by Denis A. Conroy for the Saker blog
Once upon a time, folk thinking…or folk thinkers…pioneered human development. Once upon a time it was the philosopher, poet, scientist, dramatist and musician who did the heavy lifting. Once upon a time, before institutions co-opted human imagination, it was the ingenuity of individuals that led to the creation of perspectives complimentary to the interests of the ‘folk’ and societal development. One such individual was Plato. Plato however, was an imaginative thinker working within the limits of an aesthete laboratory of mindfulness.
Concepts of democracy are fairly straightforward in Plato’s thinking, representing the need to put in place narratives promoting intelligent world-views for the polity. Plato was also an individual who would have understood that the choices we make relate to our ability to achieve what we want. The challenge was how to establish a form of rule managed by people who purported to know what people needed. Ruminations of this kind took centre stage before the concept of grass-roots organization entered the modern lexicon.
But history shows that great ideas have a habit of being vacuumed up by hierarchical interests ready to exploit opportunities in the real world. Democracy in Classical Athens, as is the case in the modern world, meant establishing inclusive governance in one form or another…the necessity of compromise… equality for all persons… majority rule with minority rights etc, etc. But the concept of democracy would remain as playdough in Plato’s mind until the concept of grass-roots culture found its voice.
So, what was it that corrupted democracy when it finally took root in America? Did institutional assertiveness become ‘the sow that eats its farrow’? When the power of thought transfers from the fertile imagination of an individual to become the property of an institution, are the assessments that subsequently grade these thoughts or ideas made in accordance with the need to have them accede to the authority of officialdom exercising power?
Therefore, transferring ideas that originate in the ‘folk’ polity become fraught with problems once they are separated from their source. Once they transfer to corporate institutions, they invariably mutate and blend in with asset-landscapes.
So was the case in the American marketplace. Things began hotting up as millions of people immigrated into this vastly resourceful country. Wealth was destined to fall into the hands of a group of individuals adept in skulduggery as entrepreneurial hype took laissez-faire economics to new heights. These newcomers, wonderstruck by the pace of development in their new homeland would acquire an insular materialistic view of reality founded on notions of their own exceptionality. The majority of them worked hard and had little time to think of anything else…Congress was there for the thinking!
Over time, perspectives marinated in legalese, propaganda and manufactured hysteria of the “if you don’t get ‘them’ out there first, ‘they’ll’ come here and get you” kind, became the harbingers of the repressive society. America was becoming a threatened and threatening culture under the auspices of corporative power.
Performance driven demi-gods, capitalising on opportunities accompanying their celebrity status as corporate-behemoths, became ever more vocal in the charade that came to be known as American culture. The pantomime that elevated the vulgar rich to regions beyond the purview of the ‘folk’, illustrated how a collection of insouciant chewing gum ‘democratic-republicans-shysters’ could lead a gullible public into accepting aggression and violence as the American way of doing business.
Submitting to the loquacious arrogance delivered to them via patriotic mumbo-jumbo, plus the pseudo-religious justifications fed to them by splenetic zealots, the dead-in-the-head cultural zombies elected to support and actively chew up the lives of non-white people here, there, and everywhere became part of the American team ‘doing it’ for god and flag. In so doing, the American population at large became complicit in genocide.
They did all this as easily as blowing a chewing-gum bubble, and since bloviation had been elevated to the level of a craft, racial intimidation would inevitable become its forte. There were ‘bubbles’ all over the place; white supremacy, economic chicanery, the war machine, the surveillance industry… ego, and ever more ego creating further bubbles fostering delusional parentheses supporting the American daddy-knows-best psyche they had chosen to be a part of. In time, it would be their choice to demonstrate their abilities in warfare that would define their national character and their very own brand of psychopathic ‘democracy’. Cynical American businessmen knew that a peace-bubble would produce the wrong kind of dividends, so they gave it the heave-ho… an anti-war movement was for pussies.
Which brings us to question the parenthetic violence that defines America culture. It is so obviously a culture that holds nothing to be sacred…least of all life. The toll on little brown bodies shredded by American air power barely rates a mention at home.
For example, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on hearing of the gruesome death of the deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi…the ruler of a well-functioning state…she shared a laugh with a television news reporter and had this to say, “We came, we saw, he died”…which sounds like Americans could pull from their arses the right to adjudge all those who were not of their stripe as justification for striking them down…and besides, violence, the backbone of their culture, had become fun and part of their political narrative, ergo the fat that fed the frat. Strangest of all, the destruction that America wrought on Libya was “water off the duck’s back” at home.
Clearly, American culture pays lip service to human rights, but its record of brutal military incursions into other people’s countries show a different story. What we see instead, is America’s indifference to human life. Its population shows no remorse in having slaughtered millions of non-white people. Is it because it has turned itself into a great empty shell where nothing is sacred, least of all life? Time after time the ‘people’ elect Presidents who will talk-the-talk of ‘America as leader of the free democratic world’, but end up behaving like they own it.
They just want to hear that America is forging ahead…regardless of the means used…to be assured that the ‘salad-days’ of the new nation…now empire…will ‘reign’ forever as a dollar democracy that gobbles up the major portion of the global pizza. So, within the great empty shell where nothing is sacred, the American population, devoid of any real inner life, must keep looking to their T.V. screens (or to Hollywood) for conformation of their identity. Having lost their voice, the ‘people’ must turn to the screen…big or small…to learn what the masters of the universe…their celebrities…are doing in keeping them ahead of the game.
