Resistance As Commodity: America, Medicated and Enslaved

American Resistance

We have all sat enthralled by the recent images dancing across our HD TVs, our PC and Notebook screens, as events have unfolded in the Middle East and Northern Africa over the past few months.  From Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt to Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, a surge of popular uprisings has appeared before us in brilliant and revolutionary technicolor – the actions themselves having become spectacular commodities for our collective consumption.  Better than reality television, we sit engrossed in these unfolding media spectacles.

But that is not all.  We have also been quick to adopt as our own the frequent refrains we are fed by our media pundits and political leaders concerning the interpretation of such events.  Their drumbeat is incessant: these enslaved masses want freedom! they want choice! they want democracy! they want what we have in America!  And we the people dutifully allow such assumptions to go unchecked while their irony escapes us.  The facts are that America has long supported those very regimes against which the rebels are now fighting.  The uprisings across MENA have become just another gimmick, another prop, another marketing tool for our own elite and their paid propagandists in a bid to suppress domestic unrest and opposition here in the homeland.

But this is not the end of the story.  The US and its ad hoc coalition of co-conspirators have now gone further with this charade, claiming the moral high ground and inserting their own military muscle into that civil war in Libya.  They have attacked a sovereign nation while the media mythology of a humanitarian mission continues unabated, faithfully echoing the talking points from our beguiling leader: that we are fighting for the liberation of our Muslim brothers and sisters who are longing to join the ranks of the free and reap the benefits of unbridled democratic capitalism.  (BTW: It’s a song whose basic theme sounds an awful lot like the Soviet regime not too many years ago claiming to be fighting for the liberation of its brothers in Afghanistan.)  And we the people sit guilelessly in the back bleachers listening to the choir and accepting such pabulum as gospel from the church hymnal.

We still remain comfortably entombed, again perched in front of those omnipresent big screens, gawking at the protests in the Wisconsin State House, and other sympathetic rallies that emerged across the U.S.A. We watched the quaint antiwar demonstration in Washington D.C. last December (attended by none other than author, blogger and war correspondent Chris Hedges along with the infamous Daniel Ellsberg).  And we are witness to the demonstrations planned for New York’s Union Square, inveighing against the abuses of kleptocrats at Bank of America and other high-rolling, high-riding banksters.  But, has the movement of resistance, the very act of defiance, of rebellion, itself not been co-opted in advance by the system that it is aimed at reigning-in or overturning?

As the Soviet émigré Mikhail Epstein pointed out many years ago in Transculture and Society: a society like ours, a culture that commodifies everything it touches, “is able to absorb and assimilate even revolutionary challenges [through] the mechanism of commodification.”  In this way, any radical challenge to the system is instantly transformed, “denial itself, turned into another commodity.”  Or, as Allan Bloom suggested with a slightly different twist in The Closing Of The American Mind, a liberal democracy is capable of taking even the most countercultural activities and absorbing them into the mainstream, transforming such acts into acceptable cultural practice – with appropriate rules, policies and procedures.

It is not an unreasonable bet that this is what happens time and again to the resistance movement in the United States. It is turned into a commodity to be hawked through new media like Facebook and Twitter, proffered for consumption by the mainstream corporate press, and corralled by the establishment of new political movements like the Tea Party gang.  Resistance becomes hoodwinked and then mainstreamed; brought in under the Big Tent.  Here we have the taming and suppression of the human spirit.  Even in full battle mode, those seeking actual change have simply become a spectacle to be observed, tolerated, enjoyed, even lauded; then clicked off once the next commercial bursts onto our screens. So much for radical politics and real rebellion in America: even our most sacred acts of defiance, of insurgency, are now routinely transformed into objets de art, objets de cultura – commodities to be used for entertainment, distraction and propaganda.

The entire apparatus of our culture – a “culture of make-believe” as Derrick Jensen has dubbed it – may be brought to bear at any moment in defusing resistance, not through authoritarian suppression or banana-republic brutality, but through more subtle means of control, persuasion and marketing: allowing it, praising it, and repackaging it for distribution to the public. This in turn further stabilizes and emboldens the system, reinforcing its faux image of cultural, political or religious openness.  As Allan Bloom well noted, openness becomes the enemy of the good; but it also becomes the enemy of any real challenge to the system itself.  Openness betrays its true nature, as a core element of that “inverted totalitarianism” that Chris Hedges is so fond of discussing these days.

Ours is a system that gives much lip service to openness, reform, and fairness; but in reality it is one in which real change has become a genuine impossibility.  Unfortunately – and what Hedges may have missed in his own acts of resistance – even our best attempts at “disrupting” the State or its mechanisms are easily hijacked by the regime and quickly turned into political treasure. In other words, while the State’s police forces and other Homeland Security thugs gingerly manhandle the rebels themselves (according to more or less agreed upon rules of engagement), the acts of rebellion are commoditized and re-packaged by the media, our politicians, and their puppet masters for general consumption by, and medication of, the populace.

In this way, any legitimate internal threats to the State are effectively disarmed through commodification and effective marketing.  And the snake oil works!  We demonstrate, we disrupt, we challenge, we take our lumps and go to jail for a night; and we think we are free and have a bona fide voice in how this entire show is produced.  But the truth is they have us right where they want us; and us, what do we have?  We have nothing but our medications and our enslavement to the State!

But, if you have any doubts about America’s totalitarian allegiances or the commodification of our resistance to it, just look at the arrests in Washington D.C. last Sunday (April 10th) of those demonstrating against our militarization of Latin America and our material support for totalitarian dictators in MENA and elsewhere around the globe.  In that bit of news we were spectators to an “annual event” of self-described “street theatre and artistic expression,” including puppets and performances, as integral parts of the planned “die-in.”  If the American resistance movement has not been transformed into just another commodity – another distracting entertainment – of our society of the Spectacle, then I do not know what it has become.  I did not see street theatre in demonstrations across Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, or Libya.  And I do not now see artistic expressions on the streets of Bahrain.  We should stop drinking the cool-aid my friends!

115 Responses to Resistance As Commodity: America, Medicated and Enslaved

  1. murph says:

    Boy is this right on. Resistance is futile. At least in terms of changing the system from the inside. I prefer the statement; Expect resistance, but in a different form. Maybe shunning?

    • kulturcritic says:

      In other words, Murph, don’t participate in the system? I would agree. It is just that they have made it almost impossible not to participate to some extent.

    • Straycat says:

      Right on Murph! Commodification requires purchase of the commodities. We buy in to these shows with our own money as well as time and emotional capital. But the most revolutionary thing we can do, in my opinion requires no street demonstrations, no arrests, but is the most difficult of actions. We must refuse to spend our money with the predators. I have written comments in a number of places asserting that they can’t get us without our consent. I no longer do business with Citibank, GE, Bank of America, Koch Brothers industries, etc. I urge all of my friends and colleagues to do the same. There is little traction here, even among the more than marginally committed. Why?
      It seems that comfort and convenience are more important than freedom and sustainability. It is so much trouble to change financial institutions. Anyway, the rep at the corner is a nice person. Yet, when measured against the deprivation and pain of Valley Forge, such actions are so small, and the inconvenience so little that I despair. Shunning the system is so effective, that the corpses come out screaming when that is brought up.

      • Shrapnel says:

        We just took that philosophy a step further in Baltimore. On Sunday we launched the B-note, a local currency that can only be spent in Baltimore. We started in one neighborhood with 56 businesses signed up to accept the B-note at launch, and close to $2500 converted from dollars to B-note on the first afternoon. The B-note is a convertible currency ($10 = Bn 11) which trades at 1:1 so the user gets a discount, and the recipient has an incentive to trade rather than cash in. Only local business will accept local currency, so we exclude the bad guys, and we encourage localism. This is small thing right now, but is appears healthy and may grow to be quite large. Eventually, we hope to be able to make micro-enterprise loans in hybrid Bnote/Dollar amounts to encourage local entrepreneurs to fill in gaps in the supply line.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Shrapnel – I believe there are several projects like this around the country. I know of another one in the Berkshires. It is an interesting response t conditions. But, the feds may be looking for a chance to come down on such activities. The State is always vigilant… and calls everything terrorism now.

          • StrayCat says:

            They are preparing to squash these incipient acts toward freedom. But they may fail, as jury trial reqire 12 people to criiminalize these projects. Even in terrorism trials, juries are being careful to closely inspect the claims of the prosecutors.

      • Disaffected says:

        I’m reminded of Shrub’s admonition for us “to all go shopping” in the wake of 9-11 and the alleged ensuing recession. Coming from such a raving idiot, it was easy to chalk that one up to Shrub straying from the teleprompter. But that really is corporate America’s most basic existential terror – that we’ll all simply refuse to continue buying the crap they’re force feeding us. One day soon…

        • Straycat says:

          Yes, the threat of mass withdrawal from the consumer culture scares the corps’ to death. The question remains, “are we as a people and as individuals too weak and shallow to reject the false entertainment and to seek authenticity?” Or are we what the predators have concluded that we are, mere ATM machines that produce labor and money in exchange for a place in the barracks and digital entertainment to divert us from reality and from real human interaction?

