must become the change we want to see." -- Mahatma Gandhi
"In any case, I hate all Iranians." --Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant
Secretary to Defense Secretary, Robert Gates
How many times do
we, the people of the US, have to go around on this queasy-making
merry-go-round of propaganda and militarism before we shout -- enough! -- then
shut down the whole cut-rate carnival and run the scheming carnies who operate
it out of town?
It is imperative the
nation's citizens begin to apprehend the patterns present in this ceaseless
cycle of official deceit and collective pathology. This republic, or any other,
cannot survive, inhabited by a populace with such a slow learning curve.
Over the last three
decades, the authoritarian right has risen to create the nation they have been
longing for since their humbling by the Watergate scandal. After being subdued
and humiliated by the mechanisms of a free republic, the right has turned the
tables -- and subdued and humiliated the republic. If the trend continues, all
but unchallenged and unabated, we might as well replace the torch held aloft by
Lady Liberty with a Taser.
How could it come to
this? How did so many US citizens grow so apathetic, oblivious, if not flat-out
hostile to the tenets of a free republic?
inherent to the structure of multi-conglomerate corporatism is antithetical to
the concept of the rights and liberties of the individual. Most individuals --
bound by a corporation's secrecy-prone, hierarchical values -- will, over time,
lose the ability to display free thinking, engage in civic discourse, and even
be able to envisage the notion of freedom.
This is true, from
the florescent light-flooded aisles of Wal-Mart to the insular executive
offices of Halliburton to the sound stages of CNN and Fox News. Under the
prevailing order, reality, for the laboring class of the corporate state, has
become debt slavery; in contrast, the simulacrum of reality, in which, the
striver class exists, is a milieu defined by obsessive careerism. Under the
hegemony of corporatism, freedom might as well be fairy dust. It only exists in
an imaginary land, not the places one arrives by way of one's morning and
economically, by way of decades of financial chicanery, perpetrated by the
nation's business and political elite, we have been eating our seed corn, and
the consequences of this have left the people of the US, intellectually and
As a result, many
attempt to sate the keening emptiness and mitigate the chronic unease by
gorging themselves on the Junk Food Jesus of End Time mythology, which is a
belief system wherein corporeal events and actions (personal and collective)
have no lasting consequence because even the human body is to be cast aside,
like a junk food wrapper, when the cosmic CEO decides to make the earth a part
of his heavenly franchise.
corporate state requires modes of being that evince obliviousness and obedience
(the defining traits of the US consumer) on the part of the majority of the
populace. Ergo, the rise of both Christian consumerists and the vast apparatus
of the right-wing propaganda matrix that dominates news cycles via the
electronic mass media.
All coming to pass,
as George W. Bush -- the reigning mascot of this fantasyland of infantile
omnipotence and instant gratification -- is rocked to sleep by his handlers
cooing preposterous tales of how history will place him in the pantheon of
those men whose greatness was unrecognized by the shallow and petty minds of
their own eras.
When, in fact, Bush,
whose ruinous wars of aggression, deficit-ballooning tax breaks for the
wealthy, and policies of crony capitalism (that enabled the economy-decimating,
easy credit banking scams of the present), displays the character traits of a
man ridden with severe psychological trauma; his attempts to tamp down immense
inner turmoil, by means of his grandiose bearing, his absolute certitude
regarding his own infallibility, and his bullying behavior, have resulted in an
exteriorizing of his pathologies on a global scale, and this is playing out
ugly, for all concerned.
Why do the people of
the nation (for the most part) slouch, slack-jawed and passive, before this
assault upon their collective integrity and personal dignity?
For generations, the
ephemeral dazzle of pop culture paternalism and tabloid Manichaeism, as
confabulated by advertising and public relations hacks and corporate news
courtesans, has overwhelmed gravitas, history, even self-awareness. As all the
while, shallow opportunists have been elevated to the status of pundits,
experts and sages. Withal, the present system generously rewards those
individuals who have mastered the art of impersonating human traits and
responses in utterly contrived environments. As a whole, the majority of the
populi have come to garner information about the world at large, and, worse,
their own self-image, from a medium where phoniness is a treasured commodity,
while authentic human traits and responses are banished to a beggar's road.
Is it any wonder
that the media types who thrive in these artificial settings have come to
define authenticity as being only those attributes that appear authentic on
television? Apropos, if you ask these "media personalities" about the
shortcomings and corruption of the present system, they will plead the
careerist's Nuremberg Defense . . . of only being a storm trooper obeisant to
the "bottom line."
Fantasy alert: One
would hope that if one were to descend down a ladder constructed of these
layers upon layers of bottom lines, one would arrive in a Hell reserved for
those possessed with such shameless cupidity.
