Here in this crumbling empire once known as the American republic, here in a nation that, at present, for all practical purposes, only produces Cheetos and killer drones, whose architecture is being winnowed down to thriving rural meth houses and foreclosed upon suburban mchouses, whose corrupt corporate culture has bequeathed upon our suffering planet dying oceans and the hyper-caffeinated tsunami of Red Bull Capitalism — the essential question confronts us — how does one retain (not retail) one’s humanity amid the catastrophic machinery and inane accoutrement of our age?
“Show your wounds,” exhorted the late 20th Century artist Joseph Boyce. The wound becomes the womb, poets tell us. Out of painful truth, beauty is born. But, antithetical to the orthodoxies of consumer capitalism, there are no shortcuts. According to legend, Faust sold his soul for a glimpse of eternal beauty and the hidden knowledge of the world. Sadly, we’ve done likewise (but worse, pathetically) for a glimpse of Paris Hilton’s privileged (but hardly gated and guarded) cooter.
Here, now, sprawled upon the detritus of our dignity, we are confronted by the exponential dynamics of decay known as the US Presidential Election cycle. In this, all three corporate candidates are of little use to us. Although all three have done very well for themselves by the present and prevailing arrangement known as Disaster Capitalism.
What motivation do they have to change the system by which they’ve thrived? McCain, Clinton, and Obama must serve the interests of the corrupt corporate class — or else they would be marginalized. Paradoxically, as we have witnessed, as of late, if they make even the most minute rumblings to the contrary — as for example, blundering into a steaming pile of the obvious such as the observation that the battered laboring class of the nation might be embittered by their lot — they risk political immolation by being labeled an elitist.
Of course, Obama is an elitist. (As are Clinton and McCain.) And he has been put on notice by the Powers That Be that they have no problem with him being among their ranks, as long as he doesn’t go rattling off at the mouth about those the rigged system benefits and those it kicks daily in the gut. Because in a political culture as far down the rabbit hole as is this one, the surest way to be branded an elitist is to refuse to serve the elite. (Not that Obama threatened any such thing.) This is the modus operandi of the lacquered, autoerotic dudes and dolls of the corporate media and the K Street cash-flushed phonies of the American political classes: Pose as protecters of the beer-bleary multitudes, as, all the while, carrying vintage Cabernet for a privileged few.
This is not a situation fraught with layers of ambiguity in which any deeper meaning can be mined: Below the corporate media’s electronic cloud of nebulous phoniness lies a dense core of calcified phoniness. Thus it is difficult not to harbor contempt for this cartel of narcissistic strivers who have networked the nation into a perpetual state of cataclysmic ignorance. Seemingly, their creed is: Let the ignorant multitudes languish on the low nutrient, junk news we serve them from the drive thru windows of our corporate media outlets, while the political and business elite cannibalize what is left of the republic.
The ongoing tragedy in Iraq and the ecological and economic turmoil roiling the globe are consequences of the domination-driven mindset that the mainstream media protects. Ergo, increasingly violent responses from outside forces, both of the human and natural variety, are rising across the planet. America, many shocks and sorrows are coming soon (probably sooner than you think) to that vacuous bubble known as “your way of life.”
It should be increasingly clear to see that the corporate media’s job has never been to be unbiased chroniclers of the events and circumstances of a free republic. Rather, they are active agents serving to protect and promulgate the pernicious myths of free market capitalism. And they are a highly partisan lot. Moreover, they have been highly successful in their mission. Hence, our lives, both inner and outer, have been conquered and colonized by the corporate empire, and a resultant forced occupation dominates our days determining the trajectory of our brief lives upon this earth.
[S]ick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
— W.B. Yeats
Yet, we, against all evidence, believe we are free actors in a spontaneous, unfolding democratic drama. When, in reality, we have been cast as dehumanized supernumeraries in a lethal farce that renders all concerned both oppressor and oppressed. This is the central paradox that binds us. And it is why the average American cannot see our imperial occupation of Iraq and our increasingly dangerous belligerence towards Iran for what it is. How can we have a modicum of empathy for the people of Iraq when we refuse to even glimpse our own degraded condition and our complicity therein?
“God Damn America,” the people of Sadr City must rage, as the bombs shake their homes and tear the flesh from their friends and family. “God Damn, America,” I mutter, echoing the good Reverend Wright, as I witness the indifference of the American people to the war crimes committed by our nation’s leaders.
By the insidious technique of propaganda by omission, the public has been manipulated into a state approaching criminal obliviousness. “What is this crazy talk about the calamity of class stratification that defines and divides the nation, and what sort of demented, leftist loser would even raise the topic among decent company?” our present mandarins of media scoff when the topic of class inequity is broached. Add to that, the ongoing ruse of the ceaseless dissemination of fear perfected by the right-wing media noise machine and then parroted in the mainstream media that goes something like the following: “There are evil entities afoot in the nation known as radical liberals who scheme to take away your guns and give them to islamofascist terrorists so that those agents of Satan over at Planned Parenthood will be free to rip fetuses from their mothers wombs in order to expose the unborn to porn.”
This is the reason for the cacophony of inanity that dominates the coverage of the political events of our time: It serves as white noise that drowns out unpleasant truths. It is the mood music piped into our national bubble. Accordingly, trivial and specious narratives drive and dominate our national political debate and it has, as a consequence, rendered the nation’s public too shallow to even apprehend the extent of the damage inflicted by official treachery, professional cupidity, and the degree of their own degradation therein.
Otherwise, the collective psyche of the nation would be shaken to the core. Tragically, there is no longer any core to be found. There is merely the surface sheen of the American bubblescape … its surface taut with inner tension as it is stretched to its limits, as, all the while, reality bristles ever closer to its over-stretched skin.