        • kulturcritic says:

          DA – It is their most basic fear, after the evaporation of oil. That is why they keep invading other countries, to insure more oil and open markets for their shit.

  2. Brian says:

    Well, that is the evil genius of our system: every act of resistance get’s packaged, marketed and becomes available for purchase at your corner big box store. Thanks for taking the time to do this blog.

    • kulturcritic says:

      My pleasure Brian! Yes, it is an evil genius. I think we could use that term for most hierarchical systems. The evil does not need to be violent to be effective, and maybe more so!

      • After I discovered that the normal relationship between the right ear and the left half of the brain causes the left hemisphere to dominate the right one, I gradually realized that the qualities of the dominant left brain are projected into social institutions by that basic trait of the human mind, although expressions of the right brain also are evident to some degree everywhere, naturally. Reason seeks the optimal integration of both kinds of resources—rational and pleasurable. The left brain is the seat of language and the rationality in language, of the capacity for self-control (i.e., the domination of the primal urges and emotions associated with the right brain), and of rationalized beliefs (not just religious concepts but beliefs about what is real and true in every sense). That means social institutions are largely founded on rational concepts that imply certain beliefs and require particular kinds of self-control; the Jewish Ten Commandments provide such a template and continue to influence social institutions.

        However, the basic drives and emotional attachments of the right brain have tremendous power and the human tendency is to rationalize the expression of those forces that bring pleasure if it can do so. Thus, the arguments about what behaviors will be deemed “good” and “evil” arises. For people with ears incapable of producing brains that can control behavior to meet the institutional requirements, the processes of marginalization kick in.

        So, hierarchical thinking is pretty well intrinsic to rational language and thought and social organization. The question is whether our social institutions really are rational, really do encompass the unfolding human reality, or whether they were initially flawed or else have become corrupted. Many people posting to this blog make the claim that the social institutions are evil and infer they were inherently evil simply because they are hierarchies. But, if you eliminate hierarchy per se in language and in behavior in an individual, you do not have some kind of beneficent anarchy, you have the ultimate form of insanity: schizophrenia. I think the same thing happens socially if the hierarchy is overthrown: people become insane, i.e., a danger to themselves and others, in a process of war, just as in schizophrenia one half of the brain feels itself to be at war with the other half, perpetually.

        In schizophrenia, you can correct the physical problem if you can condition the tiny muscle of the middle ear so that it can carry the energy of sound to the left hemisphere of the brain to restore its dominance. With the capacity for reason restored, the person is in a position to learn self-control. Learning self-control is not easy; it takes the maturing child who has normal ears about two decades. Re-learning self-control is not easy, especially if that process was compromised in childhood by dyslexia or some other expression of ear dysfunction.

        If we can take a social lesson from the example of an extreme individual case (and I think we can), it may be less traumatic for the body (politic) to work with the existing hierarchy and reform it rather than to seek revolution. The parallels between the histories of the US and Canada suggest that revolution in 1776 was not necessary to reform an oppressive British hierarchy; bloodless reform was a viable alternative and was realized further north. However, the US has glorified that revolution under the concept of “freedom.” Well, there is more than one way to conceive of “freedom” and more than one way to achieve “freedom.” The approach of working within social institutions to reform them, whether governments, schools, or churches, has been a hallmark not only of Canadian social change but of social change in many northern European countries. It requires more self-control and imagination, but it creates less collateral damage. It is an alternative worth thinking about.

    • Straycat says:

      That is why total withdrawal is so effective. There is nothing to capture and market. No t-shirts to sell, no cutsie facebook event to repackage into a “like” campaign. The ultimate stealth campaign becomes the most revolutionary act that can be taken. If we create a vacuum, there is no assault, no handhold for the corporations or for the government.

  3. Sandy – quote – “It is turned into a commodity to be hawked through new media like Facebook and Twitter, proffered for consumption by the mainstream corporate press, and corralled by the establishment of new political movements like the Tea Party gang. ” That in a nutshell (pardon the pun) is the most insidious part of the problem. The ‘fearful fringers’ have developed a marketing strategy and they have hit upon one that is working. I love your commentary, as always!

    • kulturcritic says:

      Connie – ah, yes, the fearful fringers comprising the Tea Party. What will they do when the gas runs out? Thanks for joining the discussion.

      • Straycat says:

        The tea party gang consists of the very few creators of this phenomenon. The Rush, Koch Brothers, ALEC and the odious Bush gang are the Tea Party. Most of the rank and file are misled, honest and confused people who have been sold a bill of false goods, and who want real answers. Beck and the others have created an amalgam of 50’s anti-communism, religious “third awakening” hocus pocus, mixed with racism, fear and a place to join and be part of something that approaches the Germany and Italy of the 20’s and thirties. How many will be drawn in so far that they will feel trapped in their shaky ideology, and thus become impelled to support the worst that government can become?
        The rancor and divisiveness will result in dishonesty and power overcoming polity and civility. Sinclair Lewis’ formula is mixed and in the reagent jar. Only a charge of electricity or vibration is now required for the chemical reaction to begin. Unless we talk to all of the people outside the present political arena, the outcome will be truly terrible.

  4. big sis says:

    Is it really resistance if all we’re doing is stating a preference not to be ‘done’ that way? Resistance looks more to me like pushing back – hard. Sadly, most people don’t really want to change their lifestyles, but would like substitutes that look like change and marching around with signs stating the obvious is not changing much.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Big Sis

      Most of them are really afraid of the change that is imminent; and so they hope to make baby steps to forestall the inevitable. Or, they just like to think they are making a difference, that they are “part of history.” This gives their lives meaning, where otherwise there seems to be nothing but work, taxes, death (and the distractions that hide that ugly truth).

    • Straycat says:

      Precisely. The question is, what method of pushing back has the most chance of success. Can we rally the citizens of the US to a general strike? If not, what isw practically available to us to avert the coming disintegration?

  5. Disaffected says:

    Excellent post today Sandy. Not to pick on the Tea Party, but… oh hell, let me pick on the Tea Party for a minute. Their raison d’etre is, of course, the fact that they’re “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” with regard to higher taxes in particular (funny how that’s been the main ethos of the GOP since at least 1980 and the full scale onslaught of Reagan’s “trickle down [aka “voodoo”] economics” experiment). Evidently they’re not in on their own joke, since they follow through on their demand for lower taxes for the Donald Trumps of the world and wholesale reductions in services for everyone else (including, presumably, themselves) by currently favoring the Presidential nomination of who else, but old “Flock of Seagulls” himself, The Donald. The sheer lunacy of this state of affairs is enough to make you want to cash in your chips and catch the next flight to the nearest third world banana republic, where, hopefully, in a world turned upside down, some semblance of normalcy prevails.

    On further reflection however, I think your post today pretty accurately sums up and explains the whole state of affairs. Political movements themselves have now been co-opted (and in the case of the Tea Party, probably actually engineered from the ground up) by the corporate mass media and turned into a bizarre fun house mirror distortion of what an actual democratic movement would look like. And of course the participants, caught up in the perpetual feedback loop of their own insanity being broadcast to the masses, become ever more willing actors in what gradually morphs into just another episode of Reality TV writ large.

    It appears that Rome’s “bread and circuses” is indeed all we have left these days in what passes for a democratic republic of the people, by the people, and all the rest of that nonsense. The sad part about it all is, it’s not even all that entertaining anymore. After the first installment, the script is just pretty damn predictable and worn out thereafter. Just like our “blockbuster” movies and TV and sports extravaganzas, its all been done before, and arguably, a whole lot better at that. What’s the line? History repeats, first as tragedy, then as farce. The only “tragedy” left in America today is that we no longer have any sense of what the word means.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Politics is always a farce!!

      • Disaffected says:

        Trump is evidently gaining some real traction (I saw him on Today this morning bloviating as well):

        GOP insiders embrace Trump’s presidential bid
        Republican officials say their party is hungry for forceful, colorful figures in 2012 race

        This is going to be so much fun watching this whole thing unfold. Real time stupidity brought to you in living color by the people who do stupidity best: The Republican Party! “Colorful” is indeed an apt description.

        The Donald was talking glowingly of Michelle Bachmann as well, so who knows, we might just get two nut cases for the price of one out of the deal. And who says there’s no values to be had in politics these days? These two might just be the WalMart SuperSaver of the century if they were to actually win. As they say, you get what you pay for.

        • kulturcritic says:

          There is not a better couple that I could imagine to oversee the complete meltdown of this hegemony (well, except maybe Palin and Palin)!!

          • Disaffected says:

            I think Sarah girl’s going to have to take it up a notch if she wants to stay in this game. She evidently underestimated the amount of stupidity out there in America that she herself managed to unleash. Just when you think the trench of American stupidity couldn’t possibly get any deeper, along comes Michelle Bachmann and Donald Trump prepared to dig straight through to China if that’s what it takes (The Donald was making not-so-veiled threats as to how he’ll handle the Chinese when he’s Prez on TV this morning). I’m guessing that the Chinese will be the least of our worries if those two chuckleheads ever get to roam the White House for real.

