by Denis A. Conroy for The Saker Blog
Those who allow seriousness to get in the way of imagination, fail to discover what they need to free themselves from.
For many decades I have been aware of knocking on the door of Western Imperialism from the inside in search of a universal perspective. Maybe it started 80 years ago when I first experienced authority (de jour) in the person of Mother Church. It was my first exposure to the elephant-in-the-room phenomenon of authority from above, but by no means my last. It was merely a foretaste of things to come; a life-long battle with sugar-coated narratives, religious and secular… not mutually exclusive…that were spreading across the globe.
As time passed, I realized ever more that the concept of the moral high ground was essentially a power stratagem. It gave one the right to assume that the view from the higher ground enabled a person some incontestable advantage in matters rhetorical or proprietorial. It was this issue that worried me throughout my formative years upon realizing that to go there meant embracing demagoguery.
With the arrival of nascent political awareness came an understanding of how an obdurate secular elephant-in-the-room culture, upon crossing the Atlantic to the USA, succeeded in creating a modern version of the evangelical narrative. The pedagogues who trafficked in the belief that it was their God-given right to occupy the role of pedagogic-overseers to the ‘sheeple-people’, whom they regarded as people lacking the ability to self-govern, had moved shop to establish a hybridised culture, where salvation and material possession came together seeking the Lord’s blessing. Over time, this entity would corporatize…and militarize…identity as had its European predecessors, by means of ‘follow-me’ style indoctrination.
It was this arrogant inversion in matters concerning ‘God-rights’, and the use of veto powers used to stifle reason, that led me to jettison this pie-in-the-sky obfuscation of human imagination for something more imaginative…like ideas that might counteract tyranny.
However, on leaving the ‘fold’, I discovered that I no longer had a home, but conversely, found that my home could be anywhere goodwill might exist.
On reflection, I first encountered racism when exposed to the Christian Brother’s educational system in Dublin, (circa 1944) where redemption was promulgated as the quintessential purpose in life, and salvation the reward offered to those who submitted to this belief. A Follow-Me philosophy based on the idea that people in general were incapable of participating in governance, became the cornerstone of a system designed to emasculate the imaginative resources of the people.
After some years of being exposed to a form of righteousness that I could neither identify in, nor understand, I decided that it was time to free myself from these influences. I decided that I would protect my ‘original-sin’ and my ‘defective-nature’ from the holy water threatening to quench the fire-in-my-miscreant-belly…my fire in the belly, my chance of remaining free from the ‘sheeple’ condition… redemption from redemption as exit strategy!
Aware that the faces of the teachers above their clerical collars presented countenances conveying unhappiness, made me more determined to seek a counter-magical-formulae. As I was unfree and in need of time to work out which obsession was more likely to have lasting value, my efforts to escape the “dark Satanic mills” were, thankfully, not without comic relief. As I became ever more alienated, I took to wondering if a celibacy virus might exist as mumps and measles did, and if so, could I catch it from too close a contact with the pious people around me.
The us-and-them ethnographic map of the world which thrust ‘white’ culture into the pedagogic pulpit to explain Christian propriety and pagan incivility left me struggling with feelings that I would come back to again and again for many years to come. My recollection of the then Archbishop of Dublin (Dr. McQuaid) and his occasional visits to our school to exhort us boys into committing to the ‘ministry of the church’ …the priesthood…for the purpose of bringing the African heathen into the orbit of Christian hegemony, remains tattooed on my psyche. It left me with the feeling that I had to investigate the source of this militancy.
As time passed, I managed to separate myself from the early experiences of institutional fatuity and canon law ‘insightfulness’ that had infiltrated my mind. It was as though my imagination had discovered that it could travel without the aid of training-wheels. It happened while sitting in a Dublin café listening to a group of African medical students playing jazz. It dawned on me that there was more to life than mere partisanship. As my monochromatic baggage silently collapsed around my feet-of-clay, I felt I was finally free to find my own way in the real world. As I was not one to hold the position that the-devil-you-know is better than the-devil-you-don’t, curiosity soon became the mechanism that released me from being a subaltern player in Mother Church’s drama.
Once free of my baggage, I turned my attention to matters secular. I had become aware that institutions basically function as micro entities serving the state; parliament, judiciary, church, media, financial, art etc. to exist, in theory, as micro entities purporting to perform productive services that define the identity of the state as the macro context wherein diverse elements are assimilated into a single context. Inevitably my thoughts turned to focus on corporeal hegemons…the spiritual ones being in the pockets of the new ‘masters-of-the-universe’, alas!
