want a whole life — a party of life.

And when that happens, he — or she — is going to win.




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