Fruit of the Poison Tree
By Charles Sullivan
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Millions of citizens are rightly calling for the impeachment of
George W. Bush due to his criminal and unethical policies. Bush
is a cancer not only on the presidency but upon basic human
decency. Any sane person, regardless how marginal they are, can
see that Bush must go and the sooner the better. However, when
Bush is gone the system that produced him will remain in place,
as healthy and viable as ever. It will continue to bear a
plentiful crop of poison fruit, perhaps even more sinister than
The majority of the people are toiling under the illusion that
the moral abyss of American politics can be reformed and made to
serve the people as well as the public interest. According to
this line of reasoning, the malignancy is principally the result
of a few bad apples mixed with the good. If they are correct,
then removing the bad apples will affect a cure. Yet that has
never been the case and it is not the case now. Otherwise, we
would not be where we are today. Consider, for example, that
America’s Middle East policy has remained essentially the same
as it is today through eleven presidencies, consistently
yielding the same results.
The fault lies in the unfounded belief that the poison tree can
somehow bear edible fruit. We lobby for our candidate in the
na´ve belief that if only the other party can get into office
things will improve. During the two plus centuries of the
American experiment this has occurred many times. Yet the policy
decisions have preserved a remarkable homogeneity down through
the years. The policies enacted by both the Democrats and the
Republicans have almost always disproportionately benefited the
wealthy. They have led us into armed conflicts around the world
that have resulted in the death of millions of people in war
after war. That is because we are living with Plutocratic rule
in which wealth, not we the people, holds sway and determines
Every aspect of American politics is enacted within the shell of
Plutocratic corporate rule. Therefore, the Plutocratic tree will
continue to bear the fruit of Plutocracy, regardless of which
party is in power. During the past fifty years of the American
experiment the difference between Democrat and Republican has
become increasingly subtle. In essence there is only one
party—that of wealth and privilege. The people and the public
good are without meaningful representation in government. There
are a number of small opposition parties operating in America
but the system precludes them from becoming major players.
Where does this leave us? It leaves us with the sober
realization that what ails America cannot be repaired through
mere political reform. The poisonous tentacles of capital have
enwrapped every political organ over which it exercises complete
dictatorial control. The malignancy of capital is so pervasive
and systemic as to require revolution for its removal.
Otherwise, things will continue to worsen and our republic will
suffer a slow and agonizing death, as we are now witnessing.
The American government in its various incarnations was not
created to serve the interests of the people. It was designed to
serve capital and to create wealth for the upper echelon by
exploiting the working class and plundering the earth. In fact,
it is a voracious predatory crime syndicate devoid of conscience
that creates perpetual war while simultaneously pilfering the
public treasury. It remains in power only through the collusion
of its obedient servant, the commercial media and a disengaged
This continues against a specter of an ever widening gap between
the haves and the have-nots, costly foreign invasions and
occupations, and extended global hegemony. These policies have
resulted in millions of innocent deaths world wide, obscene
defense spending and the systematic demise of programs of social
and spiritual uplift. Despite numerous changing of the guards
things are getting progressively worse—perhaps exponentially.
Our continued faith in politics and political reform is
unwarranted, I contend, given the judgment of more than two
hundred years of historical evidence against this thinking. I
realize that this is both a sobering and disturbing conclusion.
The blunt truth is that social ills cannot be corrected through
political reform within the framework of capitalism. Any form of
government that serves capital rather than democracy cannot and
does not have the interest of the people or the public good at
If the core problem is capital, as I believe it is, the system
cannot be reformed. Capital is by its very nature violent,
coercive, oppressive and unjust, as revealed by the historical
evidence. This history is particularly poignant in capital’s
brutal oppression of organized labor, especially during strikes,
and through spreading global militarization.
Because capital finances and controls the major political
parties, it is always assured of both power and control,
regardless of which party is in power. Thus capital will never
allow meaningful reform that could usurp some of its power and
redistribute it among the people. Capital demands complete power
and total control over the political process. It will allow no
more than minor change within narrow predefined limits that
create the illusion of reform. Beyond those limits capital feels
threatened and reacts with violent brutality.
Capital is particularly onerous in that it socializes costs but
privatizes profits—an especially insidious form of corporate
welfare that is inherently unjust. Long ago the corporate
government and the commercial media conspired to create a
propaganda empire without equal that keeps the people ignorant
and inundated with superfluous lies. Virtually all other
industrialized nations have socialized medicine and free higher
education for those who seek it. But in America our wealth is
plundered in wasteful and repressive militarism, massive
corporate welfare and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Is there no hope for us? Yes, there is but it will require much
of us; much more than we have been willing to pay for a long
time. Revolution, a popular revolt of the people, is the only
means by which power can be wrested from the Plutocrats and
their corporate pay masters. Corruption never yields power
willingly. It must be forced out and social democracy ushered
So the question arises: What form will the revolution take?
While peaceful rebellion is the most desirable means to
accomplish these ends, capital will most assuredly, as it always
does, meet resistance with violence and brutality. Again,
history provides bountiful examples.
According to labor historian James Green, during the thousands
of labor strikes that have occurred in this country there were
160 instances in which state and federal militias intervened on
behalf of the employers. There is not one instance where the
militia intervened to protect workers from the tyranny of their
employers. These actions reveal who is running the country and
who is making policy. There are well over 700 labor disputes in
which striking workers were killed by the police, militias, or
the hired guns of industry—all of this within a span of 230
years. These are ultra conservative estimates. It is no
coincidence that America, the nucleus of capitalism, is the
greatest purveyor of violence of any nation on earth, as Dr.
King rightly pointed out.
The people have two principle options. Either we stay the course
and allow the republic to suffocate and die, or we revolt. Bush
and his neocon cabal have no fear that the people will stop him.
He and his ilk thumb their noses at the law with impunity and
the working class people’s struggle to scratch out a decent
living. His Plutocratic policies seem to say, “Let the people
eat our shit!”
Whatever course we choose to take it should be evident that
there is no easy way out. Either we accept whatever injustice
the current regime and its corporate thugs dictate to us, or we
refuse to co-operate with them. India’s Gandhi and our own Dr.
King lead successful non-violent populist revolutions. Gandhi
transformed a nation but Dr. King was assassinated at the
pinnacle of the civil rights movement in 1968. Both movements
suffered unspeakable brutality and cruelty at the hands of
capitalists. Capital will certainly spill our blood. Are we
strong enough and courageous enough to do what must be done?
The time will come when enough people will become sufficiently
uncomfortable and disenfranchised that a massive upheaval will
inevitably occur, as the chasm between rich and poor widens. As
conditions deteriorate, a group of courageous and socially
conscious agitators will appear to awaken and arouse the
slumbering masses to action. Many of them will be imprisoned and
killed for their political beliefs, as has been the historical
pattern. But the time will come when either we fight or perish.
It would be better to act sooner rather than waiting to be
motivated by sheer desperation, when are at our weakest and most
vulnerable. Let us join a worldwide revolution of the working
class that is already under way. We have only to look to Latin
America for working models. With iron clad global solidarity the
people cannot lose. Divided and fragmented we are doomed.
We must understand that capital government is right wing
government in its purest, most violent and repressive form. It
is radically anti-people, anti-earth and anti-democracy. The
time has come to uproot the tree that bears the poison fruit.
Charles Sullivan is a photographer, free lance writer, and a
social activist residing in the hinterland of West Virginia. He
welcomes your comments at email@example.com.
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