I have long found Chris Hedges to be a beacon of morality in the belly of the beast that is post 9/11 fascist America. His book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning is a superbly written, uncompromising look at the horrors of war seen through the eyes of a man who has been there, Hedges served as a war correspondent in some of the most vicious and senseless slaughtering sprees of the late Twentieth Century. His sheer courage in coming out in the early days of the Bushreich and denouncing war during a commencement address at Rockford College when the phony War on Terror was just ramping up during which he was jeered by the audience, his microphone cut off and he was run like a rabid dog from the campus, later his employer, the so-called liberal New York Times stabbed him in the back. Hedges went on to write what I consider to be a definitive expose of the authoritarian Christian Right entitled American Fascists and contributes weekly columns to the fine website Truthdig. As a fan, it was only natural that I would pick up his latest scathing condemnation of the dumb, foul rottenness that is America in terminal decline and while uneven it delivers like a baseball bat to the head. We truly are living in the existential Hell that is the Empire of Illusion.
We are a culture that has been denied, or has passively given up, the linguistic and intellectual tools to cope with complexity, to separate illusion from reality. We have traded the printed word for the gleaming image. Public rhetoric is designed to be comprehensible to a ten-year old child or an adult with a sixth-grade reading level. Most of us speak at this level, are entertained and think at this level. We have transformed our culture into a vast replica of Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island, where boys were lured with the promise of no school and endless fun. They were all, however, turned into donkeys – a symbol, in Italian culture, of ignorance and stupidity.It’s no small wonder that I am at times accused of being an elitist by many that I know for not giving a rat’s ass what silly babble and games what they participate in. It is really a tragic and sad waste of a mind when people have nothing to talk about that is any more intellectually in depth than what was on television the prior night, who will win the next ridiculous football game or wring their hands over manufactured McNews stories like the boy and the balloon but this is what people find important. Try to invoke any serious real issues and one gets the thousand yard stare, a few moments of awkward silence and then the mental loop restarts and the ‘conversation’ returns to what was on television, shit, I know some people who are so fucked up that they even talk about the commercials. I happen to have at one time worked with a clique that idolized Jared Fogel, the pitchman for Subway who became the avatar of the American obsession with weight loss to look like the false idealized images that they see on TV. Fogel is the former scale busting mammoth who lost hundreds of pounds allegedly by eating nothing but Subway sandwiches while in college. As with all urban myths the legend of Jared is comprised of far more bullshit and outright chicanery than it is of serious truths. One who has become a walking talking Subway robot by spreading the gospel of Jared is one of the sheeple who is in the final stages of the consumer capitalist evolution and should be cryogenically frozed until the day that human cloning is perfected and the corporations can truly become Gods of creation.
What is not mentioned in the constant advertising featuring the bespectacled yuppie wonder boy in his post-flubber days is that his successful weight loss formula was more the result of a drastic reduction in daily calorie consumption as well as regular exercise than from gobbling turkey sandwiches and peddling Subway’s snake oil. In fact if you go to Subway’s website you will notice the preponderance of disclaimers on every Jared related page. That Fogel is a nationally recognized pseudo celebrity (he still shows up on NFL postgame shows) is no surprise, especially when you see the orgy of adulation over the contestants of American Idol or Survivor or some other crapfest who are made into examples that in America, anyone, no matter how humble, fucked and beset by myriad of woes can become famous and therefore evidence that the system works. Here is an interesting little site that I found on The Cult of Jared that is recommended reading. They want to have their meatball sub and eat it too but the truth is that Fogel could have lost the weight eating at Taco Bell, McDonalds or Popeye’s had he undertaken a similar cut in caloric intake and engaged in regular exercise. The Subway diet plan as with all get rich quick schemes or revolutionary weight loss plans are quite simply only chum for flocking suckers the likes of which there is no shortage of in modern day America. Of course the dietary industry which is the modern day equivalent of snake oil and miracle cures peddled by the traveling medicine men of the old West has a vested interested in keeping Americans fat for life, as much as a vested interest as the fast food and restaurant lobby who are not above producing fake ‘trust us we’re experts’ type studies that encourage more gluttony.
But I was talking about feeling like one of the tribe who has been cast out as one who just doesn’t get it, everyone is talking about the Super Bowl commercials, the tripe that is broadcast into their skulls every night when they get home that renders their brains into so much gelatin or whatever else is thrown out as bread and circuses. I am a rarity, an anachronism in this empire of illusion, I openly denounce television and unlike millions, I read books. So if that makes me an elitist in the eyes of the slaves so be it. Shit, as the saying goes in the land of the blind a one eyed man can be king and there is nothing quite like understanding that the USA has become a land of lemmings, wimps, haters, abject morons and regressive right-wing filth that has been nurtured like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed a steady diet of bullshit. Heretics such as myself fit Mencken’s very definition of the iconoclast:
The Iconoclast proves enough when he proves by his blasphemy that this or that idol is defectively convincing – that at least one visitor to the shrine is left full of doubts.
