June 1, 2003
U.S. WastelandCurrently bleeping from a vortex in the fourth dimension:
The challenge now is to keep from going totally insane.
The culture is a corporate culture, designed by the corporate elite for the purposes of the corporate elite.
This group has successfully captured the media of the society and thereby dominates the popular culture to an extreme degree. It is distorting the culture in a bizarre way. It perfectly mirrors the personality of the corporate system. But from a human perspective the culture is getting crazier and crazier.
As I sit here, there is a documentary about Anna Nicole Smith playing on television. It is discussing minute details of her career, how her mother cried when she found Anna was a topless dancer; how she ran into some complications on her second breast enlargement operation and for a while she was a breast short, so to speak; how she thinks Marilyn Monroe is her real mother, even though MM died five years before Anna was born.
They are going into tremendous detail about the most mundane aspects of this person's life, as though she were the queen or something. The Queen's life story would be just as mundane in this format. The entire history of England would be mundane to the point of triviality if it were being presented in the prevailing medium of TV documentary. It trivializes everything. It equalizes everything, the way corporations distill all reality into numbers on a balance sheet. All values a human being may ascribe to anything, its heroes or a tree, or an entire Arctic wilderness, are not part of that value system. It is only numbers. This is the nature of corporate intelligence. This is what we are up against now, and is at the root of our most pressing problems.
Science fiction has often portrayed a battle between humans and machine intelligence. What is playing out now is that war with the machines. Corporations are mechanisms created by humans, which are now becoming destructive to humans. The corporation operates exactly like a cybernetic device: it is a goal-seeking device that processes feedback from its environment and modifies its behavior in pursuit of its goal. Corporations have usurped the human rights of real people and now constitute a superhuman form of life.
Certainly Anna Nicole's story has its aspects of interest, as the life of any human being in the great multitude does. But it is very significant that the corporate culture, as mirrored in its propaganda media, chooses only to focus on this particular person who is very wealthy and is therefore a "celebrity." A celebrity, Andy Warhol said, is someone who is "famous for being famous." Nicole is surely that. She is a very ordinary person raised to great heights based on the values of the corporate system. She generates a lot of money.
It is also significant that the corporate media culture treats the rise of Anna Nicole to the status of celebrityhood with much greater gravity and pays it much more attention than it does the people who are suffering in Iraq because of the US bombing and invasion, to choose an example. This choice is a horrible indictment of our culture -- if we buy it.
We are more interested in the mishaps of Anna's second breast implant surgery than we are in the thousands of families whose lives our government has obliterated in pursuit of oil and empire. This is what our corporate culture, our public media, and our government are saying to the world. If we go along with it complacently, then we assume responsibility for that message to. We have acquiesced and acquiescence is consent in a democratic society.
So think this over, if you haven't: Our government, as the operational arm of the corporate elite, is bombing and killing people in other countries in our name. As we condone it by not taking action to stop it, we become the official agents of this destruction. So if we are visited with the same kind of violence and destruction -- and loss of life -- we cannot say we are innocent. We are engaged in war, in attacking countries that have not attacked us. We are aggressors. There is no getting around it. None of that pre-emptive strike justification holds any water. Even if pre-emptive strikes were justified in the case of a real threat to attack, this was not the case here. Iraq didn't threaten the US. It didn't even have anything to defend itself with. This is now the policy of the United States. And there is no doubt more to come.
[According to www.iraqbodycount.net, there have been 5,000-7,000 civilian casualties from the Iraq invasion. This doesn't count "military" casualties, which are broken off from the civilians and deemed not to matter. But in the case of an unprovoked attack, the soldiers are only people who are defending their homeland against an attack. They are "military" by virtue of our action, not strictly by their own choice. It would be a far different situation if we were defending an actual, or even a clearly demonstrable attempt to attack us. Then you could consider giving the soldiers some responsibility for being part of the military organization that attacked you. But this is not possible in this situation. In this case there was not even the means for an attack by Iraq upon the U.S.]