Reality redux: Yet
as much as the human heart might yearn for such outcomes, there will never
arrive the terrible majesty and bitter reckoning of anything resembling
Judgement Day, heralded by celestial trumpets and legions of naked and cowering
sinners; instead, in human affairs, there arises dire exigencies that can no
longer be ignored nor explained away. The arrival of such a moment for the US
is nearly at hand.
When a nation
manifests a mixture of mass ignorance and official mendacity, in combination
with unchecked power emanating from an insular and arrogant elite, a golden age
of peace and plenty is as possible as holding a tea party in a tsunami. As sure
as a village of desperate fools who devour their seed corn, a nation that
refuses universal health care to its children, yet rushes to the aid of its
parasitic class of wealthy "speculators" and "investors"
from the consequences of their own greed-besotted, fiscal debacles, is doomed.
This is the classic
pattern of collective immolation experienced by a nation when power and
privilege is increasingly consolidated in fewer and fewer hands. In essence,
this is the key to the conundrum paralyzing the leadership of the Democratic
Party: In a culture in which an individual's worth is determined by the degree
one can be exploited by the corrupt interests that control both the private and
public sector, the public at large has little value to the political
establishment, that is, other than every few years being bamboozled for their votes
in the sham spectacles known as the US electoral process, a scam mostly
financed, hence controlled, by the aforementioned big money interests.
In sum, this is the
reason the Democratic Party feels little allegiance to its base. In turn, the
political classes themselves are only of value to the big money corporate
elite, because, by their delivery of staggering amounts of pork, massive tax
cuts, and the passage of desired anti-regulatory legislation, they serve as
their errand boys.
Moreover, the corporate
control of Congress is a microcosm of US society as a whole. Accordingly, the
increasingly corporatized, ever more submissive people of the US should be
termed the Whose-Your-Daddy Nation.
Yet, since life does
not exist in stasis, within this hierarchy of deceivers and dupes, we will gnaw
at one another's ankles until the whole pathetic pyramid collapses.
All around us, we
can feel the shoddy structure starting to sway and buckle. Axiomatically, the
value of the dollar is collapsing like the smooth facade of a con man
called-out by a group of wised-up marks. At present, in the wake of the bust in
the housing market, repo men are retracing the tracks of real estate grifters
who fleeced legions of wishful thinkers who brought the American dream and now
only possess the misery of debt slavery.
One would think the
time for insurrection has arrived -- that, at long last, an awakened and
enraged public would rise up and foreclose on these reprobates and
ne'er-do-wells squatting in the White House and skulking through Congress. The
power and privilege of the corporately controlled elite of Washington should be
repossessed like the Lexises of Atlanta real estate agents and the oversized
pickup trucks of Tucson contractors, confiscated in the wake of the collapse of
the housing market. Foreclosure signs and repossession notices should festoon
the whole of official Washington.
Turn about would be
fair play. Since, the rise of Reaganism, the financial sector has been engaged
in selling off the assets of the nation's public sector to the highest bidders.
It is amazing that, at this point, this klavern of kleptocrats haven't yet torn
from the walls and absconded with all the copper plumbing fixtures and fittings
on Capitol Hill.
Is a turnaround
If we wake up and
smell the jackboot. From the miasma of right-wing media propaganda, to the
proliferation of predatory capitalism, to the corruption and cupidity of the
prison industrial complex, to the pandemic of police brutality and the
trampling of the rights of the accused, to perennial civilian shooting sprees,
to the muzzling of descent, to the rise of the national surveillance state, to
the use and acceptance of torture as state policy, to the adoption of an
unlawful, immoral foreign policy doctrine that promotes policies of perpetual
war, one is forced to conclude that bullying, and deferring to bullies, has
become the dominate mode of being in the US.
Remedy: In order to
turn this trend around, the people of the US must begin to acquire the
anti-authoritarian traits of empathy and engagement. The gaining of empathy
alleviates the pathological need to be a bully, while social and political
engagement mitigates feelings of powerlessness that authoritarian bully-boys,
such as Bush, Cheney, Giuliani, et al., exploit.
In short, remedial
human lessons for the US population, in general, and for the corporate and
political classes, in particular.
Let us start the
process by having a period of grief and repentance for the death and suffering
that our government, in our name, has inflicted on the people of Iraq. This
should be done as the US begins the process of a complete military withdrawal
from their decimated nation, and the bestowing of economic reparations upon the
millions of Iraqis who have suffered under the brutal machinations and
murderous mayhem unloosed by our country's contemptible invasion and
To do so, might save
the people of our next target, Iran (as well as ourselves) a world of grief.
Rockstroh, a self-described, auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet,
lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at
email@example.com Visit Phil's website.