And as a corporate wage slave I am all too aware that I am a pariah, a leper and the most dangerous and vilified of all – GASP – a pessimist. Far be it from me to check my dignity at the door and take my hit of optimism opium from the pushers who staff the gulag. In less primitive times one who dares to violate the dictates of the workplace positivity police would have their tongue cut out and be cast out into the wilderness. Today one is first mocked and shunned by imbecilic childish co-workers and backbone challenged managers and if the ostracism doesn’t work there is PIP or some other acronym that stands for the corporate form of Dean Wormer’s double secret probation which is the final step before firing and the corporation is able to shaft the ‘malcontent’ when it comes to unemployment (they will keep their dead peasant insurance policies though) and any severance that may have been earned. Corporate America is a cruel and heartless place, a combination of Orwell, Huxley, Machiavelli, Tony Robbins and Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook and the governing ideology of that particular institution is what has fucked the entire country, like the alien black oil in the X Files, it has seeped in and prepared the pod people for the harvest. But more on the quackery of the optimism opium a bit later.
But I digress…..
Hedges’ brilliant and passionate smack down of the desolate wasteland of 21st century America and the pathetic lost souls that inhabit the fucking place only validate my sheer contempt for the masses of asses, the useful idiots and my fellow Murkans. Shit, I really do hate most fucking people, like Daniel Plainview in the classic morality play There Will Be Blood, I find nothing good in them…. at least not anymore since the Reagan years and the demarcation from anything even remotely resembling reality. My faith in the humanity and redemptive qualities of my fellow Americans has long ago left the building and I am fully cognizant that I live in some Bizarro universe where I am one of the dwindling number of holdouts who has not been assimilated by the body snatchers. Fucked is fucked, as an old sage bartender once told me in my borderline petty criminal early years… ”desperation is not pretty”. The book is broken into five long pieces on the power of illusion and the ruinous moral and social consequences of each: celebrity, love, wisdom, happiness and ultimately America, in my opinion the penultimate illusion of them all. I have to say that I was even stunned at the job that he does in this book on exposing the bursting and sweating rancid underbelly of capitalist American culture post 9/11. Hedges critiques the reality television ‘fuck you’ culture of crap like a master coroner performing an autopsy on all that is rotten, vile and viscerally doomed about the media culture that has swallowed us whole.
"We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true. But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube. You eat like the tube. You even think like the tube. In God's name, you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion."
Let's face it, anyone who is not intoxicated by the siren song of the Matrix, who is not plugged into the hive and who is fully aware of the downward trajectory of this sorry assed country is fully aware of the power of illusion that is broadcast into nearly every home, the most insidious mind control device in human hisotry is that glass screened electronic god in the living room. A rogue government and the oligarchy that it serves owes their success in colonizing the brains of the lemmings to that pernicious invention and the use of it to erase and reprogram the human mind. Television, at it's most basic level is a tool of the corporations to advertise, to create a set of artificial needs, false ideals and Aryan American archetypes in order to sell products. People have long since immersed themselves in such imagery to the extent of adapting their own inner workings to include snippets of what they see as television. Hedges first chapter deals with how the culture of celebrity has corrupted the very souls of Americans and he uses the examples of sensationalist, mean-spirited, mental masturbatory droolfests such as professional wrestling, the Jerry Springer Show and it's imitators and reality television swill as examples of how successful that the dumbing down, the coarsening and the fattening of the sheeple has been.
There can be no serious argument that the average intellect in this country has been in freefall since the advent of television, specifically cable television. It is the opiate of the masses, the tool of the oligarchy and It is a damned certainty that elements within the government immediately realized the mind controlling potential of television just as big business realized that the new medium could be harnessed for advertising and commercial purposes so did the power brokers realize that it could be similarly utilized to manufacture consent, a term coined by Noam Chomsky who like so many others who dare to ask the serious questions are ghettoized into little niches, you will never see Chomsky on the corporate media, the same goes for the great John Pilger and especially Chris Hedges. You won’t see Chris Hedges as a guest on the phony liberal cable network shows, he is too serious and his antiwar credentials are impeccable due to his time spent as a war correspondent, he has seen the carnage, the atrocities. If MSNBC’s hallowed duo of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow would ever seriously address the fascist warfare state then they would by out of their GE owned studios faster than shit through a tin horn.