  6. Nickelthrower says:


    I think you miss the point. When the State wishes you to do something like pay taxes, shun marijuana or obey any of the hundreds of thousands of pages of laws, it doesn’t say “pretty please”. As a matter of fact, the State immediately uses violence and the threat of violence to achieve its goal. It put armed thugs on the streets; it builds courthouses, jails and prisons. It hires judges, prosecutors and an army of attending staff. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t speak in any language but that of violence.

    The State does not care that you stand in the street and wave silly signs around. It does not care about your Street Theatre either. Of course we should expect the “protest” to be turned into a commodity for consumption as it is reality theatre.

    The State is nothing more than a monopoly on the use of violence and nothing will ever change until we have the courage to break up that monopoly.

    • kulturcritic says:

      NickelThrower – I cannot disagree with anything you say. In fact the violence you enlist is real and debilitating. And it is predominant in those States that call themselves democracies, particularly in the USA – which calls itself a “nation of laws.” Well then, people must be less important here. And such violence has been perpetrated upon humankind since the beginnings of civilization, in the world’s first metropolis, in Babylon, under the Code of Hammurabi. But there are different types of violence that the State exercises, and “law” is certainly at the core of the institutionalization of violence against its citizens. All I can do here is to quote one of my favorite mentors on this condition:

      “State is the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it tells lies…in all tongues of good and evil… State, where the slow suicide of all is called ‘life.'” Nietzsche

      • Straycat says:

        The state is no longer a legitimate entity, as there is no longer sovereign ownership of the land in the US. Many own land free of claims of servitude, and without enforceable limits on the use of the land. Likewise, the state no longer provides the food, security and organization that it once provided. In some important ways, we live in a post feudal and post capitalist environment where centralized direction and control of material are no longer necessary for security and comfort. Vast armies, hugh utilities and hierarchical command institutions are no longer necessary to our people. Indeed, the heavy price in energy and control far outweighs any economies of scale that were posited by the static economists of the past. While technology is trumpeted as a triumph of the large institution, whether government or corporation, the larger result is the freeing of research and production from the heavy hand of the mega institution, and to allow people with smaller groups and materiel efficient means to produce distributed goods and services on a local and regional level. The choice appears to between a modicum of security, civility and comfort versus gigantism that will surely swallow any margin of profit through the twin evils of greed and inefficiencies.
        If we can extract ourselves from the need to care who is Americas next Idol, and from the babel of the multinational cartels, and attend to our relations among neighbors, friens and family, we may be able to escape the grip of the state and its corporate owners. We must first, however, realize that these predators have nothing of value to offer us.

      • Anarchy brings violence, too. And Nietzsche was schizophrenic. Which means he also passed through phases of clinical depression including suicidal depression, a state of consciousness caused by audio-processing deficits that can be healed with sound of 2 and 8 kHz—one of the few states of mind where the ear problem has been proven, measured, and healed with the appropriate frequencies of sound with astonishing success (97.7%) by Dr. Guy Bérard.

        The problem with laws is not that they exist but that they have not been sufficiently rational—they have been ignorant and have not taken account of important realities in the best way. Understanding of why some people cannot be socialized and of how and why the normal brain conceives of “good” and “evil” has been missing from the law (and everywhere else). Some people, like Nietzsche, for a variety of reasons have impaired ears, although not deafness in the way we usually understand it. They simply are physically incapable of meeting the standards set by laws: their ears prevent them from controlling their behavior. Some progress has been made within the laws of some countries even without fully understanding why that occurs; leniency is offered to those deemed insane. (The US is notably lagging in that regard, e.g., re capital punishment.) However, we need healing for the insanity, understanding of what constitutes insanity, and revisions to the law. Our son’s severe mental illness was not basically a brain problem of grand complexity but an ear problem that could be treated simply, in much the same sense that eye problems can be altered with glasses. That discovery could provide grounds for changing the law (as I hope our son’s attorney will agree while he is reading my writing); alternatively, the discovery could obviate the need for the law by healing all insanity (not just schizophrenia, but bipolarity, depression, suicidal depression, and many more conditions of ill health). But when you encounter unhealed insanity combined with violent losses of self-control, you may be grateful for laws that limit or restrict people demonstrating those kinds of behavior.

        Once the law discovers the meaning of insanity, it should be able to correct its own insanity.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Let me suggest the following books for you to read on primitive anarchy, the challenge of hierarchy, and the transformation of consciousness that was born with the growth of agriculture and urban life. In no particular order:

          The Evolution Of Political Society, Morton Fried
          Nature and Madness, Paul Shepard
          Coming Home To The Pleistocene, Paul Shepard
          The Future Primitive, John Zerzan
          Saving The Appearances, Owen Barfield

          Perhaps these will expand your current perspectives.


    • linda marie says:

      I agree, the state is basically a monopoly on violence. And it is getting pretty scary with these youngsters with guns called Police. They are not even close to being mentally equipped to have that kind of ‘power’. But they DO. And many of them are sick and twisted sociopaths. IMO.

      Oh but let’s remember to Not Take The Law Into Our Own Hands ! I have always thought that this is a very strange way of being. We have no choice, but it doesn’t seem to be working out.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Linda Marie – thanks for commenting.

        Yes, there is much that is sociopathic within the law enforcement community. But, it is likely the case that every hierarchy attracts sociopaths into its ascending ranks. It provides them with a high place from which to look down upon the masses; it provides that illusion of separation that heightens their own sense of self importance and individual superiority. It allows them to create laws, pass judgments and execute decisions that don’t apply to themselves (just look at the sociopaths in Congress and in the courts, not to mention the Sociopath in Chief and his cohort sitting just down the street from that august body of lawyers and lobbyists). The entire charade of politics, of hierarchical organization – the military for god’s sake – the entire edifice of civilization; all of these institutions are erected upon a similar pathological basis and all are focused on command and control. That is what happens when you draw together 10’s, 100’s of thousands, let alone millions of strangers within tightly packed cities and their extensions, all scratching to find a place in the socio-economic structure.

        Civilization is the pathology; hierarchy, the pathogen.

  7. schwerpunktinternational says:

    This was a similar ideas in the Commodification of Dissent, and further articles in the former Baffler Magazine – a short-lived and wonderful publication remembered today about as much as Fact Magazine.
    You raise a good issue that many are calling out – we have no institutions to rally about and no options at our hand. I disagree with Hitchens in his “go forth and protest” young man since with all the puppets and that guy with the George Bush mask and the blood on the globe (how does this dude get about so fast) and the tired agressive Progressive selling “The Worker” for a dollar, that a protest today without violence is like a bad family BBQ without food. Or, better put by Chairman Mao, Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.

    Currently, there are many about (myself included…) bitching, writing rants, and identifying the shaking foundation of our slice of the world. However, apart from growing tomatoes, we are all “tending our roses” (meant in the Russian expression) far ahead of our retirement date. Powerless – and with no good ideas to offer other than go forth young man and garden. Which I do. And stock up on certain surplus products of former Soviet Union.
    Thanks for the writing and keeping on thinking. I for one, will buy your counter-culture when they make a tee shirt of it!

    • kulturcritic says:

      Gardening is a good thing!!!

    • Straycat says:

      Good morning Schwerpunktinternational, I agree with you wholeheartedly. We also garden, research plants and foods that avoid the poisonous factory farms, and rant. However, as I discussed above with Murph, our withdrawal from the machine that they call economics to an economy of production of goods instead of products requires a level of discomfort and effort that many, including me, are unused to. We are trapped in a medium of good people, also trapped in a matrix of institutions from banks to supermarkets to TV to our political systems that guide our emotions into the comfortable, but shallow and unsatisfying “sufficient”, that is enough to keep our energies flowing into the channels that produce profit for the predators, votes for their vassals, and leaves nothing foe the individuals who produce and participate.
      Brave New World, with its wall size TV’s reality shows, hate sessions (now called church services) and women as sexual servicers have come to pass. Interactive TV will seal the deal.
      TV offers nothing, yet we pay 50 to upwards of 150 dollars per month for it. Dancing with the stars posits quite clearly that sex is a commodity to be presented with all of the titillating suggestiveness implicit in the dances and the cutsie embracing during the show. These things take out time and attention from our real condition. To throw off our shackles today we need only, as a good start, stop spending our money on these piles of merde.

  8. Mark says:

    Borrowing from Wouk’s Caine Mutiny: A system created by geniuses for execution by idiots. 😉

  9. Malthus says:

    I am just finishing reading your book “The Recovery Of Ecstasy” and will have some comments to send by email. I certainly agree with what you write here and perhaps I am wrong that 1984 is just around the corner. I have no proof of that except for the hints of things hiding in plain sight, and perhaps it will happen but maybe in a less noticeable way, or it is here now and we are so numb to everything we haven’t woken to the fact yet. Thanks to you and others that keep writing about the situation. Thanks.

  10. wagelaborer says:

    Lately I’ve seen a lot of references to a scene in “Blazing Saddles” where the black character holds a gun to his head and threatens to shoot himself unless he gets his way.

    I admire Chris Hedges, but being arrested is not really throwing a wrench into the system.

    The only power we have, my coal miner’s wife and daughter grandmother told me, is the power of the strike.

    And that would be why street demonstrations are allowed, while general strikes are forbidden. And today, unmentioned and unthinkable.

