Michael Parenti

Michael
Parenti
1933

American Political Scientist, Writer, Historian and Culture Critic

Author Quotes

One does not have to be a Marxist to know there is something very wrong in this society.

Archbishop Romero of El Salvador was a member of the Salvadoran aristocracy. He could not have risen to the top of the church hierarchy otherwise. But after he began voicing critical remarks about the war and concerned comments about the poor, he was assassinated.

People may like what third-party candidates say, because often they are the only ones saying anything, but they usually won't vote for someone who doesn't have a chance. Since third-party candidates are not in the news, they are considered to be not really in the race; and since they are not in the race, this justifies treating them as if they are not news.

At a World Affairs Council meeting in San Francisco, I remarked to a participant that U.S. leaders were pushing hard for the reinstatement of capitalism in the former communist countries. He said, Do you really think they carry it to that level of conscious intent? I pointed out it was not a conjecture on my part. They have repeatedly announced their commitment to seeing that free-market reforms are introduced in Eastern Europe. Their economic aid is channeled almost exclusively into the private sector. The same policy holds for the monies intended for other countries. Thus, as of the end of 1995, more than $4.5 million U.S. aid to Haiti has been put on hold because the Aristide government has failed to make progress on a program to privatize state-owned companies (New York Times 11/25/95).

Conservative pundits have a remarkable amount of free speech.

Conservatives have nothing against incumbency when it is their people who are filling the slots.

Conspiracy is a legitimate concept in law: the collusion of two or more people pursuing illegal means to effect some illegal or immoral end. People go to jail for committing conspiratorial acts. Conspiracies are a matter of public record, and some are of real political significance. The Watergate break-in was a conspiracy, as was the Watergate cover-up, which led to Nixon?s downfall. Iran-contra was a conspiracy of immense scope, much of it still uncovered. The savings and loan scandal was described by the Justice Department as a thousand conspiracies of fraud, theft, and bribery, the greatest financial crime in history.

Democracy becomes a problem for corporate America not when it fails to work but when it works too well, helping the populace move toward a more equitable and livable social order, narrowing the gap, however modestly, between the superrich and the rest of us. So democracy must be diluted and subverted, smothered with disinformation, media puffery, and mountains of campaign costs; with rigged electoral contests and partially disfranchised publics, bringing faux victories to more or less politically safe major-party candidates.

Democrats?lily-livered, weasel-assed collaborators.

Generosity toward the lower classes historically has never been an important part of upper-class awareness.

If Big Brother (of Orwell's 1984) comes to America, he will not be a fearsome, foreboding figure with a heart-chilling, omnipresent glare as in 1984. He will come with a smile on his face, a quip on his lips, a wave to the crowd, and a press that (a) dutifully reports the suppressive measures he is taking to save the nation from internal chaos and foreign threat; and (b) gingerly questions whether he will be able to succeed.

In sum, free-market corporate capitalism is by its nature a disaster waiting to happen. Its essence is the transformation of living nature into mountains of commodities and commodities into heaps of dead capital. When left entirely to its own devices, capitalism foists its diseconomies and toxicity upon the general public and upon the natural environment?and eventually begins to devour itself. The immense inequality in economic power that exists in our capitalist society translates into a formidable inequality of political power, which makes it all the more difficult to impose democratic regulations. If the paladins of Corporate America want to know what really threatens ?our way of life,? it is their way of life, their boundless way of pilfering their own system, destroying the very foundation on which they stand, the very community on which they so lavishly feed.

In the end I created a career of my own, concentrating on my writing and lecturing, reaching larger audiences than I would had I ended up with tenure and a full teaching load. It was Virginia Woolf who said that it is terrible to be frozen out of a sacred tradition-but even more terrible to be frozen into it.

In the last eight years alone, while vast fortunes accrued at record rates, an additional six million Americans sank below the poverty level; median family income declined by over $2,000; consumer debt more than doubled; over seven million Americans lost their health insurance, and more than four million lost their pensions; meanwhile homelessness increased and housing foreclosures reached pandemic levels. It is only in countries where capitalism has been reined in to some degree by social democracy that the populace has been able to secure a measure of prosperity; northern European nations such as Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark come to mind. But even in these social democracies popular gains are always at risk of being rolled back. It is ironic to credit capitalism with the genius of economic prosperity when most attempts at material betterment have been vehemently and sometimes violently resisted by the capitalist class. The history of labor struggle provides endless illustration of this. To the extent that life is bearable under the present U.S. economic order, it is because millions of people have waged bitter class struggles to advance their living standards and their rights as citizens, bringing some measure of humanity to an otherwise heartless politico-economic order.

A nation as such does not give aid to another nation. More precisely, the common citizens of our country, through their taxes, give to the privileged elites of another country. As someone once said: foreign aid is when the poor people of a rich country give money to the rich people of a poor country.

The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominate political mythology.

The US government has given over $200 billion dollars in military aid to some eighty nations since World War II. US weapons sales abroad have grown to about $10 billion a year and compose about 70 percent of all arms sold on the international marketplace. Two million foreign troops and hundreds of thousands of foreign police and paramilitary have been trained, equipped, and financed by the United States. Their purpose has not been to defend their countries from outside invasion but to protect foreign investors and the ruling elites of the recipient nations from their own potentially rebellious populations.

US multilateral corporations (along with the firms of other advanced capitalistic nations) control most of the wealth, labor, and markets of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This control does much to maldevelop the weaker nations in ways that are severely detrimental to the life chances of the common people of the Third World. The existing class structure of the Third World, so suitable to capital accumulation, must be protected from popular resistance. Through the generous application of force and terror and by cultural and political domination, the imperialist nation directly -- or through a client-state apparatus -- maintains "stability" and prevents changes in the class structure of other nations.

Capital requires protection, as do the institutions through which it operates. As capital expands its operations, the state that is associated with its protection must develop its capacity for autocratic control. Thus, the "Free World" increasingly resembles a dreary string of heartless police states.

The conquistador is inclined to put a swift sword to the natives; the capitalist finds it more profitable to work them slowly to death.

Only by establishing military supremacy were the European and North American colonizers able to eliminate the crafts and industries of Third World peoples, control their markets, extort tribute, undermine their cultures, destroy their villages, steal their lands and natural resources, enslave their labor, and accumulate vast wealth.

The first law of the market is to make the largest possible profit from other people's labor or go out of business. Profitability rather than human need is the determining condition of private investment.

No system in history [capitalism] has been more relentless in battering down ancient and fragile cultures, devouring the resources of whole regions, pulverizing centuries-old practices in a matter of years, and standardizing the varieties of human experience.

The conservative goal has been the "Third Worldization" of the United States:
an increasingly underemployed, lower-wage work-force; a small but growing moneyed class that pays almost no taxes; the privatization or elimination of human services; the elimination of public education for low-income people; the easing of restrictions against child labor; the exporting of industries and jobs to low-wage, free-trade countries; the breaking of labor unions; and the elimination of occupational safety and environmental controls and regulations.

People who think they're free in this world just haven't come to the end of their leash yet.

Author Picture
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Parenti
Birth Date
1933
Bio

American Political Scientist, Writer, Historian and Culture Critic