The coming of the 1980’s, Ronald Reagan (our pre Obama product as president) and emerging technologies that would be able to prolong the mental assault 24/7 the American public slowly began to accept televised illusions as real life, revisionist historical entertainment as fact, the glorification of wealth over all else as attainable and realistic and the myth of Rambo as a realistic personification of American foreign policy. I do not have enough time or space to look at this topic here so as to do it justice. The 1980’s saw the spread of corporate nationalist propaganda delivered over hundreds of channels, each appealing to a particular segmentation of a populace too mired in the pathetic quality of the daily grind of their boring and irrelevant lives. Now whenever they needed a fix, the ability to click the little button on the black remote and to be transported into a different world, a world of escape from the drudgery, a world where they could collectively bond with role models test marketed to appeal to their particular fancies, to be politically socialized by talking heads spewing radical ideologies, unencumbered by the Fairness Doctrine which was repealed under Reagan and which would forever change their way of thinking as well as to demonize what had been the real America prior to January 20 1981. They were given everything and anything in order to keep them tuned in so that the propagandists could keep the stimulation applied, the indoctrination process could continue uninterrupted, the herd could be brought to order and shepherded in directions that were desirable to their masters.
Television in itself is a relatively new invention, having only gained mass exposure in the past half century or so but if you want to approximate a time when the demarcation line between fantasy and reality in American life began to become defined it would definitely be in the early 1980’s with the explosion in the satellite and cable television industries. This is the time that it became possible to pump 100+ channels of violence, filth, fascist political indoctrination, Horatio Alger anyone can get rich quick scheme infomercials, lurid sexual innuendo and whatever other flotsam and jetsam of the human spirit that could be mined for profit into millions of homes throughout the country. The rise of both the radical religious right as well as the rise of the political reactionary right can both be traced to the rise in the availability of cable television and how those movements were able to use the technology to brainwash the masses.
Thus began the dumbing down:
Children became more violent and dysfunctional.
Freak shows like Morton Downey and Springer drew mass audiences while pandering to deviates who would see their sorry lives displayed for public amusement.
Today more people vote on cheese talent shows like American Idol than in most elections.
Television also creates insecurity and mental illness, viewers of too much television are often unable to make the differentiation between fantasy and reality, look at the rise in school shootings and generally deviant violent behavior. They live vicariously through the imagery designed to sell them caricatures of a lifestyle that they in turn believe that must be lived up to in order to be ‘normal’. The barrage of imagery as well as its calculated usage to influence the psyche by those whose craft is manipulation has a devastating effect on Americans. The inability to detach oneself from television worlds breeds violence, insecurity, greed and other such undesirable behavior. This is especially true for children who are very impressionable, there are highly paid marketing firms who specialize in trying to get the products and or ideas of those who pay them seared into the minds of kids from the earliest age possible in order to create lifetime customers. Is this evil? If not outright evil it is certainly devoid of any sort of decent ethical principle but then again isn’t this exactly the sort of deviant behavior that unchecked capitalism is intended to produce?
Will there be a time when television fantasy, physical reality and dreams become indistinguishable to some? Is that time already here? The psychological dependence on television to create identity and loyalty should be a national shame. Generations that have been born into the cable television era have become more violent, more superficial, more unquestioning and most importantly, far dumber than those who were their predecessors.
The rise to power of the evil regime of Hitler was borne on the wings of massive public rallies, fantastic gatherings steeped in the power of nationalism, symbolism, fire, resentment and demagogic ravings of destiny. The most famous of the state sponsored bacchanalia being the 1934 Nuremberg rally, meticulously choreographed and captured on film by Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph of the Will would become the benchmark for all German propaganda. The national madness of the German people can be seen in these rallies and films, the unraveling and descent of a sophisticated society into primal and pure evil was facilitated by them.
With television there is no need for mass rallies, the demagoguery and imagery can be delivered directly into your very own living room. One has only to watch the raving Glenn Beck on FOX and to see the despearate maniacs who take to the streets as he eggs them on, incites them against the great phantom socialist, communist, liberal conspiracy - to borrow from the late, great Molly Ivins - it probably sounded better in its original German.
Porn is about reducing women to corpses. It is about necrophilia. ….The one emotion they are allowed to display is an unquenchable desire to satisfy men, especially if that desire involves the women’s physical and emotional degradation. The lighting in the films is harsh and clinical. Pubic hair is shaved off to give the women the look of young girls or rubber dolls. Porn, which advertises itself as sex, is a bizarre, bleached pantomime of sex. The acts onscreen are beyond human endurance. The scenarios are absurd. The manicured and groomed bodies, the huge artificial breasts, the pouting, oversized lips, the erections that never go down, and the sculpted bodies are unreal. Makeup and production mask blemishes. There are no beads of sweat, no wrinkle lines, no human imperfections. Sex is reduced to a narrow spectrum of sterilized dimensions. It does not include the dank smell of human bodies, the thump of a pulse, taste, breath—or tenderness. Those in the films are puppets, packaged female commodities. They have no honest emotions, are devoid of authentic human beauty and resemble plastic. Pornography does not promote sex, if one defines sex as a shared act between two partners. It promotes masturbation. It promotes the solitary auto-arousal that precludes intimacy and love. Pornography is about getting yourself off at someone else’s expense.