    But now that most Americans who are employed, are employed at useless occupations, what good would a strike do? Unless we get the truckdrivers and dock workers, of course.

    Anyway, I’m of the build-the-new-society within the bowels of the old one, advocated by David Korten, for one. It’s our only hope. If we have any.

  11. Hasdrubal Barca says:

    Thank you, kluturcritic, for putting into words what I’ve been thinking for a long time, yet not being able to fully articulate. I woke up about six months ago when I finally started to take the time to connect the dots between geopolitics, financial shenanigans, peak resources, and environmental disasters. I had started to speak up and speak out, only to find myself alienated by family, friends, and acquaintances. Even my far-left-leaning comrades have abandoned ship, leaving me with no one to talk to, just reading and thinking. Either they can’t be bothered or realize nothing can be done anyhow. Resistance is futile. Not that I blame them. My soul is tortured. My normal daily activities seem like the dream world; pretending my cubicle job matters in the great scheme of things.

    I wish could bury my head back in the sand. But no, I have a responsibility to face the truth, to look the beast in the eye. Not that I claim to be one, but from where I stand, the real heroes are in the margins saying enough is enough. That’s where I’ll be standing. Shunned and silent.

    In a world full of commodities, I am trying to de-commoditize one step at a time. Human beings are not commodities.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hasdrubal Barca

      I know what you feel; it is difficult once you realize the party has not been, and cannot be paid for. There you stand wondering what to do about it. I think it’s best to decide on a trajectory that works for you and those close by. The momentum of our cultural sickness cannot be stopped at this juncture; it must run its course. Just be as well prepared as possible for the overturning of what we have come to consider “normal.”

    • Straycat says:

      Hello HB, well you have hit a wall when you see that even those committed to change, at least in their own minds, are still inmates in the asylum. My left leaning friends still bank at the big four, look at me funny when I suggest that they are paying for their own handcuffs. It appears that the predators have commodified the very values if individuality, liberty and authenticity that underly our concerns. I guess that we get to choose the color of our prison garb, and the ringtones of our Brave New World.

  12. John Bollig says:

    In the disability movement, we fight the medical industrial complex. The system that we live in is a social control mechanism that does not want us to face the impending crisis that we will find ourselves in a few very depressing years. Peak oil, the debt bomb and climate change are going to combine with political turmoil to unleash a social earthquake. As a member of a community that is heavily dependent on social services, I do not look forward to the coming crisis that will kill most of my friends and family. Futile, maybe but the struggle to live has been fought with longer odds against it then ever before. We are facing an epoch. Civilization may in fact end in a whimper rather than a EOTWAWKI event. Future generations will condem us for our wastefulness and our egotistical livestyles, choices and vanity. The self important poeple will be eating dust as we see the collapse of our oil based economic system. The end is nearer than we think and our society is woefully illequiped to handle the consequences.

    • Malthus says:

      My sister has suffered from MS for over 30 years and because of complications caused by medical incompetence now has heart failure also. I know what you are talking about. We live in the dark ages of medicine or shall I say where are the cures? No cures just trials and the industries that are supported by research. Yes social services will be the first to go. Get the weak ones first must be the mantra of wall street and the crooks that run it. Pathetic.

    • Disaffected says:

      I’m waiting for the wing nuts to propose a solution to their basic conundrum: they want to ruthlessly cut healthcare costs through across the board privatization, but they just can’t quite come to grips with what to do with those who are grossly under insured or who otherwise manage to slip through the cracks. In their deepest, truest, capitalist heart of hearts you know the answer is, “F**k ’em! Kick ’em to the streets and let ’em die.” But of course, even in 21st century America, you still can’t quite get away with expressing such sentiments openly, so they have to create multiple layers of redundant bureaucracy to obfuscate the obvious and accomplish the same goals by other means. I predict the phrase “Out of sight, out of mind” will be the operational reality for underclass “healthcare” in the coming decades, with all sorts of elaborate ruses concocted to make damn sure the voting public at least is kept dimly aware of what would better be termed “death management” for the poor, although even that term gives entirely more credit than is due. If nothing else, maybe we’ll finally get around to talking like grown ups about end of life issues, and even, dare I say it, assisted suicide(!) for those who might just prefer to move along to the next life rather than, say, sink into Alzheimer’s dementia for the last however many years of their meager existence here. Nahh! There I go again, imagining that we live in a mature first world society that recognizes and deals with its biggest problems in a timely and rational manner.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Yes, John, the conditions for a “perfect storm” have been put into place by our culture of excess. And the likely crisis will impact many of us (I count myself among them: read my book, The Recovery of Ecstasy, to find out why). I am glad to hear your voice.

    • capt rick says:

      there will not be a future for history to be written.

  13. Mike Smith says:

    Obama’s monumental betrayal on healthcare will ultimately, in my view, be reversed State by State. It will have to be. It is a legislative hairball that cannot be implemented or maintained.

    I remember well his comment that single-payer might be the way to go if you were starting from scratch, but we didn’t have that opportunity given all the infrastructure in place. Right. And that explains why America is the only first world country still using gas street lamps – all that piping, all those gas companies. Give me a break.

    He was told what was acceptable and he obeyed. Simple.

    • Disaffected says:

      And to think, it took less than six months for the silver tongued charlatan to first sell us out. Little did we know, that was just the beginning. I hope his payoff was at least worth it. Judas Iscariot indeed!

    • kulturcritic says:

      Yeah Mike – where are those gas street lamps? Gone with the horse and buggies? Betrayal is a very gentle term for his actions. But then, I have come to understand that this is what politics is about by its very nature: power, its expansion and maintenance. It is hierarchy that is our enemy; the institutionalization of inequality.

      • I don’t think the inequality is necessarily embedded in the US political system hierarchy, but in the despairing, disaffected, or uninspired people who don’t bother to run for office or to get out and vote.

        On the other hand, inequality is embedded in our Canadian system; the votes of the left in our recent federal election were more numerous than the votes of the right that returned the abominable Harper to office with a majority. He does not represent the majority of Canadian voters (or non-voters, either). At least you have potentially representative government.

  14. John Bollig says:

    I think we need to talk about the realities that most want to avoid like the plague. The simple fact is that millions are going to die in a very short time after the collapse of social services. Many people who depend on modern western medicine are going to die within weeks of any cuts in medical services. The existing society that we live in will be stripped bare and finally the powers that be are going to have to face the music. The only way they are going to preserve their vaunted status is by resort to naked force. Then things will get very very interesting,as revolution and chaos will spread.

    • Disaffected says:

      The only way they are going to preserve their vaunted status is by resort to naked force.

      Ask, and ye shall receive:

      Lobbying Report: Drones Fly Through Congress to Enter US Skies

      You didn’t honestly think that Iraqistan was anything more than a dress rehearsal did you? Drones will be the ultimate pacifier: they’re quiet, they can loiter over target for extended periods of time, they can be used for surveillance as well as destruction, they’re deadly!, they’re extremely casualty and POW resistant (for the operators), they’re deniable, and they’re cheap to buy, operate, and maintain (at least compared to $100M fighter planes loaded down with smart bombs). From Big Brother’s standpoint, what’s not to love? Not only will drones be coming to a government enforcement arm near you very soon, but they’ll be PAID FOR by savings on YOUR social services! Ain’t that a kick in the pants! I believe the phrase is paying for your own enslavement – and learning to love it – OR ELSE!

      • John Bollig says:

        We know what the powers that be have been plotting for many years. But, they can’t stop the decline in their power. Peak Oil, climate change and the debt bomb will shatter their power.

        • kulturcritic says:

          It will get interesting John. And as Disaffected has so well documented, the power of the State works without respite to help its friends while increasing its control over the populace.

        • Disaffected says:


          I’m with you on all that, but perversely, in the short term at least, I think peak oil (in particular) and climate change will actually increase the power of the ruling elite, since as the resources run out and the panic/die off begins, the process will unfold – as we’ve been witness to throughout the 20th century already – from the bottom up.

          The debt bomb is a little bit more curious. When you get right down to it, money itself is little more than a means of “keeping score,” which in and of itself shouldn’t be an existential cause for concern. Currencies can theoretically be defaulted on, dissolved, and recreated without that much trouble, especially in the smaller, marginal economies of the world.

          That said, ours is of course the overwhelmingly dominating reserve currency for the global ponzi scheme (and yes, that’s exactly what it is), and of course, our financial wizards, who stand to lose everything if such a dissolution were to ever happen, are in no mood whatsoever to ever contemplate wiping the slate clean and starting anew.

          Which brings us full circle. Western (read: U.S.) interests, having created an inherently unstable and explosive global ponzi debt scheme greatly abetted by grossly stupid and equally explosive U.S. monetary policy by their official cohorts in crime, the Fed, are now facing, due largely to limitations in the resources they can’t manipulate – the natural ones – the logical end game of their grand schemes in the very near future. I, like you, would be inclined to think that this is all going to blow up very quickly and messily and that that would be that, except for the fact that these guys are all so very smart and crafty and have been literally raised from birth to perpetuate this scheme which keeps them and theirs so very well insulated from the vicissitudes of everyday life that you and I face. Bottom line: I think the playing out of the debt bomb will be very interesting for those who take an interest in such things, but just like everything else, I imagine they’ve already hatched and are presently implementing a scheme to somehow come out ahead in the matter, even if only relative to the rest of us.

