Glenn Greenwald discusses justice for some

| October 30, 2011 | 5 Replies

Glenn Greenwald recently appeared on Dylan Ratigan’s television show to discuss his new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. Greenwald argued that many of our leaders don’t even pretend anymore that we should aspire to fairness.   Here’s the thought process underlying these claims we so often hear from those who oppose the Occupy movement: “Inequality will be deserved and legitimate because were all playing on an equal playing field.”  According to Greenwald, the reason for so much citizen anger (tea party and occupy protesters) is a growing perception that this inequality

is not the byproduct of fair and reasonable and well-deserved accomplishments but the byproduct of cheating, of a tilted playing field, that the winners exempt themselves from the rules to which the rest of us are bound. Typically, it is the law that constrains the most powerful from abusing their power. When law ceases to apply to them, as it has, the only solution that citizens have is to go outside of the system of law and begin to demand that change. That is why so many citizens are taking to the streets and protesting and realizing that working within the system is no longer a viable course of action.

How can this energy be harnessed, for instance through the Occupy movement?

The status quo–the failure to accommodate or to adhere to rules for anyone outside of this 99% is itself extremely volatile and itself extremely dangerous and destructive in that a course of action where citizens do go out on the streets in the United States has become a more attractive and really the only alternative for effectuating the kind of change that people thought that the 2008 campaign would bring.

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Category: Protests and Actions, Social justice

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Edgar Montrose says:

    “Typically, it is the law that constrains the most powerful from abusing their power. Whenlaw ceases to apply to them, as it has, the only solution that citizens have is to go outside of the system of law and begin to demand that change.”

    I think that this misses the target slightly. It is not that the law has ceased to apply to the powerful, it is that the law has been corrupted so that it applies differently to the powerful than it does to the powerless, in ways that are highly beneficial to the powerful and extremely detrimental to the powerless.

    This, in fact, is the fundamental reason that the 1% do not and can not understand the frustration of the 99% — the 1% feel morally and ethically justified in their actions because they are “within the law” as they perceive it, and the 99% represent lawlessness because the 99% refuse to support and even strengthen the laws that so greatly benefit the 1%.

    And how does one deal with lawlessness? With brute force.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Edgar: And increasingly, new laws are being passed to invite this inequality. I.e., Wall Street “Reform.”

      I think Bill Black sums up this idea with the title to his book: The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry (2005)

  2. Edgar Montrose says:

    “And increasingly, new laws are being passed to invite this inequality. I.e., Wall Street ‘Reform.'”

    Exactly. Basically a tautology is played-out: \”Why do I change the law to benefit myself and those like me?\” \”Because the law allows me to do so.\” And it is accompanied by a sense of self-righteousness.

    I think it boils down to the difference between the \”letter of the law\” and the \”spirit of the law\”.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Further in-depth discussion with Glenn Greenwald regarding his new book:

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    “Former constitutional rights lawyer, Glenn Greenwaldcontends that the United States has a two-tiered judicial system, one for the “haves”and one for the “have-nots.” Mr. Greenwald presents his argument by tracing the evolution of judicial inequality, from President Richard Nixon’s pardon for the Watergate scandal to what the authors deems were economic and political crimes committed during the George W. Bush administration. The author posits that both political parties and the media are culpable for creating an unequal judicial system. Glenn Greenwald presents his thoughts in conversation with political theorist, Noam Chomsky at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/WithLi

    This is an excellent conversation. At one point, Chomsky points out that the U.S. “Terrorist List” is a sham, and we should severely question it. How do the names on that list get there? “Executive fiat.” We need to question a “terror” list that, until recently, included Nelson Mandela. What are the criteria for getting on this list? It’s a matter of someone not liking you and sticking you on the list so that they can harass you or even kill you.

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