In America, where greatness defines the cultural spirit, Mammon reigns supreme. Gratifying private consumption has become an all-purpose obsession that keeps the capitalist system functioning to the max. The idea that everybody can become a millionaire creates a desire for celebrity status. In the pursuit of greatness or celebrity, America has become the hegemon-with-the-most-of-just-about-everything, except wisdom.
What is achieved in the media and in the arts…particularly Hollywood… is the creation of a circumambient impression of exceptionality with regards to all things that particularize the American way of doing things as exemplary. This myth has become the cornerstone of the American ‘church’. Enclosed within the confines of the circumambient state, the population reacts to the effects of information technology by creating a form of identity that presupposes that it is America’s right to segue into an empire…an empire to rule the world. …that the rest of the world will like it is irrelevant.
Turning a blind eye to the exploitive nature of its ‘mission’ to conquer, reveals how isolated Americans are in their cognitive dissonance. Sadly, the ambient screams of those who suffer at the hands of American aggression as it attempts to achieve full spectrum dominance, do not penetrate the thick skin of inverted exceptionalism.
A continuous process of expansion and growth is fostered in order to hold the centre together…an illusionist existential rapport that defines the common good as rewards for all in the capillarity of social life where discourse, managed by the established media from behind closed doors, becomes the glue that cements the status quo from within. The nature of the capitalist system is at once direct and circuitous, forever actively extracting profit at the micro and macro levels to sustain its insatiable appetites. It is forever at war with alternative systems, as its sole purpose is to guard its ‘right’ to feed off everything it can capture in its maw.
The all-encompassing nature of the capitalist system in America and the West in general has long been in overreach. Like the Catholic system I was inducted into, capitalism has sought to attain global dominance with scant regard for the ethnographic make-up or understanding of the scientific reality of people and cultures and their customs, habits and mutual differences. The traders and men of God who marched into the Americas, Australia and many other countries with guns and bibles went there to subvert, not save.
And, history has a habit of repeating itself…America the hegemon baptised in oil… imposes its oil-based-hegemony left, right and centre on defenceless countries under the guise of bringing ‘democracy’ to the people of the world, whether they like it or not. Any move to resist the will of the hegemon is fraught with uncertainty…or destruction…as resistance implies non-compliance…and non-compliance equals economic heresy and punishment (sanctions) or consignment back to the Stone Age, as is frequently attempted.
Which begs the question; does President Trump and his white evangelical base believe that there are no stops and starts or punctuation marks in the patriarchal playbook? Is their racism a product of the hegemonic classroom, where medium and message are subsumed to the wiles of charlatans who reappear with monotonous regularity believing their base to be God’s invincible continuum and therefore fin-de-siecle proof?
Witness how impervious America is to ideas that originate beyond its borders. It is worth noting that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term inverted totalitarianism in 2003 to describe what he saw as the emerging form of the government of the United States.
Wolin analysed the United States as increasingly turning into a managed democracy. He uses the term “inverted totalitarianism” to draw attention to the totalitarian aspects of the American political system while emphasizing its differences from proper totalitarianism, such as Nazi and Stalinist regimes.
The corporate behemoths who came to manage American corporate capitalism ended up owning America by assimilating and subsuming every conceivable idea…democracy included…to the service of ‘a-grand plan’. One that was designed to capture the oil resources etc of the world (foremostly) and as much else as possible so that they could run their ‘show’ as a colossal family business without having to negotiate with troublesome outsiders.
With the help of a compliant media, the stratagems employed to achieve these ends are delivered in the form of soporific interventions that laud American values. Here, plastic commodification comes to the rescue, proving that the American narrative has gone plastic and Tinseltown mythology is at the core of American culture. No stone is left unturned; no trick is missed. Witness Barbie’s new bodies…her multiple new bodies ushering in an era of ethical body inclusiveness works to distract the masses from the macro-picture long enough to assuage any distress they might feel in a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer…vanilla for the spectator class…and don’t forget to send in the clowns, eh?
The topsy-turvy culture that has come into being requires the common people to accede to the stealthy shenanigans of the 1%. The great majority of people are required to remain passive as the wealth of the nation is sucked upwards while the spirit of democracy is buried in the graveyard of failed dreams. These inversions represent the status quo. The people are expected to accept the fact that they need to be managed and wave goodbye to ‘conscionable’ reveries concerning the democratic polity.