          In the end, the rich indeed are different from the rest of us: they’ve got more money, but also, all of the things (read: vital commodities) it can buy.

          • kulturcritic says:

            John – excellent observations here. You may be right about the wealthy hatching new schemes as we speak. But, we still require natural resources to live, for the earth to remain habitable. But, I suppose their technologists can create completely artificial environments very soon. And those wealthy enough will be “living” in underground bubbles or space stations counting their fiat currencies for their heirs.

  15. Hello,
    Everything you write is true, but it is only half of the truth. Something about the tone of the comments here, lighter than at The Oil Drum where I lurked for a while, suggests younger folk with more inherent optimism. Still, the outlook of the posts is gloomy and doomy. Much like the people I knew in the 60s who tuned in and freaked out because the End was at hand. Unlike them, square as I was and still very elitist in my art and writing, I dug into my belief system and sifted it to find gold. And I did. I learned to follow that Voice, my visions, and to the best of my thinking and ability The Way of the Realist of Nazareth. Mocked and distrusted even by most of my Christian friends, I married a man whose almost ex-wife had recently murdered the young scholar he planned to marry (I met him at her funeral). For the next ten years we lived in fear of a crazy woman absolved by the law for reasons of insanity, while he/we tried to keep ties with the little girl whose custody he had lost to her. We started our family in the impoverished Ozarks; then continued in the impoverished and highly unemployed part of southern Ontario people visit for its lakes during the summer and retreat from to the cities without leaving much of their cash in the community. We were not back-to-the-landers by any stretch of the imagination, but found ourselves on the land as the recession of the early 80s crushed our fragile personal economy, and we learned to garden, keep chickens, trade the use of our fields to a neighbour for his beef. We were no longer using our credit card for the bare essentials of food for us and our young ‘uns. Our freezer was full of protein and produce. Then, the social issues arrived: in community, school, church, and home. Then illness struck. Then drugs. The family was stressed to the breaking point. One child was declared schizophrenic. As the years passed, it looked as though the mockers had been right. Yet, the visions kept coming true; the Voice was never wrong. Modestly educated, I was passionate about learning, especially about people. Especially my shattered children. I noticed things. I recorded things. I discovered psychiatrists know less than I was learning. Our son, in his psychosis, explained things to me. I listened. He reached out for music. He healed himself. I taught myself neurology to write about the ear and the brain and I defined schizophrenia. I saw the spectrum of human behaviour unfold like a great fan that depends on the health of the middle ear for normalcy and becomes all those things we call mentally ill when the middle ear muscle fails. The revelation staggered me; upset some of my religious ideas and rewrote my understanding of human psychology. It will do that to anyone with the courage to weigh my learning. Psychiatry is over. Music heals mental illness and transforms the personality by establishing left-cerebral dominance. Music is to the ears what prescription lenses are to the eyes. Religion is about self-control, but a person with damaged ears is incapable of self-control. Like that crazy, sad, repentant woman my husband had married so long ago who murdered the new woman in his life. Like our schizophrenic son; his little brother on drugs; the bipolar relatives; the inherited tendency to depression in my husband’s family. Do not fear recession, impoverishment, the fall of the high and mighty, the crookedness of the politicians and those who hold power and abuse it in every walk of life. Do not fear the pious, the superficial, the end of empires, the things you cannot control. Reject a complacent despair. Learn to listen to that Voice that can lead you through every disaster to fulfillment, to some astonishing contribution to the fractured society that has always been a fallen world. Learn to attend to the vision of goodness you long to realize. You have it in you; we are hard-wired for access to divinity. Be still. Listen. Take a step. Repeat ad infinitum. Easter happens.

    • Disaffected says:

      With all due respect, our predicament now is a little more dire and in a lot more ways than it was in the sixties – even conceding the nuclear cold war madness that was going on then. Then again, had the hippie revolution not simply devolved into the mindless mantra of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” maybe we wouldn’t be in the situation we are now. Even so, much of the “doomy, gloomy” commentary you read on blogs like these is anything but. I view open discussion of such topics as a breath of fresh air in a society that has clearly gone mad. I mean really, if not sites like these, where else would you discuss such things? And these are things that desperately need to be discussed!

      That said, your admonition to wean ourselves off of mainstream corporate everything and get back in touch with our own inner/personal capabilities is well taken. Indeed, that’s likely to be our only real option going forward, as the corporate state is already making its preferences known, and at some point in the near future will just begin receding from the have-nots lives in the explicit acknowledgment that they’re just not profitable enough to be bothered with anymore. Their loss will be our salvation.

      One more point. In the short term, a return to local everything, most importantly agriculture is an entirely rational and desirable response to the retrenchment of the corporate state. In the long run however, it should be recognized that only one thing will stabilize our situation, if indeed, it can be stabilized at all at this late point. And that, of course, is population control and gradual reduction, much of which will be simply beyond our control and imposed on us whether we like it or not with the failure of industrial agriculture, big pharma, and big healthcare.

      With our gradual return to a 19th century agrarian lifestyle it should surprise no one that our populations will have to do the same (or more), and that’s gonna be exceedingly painful in the first world west, which has become addicted! to a first world life style and the foolish notion of perpetual exponential growth. The loss of big pharma especially, will have an immediate and potentially devastating impact on our lives, as we have – just like the street corner junkies we despise – become literally addicted to the antibiotics and immunizations that make modern urban life possible – much like our livestock, which we subject to even worse conditions – never mind the prescription painkillers and all the rest that we now take totally for granted. These are all important issues going forward, and we ignore them at our peril. One thing’s for sure big government and corporate America ain’t gonna do it for us, and in fact, will more than likely use such issues against us (biological warfare anyone?).

      • kulturcritic says:

        Well stated DA!! And thank you so much for your thoughts, Lorna. Music is in fact something that can help us to reconnect with our own bodies, and therefore with the earth. We have become much too cerebral as a species, particularly West of the Altai Mountains in Central Siberia. I appreciate your openness today.

      • Your points are well-taken and I apologize for a ridiculously elliptical post. I am not suggesting the 60s were apocalyptic in the same sense as this historical time appears to be. I am suggesting that all times appear to be hopeless or full of opportunity depending not only on where you stand but on your point of view. I grew up in the US but am Canadian and was at college in Toronto. I remember the classmate who was sitting in a common room skipping classes in April of 1961. Exams were just around the corner. I asked him why he wasn’t cramming for finals. He looked at me as though I were a slap-happy idiot as he talked about the Bay of Pigs invasion crisis dominating the news and the “fact” that we all were about to be wiped out by nuclear war. He couldn’t see the point of continuing his education when the End was at hand. I never heard whether he managed to pull himself together to write exams.

        My father was a designer of the first nuclear energy plant in Canada at Chalk River, Ontario. In Niagara Falls, NY, where I lived in the 50s, we huddled under our school desks at least once a month for “civil defense” drills. I thought the desks were poor shelter from the several descriptions of the atomic blast I had read and seen illustrated and I wondered what would happen to the glass block wall and the windows and to me “In the event of an enemy attack on Niagara Falls . . . .” That is how the admonition on the large warning sign on our road began (it still does, I noticed a couple of years ago), letting us know we would not be able to use it as the military and civil defense authorities would commandeer it. While I could recite the words from memory as a twelve-year-old, I had no idea what that imagined future would be like for me, my family, my friends and neighbors. How would we get into the city to shop food? Would there be any food? I was receiving a scientific education from my highly rational father, but he could not answer some questions, either, except by describing the rings of destruction, the likelihood of survival if . . if . . if . .

        A friend who was a neighbor on that road presently teaches in Japan. Her post-earthquake-and-tsunami reports on the insecurities of the adults both on and off the military base, of the children and the anxiety they are picking up from the grownups, reminds me of our school days. She teaches the children to breath deeply and think about what they need to do next and how they must focus on the task at hand. She teaches the older children to help the younger ones, which keeps them from stewing in their anxiety. She conducts the classes with more one-on-one attention as children with their parents are evacuated and diminish the number of children in the class. She has elected to stay; to donate everything she can spare to the Red Cross for people in the North. She asks us to pray. The way of life for many of those people has been altered permanently. They deal with their reality with grace, patience, and mindful of others. The Chinese nation, I hear, has been deeply impressed by the way their traditional enemies to the east have been meeting disaster. Respect is a foundation for communication; for peaceful coexistence and co-operation in problem-solving.

        The point I am trying to make is that as you contemplate what you know about populations and ideologies and meager resources, you also need to calculate optimistic factors into the equation. That positive aspect of imagination can be cultivated, although at the risk of sneers of Pollyannaism. However, it is simply a rational way of surviving: finding reasons to be hopeful opens the imagination to creative solutions.

