The recall process in California was created in the early 1900's, as an exemplary form of direct democracy. On the face of it, that is what it is. However, this recall will have little to do with what most people think of as democracy. It will build nationalism, racism, and a deluded hope that voting will somehow cause a fundamental shift in unjust social relations. It won't. Instead of voting, we should organize in communities, on the job, and especially in schools, to recall capitalism, to get beyond it before its endless wars destroy the earth.
Nothing occurs outside a specific social context. The social context of this recall is a nation, steeped in segregation, writing in violence, promising perpetual war, in part over natural resources, cheap labor, and for markets, but also in part for a mystical view that suggests that US imperialism is the highest form of human development-zealotry that is often fanatically religious. In sum, this is fascism.
California, the world's sixth largest economy, had a budget surplus of about $15 billion, just 30 months ago. Today, there is a $40 billion budget deficit, growing every day. The massive budget drain was caused three key things: (1) Appointees of Governor Davis assisted Enron and related energy companies in looting between $15 and 20 billion from the state. Davis drew heavily on their campaign contributions; his appointees later took jobs with the companies and found hefty bonuses on their desks. Initially, it was liberals, like Steve Peace of San Diego, who initiated the de-regulation of the energy industry, in effect stealing what public funds had created, and nature offered. Davis later made Steve Peace the State Budget Director.
(2) The California tax code burdens poor and working people with a high sales tax, always subject to tremors in the economy, and an income tax. When jobs began to vanish post September 11, and the NASDAQ technology companies (many just Ponzi schemes) collapsed, income tax revenues dropped, but state spending continued apace, especially in building prisons.
(3) Proposition 13, called "The Revolt of the Haves," passed 25 years ago. The effect of proposition 13 was to nearly eradicate taxes on corporate property and profits, thus drying up the key source of funding for schools. California schools quickly went from tops in the western world, to a ranking close to Mississippi.
The recall will do nothing to change these factors, nor the underlying fact: government under capitalism is a weapon of the rich, not a neutral body, but a ruthless partisan.
Instead, the recall will build a variety of forms of nationalism: (1) the illusion that if we all participate ,voting will make a difference, when it will not at all alter anything significant to the Master/Slave relationship that now rules California, and the world, (2) politicians will make vile ethnic appeals to demographic groups of voters, building racism and sexism-and talk a lot about the importance of voting, while they deliberately seek to discourage specific groups from voting, (3) Proposition 54, also on the ballot, will build racism by making it illegal to collect race-based data in the state, declaring racism ended by fiat.
In better times, the recall might be funny. People could band together and sell collective blocks of votes on Ebay, not, of course, a direct sale of the vote, but of access to the bloc of voters for a purchaser who wishes to influence them. This just follows the process of deregulation and marketing a bit down the food chain. If it is good for Haliburton, it is good for us.
These are not funny times, however. Rather than recalling Davis, we need to recall the social relations that capitalism insists upon by organizing struggles in our schools, on job sites, and in communities. The pain of the budget cuts will not be determined by those who vote most, but by those who resist best.--------------------------------------------------
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