To realize how inverted American culture has become, it is necessary to understand that the American narrative has coalesced into a technology of the self…where ends continuously justify means…and self-reflection is no longer considered a way to discovering the value of human life. America’s circumambient culture casts a long shadow across the national imagination, if not spirit, by glorifying a non-existent exceptionalism to propel itself towards global dominance.
It imagines itself the empire of choice, while ignoring its abominable history of land theft, genocide, use of weapons of mass destruction on countless millions of people across the globe…Vlad Putin did point this out in a speech at the UN saying, “does America not see what it has done in the Middle East”.
From the outside, Americans appear to exist as a mass 300 million strong, enclosed in a circumambient ether like fish, forever propelling themselves round and round while gazing at their own reflections in the patina that coats the interior of their fish-bowl culture. Knowledge of cultures that exist beyond their purview are sometimes presented to them in the form of backdrops created by Hollywood.
Sometimes fresh perspectives can adjust or partially reconfigure the analytics of governmentality simply by understanding how government and the institutions supporting them work. In the modern American context, this is no longer possible. The government is in the pocket of ‘inverted-interests’ where information must remain concealed from public scrutiny, simply because of the unsavoury methods used to influence the decision-making process that Corporate America has adopted to inflate its hegemonic alter ego…too bad that Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning must suffer. The Espionage Act is in the pocket of those to control the inverted narrative.
The deep state is where ‘deep-pockets’ meet ephemerally and variously for the purpose of planning the next spin of the roulette wheel knowing that it’s the taxpayer who will take the fall if some financial skulduggery goes badly wrong. Otherwise, it’s that other component in the inverted-interest formulae that may well be resorted to; the mighty American military on standby for forays into foreign territories that must be subjected to regime change to facilitate the interests of the corporate state. American foreign policy is the thin edge of a wedge that puts in place programs to contain egressions that might undermine its triumphalism. Programs designed to silence dissidents for instance.
So, what about it? What are the chances of Americans taking stock of themselves? Will the next Mardi Gras…Fat Tuesday…be again controlled by the Fat Cats who control the myriad mice who skulk by their TV sets awaiting the appearance of the inevitable danse macabre?
But what I find strangest of all in my 85th year is the realization that whichever part of the colonized world you may live in, you are inevitable labelled a ‘Westerner’, which automatically presumes that we all must submit to the values of the capitalist system. Having lived in Australia for most of my adult life, I am still at odds with the values that the settler-culture upholds. Like our American counterparts, values are something we talk about when appraising our material assets.
A strange staleness applies to this toadying place called Australia where coal and iron ore are mined, sheep are shorn, where whiteness is the pigment of choice, where the indigenous population languish in mythologic inner-space, where mateship celebrates pragmatism, where other people’s wars are fought, where obeisance to capitalism’s penchant for war spurs us on to build vehicle-mounted platforms that hold cannons, machine guns and missile launchers to sell to Saudi Arabia. And we do all this in the name of pragmatism; if we didn’t do so, someone else would, is the reasoning. Sadly, as part of the capitalist ‘West’, we have adopted the three features that define it; armament production, pragmatism and propaganda.
So, this is what Australia has become, a settler-nation ready to bomb the shit out of people in some faraway place for the sake of feeling secure in being part of an unholy alliance with our ‘partners’…those ‘mates’ who would take us under their hegemonic wing. Does this suggest that the settler’s self-centred perspective ends at his or her back gate?
Too bad that little Yemen is on the receiving end of the vile things we manufacture for profit. Doing it to be part of the ‘Western’ club shows how cringeworthy we have become. Too bad we are joiners and not leaders. Too bad the settler gene is also too inverted to reimagine a future for itself.
Home: I’m still looking for it! One thing I’m certain of though; we need to cure ourselves of the narcissistic personality disorder circulating throughout the ‘Western’ sphere in order to be free. When I free myself from that, I’ll have found a home…a home where imagination chooses truth as its lingua franca.
Denis A. Conroy
EXCELLENT treatise sir, and at the age of 76 I can relate well to your life’s travels.
It is really quite simple however, all the arms industry to feed the forever wars is only about war profiteering.
Afghan debacle now running for 18 years over one thing only, Heroin cash flow to the CIA and friends.
Mel Gibson’s funny movie, “Air America”, explained the Vietnam mega debacle quite well, guns and dope for profit, our 55,000 youngsters lives lost the politicians cared not a whit about. Build them a monument, and build a hospital system for the crippled and maimed from all the forever wars. Iraq debacle based upon now well known lies.
