Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The March of the Oligarchs

"A hopeful billboard in Montenegro" in 2016 (STEVO VASILJEVIC / REUTERS)
America’s real divide isn’t left vs. right. It’s democracy vs. oligarchy.”

It was about twenty-five years ago that I began to notice that global corporations were exerting more influence in both foreign and domestic affairs. I had grown up seeing how demonstrations in the streets by the people had led to more humane legislation, as in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts (and before that, the passing of child labor laws and workplace safety legislation). I asked myself then, how much longer that legislative model could endure as a safeguard for the people as global corporations assert more power and influence.

The following poem was one of my journalistic poems first posted March26, 2017, during the first 100 days of the current White House administration.  – CK

The March of the Oligarchs
By Charles Kinnaird

When I was a child
I was momentarily confused
The first time my older brother
Brought out his chess set.
The game board
Was exactly like the one we used for checkers,
But the rules were entirely different.
                         -  -  -
Growing up during the Cold War,
We thought the threat
Was coming to an end
When the Berlin Wall fell
And the Soviet Bloc collapsed.
We were giddy
With thoughts of freedom –
Oppression had been lifted;
The “Communist Threat” was fading.

That giddy moment of freedom
Was soon seized by corporations.
They flew under the banner
Of free enterprise,
Thereby flying under the radar
That scans for
Enemies of the state.

Global corporations
Have become the prime movers,
Making governments inconsequential.
Seen as good for the country,
Essential for the economy,
Creator of jobs,
Granter of benefits,
And source of political spending,
Big companies hold Congress hostage.
Legislation may soon bear no more weight
Than nice ideas
Voiced by well-meaning folks
In a Sunday School class.

In today's political arena
The playing field is familiar.
The game board looks the same.
But the rules have changed.


*   *   *

From the introductory post to my journalistic poetry series "Bearing Witness to the Times"

The best thing that poets can do is to bear witness to the times – articulate what is happening in the moment; speak to the real-life experiences of your people.  I am setting myself a goal to write a poem each week that reflects what I see and experience in the life of our nation... if I can write one poem a week there will be some chronicle of our sacred/tested/doubtful union.


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