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On Real Politics

The Fifth Estate (or branch or perch or trickle or nest) - the rich insiders
hiding behind the government who really own and run almost everything

    Either to complement my theme, or distress shallow critics, or prove how effective the English language can be, this essay does mix a rich array of back-room, back-woods, book-juggling, back-water and insect related metaphors to more tightly focus on the truth about government. Don't pretentiously fret. The metaphors are all familiar, you know them all, and they work. You're going to understand this essay.

    You were taught in grammar school that the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government (the 1st, 2nd and 3rd "estates") separately and independently represent the people so that they can check and balance each other. You may have been told about the 4th estate, i.e. the Press. You were almost certainly NOT TOLD about the 5th estate.
    As should be explained in all journalism textbooks (but isn't), the theoretical purpose of ALL theoretically "free" press in England and America as the 4th estate (the unofficial 4th branch of government) is to act, actually for ALL humanity and for truth itself, as a more certainly independent check against the three OFFICIAL branches of government, just in case, being so cozily bundled together in the seat of power, they forget who THEY officially represent and that THEY are supposed to check each other. In fact, the mainstream commercial media COULD do that if they wanted to.
    BUT, the mainstream commercial media DON'T work in any such respectable way, for the same reason the LA Times and NY Times don't check each other, the Democrats and Republicans don't check each other, and Congress and the White House and the Supreme Court don't check each other, either. They don't because there's another unofficial UNCHECKED branch of government with more power than all the rest. This 5th branch of government (which maybe I'm the first to call the 5th estate), which has been in place and in power for as long as the Pennsylvania Gazette or the Constitution that didn't mention it, is, obviously, the one that OWNS all the others and most of their subsections.
    The real and very powerful 5th estate, the real top limbs, branches and twigs of government, are the rich insiders who've always privately OWNED and run America and have privately legislated by unreported but unquestioned fiat all along that this country's most sacred cornerstone is private property, private enterprise and (semi-secretly) private government.
    Is there a 6th estate, by the way? Sure - the church - which was considered the 1st estate when Edmund Burke coined the phrase 4th estate to describe the media over 200 years ago. The church hasn't been so powerful in America as in olde England, but it's still part of the government and appears to be rising again fast in Washington D.C. and California these days.
    So what does that make me and other usually (often, sometimes) really independent publishers and reporters of the so-called "alternative" media? Are we the REAL 4th estate, that REALLY check and discredit the sold-out, dishonest government? We don't have any such parallel power. We're really just 4(b), a poor bee, a wee swarm of sting-free gadflies, outnumbered, outshouted, and outbankrolled - not so hard to swat, or buy, or legislate against, or make emasculated movies about, or bury way down the internet's search pages, or (deadliest of all) imitate. The big-budget sterile-male technique (think Air America, Al Gore, Paul Krugman, etc.) works best because the lumpen public whose attention we're vainly competing for can't tell the difference and always follow the money. The word follow there is a double entendre. Stay awake!.
    The 5th estate, however, which works, if not in mysterious ways, in sneaky ways, IS the most effective unofficial check on government and on government critics, too, because it writes the checks. Get it?
-Glen Roberts

Why do we need NGOs when we've already got GOs?
Obviously, because the GOs don't work well enough

    Why do Americans (or the citizens of any ostentatiously democratic country) need NGOs? Supposedly, "we" Americans have ALREADY formed "a more perfect union" through which to achieve all the political, social, economic, ecological, and philosophical ends that civilized people get together to achieve, and that's what governments are for. So why do we need NGOs?
    Well, OK, SOME NGOs make sense as means to fulfill the aesthetic, recreational, avocational ends of individuals and small groups of people in ways that don't conflict with the civilized state but, on the other hand, aren't general enough to make state involvement practical; or, on a third hand, would be harmfully compromised by unwanted bureaucratic intrusion.
    But surely we should not need NGOs to do the government's job. So why do we have so many NGOs obviously trying to do and sometimes doing exactly that? Apparently it's because the government is perceived as NOT doing its job, or as wasting the state's time and resources doing things it should NOT be doing, or as just thrashing around aimlessly.
    Examples abound.   -Glen Roberts

Tacit conspiracies against good government and ordinary people

    The best examples of tacit conspiracy are the churches. They don't hold secret interdenominational meetings. But they all read and/or listen to and believe the same propaganda and have the same interests. So they automatically work together, tacitly conspiring to keep people stupid.
    The power elite are the same. They, too, all read and believe the same propaganda and have the same interests. And among them are those who own the mass media AND the government. So, without having to hold joint meetings or actually plan or arrange it, they can and do tacitly conspire to keep the majority (and themselves) confused and co-operative ENOUGH to suit their own greedy, ugly, eco-destructive purposes.
-Glen Roberts

Machiavelli and the modern western princes

    Machiavelli advises princes only about how to relate to other big shots, not on how to relate to or how to rule and certainly not on how to make life better for the people. He dismisses the people in a sentence or two. You should know Machiavelli, not to take his advice but because big shots take it, whether they know it or not, and you should know that.
    In a short chapter on a prince's civic concern, Machiavelli says in ONE sentence that there are too many ways to win the approval of the people to bother talking about and that to expedite the lesson he'll just assume a worthy prince will do THAT (win the approval of the people) - somehow. But he, Machiavelli, passes over the issue. He's not interested in it. He's only interested in how princes (and their cunning advisers) make out.
    At the end of that one short discourse on civic concern, he simply adds that the people will support a state if they "think" they "need" it. But his emphasis is on the word "think," not the word "need." The church told the people what to "think" they needed in those days. The media tell them now. Machiavelli, today, would still be sure. There's no need to burden a prince or a president with any obligation to meet the people's needs.
    To Machiavelli, perception was always more important than reality. Obviously, the modern princes and the media who support them agree with that. A governor or president today will theatrically and publicly (thanks to the embedded media) wring his hands and weep for the poor and, with practiced sincerity, assure all the suckers that WE're going to do SOMEthing about the poor ("Have faith!), but he'll never get around to whatever that is. And all embedded pundits agree with Machiavelli that an illusion is cheaper than action would be and less likely to risk the prince's much more necessary reputation for toughness - in peace and in war after war after war.
    But they and Machiavelli have been proven wrong in Cuba, where the loyalty of the people to Fidel, who lasted longer than most princes in the world, is based on solid proof that the government he initiated (which is continually at peace with the world) is really trying to meet their needs. They (the Machiavellians) have been proven wrong, you see, and that's why they hated Fidel and still call Cuba a "rogue" country. And of course they can count on the American people, whose supposedly independent thought the embedded media daily rehearse, to "think" on cue that the important thing for princes to do is not to make sure people have good homes, healthcare, and their daily needs assured, but to "free" them to borrow money, buy insurance, buy lots of things they don't need, pay taxes to buy the princes lots of expensive arms; support and die in unexplained foreign wars; fail in business and admire successful businessmen; watch football games; revere the princes, ignore whatever catastrophes the princes ignore, cry when the princes cry, and sneer (without knowing why) at the princes' chosen enemies.
-Glen Roberts