The chapter on pornography entitled the Illusion of Love is not one for the squeamish. The descriptions are clinically graphic and hit like a crowbar to the skull. I will never look at porno the same way again after reading this, I am no connoisseur of such stuff and in the days when I did view it on occasion it was extremely tame compared to the sickening, misogynistic sadism that Hedges describes as being the modern porn underworld. It all ties in with the increasing degradation of the society, the dehumanization, the loss of our souls in pursuit of instant gratification, we are on a ship of doomed fools selling postcards of the hanging and any of the fellow passengers could be a flesh eating zombie ready to fuck you up the ass and eat your brain at any moment.
Hedges focuses on the vicious need for the sort of American male that I would say is exemplified in the Becker/Dittohead/Strong Daddy Christian elements on the far right and the need to wreak revenge against the women who have challenged his blessed, God given right for American male superiority per his birthright, the women are the objects of wrath and subjugation, fantasy and role playing, the scapegoats provided by a rapacious blood sucking oligarchy and the virulent fascist damnation that comes with it. I excerpt one of the tamer pieces from this chapter:
The most successful Internet porn sites and films are those that discover new ways to humiliate and inflict cruelty on women. In the Web site Slut Bus, women are lured into a van, offered money for sex, filmed having sex, and then dumped on the side of the road. Money is held out toward the woman as the van pulls away. She is always left without payment. The message is clear. Women are compliant sex machines. They are good only for sex. And they are not worth paying for their services.
“The mission?” the slutbus.com Web site asks. “Pick up the hottest girls we find. And get them to let us fuck them & cum in their pretty little faces while videotaping the whole thing.”
“The fun?” the site goes on. “Treating these slutty bitches like they deserve to be treated … with a slam bam thank ya ma’am & a swift kick in the ass! What? You thought we would actually pay these sluts? Hahahahaha. Think Again!
There is a discussion with a Dr. Z who preaches the wondrous joys of silicone love doll ownership that is freak-a-tude at its finest in which he describes the ‘relationships’ that he has had over the years with love dolls, proudly proclaiming that the top three or four blow jobs he has had in his life were from his dolls. Reading the two and a half pages of amiable dementia spouted by Dr. Z only made me wonder if he will be the next deranged right-wing psychopath who will show up in a Santa Claus suit at his ex-wife’s family’s Christmas party armed to the teeth and with a homemade flamethrower or some other similar human time bomb incident. This is the sordid type of sickness that lies deeply in the tortured psyches of these wretched pieces of human (and I use that term extremely loosely) garbage once you peel back the rantings of Rush. I learned (much to my sick sense of humor) that there is actually a porno movie that came out called Who’s Nailin’ Paylin: Adventures of a Hockey MILF, I am sure that one is a big hit with the Beckers and Dittohead angry white masturbators whose own cocks are milked dry over such perverse rot while their manhood is measured by the inches of the barrels of their beloved guns, their phallic symbols.
Authoritarian right wing Christian freaks seem to be particularly prone to the dirty nasty nekkid sort of stuff in porn, violence, nudity, humiliation and the Rapture only with ATM (ass to mouth action), cannonades of cum shots and of course the humiliation of the woman figure. Is there anything more vile than Christianity, the very concept of Eve being cloned from Adam and then turned out by Satan is the earliest and far most widely acceptable form of misogynist head fuck in history. The domineering male types, like those in the Promise Keepers and other male dominator factions of the filthy fascist minions of Satanic deceit practiced by the overly horny, goat herding false prophets on the right are nothing but seed sprayers, addicted to masturbation and when their torture fuckfest fantasies can’t be fulfilled by their mousy little child bearing wives they are the ones who are predominantly busted trolling the internet for child sex or other acts of brutality and perversion.
The seed sprayers, yeah, I get a kick out of that little moniker that I just made up, there is something I seem to recall from my child days of being read the riot act out of the unholy, everchanging book of doom that decried self pleasure as the spilling of God’s precious seed or something along those lines. Well these fuckers bring to mind that old classic Outer Limits tale, Specimen Unknown and the space plants who were inadvertently brought back to Earth and took the fucking place over by launching their barrages of little seeds, nice metaphor for the ongoing multiplication and takeover of enlightened society by the retrograde morons, closet sadomasochists (remember Rev. Gary Aldridge?) and leering degenerates throughout the land who get a chubby even thinking of dunking prepubescent little girls (or boys for that matter) into the baptism tank and peeking through their undies.