When Madeline Albright was asked on camera in a 60 minutes interview, about the 500,000 children slaughtered in Iraq, she replied with a straight face, “Regrettable, but necessary”. Her background and loyalty well known.
An excellent exposition of the hypocritical dogma of the western Christian faith. As an 85 year-old intellectual you certainly have the experience-based wisdom to pierce through all the charades adopted, in the name of such faith, by western politicians, clergy, journalists/propagandists, and pedagogues of our times in manipulating the western meme that permeates today’s western societies. Mr. Conroy, I hope you will live to see this meme run into the stonewall it is inevitably destined to encounter, as recent events are pointing to the devil’s face being revealed underneath the charade.
Christian faith? Follow the money, patsies are patsies, and dupes are dupes. Would Jesus approve of the vile things done in his name, by a completely subverted and corrupted church? Do they follow his teachings? Nothing happens without money in the subverted world we live in. Where Mammon and material possessions rule supreme and take precidence over helping our fellow humans.
Sean The Leprechaun: you hit the nail firmly on the head. Far too many grasping for more and more…. STUFF. Chasing the Neoliberal dreams, and that includes Christians, espec those that flock like sheep (🐏) to the evangelical churches to hear the ‘prosperity gospel’ preached. See the Buddhist analogy on Hungry Ghosts. I sell The Big Issue street mag almost every day to survive. If you spent a couple days with me and observed the reactions of the large majority of passersby, you’d be floored. Actually, going by your comment, it would actually reaffirm how you see the World. I see it every day also.
Each one of us has to ‘condense’ for the elixir. It’s about the dilution
of the poison, daily produced, one’s infinitesimal lifting the scale
which is needed.
Great painful diagnosis, one everyday has to overcome, to
remain able to be able for anything.
Jayzus, Denis…. Brilliant. And how many in Australia even know where Yemen is, let alone that Australia is flogging more weapons of death to Saudi Arabia to further the slaughter of the Yemeni people. But hey, isn’t it about jobs for Australians? Its beyond shameful, aye. Lil’ Deputy Sherriff Australia tagging along with the bully boys to prove how well it what? Follows orders? Licks boots? Bends over? I recently attended the Julian Assange Rally in Melbourne on the 10th. In a city of almost 5 million people, there were about 300 there. I was told some Socialist groups deliberately boycotted this rally because they believe the establishment smears that Julian Assange is a rapist. They, and other ‘progressives’ have fully turned their backs on this truth teller, which to me is utterly shameful. Identity politics = divide and rule. “A strange staleness applies to this toadying place called Australia”…. I fully concur Denis. I would argue this is a direct result of over 35 years of full bore Neoliberalism, and all its attendant propaganda. Winners and losers. The aspirational – grasping for more, while increasing numbers become homeless, or live in dire poverty; being crushed. I look around, and see such a lack of awareness of what is happening outside of people’s little bubbles, or the local Westfield. Shop till you drop, and all that. Oh yeah, and I had a Catholic upbringing as well.
That would be the local Identity Politics feminazis, Gezzah, giving feminism a bad name with their obsession with man-hating. Not that many men aren’t bastards, but not all, and, no matter what sort of fellow he may be, Assange was plainly and deliberately set up with false accusations. That these nut-cases really believe that all accusations are true and must never be contested, and that no woman ever falsely accused any man (or woman for that matter)of any offence or indiscretion, or even lack of enthusiasm or reciprocal affection etc (we are a too complicate phenomenon, our Achilles Heel)makes them objects of pity at best, and to be avoided at all costs.
Mulga: yep, I avoid them like The Plague, but would also add to your comment about the I.P Feminazi’s…. Completely Gullible. A lot of them posture as ‘socialists’ yet they fully swallow the bullshit in The Guardian and The Age and other ‘progressive’ media (cough). I’m a bit wary about the Socialist Equality Party, but you gotta say, they’ve almost been the only Socialist organisation in Australia who have constantly and consistently stood up for Assange and Manning, and they’re the ones almost single handedly organising these rallies when so many on the Left have fully abandoned Assange. Oh, and their WSWS is an excellent news source which I look at often.
