We are spoiled here in the West: all the latest techno-gadgets, the sweetest toys, grocery stores with shelves full to overflowing, infinite consumer choice for whatever the heart desires. But that is not all, no that is not all. Hot and cold running water all of the time, central heating and air conditioning thermostatically controlled by us in our homes and businesses, electricity on-demand with the flip of a switch, 300+ channels of television, credit cards galore, the fastest internet connections on earth, 24 hour shopping networks; in short, an endless supply of distractions within a growing spectacle intended precisely for that purpose.
Our unquestioned belief in plenty and in the freedom to choose what we want from the “plenum” has infected our thinking throughout the Western world. It has become like a drug to which we are now addicted. Even with massive evidence to the contrary, we continue to believe – even to hope against hope – that this worldview is real and sustainable. We refuse to read the signs of our own addiction, and the lies we continue to tell ourselves in order to maintain that belief.
The US political culture, in concert with our media oligarchy, is a prime example of how this mass delusion is disseminated and reinforced. They simply keep feeding us the pabulum with ever-greater promises of new bounty, and we look no further for proof or refutation. Our addiction remains unquestioned. The problem with ending this addiction is that even those of us who are convinced of the delusion are so overwhelmed by (what one fellow blogger calls) the “staggering momentum” of the spectacle and so entrenched in its addictive pleasure that even we cannot imagine a world devoid of the fruit; we remain “passively complicit” before of the charade, as another fellow blogger has described the situation.
Day upon day we continue to view images from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Greece, England, and elsewhere around the world, and we imagine: “thank god, that is not us.” But it is us! In fact the systems that control us are the very same ones that supported and institutionalized the conditions of abuse in those far-flung locales, sowing the seeds of human discontent. We too are abused, driven into submissive conformity by the curriculum, as are our brothers and sisters across MENA and Europe. But the abusiveness here has been mostly soft and hidden behind a façade of slick marketing, advertising, sloganeering, and alot of nationalistic mumbo-jumbo, including the big phrase “American Exceptionalism;” it is the language of inverted totalitarianism according to Chris Hedges. But that too is changing, as the abuses of the State and its mechanisms become more evident daily. In truth, the only thing really exceptional about us here in the Homeland has been our willful ignorance concerning the nature of our servitude, and the aforementioned complicity in our own enslavement to a system of manipulation and control that we unfailingly accept as a given.
Our addiction to the dream has simply been too strong; it has held us entranced and submissive before the promise of plenty. And not once have we collectively thought about the limits of growth and sustainability or what we were in fact trading away in order to chase that dream. The slogan was always, “put the pedal to the metal,” or “full steam ahead” and, more recently, “Just Do It!” And we were cocksure we knew the truth, that we had the magic wand. There were never enough eyes open to crack the surface appearances. We never recognized its delusional quality in such large numbers before now. But as Dylan pointed out some years ago, “the times they are a-changin’,” and the world we have created through the unforgiving logic of command and control, sheer belief, and wanton desire, has begun to unravel more quickly as of late. The edges are finally torn open, and the stuffing (along with our overstuffed plutocrats and bureaucrats) has begun to fall out. But still, we hope, against hope, that we are wrong. We still want to believe that this is just a bump in the road of America’s manifest destiny, and the supremacy of the curriculum of the West.
Then, what do you know, in the midst of this burgeoning public epiphany we have more clowns taking the stage, seeking to continue the charade, piling on the spectacle, trying to feed us the same tripe we have had to swallow on countless other occasions. Whether the name is Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Obama, Palin, Bachmann, Perry, or a host of others screwballs and charlatans, they all have their talking points. And “We, the People,” continue to listen to these snake oil salesmen and women as if they really care about us and are saying something meaningful. But, they do not! and they are not! They are just mouthing clichés, words whose meanings have long since vacated the premises. After all, what does the word “democracy” mean anymore, or “freedom,” for that matter? I guess we could always ask the Supreme Court to weigh in and make a judgment call on those terms; after all, they hastily redefined “corporations” as real persons. Just ask Mitt Romney. He was clever enough to remind his listeners in Iowa of that fact, just days before the straw poll.
The real question is: what is this country we call home, and where is it going? The answer, I’m afraid, is not a pleasant one. In brief, we seem more and more to be displaying our true colors, a totalitarian plutocracy managed by the elite and the well-heeled – bankers, financiers, international conglomerates, media moguls, their lobbyists, lawyers, and political cronies. Perhaps it was never even a democracy, but a political aristocracy, just rearranging the deck chairs occasionally to keep up the appearances. After all, isn’t that what America is all about… keeping up the appearances (or a stiff upper lip, as the Brits say), even when our lives are in turmoil and the nation is disintegrating before our eyes?
I know of no political solution to our problems, my good readers. The way I see it, political institutions are at the root of our problems. Whether it is a theocracy, aristocracy, oligarchy, plutocracy, capitalist democracy, fascist dictatorship, or communist regime, the net result is the same: expand and consolidate command and control of resources, including human resources. The good old USA has been engaged in that very enterprise since its inception; first by taking from the American Indian, then from the Brits, the Spanish, the French, and then across the globe in MENA and elsewhere. All political activity here from its founding has been focused on enriching the landed aristocracy, the lawyers and their friends, the financiers. Who were Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Randolph, and the others? They were the well-heeled and the lawyers. And who is in control today?
It is altogether another charade when these same leaders of the Western world call for Gaddafi or Assad to step down, or take over Iraq and Afghanistan. I say charade because it was we in the West, and America in particular, that placed or helped maintain many if not all of these dictators in their place, financing their habits, providing their armaments, and enabling their terror. We did so because it was in our “National Interest” to do so; and this phrase is just code for maintaining our worldview with its lavish lifestyle, and expanding our hegemonic influence.
But now that a large part of the world (both “free” and “enslaved”) has seen through the charade – a view that perhaps was made possible by the spectacular and catastrophic events of 9/11 – our leaders are quick to change their allegiances because they see a new window of opportunity to further enhance and secure their access to critical resources and markets in the hopes of continued expansion and consolidation of global power — keeping the spectacle alive for another fifty years perhaps.
My final question then is this: when, if ever, will the American people awaken en masse to their own enslavement to this Curriculum, and demand an end to the brutality enforced globally by its imperialist designs? When will we demand an end to the financing of wars to subjugate and control; when will we demand an end to our own subjugation to a system that benefits the few while destroying the many and the planet we call HOME? My belief is that, like rats in a maze we now desire the treadmill and the prize that awaits us at the end of the race. We have become so accustomed to the ‘rat race,’ all we seek is the safety and the security of the system, its curriculum and its head – the legislator.
After my divorce, when I was living as a single man in lower downtown Denver, a few of us guys would congregate very often at a particular local bar. When the bar was just about to close up for the night, after what appeared to be our final drink, the elder among us would always say, “hey boys, let’s have a final-final.” So I now have a final-final question for us. Why do we collectively believe that the body must be ruled by a head, the body politic by an archia? The early Israelites lived as nomads, refusing to be led and dictated to by a worldly ruler or head; they rejected kingship and the other trappings of civilization. So why do we believe that an archia (a ruler) is necessary today? Perhaps an outcome of collapse will be the reconstitution of a more primitive form of an-archy.