Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Supremes' McCutcheon Decision: Surprise! White Men Who Own Things Count Most of All!

What was I saying just the other day about how money talks? Especially for the U.S. Supremes, a majority of whom are themselves (white) men who own things? 

I wrote,

The Supreme Court respects the claims of white men who own things to become embodied persons through the things they own — claims that may seem ludicrous to the rest of us, since how can a corporation really be a person exercising free speech and engaging in religious practice? — because those claims are self-evident to anyone cozily embedded in the elite structures of our society created to swaddle white men who own things. 
In those elite structures, money does, in fact, talk. It has a voice. Its voice is loud, clear, and perspicuous.

Here's Charles P. Pierce on the abominable decision those very same Supremes made yesterday to amplify the voice of white men who own things in the political process (which is to say, to drown out the voices of all the rest of us, since no voice counts in quite the same way as that of white men who own things):

Money talks. Big money repeats itself, over and over, age after age.

Here are the editors of the New York Times

But make no mistake, like other rulings by the Roberts court that have chipped away at campaign-finance regulations in recent years, the McCutcheon decision is less about free speech than about giving those few people with the most money the loudest voice in politics.

Here's Gail Collins in the New York Times

In the former Soviet Union, the money elite generally get their power from the politicians. Here, it seems to be the other way around.

Here's Ari Berman for The Nation:

The Court’s conservative majority believes that the First Amendment gives wealthy donors and powerful corporations the carte blanche right to buy an election but that the Fifteenth Amendment does not give Americans the right to vote free of racial discrimination.

Here's John Aravosis at Americablog:

There is quite literally no way that you can fight economic speech with more speech if you don’t have the economic ability to speak in the first place. And most people don’t (emphasis in original).

Here's Goldy at HASeattle (by way of Dan Savage at SLOG):

The conservative majority on this court won’t do squat to stop the GOP’s campaign of voter disenfranchisement, but they are absolutely outraged at the notion that wealthy people shouldn’t be allowed to spend as much money as they want influencing the few proles who are actually allowed to vote. 
Hooray for democracy!

Money talks. In the peculiar American way of viewing things, in which disembodied corporations count as human persons, the more you have of it, the bigger your voice. Self-evidently so. Q.e.d. for the Supremes and those like them who live in worlds in which this principle is self-evident.

Conversely, the less you have of it, the less you exist as a person. The less you count. The less your voice matters.

When the heartless mechanisms of big money eat you up and spit out your rind, it becomes your own fault, somehow, that you did not have the chutzpah to avoid being eaten up. Capitalism, American-style, is a morally closed, morally self-contained universe that justifies its draconian operations by blaming its victims, those whom it bleeds to produce wealth for those who count at the top, for their own victimization. It is morally closed and morally self-contained, because its rationale for using and then discarding its victims is built into the system itself as a moral principle not susceptible to moral investigation: there is, as Adam Smith told us from the outset of the system, a hidden hand within it that is the hand of God, dispensing blessing to those who try and punishment to those who fail.


The Supreme Court's McCutcheon decision yesterday simply provides yet another stamp from the top of our society for this amoral analysis masquerading as morality. And are there any parallels to be drawn between the worldview stamped with judicial validation by the Supreme Court justices yesterday and a particular worldview of many Catholics who are exceedingly cozy with the moral thinking of those at the very top?

Yes. A majority of the justices who handed down yesterday's decision are Catholic.  

There is a direct correlation, a direct line to be drawn, between the notion that the poor deserve blame for being poor, and the way the Catholic hierarchy, which has increasingly internalized the values of the 1% under the last two popes, has dealt with survivors of clerical sexual abuse, with women, and with gay human beings.

The current pope is supposedly critiquing the worldview given a stamp of authenticity by yesterday's Supreme Court ruling. But as he continues to remain silent about the issue of gender injustice in his own church, and silent about the glaring, cruel injustice currently practiced towards those who are gay in societies like Uganda (which is 44% Catholic), it begins to appear to many of us more and more the case that his words are merely moral window-dressing, a moral out, for the very worldview promoted by the Catholic men sitting on the Supreme Court bench.

And by the bishops who walk hand in hand with them.

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