I agree, Gezzah. The WSWS is excellent journalism, but I do not appreciate their ideological single-mindedness and contempt for all other political positions. There is, in my opinion at least, such a thing as an 80% or 30% correct, or useful, or non-malignant position in regard to reality and events, which are so infinitely complex and dynamic. The WSWS are rather too Manichean for my tastes, but I do know that that is an error I fall into myself, rather too often. I plead, in mitigation, an excess of that most precious of our bodily essences-bile. Black bile.
One may wonder why, now that comments all too often slide into church bashing, this author missed the bandwagon of the Cardinal Pell’s brouhaha which so inflamed his mates. As a former Christian Brothers pupil he must have known something.
I noticed this trend a few years ago (after about 13 years spent in London and as many in LA, SF and DC) – after I went to visit family in Serbia where I am from – I noticed how much naturally happier, better, healthier, prettier, taller, more collaborative, artistic, talented etc they are compared to Anglosheeple (the dumbest sheeple of all) I have met in the UK/USSA.
I’ve noticed the same contrast in Argentina etc. So I started telling my Latin American friends and Serbian family to ignore the US / Hollywood – Weinstein – style propaganda. I know very well how unhappy, stingy, materialistic people are in most senior circles of Hollywood, LA etc. There is nothing we can learn from them.
All they have is their loudest megaphone – and they used to be able to trick the world into believing they are somehow superior (I also suffered from this delusion until I spent a few years there).
If I persuade you or anyone that I am somehow superior to you – you become in a way my slave – if you always give me a benefit of the doubt and obey my subtle, yet predatory instructions. That’s Uncle Satan’s modus operandi.
And like proper psychopaths they are – they turn your trust against you so to exploit you and/or destroy you – they probably learned it from Zionists – theirs a perfect example of a psychopathy as a “culture”
Luckily more and more people around the world are realizing Uncle Satan has no clothes, is obese, a pedophile and has syphilis, Aids etc…
Hollywood movies are a good metaphor for F/UK/US etc – they cost a lot to make, are full of hyper-palatable yet worthless and confusing special effects, lots of money , lots of bribes, sell-out actors, writers etc who sell what little they had of their soul just to be involved in such, predatory, psychopathic, art-less endeavor.
After all the money spent, and all the marketing – there is still nothing there for an intelligent person – nothing to learn – you get a brain damage just by watching all the stupidity produced
The USSA is the same way
I agree fully with all that Denis has written, having spent many years in the US. It seems that ‘finding the truth within’ through insight meditation is a response to the present dilemma which does not get the attention it deserves. Why that is so, I cannot say — but meditation does help me. Any creative response to a challenge requires that one is free from the pain of having to face the challenge in the first place — if that makes sense :)
I have always thought of myself as a Catholic. Not a christian. The Catholics I lived and grew up with, walked the walk………..knew the meaning of ‘bearing the cross’. The christian zionists that I encounter every day have no clue about who and what the story (real or myth) of what it means to be with and in the grace of ‘jesus’. My jury is still out on Pope Francis………….but make absolulty no mistake, he knew who and what he was talking about when he spoke of those who suffer from ‘spiritual alzheimers’.
Everyone who so chooses, can be a better human (even I have bad days, lots, lol) just envoke your inner Buddhist…………purity of thought……………..purity of words………….and purity of actions. Then at the end of every day forgive yourself for those slights and shortcommings you had and vow to be a better person the next day. Then do it.
I love it!
Great piece; truly human, an unfortunately rare trait in writing, these days.
I am struck by the poignant accuracy in the description of the “West“, i.e. The Empire:
Was it really always like this?!
In my own teenage world travels, I lived in southern Europe forty years after the last world war, and remember it (perhaps in the flood light of nostalgia), how much more human it seemed compared to my urban Canadian existence before it, and the Europe that exists now.
If we could place aside, for a short time, the shared colonial crimes of genocide against indigenous populations of North America and Australia, I can speak to an Australia of the mid-1990s, which again, seemed significantly differentiated from the centre of the empire.
Is it my imagination, or has this there been an accelerated …spiritual collapse and cultural homogenization of the empire into a idiotified uber-politically correct farce, at least at the governance-level of the supposedly sovereign nation-states?!
…Mammon reigns supreme…
…how isolated [these people] are in their cognitive dissonance. Sadly, the ambient screams of those who suffer at the hands of[these people’s] aggression as it attempts to achieve full spectrum dominance, do not penetrate the thick skin of inverted exceptionalism. ….
Are these really native northern European cultural values?
Does it not seem to be some kind of a grand perception management program.
I’m not an apologist for this, I’m just trying to understand it in the context of the larger historical context.
Something does not add up.