When I was a kid back in Colorado, we were temporarily captured in the little cult of a mid 70’s local Baptist church and their little bus that was sent out to troll for recruits. A youngish, hip dude named Brother Jess ran the place and while the rampant degeneracy that emerged from the Religious Right’s rise to power in the years of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and that very strange Timothy LaHaye whose Council For National Policy preached a militarist gospel that is so bizarrely Israel centric…as in Likudnik genocide fever dreams that it could have been concocted by the fucking Mossad itself.
Brother Jess had shoulder length hair, a bitchin’ blonde haired wife with big boobs and in his house a living room to basement mural of the life of Jesus – hand painted no less but he didn’t seem to be more than a good ole boy juiced on Jesus Juice and just preachin the ole time religion, dunking dozens a week in a baptism tank behind the pulpit that could have accommodated Shamu the fucking whale and ensuring that that collection plate got passed around multiple times during services so that the new temple that was being constructed off the main building could be completed. It wasn’t he who was the problem, it was the other freaks who attended that church….they just creeped me out, it was a horrifying experience at such an early age but a formative one. I will always remember when I was just a tyke in the third or fourth grade and overheard the teacher’s assistant who reeked of some sort of liquor laughing about the kids believing in Santa Claus, as if they were stupid or something but while that was like seeing a beloved idol dipped in and dragged though shit (and the terrible realization that my philandering drunken rat bastard father was REALLY eating the cookies and putting the stuff under the tree but I am rambling. I really got the whole concept about how phony good ole time Christian religion was early on, one day on the bus some dimbulb was leading us in a rousing singing of “you can’t get to Heaven with hippie hair, cause the lord don’t like that mess up there” and standing in front of a glowering figure with hair down to his ass and a wild beard and it sure as fuck wasn’t Ted Nugent.
I certainly must confess some deviate behavior earlier in my own life. From going hog wild in some of the raunchiest whorehouses in Subic Bay when I visited there as a 19 year old in the US Navy to having my toes sucked after they had grenadine poured on them in Louisiana’s famous hipster bar Ruby’s Roadhouse but nothing like the vilest forms of fetishistic, violent, reducing a woman to a vagina fuck object that goes on now. After reading Hedges’ description of the Gonzo porn industry I felt like taking a shower, a very cold one to relieve the sensation that I had been bludgeoned over the head. This is some hard core prose and it’s brutality is like a rolling blitzkrieg but that is his intent. The obscenity is that beatdown, slutmania porno is the flip side of the American obsession with murder, war and the glorification of the carnage, wrapped up in faux heroism that flows from the television sets like a backed up shitter. Abu Ghraib comes to mind and Hedges makes that point. The evolution of the fascist society and the melding of the mass mind with sadosexual kink behavior, Christian hatred and repression found an outlet in military condoned assaults on brown skinned Muslim devils was a root cause of the vile twisted perversity of what went on when a bunch of West Virginia peckerwood hicks were encouraged to get their jollies in Saddam's rape rooms. Just imagine what will happen when the mobs are given the green light to go and round up the liberals.
Positive psychology is to the corporate state what eugenics was to the Nazis.
In his chapter that covers the Illusion of Happiness, Hedges goes after a favorite villain of mine, the positive thinking hoax that I mentioned earlier on in this essay the positive thinking scam. You know the way the con works, it’s all about enforcing conformity and rooted in the need for the corporate state to build an unquestioning supply of cheap, cowed and easily abused labor that can be drawn upon. It’s a standard truck used by all cults but has really taken off with the osmosis of every aspect of American society with the corporate borg. The one trick that is always used by these people is the old litmus test of ‘is the glass half, empty or half full?’, a meaningless mental trick that allows for those with advanced degrees in basket weaving and finger painting to find employment in the Human Resources departments tasked with eliminating the renegades from the cattle. It is a very old school ruse, this think positively trickery, used in earlier times to give some form of comfort to the poor slaves who worked themselves to death, were savagely whipped, starved and crushed to death by the incompetence of their co-workers as they hauled stones to build immense replicas and monuments to the Pharaohs. There are thousands if not millions of shit shovelers, toilers and the abused who must be made to benefit that one son of a bastard who gets his face on the Sphinx. It was religion then, the hope that a better life in some magical kingdom in the sky awaited if only submission to pain and the worst human injustice and cruelty was tolerated, as the giant talking blimp broadcasts in Blade Runner ‘a new life awaits you in the off world colonies’. It was hogwash then, and it’s even more hogwash now.