        I certainly am not trying to send everyone back to the land. If my sense of the divine purpose led me to grow vegetables and raise chickens, I do not suggest for an instant that the divine purpose for you is identical. I am just trying to say that my route, which was beset with pain and fear and sorrow and dismay at times and (by North American standards) impoverishment and deprivation drew me to a staggeringly important discovery that I could not have made if I had been left with my creature comforts in the middle class I aspired to; in other words, the end result of my walk of faith was worth the rough journey. If a very great many people are on the verge of facing similar kinds of deprivation and difficulty, as the writers here at kulturcritic aver, I would like them to know that they already have inner resources that can make their future not just pitiful or merely viable but highly rewarding.

        Music heals mental illness. With deference to Kulturcritic for your sense of the comforting, entertaining, and relaxing qualities of music, I do not refer to those aspects of musical experience. Music is part of what makes us “cerebral,” especially the highest frequencies of sound in music. That energy conducted via the stapedius muscle of the middle ear keeps the left hemisphere dominant, which is the state of consciousness we call “sane” or “normal.” The specific frequencies of sound that cannot be processed by certain individuals define their particular form of aberrant behaviour, although the entire spectrum has not yet been calibrated. For example, the audio-processing deficits for suicidal depression are at 2 and 8 kHz (kilohertz). The noted French otolaryngologist Dr. Guy Berard, a colleague of the better-known Dr. Alfred Tomatis, noticed that pattern of deficits and healed 97.7% of his 238 suicidally depressed patients within 10 days of treatment, i.e., of exposure to music filtered to deliver those frequencies. I healed our schizophrenic son’s psychosis twice using ordinary CDs of classical violin music. Once I had taught myself neurology and understood how music affected the brain, I was able to teach him how to protect and care for his ears. After 10 years of yo-yoing into severe mental illness he has had normal brain function since the end of November 2008. You can read my blog or my writing to see that I am speaking as a behavioural scientist when I affirm that music heals the right middle ear muscle that conveys sound energy to the left half of the brain. Losses of dominance define mental illness, whether sustained, as in Daniel’s schizophrenic episodes and in his childhood dyslexia, or intermittent, as in bipolarity and other “mental” conditions. Furthermore, most of the medications being used to treat these so-called mental illnesses damage the ears. Schizophrenics in third world countries are more likely to recover than those in North America simply because our poorer brothers and sisters are less likely to be medicated (see Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic).

        It is neither too late nor too soon to take positive action to ensure a better future. Of course, huddling under a desk hoping the windows won’t shatter when the bomb drops isn’t much of a solution, but we are not schoolchildren. We are not forced to look for answers within existing institutions.

  16. pixelwhiplash says:

    Excellent synopsis Sandy. The more that this sort of “managed” rebellion is manifested, I can’t help but recall the movie “Wag the Dog”. Not only have we been rendered neutered but the paw marks from being so manipulated are becoming embarrassing simply by our own inaction.

  17. Straycat says:

    Well, Kulturcritic, you’ve hit it out of the park today. I hope the my individual replies were not too forward. However, each of the commenters have great insights that track and embellish your offering from their own experience. your reference to the State was spot on, and I have long thought of ways to separate government from State, and authority from Sovereignty. Both State and sovereignty are hierarchical principals derived from European feudal law. Both are implicitly rejected by the US Constitution, though of course not admitted to by the Hamiltonians.
    In any case, our way forward, suggested by Murph, is total financial disengagement from the corporate predators, as without our money, they cannot rule us.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Straycat – have at it with the replies my friend. The more the better. Yes, I agree that disengagement from the big boys is helpful, but I think the game is too late for it to have a dismantling impact. Although, if enough people follow suit, it may push us closer to the end more rapidly. You wouldn’t disagree with me that hierarchy as real politics began with the first emergent cities and empires in the ancient Near East, would you?

      • Straycat says:

        I do not disagree, but as I have written here in other posts, my limited foray into ethnography and pre-Grecian thought leaves me with the thought that hierarchy as a secular structural element of social control probably began before the neolithic period, but was developed into an art, and became more than just a division of labor. The religious substructure which allowed installing fear of permanent death, fear of economic or social disaster, and loss of respect in the community became an adjunct to the secular hierarchy.
        I do agree that hierarchy is the main problem in that those higher in the Matrix have the power not only to command obedience without valid authority, but have the power to declare what knowledge is and to therefore stifle honest inquiry and communication. So long as religious institutions are3 given free reign to teach young people that real knowledge is given from authority, the hierarchy will continue to have the power to rule with only a modicum of brute force.
        Your position that hierarchy and classical logical forms began together and are mutually reinforcing is interesting. I must think more on this and do some heavy research.
        On a practical note, as I noted in another post, the hierarchical control that produced the agricultural revolution may have less persuasive power today because of the energy efficiencies and cooperative work methods of the modern world.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Straycat – religious institutions are not alone in teaching the young that knowledge comes from higher authority. Our schools and other social institutions do likewise. The quote, “Question authority” makes sense in today’s world, because authority (institutional hierarchy) is everywhere.

  18. John Bollig says:

    I think Sandy has really got the prediction on the spot. DA and the others have fleshed out the arguements that I have been espousing for quite some time.

  19. capt rick says:

    ever since the 60s protests years, i wondered why the protests against war and famine always had musical groups to sing and to dance to.. This seemed to me to dilute the seriousness of the message. When seen by the ruling Elite as another reason for people to come together to have a good time and get laid. So as history tells us, protest has never budged the power structure in the US since the 60s at lest.
    So the article is very important message FOR US TO TAKE PAUSE AND REALLY MEAN WHAT WE SAY ABOUT CHANGE AND TO NO SUCCUMB TO ENTERTAINMENT Value in any way..After all, the riling elite has used prime time TV entertainment to control all who what since TV was invented. Yes
    So protest mus take a non-entertainment form for it to have power.

  20. John Bollig says:

    TV, sports and cultural and even religious activities are designed to control people. I don’t know how we are going to make it given the disaster that is going to sweep us all down the path toward a simpler, less populated world. My best estimate on the perfect storm is sometime in last half of this decade. But, surely the first disaster is going to be the debt limit crisis that will crush our economy. We may not have much time to digest the next crisis which is peak oil and its consequences. Once we are bankrupt as a nation, nobody will want to sell us oil at any price. After this of course is the massive social dislocation that will take place. With the end of civil society, the distribution system will collapse and we are all going to go back several centuries to about 1890 or so economically. It will take some time to redress some of the excess populations and resort our society but, by the 2030’s we should have a hodgepodge of old tech and revised ” new tech ” which is 19th century technology refurbished and reinvented with the last gasps of the 20th and 21st century tech. Of course, nations that have resources will be able to postpone the end of the age of petrol. We will be using whatever is left to grow crops etc etc. But overall we don’t have a future, we have a past that we shall be returning to in short order.
    The job of every intellectually minded person should be to gather books and to become familiar with agriculture on a small scale. Learn to grow food. Learn to can food or to preserve meat. Learn how to live on very little electric power. Buy a wind turbine and hook it up to your electrical system. Learn how to shoot guns and take a firearms course at a college or club. I know that it may not be popular to do so among your liberal friends but knowing how to use firearms is going to be a skill that will save your life. Learn to defend yourself from the gray unwashed masses that surely will come pounding on your door to rob, rape and pillage in your community. Our objective should be to save as much hard useful information about our society for the distant future. Thousands of years from now, nobody will care about us individually, but the information saved will out live our civilization if we care enough to save it.

    • Straycat says:

      Have been thinking about these things lately more than usual. Food and self defense are basics, however, the mundane will prove to be a real problem. think, toothpaste, aspirin, toilet paper, hand tools, solar panels or wind, clothing, decisional authority, resource distribution, exchange value, division of labor, plants as medicine. Hand driven machines, no light at night, therefore, a shortened work day and recreational limitations.
      By the way, many of the unwashed masses are those that know plumbing , carpentry, etc. Who knows how to grind lenses by hand, and can assess eye needs without fancy machines. Will first aid have to suffice? And if so, for how long. Who knows how to can, preserve food, save and keep seeds?
      Each of these issues requires cooperation and fairness. If the concerns we discuss here come to pass, we had better start now on matters more difficult now. There are no, known to me, places to discuss these matters seriously on a national or regional basis.

  21. Nice post, Sandy (nice=word of marketing)…I just sent it on to someone…

  22. Disaffected says:

    This is how it starts:
    Libyan rebels welcome U.S. drones; McCain visits Benghazi

    Undeclared War #III (complete with War King John McCain glad handing for photo ops). One wishes someone would shake the Libyans by the collar and tell them what they’re getting themselves into. The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. Prediction: drones and their progeny (they’ll be improved exponentially in the coming years and merged with still emerging technologies to make them unbelievably more invasive and lethal, and, because they don’t risk the lives of operators [or incur the costs thereof to their agencies], will be embraced by militaries and law enforcement agencies world-wide) will become the scourge of mankind in the 21st century.

    *KEY POINT*: Drones will be an increasingly effective weapon when oil supply issues begin to bite in earnest, as they greatly alleviate the logistical needs for invading/occupying armies. And drones add an additional factor that conventional forces don’t: TERROR! Imagine: They can loiter weeks or months over a target area, all the while developing intelligence remotely that is recorded and stored digitally elsewhere and allowing the population to go about its business normally. They can then deliver surgical strikes that are literally “bolts out of the blue” to completely unsuspecting targets, who may or may not have been legitimate in the first place. Indeed, while many have bemoaned the ideas of collateral and/or unintended casualties, they are indeed one of the prime features of the use of this technology when you consider that terrorizing the population in order to subdue it is one of the main goals of occupying military and law enforcement outfits.

