The River is Democratic

This is a response to an interesting essay written two years back by Richard Maybury, entitled “The River is Socialist.”  (you can find more on him at – He is a  widely published free-market thinker and a libertarian.  I was actually a libertarian once, for about seven hours! haha)  In this article, he describes the levees along the Mississippi River and uses them as a metaphor for socialism, as he tries to persuade readers that having no government would better for all of us. 

For centuries, people have been foolishly building their houses on the Mississippi’s floodplains and the American government has been forced to build levees to stop the river from flooding.  But flooding is an important part of a river’s rhythms and without its floodplains to deposit sediment the river bed has been getting higher.  Of course, this means that the levees also need to be built up again and again.  Maybury writes that these levees are “mistakes piled on top of mistakes”.  Nonetheless, as we have seen, the river still overflows the dikes and floods the surrounding area; it is a constant danger to the houses and to the cities that have been now built on its floodplains.

Maybury argues that these levees are similar to “political meddling in the natural economy” and show us what happens when the government tries to control global markets. 

The metaphor is persuasive; however, the author has made a mistake by suggesting that the economy is separate from society.  We know that the economy is simply the total of each of our day-to-day earning, saving and spending decisions; the economy is therefore rooted in society.  The Mississippi river does not only represent the economy, but instead it is a metaphor for the whole of society and for the currents of our information and ideas.  

Maybury also confuses terms when he describes socialism as a political system.   In fact, socialism is an economic system, along with capitalism.  The two political systems in question here are democracy and dictatorships and since we are talking about control, of a river or of people, we are actually discussing a dictatorship.

If we look from the top-heavy bureaucracies to policies like the Patriot Act (or Bill C-36 in Canada) or those that enshrine intellectual property rights, it would seem that our own governments are working against us; in fact, they are.  So, our first reaction is to tell the government to back off.  This makes sense until you take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Because if we want to see a dictatorship, I can think of no better example than the Bretton Woods system (now the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization) that snuck in just after we won the war against a Nazi dictatorship.  By now, we all know of the CIA-led takeovers of democratically elected governments (that proposed socialism) across the world.  Or look to the power of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) that are tied to World Bank loans. These ‘agreements’ make it a rule that countries cannot do anything that would protect their already struggling economies.  It is, ironically, the regulation of deregulation and it has only made poor countries poorer.  Perhaps these SAPs are why our own governments have failed to use our anti-trust laws and instead bail out near-monopolies that are ‘too big to fail.’  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, look around and you will find out for yourself.)

Contrary to what Maybury would have us believe, the metaphoric walls that destroy the Mississippi are not tariffs and trade barriers; they are the barbed wire fences and lines of troops and police that separate us from the decisions being made at the G20 Summits or the WTO Ministerial Conferences.  For decades, peaceful protesters have been tear-gassed and discredited when they gathered to draw our attention to the undemocratic control of the global economy.  These protesters have long been telling us that the Emperor has no clothes – the free market is not free.

So in reality the metaphor looks more like this: the river is us and the cities on the floodplain are the multi-billion dollar empires that do not wish to share the wealth.   The walls are whatever stop us from knowing and changing this, and so that includes what we see through the mainstream media and even the economic ‘experts’ that say our “economy is too complex for humans to understand and control wisely.”

This is bullshit, because this isn’t even about economics (let alone socialism); it is a matter of political control.  Who will benefit once we have gotten rid of every last trade barrier, along with our own governments?  Whether we know this or whether we are too busy watching rich people on TV to care, we are in the midst of another World War.  Only now it is cheaper to buy a country than to bomb it, and a New World Order won’t need your vote.

It’s time to wake up. These empires spend billions to lobby and ‘buy’ political parties, while at the same time making us hate the very idea of government (and through propaganda such as Maybury’s article).   Even though our government has been corrupted at the moment, it is our only voice and we need to get it back.  

And I am convinced that we will.  Maybury was mistaken; the river is democratic and it is only a matter of time before we reach a critical mass of people.  We will flood the levees and carve the path that works best for us.  So get your boots ready! 

– Melisa Luymes, Feb 14, 2013


One Comment

  1. Wow! You have managed to explain the Political History of the 20th Century ~ and especially now as we enter the 21st ~ with an amazing amount of clarity and accuracy.
    Definitely we are talking about *control* — and it it mostly over the diminishing “crumbs” of ‘resources’ that, ideally, we all need to share, but for which some [those who currently control them] have decided must be used to enrich the already rich.

    P.S. I read your profile, and noted that you went to South Korea (for three years)…on a small island in the south. Jeju Island, I assume.
    I have also been to S. Korea *many times*. Isn’t it an amazing place?? I certainly love it!

    P.P.S. I would suggest you explore two websites you might find interesting:
    Note: They are now creating a “Food and Conflict” committee/working group, which will be chaired by Dr. Mustafa Koc*, a professor at the Department of Sociology, Ryerson University and Francoise Briet.

    *Note: Dr. Koc’s research and research interests involve food security and policy, globalization and sociology of migration.
    He was among the founders of the Centre for Studies in Food Security, Food Secure Canada, and the Canadian Association for Food Studies.

    Other websites that you might wish to visit is my own:
    If you know nothing of biochar, you might wish to explore further.
    Try also:

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