I have long stated that I could indirectly trace every rotten thing that has gone so horribly awry in America to the denial and delusion associated with the entire ‘think positively’ confidence game. It only encourages apathy and submissiveness and it was the naïve belief in the market based fraud that is capitalism that has wrecked the global economy, the dogma that what is good for Wall Street is good for America, that the bill would never come due on the little pieces of Satanic plastic credit cards that were maxed out to be like the images on the television. The fraudsters who run the banking system were all too happy to inflate the housing bubble that has devastated this country with neutron bomb style efficiency. The never-ending ATM that was phony home equity fueled the mass illusions as long as the flim flam men could scheme to turn that imaginary mortgage equity into derivatives and bad paper that was ultimately worth as much as low grade toilet paper of the 100 grit quality. And it only continued because the jackasses in this country believed the charlatans like Mad Money Cramer, George W. Bush and Alan Greenspan, the Ayn Rand cultist who ran the Fed and came as close as a human being has ever come to being anointed as God on Earth. Suckers all, they bought into it, did not question it as they should have and in the end were impoverished by it. Oh, and allowed themselves to be conned again into bailing out the same banks, the modern day Pharaohs who reside in the temples of avarice that are Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. Fools, goddamned fools, sheep and morons and we all have made to suffer because of the childish minds of Pollyanna Murkans skipping down the primrose path to perdition who fell for it all hook, line and sinker.
Which is why it is nice to see the entire myth get a long awaited debunking by Hedges and more importantly by Barbara Ehrenreich who actually will get some play in the mainstream media with her new book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. She doesn’t criticize the fascist warfare state when calling out the Jiminy Crickets so perhaps people can finally start to ponder how badly they have been hornswoggled by the positivity pimps. I haven’t read the book yet but I plan on it, I did happen to catch her interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now the other day and you should check it out if you haven’t already. Once this mindset has been broken there may be a chance but the zombies are legion, perhaps digging through dumpsters and fighting feral cats and dogs for scraps to feed themselves or standing in food pantry lines with their kids will render them somehow susceptible to reason, somehow I doubt it though.
I am reminded of my days as an outside representative who would make regular visits to a certain high profile national chain of convenience stores. The managers of these stores suffered from some sort of shellshock, they were walking wounded, broken people hounded by micromanaging corporate types, tyrannical district managers who always popped in at unexpected times and harangued by customers. They were psychically damaged material doing a thankless job for a pack of corporate pricks. What I remember in particular was one frumpy manager (looked like a dumpster in pantsuit) who had been transformed as some are by taking Jesus into their hearts. ‘Sally’, not her real name of course had found her proverbial file inside of the jailhouse cake because she had just been recruited into the notorious Amway Inc upon which the DeVos family (which includes Xe/Blackwater’s Erik Prince) built it’s massive fortune. ‘Sally’ backed me into a corner and explained that she would soon be wealthy beyond her wildest dreams, out from under the corporate schmucks who she baked bricks for and that her entire mindset was changed after attending Amway drink the Kool Aid sessions. I remember that she tried to explain the difference as though there were two parallel universes and that she had been able to transcend them…..it was like stepping through The Stargate she told me - everything was right on the other side, it was filled with wonderful positive and successful people and she too was going to leave the drudgery behind and join them. You can sell anything in America but nothing sells like hope, it’s like vails of ‘holy’ water sold in a leper colony, there is a reason that that bombastic shit-eating snake oil salesman Dr. Phil exists as a sort of demigod in Murka.
Ultimately though it’s all bullshit, the get rich schemes, the positivity pod people, the idea of transformation into a capitalist chrysalis and ultimately the corporate system itself. Like the wretched slaves in Plato’s cave allegory Americans have learned to love their bondage. As for me, I have always been a heretic, only now I no longer blame myself for not fitting into their bullshit system, choosing to call it out as what it truly is, fraud of the highest order writ large on stone tablets and given to charismatic Judas Goats like Dr. Phil, Oprah, Tony Robbins and any of the myriad of pitchmen and women to carry down the mountain to deliver to the unwashed masses of asses.
A few years after my conversation with ‘Sally’ over the Stargate, after I had quit my job and moved on to other things I happened to stop by a certain national convenience store for gas. a Big Bite and a Big Gulp and lo and behold there she was, toiling away behind the counter looking as sad, beaten and frumpy as ever with a look on her face like she had a big stinky turd in the inner front pocket of her green smock. The Stargate ultimately led to yet another boulevard of broken dreams as it ALWAYS does in lemming land, P.T. Barnum had it dead right, there IS a sucker born every minute…and they breed like rabbits on hormone supplements here in the home of the slaves.
