The Great Divide

Collars serve to rein dogs in,
Quell their nerve with shades and sin.
Wild wolf’s kin such bangles scorn,
Free-born I stay, son of Fionn.

— From the Fenian Brotherhood, “Ní Bóna Ná Coróin”

With the election nearing, massive amounts of citizens are finally beginning to understand the dangerous and growing divisions, the serious sickness in our society. The mainstream media makes it appear that the battle between those on the right and left will be fought mainly on issues of identity politics and the wider “culture wars”. This is nonsense, of course. The real fault line lies between those brave and imaginative enough to join hands and build new forms of peaceful, sustainable, non-coercive societies, and those flailing souls stuck believing in the obsolete, failed models of the past, victims of centuries’ worth of indoctrination. There are those who wish to remain slaves to capitalism, to bigotry and warfare, and those yearning to break free.

As Alvin Toffler observed:

Our political parties, as obsolete in structure as in ideology, seem so much like blurry mirror images of each other…All of them, while jockeying for power within it, are basically committed to preserving the dying industrial order.1

Are things really so bad? Is our industrial civilization really at risk of collapsing? The answers have been in for some time now. Check out Limits to Growth, for starters. Here’s what another expert, the legendary Barry Commoner, had to say in 1971:

My own judgment, based on the evidence now at hand, is that the present course of environmental degradation…represents a challenge to essential ecological systems that is so serious that, if continued, it will destroy the capability of the environment to support a reasonably civilized human society.2

Therefore, the major divide in our culture is not between Democrats and Republicans: it is between those who understand our society must be reconstructed from the bottom-up versus those who are content with the status quo, oblivious of the impending catastrophes to come.

There are more points in common with those who watch MSNBC and Fox News than differences. Both programs are slavishly devoted to globalization, consumerism, to a culture of fear, to an ecocidal economic system, to endless war, to worldwide surveillance, towards structural racism, and ignore rising inequality as well as the international crimes of our leaders. There is more overlap between those who read Huffington Post and the New York Times, and those who read Breitbart and Drudge Report, than either side is comfortable acknowledging. The Anderson Coopers and Rachel Maddows, and the Limbaughs and Hannitys of the world are all far removed from any normative sense of morality, any depth of emotion, any compassion.

Basic logic, common decency, and journalistic integrity have vanished from mainstream news. The End of History has already occurred for them: there is nothing left to do but promote neoliberalism and praise Pax Americana: they simply cannot be bothered with those pesky things called facts. They are the public avatars of institutional stupidity, the journalistic epitomes of Why America Failed.

Both liberals and conservatives, citizens and elites alike, who are blinded by ideology, and who embrace this two party charade without criticism, are hopeless. Both mainstream Democrats and Republicans have been so propagandized and hypnotized by the six media conglomerates which control 90% of all outlets, that they are unaware of the true depths of their ignorance.

While watching the third presidential debate with family, I was rendered dumbstruck, shell-shocked. My mind wandered, flickered, buzzed, and I was reminded of Henry Miller’s words:

Here all boundaries fade away and the world reveals itself for the mad slaughterhouse it is…the air is chill and stagnant, the language apocalyptic. Not an exit sign anywhere; no issue save death.3

It wouldn’t be so bad if it were only US elections that were rigged: rigged in the sense of coercing the public into choosing the incompetent, criminal nominees Clinton and Trump. Instead, our whole economic system is rigged. That sucking sound you hear is the oligarchy and their sycophants, the globalization gurus ensconced inside the Beltway, at the World Bank, IMF, WTO, etc., vacuuming up all profits in our country, and exploiting developing nations, using privatizations and austerity programs to rob whole continents for pennies on the dollar.

Moments of silence and reflection, of critical thought, of doubt and remorse, are hard to come by for global elites when busy frittering away hours at country clubs, on yachts, jet-setting to charity galas and government conferences which change nothing, hiding in mansions, cocooned and insulated in gated communities, with private security goons for added protection from the unwashed masses.

Not surprisingly, the information divide regarding US-approved planetary-scale special operations and proxy warfare, and the neoliberal assault on the poor and the Earth is shaping up along international lines. The line between fact and fiction is purposely blurred in US media, but worldwide, citizens have awoken and are fed up with the war-mongering and sanctimonious bullshit the US preaches about human rights and democracy.

As for political imagination and analysis of our rotting system, the hardest-hitting programming isn’t coming out of America. It’s absolutely true that Russia Today (RT) offers better political commentary than US news channels.

It’s easy to laugh at the tragicomic elements of our presidential election, when it can’t even be interpreted for the farce that it is in domestic media. The best, informative satire can’t be found on Saturday Night Live, or by watching John Oliver. Instead, for those who enjoy hip-hop, check out Australian-based The Juice Media on Youtube.  Past guests include Julian Assange, Noam Chomsky, Abby Martin, and Norman Finkelstein. Their latest video is the incisive and consciousness-raising Rap News: Hillary vs. Trump. There’s amusing parodies of Clinton and the Donald, as well as Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, and, of course, Vermin Supreme. Here’s a choice excerpt:

So if you’re content with the ‘lesser evil’ vote Hillary/
It’ll fan the very flames of discontent/
That are fueling fascist sentiments/
And personally I can’t wait to see/
How much more threatening the next Trump will be/
Or fuck it, vote Trump if you’re really feeling courageous/
I’ve always wanted to try living in the dark ages/
Ja kids, it’s great to witness history in the making/
But watching it repeat is even more entertaining

Like the brave souls at Standing Rock, citizens will have to form progressive social movements on the ground using direct action. Grassroots solidarity with all nations and liberation from predatory capitalism and uneven globalization must be at the center of the agenda. Public initiatives for adult education in civics and the destructive nature of our neoliberal economic system should be encouraged.

As November 8th approaches, buckle up. We’re in for a bumpy ride. Whoever is elected will not solve the structural problems in the domestic economy or in the realm of foreign policy.  Both candidates are remnants of a dying world order. We would all do well to remember Gramsci’s warning: “The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.”

  1. Toffler, Alvin. The Third Wave: The Classic Study of TomorrowBantam Books, 1980. p. 437. []
  2. Commoner, Barry. The Closing Circle: Nature, Man & Technology. Bantam Books, 1971. p. 215. []
  3. Miller, Henry. Tropic of Cancer. Grove Press, 1961. p. 182. []
William Hawes is a writer specializing in politics and environmental issues. He is author of the ebook Planetary Vision: Essays on Freedom and Empire. His articles have appeared at CounterPunch, Global Research, Countercurrents, Gods & Radicals, Dissident Voice, The Ecologist, and more. You can email him at wilhawes@gmail.com. Read other articles by William, or visit William's website.