    And thus far, drones are being embraced by most for their decidedly short term and minimal benefits. If you want to watch people embrace and – indeed! – beg for their own enslavement, watch the development of drone technology in the coming years. There’ll be one overhead for all of us soon enough!

    • Disaffected says:

      Let me add in conjunction with this:

      25 killed in drone attack in North Waziristan

      Drones have another overarching feature which is probably their highest value of all. They make the concept of perpetual and/or unlimited war palatable for nations so inclined (duh! the US), because they reduce the human and economic costs for their users so dramatically. We’re seeing this played out as we speak in all three theaters of conflict (Libraqistan?). For would be oppressors, drones are strictly win-win-win. And, as we’ve seen since Desert Storm, the surveillance videos they can gather provide valuable political propaganda theater afterward.

    • Straycat says:

      Again you have done great service by explicating the disaster that awaits us from the national security state. Based on history of law enforcement in this country, I am reasonably sure that some of the “testing” of the drones occurred in cities of this country and were used to collect and hold information. Legal problems abound. Courts have held that an airplane flying over one’s land is not a search, even with heat and infrared devices focused on the landowner. So, if a drone hovers almost invisibly 20 feet above one’s yard, is a warrant required? If the Immigration police can search anyone without a warrant or probable cause within 100 miles of an international border, will the courts protect us against the use of drones for such searches? Probably not.
      We are faced with the end of law as a protection of individuals, and the creation of a subjective, corporate owned jurisprudence. The legal positivist notion that the law is what the “sovereign” says it is without any constitutional restraints or recognition of rights arising from the very nature of humans has allowed the corporate law firms to draft and feed legislation to all of the legislatures, rendering the idea of elections as democracy a fraud.
      The whole idea that there must be a sovereign to authorize legal sanctions is feudal and unnecessary. This outdated construct has caused much mischief and misery by insulating governments from being held accountable for the acts of government agents.
      Additionally, the whole idea of a State, deriving from “estate” that which is owned, derives solely from the claim by the kings and prices of Europe to own completely all of the land within the kingdom, and to have a right to the services of all of the subjects.
      The fact is, that every living thing on earth exist within a commonwealth. Common to all is the air we breath, and that some molecules that have left your lungs enter my lungs after being changed by becoming part of the air. The urine from a body joins the rivers and streams, becomes purified, and at some point, those molecules are drunk by me. This principle exists for every necessity of life. The common law grew to protect these things, though imperfectly. Today, corporations claim ownership of our individual genes, our DNA information, our vegetable and grain seeds and every other matter that can either turn a profit or assist them in controlling the means of production and the quality of what is acceptable.
      Revolution is out, in the old sense of violent confrontation, so we must find a more subtle way to free ourselves and to disentangle ourselves and our children from this giant squid, as the corpses were so accurately described.

  23. John Bollig says:

    DA, Straycat and others,


    Look, when all TEOTWAWKI takes place, any command and control functions will cease to exist. You will not have the drones to fear. You will have the microbes to fear. The diseases of the 19th and early 20th century will sweep thru the population like a blade of the grim reaper. Typhoid,whooping cough, Influenza and Tuberculois will ravage and reduce the populations to 10 percent of what they were before. Think Black Death and multiply that by many times. The simple fact is that those in power will be so scared of the collapse of the civil society that any attempt to redress the balance of power will be met with extreme violence. However, the rich will die from the same microbes that will kill the rest of us. So, it kind of evens itself out. We are going to face several events that are clean the slate so to speak. We as a society will be so rocked to its core by this that anyone in authority will be tempted to run for the hills. I just don’t think that our society will be able to take the hammer blows of the four modern horsemen of death. we will all just either die a painful death from a mutated old world epidemic disease or starve or die in the violence that surely will sweep in during and after the ” great death ” that will reduce the world’s population to pre industrial levels. Mother nature will have its vengence on us and our wasteful world. May God have mercy on us ALL.

    • Disaffected says:

      I agree with all of that except the statement that the rich will die from the same microbes that kill the rest of us. Certainly deteriorating health and environmental conditions will affect everyone eventually, but of course the wealthy and powerful are already and will continue to isolate themselves from the rest of us and reserve the last of the increasingly precious oil based technologies for them and theirs.

      I think that’s what’s happening with health care in a nutshell, and why the rich and powerful are so adamantly opposed to any idea that even remotely reeks of “universal” equitable health care. Listen, these people are nothing more than the current embodiment of plutocratic notions that are as old as mankind itself. The idea that in a world of limited resources and unlimited desires, that life is a winner take all contest for who should get the most (and that someone must get the most, things can’t be merely equitable), and that any means whatsoever is justified in service of that ethos.

      The fact that such a philosophy, given a free reign to play out to its logical conclusion as it has been in modern “greed is good” western corporate capitalism, will very likely take down the entire planetary ecosystem is entirely beside the point for those who would be kings. They now realize the monumental impact of the struggle they have unleashed, and would literally rather take down the entire system for all than come out on the short end of the stick themselves. A fact that, I might add, will only be reinforced as we approach the tipping point for current trends, if indeed, we haven’t already. I’d say that point’s on the very short term horizon.

      • Straycat says:

        JB and DA and others here, hello on a beautiful Friday morning. I’d like to suggest some actions that we can take to moderate the pain and devastation that you foresee. First, we must stop buying processed meats and stockyard meats. Recent reports of contamination of as much as 50% of meats sold in supermarkets with Staph A. is as good an indicator as any of the coming dissolution of law and civility. Our response must be to find and foster local sources of grass fed meats. Likewise, local vegetables, drinks, wines and products should be supported. This is not because of any “Buy American” rah rah thing, but because these local resources are going to be our lifeline.
        Much illness is driven by our production and distribution methods, by incessant air travel and failure of our public health systems. Sewage, pollution, petroleum products and complex biologicals such as hexachromate and insecticides are other causes of health issues. These will diminish as the oil supply diminishes. Humans have survived through millenia of plagues and locusts, and have multiplied despite these scourges. While tuberculosis is becoming a world wide problem, cholera and other crowding and sanitation based problems will be self limiting.
        Distributed energy sources, small scale solar, wind, water and tide may be able supply a much diminished power demand. Indeed, energy will be driven by supply, and not demand. Energy will become precious, and will. of necessity, be conserved, and used for productive purposes. These energy conversion devices can be manufactured locally, with low tech production facilities.
        So, though the end of the Empire and the greedy “I want it all, and I want it now” will end. I suspect that there are opportunities to direct the fear and panic that is already rising according to todays newspaper, to sustainable peaceful outcomes. I do not deny that there will be violence, I just wonder how long that can be sustained, as violence is such a high energy activity. Thank you all for your thoughts and insights. It is invigorating to get away from politics as that method of addressing problems is broken for the time being.

        • Disaffected says:

          Straycat (I like that moniker), I agree with all you said there, although (there’s always a but ain’t there?), I would simply warm, for most “localism” ideas will be hard and expensive to practice, especially in the short term. Over the longer run, with fossil fuel energy prices rising, localism will return of its own accord, whether we like it or not. As always, it will be the poorest among us who will suffer the most, although the poorest among us is likely to include a pretty broad swath of the population before its all over and done.

          In the end (and this is poetic justice if there ever was), rising energy prices will be the crucial nail in the coffin of globalism and silly US fantasies of global hegemony, although, once again, that’s likely to take some time to play out, and with all those nukes sitting in their silos and launchers just itching to reach critical mass, there’s no telling how all of this is going to play out.

          I’m sure there’s some quant geek out there who’s run the numbers, and if so I’d like to see them. As in, given the current number of nukes in the world(?), what are the odds that none of them, or, at the very least, no significant number of them, will ever be detonated in anger and will instead eventually be safely and environmentally responsibly dismantled. 1K-1? 1M-1? Incalculable?

          • Straycat says:

            I say incalculable, as we know nothing of the people with the immediate power to launch. What happens when spouses and children of the majors and light colonels die of cholera? Also, what happens when basic maintenance of these complex radioactive and explosive devices ends when the governments no longer have the money to pay the troops?
            We face here the product of overly complex machinery coupled with overly complex human chains of command and responsibility, to a fairly large exponent of wishful thinking, poor judgement and a will to power that is demonstrated by the Japanese situation at the nuclear plants. There are no good outcomes in sight without a rejection of power as a goal by those politicians for which power is all.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Pretty heavy, John!!!!

  24. John Bollig says:

    DA, straycat and others,

    The issue is not that the rich are immune to the ravages of disease, they aren’t. History keeps telling us that disease is the great equalizer in mother nature’s arsenal. The single most important factor in disease spread in the 19th century was geography. Cholera and Yellow Fever spread along the platte river valley and the lower missippi river respectively in 1867 and 1877- 78. The simple fact is that the rich fled the yellow fever outbreaks but still died in masse. The death of millions of people, both rich and poor alike will shake society to its core. Think about AIDS and the changes it caused and multiply it thousands of times. Walls do not stop microbes.