The New Hammerhead was a perfect cowboy. He was vicious & stupid & ignorant of everything except his own fears and appetites. He beat the mortal shit out of anything that made him uneasy, for any reason at all. The Hammerhead was a perfect warrior. He defended the flag. Any flag. He learned to understand words like “orders” and “patriotism”, but the secret of his success was an animal taste for blood. He thrived on motion. But he was brainless; he had to be aimed.
-Hunter S. Thompson
Finally there is the Illusion of America, anything that Hedges says at this point is pretty much anticlimactic because let’s face it, you and I already understand the depths of the abyss that we are descending into. All in all it’s a pretty bleak assessment of where we are at right now, in a kinky, impoverished, militarist, delusional land of misfit toys and in pissing on the positivity pimps let me tell you one thing – enjoy today, it is going to be the best day of the rest of your life, every subsequent day is going to be incrementally worse as the system continues to rot, the facades are slowly torn away and the raw power of the police state is rolled out in order to protect the oligarchy from the rabble.
The Dow Jones is back over 10,000 again and with it goes the increase in oil and commodities prices, get ready for food prices to climb as well and any astute cynic can tell you that the official unemployment figures are horseshit, they are more likely twice what is announced but our shiny new reality show president has decided to cast his lot with the capitalists. The same swine who wrecked the system are now being given free reign to blow the next big bubble and all with house money. None of the surge in fraud and speculation means jack shit to the real economy, it has had a permanent hole blown in it, much like the USS Arizona and there is no way that fucker isn’t going down just the same way. There are always the illusions, it’s NFL season again so that of course buys some time in terms of distraction but there is a growing ugliness out there that we can all attest to, those with the keener antennae have smelled blood coming for quite some time now.
The anger of the fucked over has been very successfully co-opted by the dark forces of the fascist right and their corporate media. The very disturbing rise of the Beckers, a drooling but exponentially growing pack of know nothings, dead enders and goons who will when the time is right be used by the establishment as protection just like Hitler’s S.A.. They buy books with Beck’s image on the front in some sort of Stasi/fascistic military uniform, whatever it is it isn’t American. Or maybe it is. Maybe the inner Jack Bauer inside the easily manipulated angry army is just a bit closer to coming out now, it is after all a land where militarism is worshipped above all else. The National Football League, that greatest of American capitalist institutions may have in the interests of making more money shunned Rush Limbaugh who is a perfect fit for the fraternity of high rolling white assholes who are the owners, perhaps their stadiums are in their own minds their plantations upon which their “million dollar niggers” to borrow from the dearly departed Nazi sympathizer Marge Schott can frolic to their delight. Engaging in the modern form of gladiatorial combat that so served the Roman elite, how many slaves empowered by smiley faced positive thinking toiled to build that monstrous new stadium of his? A garish monstrosity complete with the world’s biggest television screens, a new coliseum which will soon host the Circus Maximus of them all: The Super Bowl. Matt Taibbi called the nationally televised home opener there “a genuinely terrifying broadcast event of a kind not seen since the premier of The Triumph of the Will. This was a debutante ball for America’s new idiot fascism.” But really, isn’t such outrage expressed by commissioner Roger Goodell over Limbaugh’s virulent racism hypocritical in how the NFL has so successfully become a showcase for American militarism?
Television will feed the basest emotional needs of the busted out freaks, haters and losers but at what point does the fascist right capitalize on the failures of the pathetically impotent Obama administration to provide even the most basic forms of assistance to those not dwelling in the ivory towers on Wall Street? The anger is out there and it is growing like a cancer just getting ready to do some serious eating on the victim. The abominable betrayal of the Democrats on the so-called health care reform fiasco is going to come with a price, forcing bankrupted, jobless Americans to buy overpriced coverage from the insurance parasites backed by the threat of state punishment isn’t exactly going to do much to keep the corporate Democrats in power for long and it’s going to only feed the flames being doused with gasoline by Beck, Cheney, Kristol and the rest of the neocons desperately trying to get back into official power. 2010 is not going to be a good year for the jackass party, print this out and tack it up somewhere because come next November I will be proven right. I will say one thing though, if the extreme right ever manages to seize power again then it’s a done deal for people like you and I.
Hedges’ book was scathing, a long and brutal scourging of much that has occurred as we have been flipped fascist but his best commentary, from a fairly recent Truthdig column entitled Globalization Goes Bankrupt from which I excerpt:
The rage of the disposed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building on the ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms of democratic change. You can’t blame them. But unless we on the left move quickly, this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism.
Every day counts. Every deferral of protest hurts. We should, if we have the time and the ability, make our way to Pittsburgh for the meeting of the G-20 this week rather than do what the power elite is hoping we will do—stay home. Complacency comes at a horrible price.