However, what they get from their screens or from their ‘art’ forms is an unending stream of twaddle dished up as rheumy existential parentheses used to identify the bleak cultural landscape of divisiveness, where misbegotten polarities extend from pent-house posh to the carceral system, and the grey areas in-between that mark the limits of their failed democracy.
So, what the disenfranchised masses mainly get from their screens, is an impression that they are part of a winner-take-all culture, and when George Bush appears on screen admonishing Saddam Hussein…and lying through his teeth about the intentions of that individual…the gullible public must swallow all institutional interpretations verbatim. The godfathers of the system…the ‘parent-folk’…insist that someone who is not performing for the American Brand must be evil…therefore, if they’re not with us, they’re against us.
American rhetoric comes in many forms, but nowhere is it ever self-questioning. In May of 1996, Sixty Minutes aired an interview with Madeleine Albright, who at the time was Clinton’s UN ambassador. The subject was the effectiveness of sanctions on Iraq…the citizens of Iraq. Correspondent Leslie Stahl said to Albright, “We have heard that a half-million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And-and, you know, is the price worth it?” Madeleine Albright replied, “I think it is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.”
Here, Madame la Albright’s beautifully glib words will do the devil the honour of pulling him by the tail for sure…but, who is the ‘we’ here? Is the ‘we’ the people who insist that the rest of the world should only do business with ‘we’…and strictly on terms that suit ‘we’? But realistically speaking, America, that great empty shell where nothing is sacred, cannot possibly qualify as parent (parenthesis) of the future…it is too sterile and besides, its gum chewers eschew all poetic sensibility.
At what point did the United States of America become so immersed in the vulgar parentheses that define its culture, that it unquestioningly accepted violence as an end in itself? A union of corporate behemoths had come into being, sitting atop a pliant population eager to partake of the trappings of a weaponized culture lauding exceptionality, while pillaging one vulnerable country after another with impunity…it became acceptable because it was good for jobs, though outrageously immoral!
Controlling the legislature to enact laws that put evermore money in their own pockets, the architects of the greatest scam on earth…the ‘we’…become ever more shameless in dealing with the commons. Contending the need for higher tariffs to tax the poor became another way of immersing the snouts of the ‘we’ ever more deeply into the institutional swill. In time the Pentagon would become the paramour of the pork-barrel industry.
To keep American culture viable, the powers-that-be decided to capitalise on capitalism. They corporatized language while corporatizing the means of production. The architects of the system, in decreeing culture to be a capitalist construct, branded it so, thereby consigning the polity to the status of an appendage.
Allegiance to this brand of capitalism would eventually become synonymous with gutless forms of patriotism. When peace-prize winning President Obama sidled into the role of warmonger de jour and directed NATO to threaten Russia with Armageddon, the gormless American public got behind his stance, believing that we…in thrall to the ‘we’ above them…were being threatened by some implacable force other than our own implacable need to obliterate all other brands challenging our right to global dominance.
In time, America adopted the practice of speaking on behalf of the ‘West’…the Anglo Zionist Business-West no less…and came to believe that all cultures beyond their own narrow purview were backward ones. They believed that they were lacking in technical acumen, so they thought it was time to baptise them in the waters of American hegemony as a way of saving them from themselves. Wisdom was in the eye of the beholder, and the beholders believed that the world beyond washing-machines, chewing-gum, B 29’s and military aggression was where terrorists roamed the sand dunes of the Badlands seeking to find water for their camels, only to find oil instead.
How could Plato have possibly seen the extent to which peer group pressure, in the context of institutional power, could annihilate individual creativity in the pursuit of statehood. The academy he belonged in had yet to serve a master or succumb to the pressure of du jour political particularism. Besides, the concept of grass-roots was waiting in the wings for the opportunity to find a voice…as is still the case…mainly.
In America, fealty to either the logo of the red-white and blue Republican elephant or the Democratic donkey logo became one and the same thing. Disinterring the ghost of medievalism became part and parcel of America’s penchant for corporate rule. A unilateralists perspective would save one from discourse and dispense with traditional alliances. America was a gold mine and the miners were corporation men.
The two halves of the political process had morphed into a monstrous duopoly… a monstrous canine licking its red-and-blue balls became the spectre that would stifle the American dream…simply because corporatization had taken root in the land. A fractious Sorcerer’s Apprentice style business model committed to expediting its business lust commenced to use every means at its disposal to extract what was extractable from the workforce and the wilderness…in time, this practice would become the centre piece of American Foreign Policy… fracking, fucking and fudging its way to becoming an even Greater American empty shell trying to extend its odious culture across the world.
But try as it may, the bully-sporting-full-spectrum-biceps demonized its adversaries, positioning its 800 military bases across the world to prop up its ‘economic’ bubbles with shonky deals. Swaggering across the globe as leader of a ‘West’ in decline, this self-proclaimed leadership role looks more tatty by the year. It’s not the laugh of Hillary Clinton we hear, but it may just be the harbinger of the last laugh.
Fortunately, there are brave men and women in America who still try to expose truth to the light of day. “The Lies of Our (Financial) Times”, by James Petras, Dissident Voice, October 4th, 2018, is a good example of same.
Denis A. Conroy,