    Plutocratic notions are simply fantasy that will collapse with the end of the age of petrol. The Warren Buffets of the world won’t have a chance. They will simply be overwhelmed.

    • Disaffected says:

      Agreed. And disease is gonna have a powerful enabler in the form of malnutrition and generalized lower health standards as the “first world” US gradually sinks back to the level of the rest. It should be noted that our slippage is already underway and would have continued either way due to the impacts of that great leveler, globalism. Globalism was always only ever about one thing: extracting wealth and resources from populations one by one and leaving a scorched earth wasteland in its wake – a global cancer that eventually killed its host. Lucky for us all it’s exhausting its fuel faster than it can grow and will die a withering, albeit likely violent death in the coming years. And the feral humans left in its wake – if there are any – will dance joyously on its grave!

  25. Disaffected says:

    Back to the topic of the commodification of everything. Wednesday was apparently the one year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon fiasco, and of course some (all?) of the survivors were on the Today show, with their lawyers in tow of course. Not to belittle their experience one whit, but from their collective downtrodden expressions, it was clear to me at least what their primary motivations were for appearing on the show. Enough said.

    To set the scene, I’m never in the best of moods first thing in the morning anyway, and usually watch Today with the jaundiced eye (pun intended) of a mid-50s bachelor who more often than not is waking up from a fitful night’s sleep, which may or may not have been made even more so due to excessive alcohol intake the previous PM. Under even the best of conditions, I view all of the so-called “morning shows” as little more than thinly veiled camp, as in cultural vaudeville for those of us who simply must reluctantly be up at that time of the morning, presumably for the purpose of reporting to a j-o-b, and not because they genuinely have something productive to do. In that respect, Today is perfect, if for no other reason that Matt Lauer seems to have the same barely concealed cynical side to his nature that I do, which I, for one, find appealing in a morning show host .

    ANYWAY, I was waking up to all this with a cup of steaming Joe in a moderately decent mood with the patio door open and spring a springing outside mere feet away, when what should my mid-50s trained eye of personal “peeve-dom” home in on like a laser-guided precision munition dropped at a mere 500′ somewhere over Libraqistan? A FREAKING BLUE LAPEL “AWARENESS RIBBON” (I learned that these were indeed referred to as such only after the fact, we’ll get to that in a second) ATTACHED TO EACH OF THEIR PUFFED UP CHESTS!

    I know, I know… Pause and take a breath or two.

    A bit of history. The utter ridiculousness of the commodification of “symbols” in general, and political symbols in particular first became apparent to me immediately post 9-11 with the advent of the Shrub administration’s inspired/demanded display of the flag lapel pin by members of “the Party.” The use of this abomination was truly and indeed a “teaching moment” long before our current big-eared idiot in chief popularized the word. Indeed, the immediate and almost universal adoption of this symbol of allegiance to the new American “Reichtstag” was perhaps the first true indication that we, as a democratic republic, were indeed f***ed. The eventual coronation of King Obama (aka King George III), after first resisting the symbology himself during his “affectation” phase (read: primary election process) , merely confirmed our status.

    But I digress. After Googling (what else) the issues of ribbons a few times, I finally came upon the following two entries, which you all may or may not find appealing:

    Awareness ribbon


    List of Awareness Ribbons

    As per usual, there are countless other links off of both of those Wiki articles which you are free to peruse. Needless to say, even I; old, semi-alcoholic, decidedly anachronistic curmudgeon that I am, was/am still amazed at all of the countless instances of sympathy/dissent this seemingly inane technology has been used to quantify, commodify, and otherwise take the steam out of otherwise valid issues.

    And I ask, is THIS all that it takes to buy off a revolution? Is THIS what amounts to “freedom” in the 21st century? The mere commodification of a sentiment to be displayed on a lapel pin or a bumper sticker/magnet or a f***ing internet symbol? Think about it ladies and gents, for as purveyors of symbology (aka propaganda) – whatever their ilk – know all to well, symbols carry a powerful message for better or worse, whether they’re being used positively (to carry a message), or negatively (to absorb and mute a message).

  26. Disaffected says:

    My apologies, just a quick aside. This…

    McCain visits rebels, Libya adjusts Misrata tactics

    …and all other efforts like it should be viewed as what they are: a blatantly emotional/political appeal to get Americans to support yet another war of imperial adventureism. Far be it from me advising you what to think, but you should at least be informed beforehand as to the alternative view.

    • Straycat says:

      It is always about the resources, and always has been. Land water, access to sea lanes, women and procreation of soldiers and farmers, copper, then iron, then uranium and rare earths. Power equal security equal sexual attractiveness equal -?

  27. John Bollig says:

    DA, Stray and others,

    The issue has always been about resources. People are resources, water is a resource.

    The control of the rivers and oceans conveys power.

    When this death wave hits, powerful will be toppled. They will be dyng like flies.

    Those lucky enough to survive the death wave will face a society more akin to Somalia then Mad Max.

    • Mike Smith says:

      There are, of course, other possible scenarios. In war time, and when faced with tragic natural events, societies can behave in truly exemplary ways. Vigilante groups can form spontaneously to protect neighborhoods and communities. Food cooperatives, medical services that are voluntary, bartering systems, etc.

      Nowhere is it written that a “Mad Max” world is how it must be. Human beings are remarkably adaptable.

      As for the ultra rich dying, I doubt it. They will be in Zurich counting their money. Bet on it.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Mike – I am not sure there will be a Zurich that survives global collapse; and I am not sure what money there would be to count (fiat currency)?

        • Mike Smith says:

          It might be gold, gemstones, rare stamps, it might be something else, but the top 1% always seem to land on their feet.

          I also don’t think, and this is just feeling, that a global collapse would be homogenous. There will be pockets of relative prosperity in numerous places over a long period of time.

          When I look at history, and see the utter devastation of post war Europe, Russia, China and Japan, among others, I am always amazed. Near zero infrastructure, flattened villages, towns and cities. Destroyed currencies, financial and personal records. Every privation imaginable. And what happened? Socialists, communists, anarchists, republicans, royalists and the apolitical didn’t stay in bed with the covers pulled over their heads. They got up and started putting one foot in front of the other. They rebuilt. And along the way, improved working conditions, wages, education and healthcare. Look at Europe today. People did that. Just ordinary people.

          I think it was Hemingway who said, “Whatever you must do, others have done. And if they have done it, so can you.”

          Perhaps I’m ignorant of the peril, but I just can’t see a total worldwide collapse followed by the human race going feral.

          • kulturcritic says:

            Mike – perhaps you’re not focused on the systemic risks associated with overshoot and the environmental degradation caused by industrial civilization. You need to recognize that oil, water, arable land, air, all are at or approaching peak. With climactic changes there has been terrible food and commodity shortages, grains, cereals, etc., globally. This is one reason MENA is in full scale revolt; the dictators and kings can no longer even provide for the masses. The citizens of the USA is simply too well-trained and distracted by all the pretty colors and promises to do anything about it, although the masses here are beginning to suffer as well. So it’s not just currency, war or social infrastructures that are crumbling. It is a way of life that has been unsustainably supported for several thousand years, grounded in hierarchical control of the earth’s resources, human or otherwise.

            • Mike Smith says:

              I understand what you are saying, and in the main don’t disagree. As the hierarchy collapses the results will likely not be symmetrical. Areas of this nation will be well positioned, others no so much, but I have a sense that it could engender a new spirit of sharing and survival that is an open promise. Difficult, yes. Impossible, no. There is something in me that believes we can recover our bearings and find new ways to adapt. That, of course, could be Pollyanna bullshit.

              “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” — Teilhard de Chardin

              For reasons I can’t explain, I believe that.

              • kulturcritic says:

                Sure, we must adapt Mike! We are adapting now, as the collapse is already in its early stages. Look at the demonstrations across Europe last year over austerity; look at the civil wars in MENA; look at the land and resource grabs currently underway by the USA. We shall see how this adaptation unfolds.

  28. John Bollig says:

    The only money is going to gold , silver or bullets. Most of humanity will be reduced to living in the 19th century. We may not want to survive the great death that will soon face. As I have mentioned before, the microbes are going to sweep down the rich as well as the poor. The rich fled the pandemics of the 19th century but it got them as well. Let me remind you all that microbes don’t respect wealth and that the microbes always win in some way shape or form.

    • Mike Smith says:

      I would love to offer an intelligent reply , but I just can’t. The subject is too dark for me. I can’t address total and complete collapse followed by plague. If you are correct, then I will be a casualty. Then again, I’m 70 years old and have had some innings.

  29. Mary Sojourner says:

    and this in from Mary Oliver on a female bear:
    “I think of her
    like a black and leafy ledge

    to sharpen her claws against
    the silence
    of the trees.”

    I’ve been sharpening my claws on human silence since 1957 and high school. We can have effects. It’s only when we begin to believe that we cannot that our planet is doomed to the predation of The Machine.

  30. Bear facts breaking the silence pointedly.

  31. Pingback: Resistance as commodity: America medicated and enslaved – Guy McPherson's blog

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