The draconian security measures put in place to silence dissent in Pittsburgh are disproportionate to any actual security concern. They are a response not to a real threat, but to the fear gripping the established centers of power. The power elite grasps, even if we do not, the massive fraud and theft being undertaken to save a criminal class on Wall Street and international speculators of the kinds who were executed in other periods of human history. They know the awful cost this plundering of state treasuries will impose on workers, who will become a permanent underclass. And they also know that once this is clear to the rest of us, rebellion will no longer be a foreign concept.
The delegates to the G-20, the gathering of the world’s wealthiest nations, will consequently be protected by a National Guard combat battalion, recently returned from Iraq. The battalion will shut down the area around the city center, man checkpoints and patrol the streets in combat gear. Pittsburgh has augmented the city’s police force of 1,000 with an additional 3,000 officers. Helicopters have begun to buzz gatherings in city parks, buses driven to Pittsburgh to provide food to protesters have been impounded, activists have been detained, and permits to camp in the city parks have been denied. Web sites belonging to resistance groups have been hacked and trashed, and many groups suspect that they have been infiltrated and that their phones and e-mail accounts are being monitored.
Our global economy, like our political system, has been hijacked by a tiny oligarchy, composed mostly of wealthy white men who serve corporations. They have pledged or raised a staggering $18 trillion, looted largely from state treasuries, to prop up banks and other financial institutions that engaged in suicidal acts of speculation and ruined the world economy. They have formulated trade deals so corporations can speculate across borders with currency, food and natural resources even as, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 1.02 billion people on the planet struggle with hunger. Globalization has obliterated the ability of many poor countries to protect food staples such as corn, rice, beans and wheat with subsidies or taxes on imported staples. The abolishment of these protections has permitted the giant mechanized farms to wipe out tens of millions of small farmers—2 million in Mexico alone—bankrupting many and driving them off their land. Those who could once feed themselves can no longer find enough food, and the wealthiest governments use institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization like pit bulls to establish economic supremacy. There is little that most governments seem able to do to fight back.
But the game is up. The utopian dreams of globalization have been exposed as a sham. Force is all the elite have left. We are living through one of civilization’s great seismic reversals. The ideology of globalization, like all utopias that are sold as inevitable and irreversible, has become a farce. The power elite, perplexed and confused, cling to the disastrous principles of globalization and its outdated language to mask the political and economic vacuum before us. The absurd idea that the marketplace alone should determine economic and political constructs caused the crisis. It led the G-20 to sacrifice other areas of human importance—from working conditions, to taxation, to child labor, to hunger, to health and pollution—on the altar of free trade. It left the world’s poor worse off and the United States with the largest deficits in human history. Globalization has become an excuse to ignore the mess. It has left a mediocre elite desperately trying to save a system that cannot be saved and, more important, trying to save itself. “Speculation,” then-President Jacques Chirac of France once warned, “is the AIDS of our economies.” We have reached the terminal stage.
The institutions that once provided alternative sources of power, including the press, government, agencies of religion, universities and labor unions, have proved morally bankrupt. They no longer provide a space for voices of moral autonomy. No one will save us now but ourselves.
“The best thing that happened to the Establishment is the election of a black president,” Holmes said. “It will contain people for a given period of time, but time is running out. Suppose something else happens? Suppose another straw breaks? What happens when there is a credit card crisis or a collapse in commercial real estate? The financial system is very, very fragile. The legs are being kicked out from underneath it.”
“Obama is in trouble,” Holmes went on. “The economic crisis is a structural crisis. The recovery is only a recovery for Wall Street. It can’t be sustained, and Obama will be blamed for it. He is doing everything Wall Street demands. But this will be a dead end. It is a prescription for disaster, not only for Obama but the Democratic Party. It is only groups like ours that provide hope. If labor unions will get off their ass and stop focusing on narrow legislation for their members, if they will go back to being social unions that embrace broad causes, we have a chance of effecting change. If this does not happen it will be a right-wing disaster.”
The G20 turned the Iron City into a martial law area of lockdown, a test run for what is coming once the oligarchy is no longer able to maintain the illusions. The left has failed in preventing this and will be the sacrificial lambs fed to the cannibals when the time comes, you can count on that. In addition to Glenn Beck’s increasingly bold minions there is the Nixon style image remaking campaign being conducted for the darling of the angry white masses Sarah Palin, she will be their future leader, it’s God’s will you know…the real New Hitler is already here and 2012 is surely only going to be more miserable as the economic Diaspora is creating permanently scarred and desperate people looking for both a savior and scapegoats.
The neocons aren't going to go quietly into the goodnight, the Obama illusion is just that, a big lie, a fraud and a temporary placebo passed off as a panacea, ultimately however like all illusions it will dissipate leaving in it's place a thirst for blood that knows no satisfaction and will not be slaked until every enemy and perceived enemy that is offered up has been eradicated.