When the attacks come back to the US tit for tat, Dick Cheney will be in an undisclosed location. The shadow government will be safe in well-stocked bunkers. Those who are not members of that small elite, will be vulnerable to the inevitable reprisals.
I spent the weekend exploring the US heartland, and it was a strange experience. The great country, the mountains and forests are tremendously powerful, awesome in the true sense of the word. Beneath the grand landscapes are the towns, this shallow culture, the remnants of an invasion that took root on this continent four centuries ago, and took hold. But now, increasingly, it is taking on the appearance of a civilization in decline.
The culture has been deconstructed. Its former values have degenerated. No longer is education highly valued as a part of the government's concerns. Human welfare is practically erased from the priorities of government. Environmental preservation is practically off the list now. The government is strictly the instrument of the corporate state. It carries out the agenda of the corporate state. It reflects the values of the corporate state. The goal of the corporation is to maximize profits, simply and exclusively. It is to process as much of the corporation's environment as possible into positive numbers on the balance sheet. Nothing else is of any concern.
The agenda of the current administration -- which is the corporate administration more than it is the Bush-Cheney administration -- depends heavily on fear. For the administration to be successful in its agenda, it needs to keep the population shaken up. So the chaos and confusion that is inherent in the message of the corporate media is no accident. It is to the advantage of the ruling elite to keep people very afraid -- paralyzed with fear. Fear and confusion. And the corporate media system wants to suppress any message that may lead to a conclusion that could be in any way detrimental to the corporate goal of accumulating massive profits. The unmentioned elephant in the room becomes ever more conspicuous.
The absence of any human values in the message of corporate culture -- the absence of any message that runs counter to any profit-seeking activity of the corporate state no matter how destructive it is -- is not in the least accidental.
Americans have been battered by this immensely powerful mind-molding media system for so long, they barely know which way is up anymore. Americans are a confused and frightened people. They have been under attack for the last few years by forces they cannot identify and have no means to defend themselves against. In their fear and insecurity they have latched onto whatever they can for a sense of strength and protection. And that is the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Ashcroft-Powell axis. The clique is manipulating and stoking the fear masterfully, stagemanaging the the agenda with impressive effectiveness.
Americans are grabbing onto their flags, the Fox News vision of the world with America as the great protector of all that is good in the world, a kind of tawdry, shallow patriotism that barely disguises the fear and insecurity underlying it and providing its foundation. Many writers and commentators in the past [not in the contemporary media culture] have probed and grappled with a strange undercurrent of malevolence in American life. In various dark incidents, the murderousness that characterized the wild west often breaks through the pretty facade of American culture and shows itself to be startlingly close to the surface. Inherent in that depravity is the insecurity tied up in the history of a nation that is founded on conquest and plunder, and with it a tremendous amount of murder, aka genocide of the native population.
Here is a country of majesty beyond description. And yet the people who inhabit it, who claim it as their dominion, seem to have an inability to appreciate the country itself. They seem unable to think of it in terms beyond its financial value as a property. The culture bases all its values on the accumulation of material wealth. And that material wealth is not even material in the healthiest use of the term. It is not a culture that fully values material things. It values them only in terms of economic worth -- an abstraction.
As May gave way to a record cold June 1, there is a bleakness in the American heartland that cannot be ascribed entirely to the weather. Since the Republican subversion of the electoral process in 2000, and the failure of the administration's defense and intelligence establishments to defend the country from the most devastating attacks in its history, to the wars and economic calamity, the destruction of government systems for the public welfare, the monopolization and privatization of an increasingly large part of the wealth of the country, economic deterioration, increased insecurity in all spheres of American life, Americans are a very confused and fearful people. The extreme virulence of their attacks on the targets set up by the corporate media (like the Dixie Chicks) is evidence of the magnitude the pent-up anxiety of the people.
What needs to happen now -- what must happen or America is doomed -- is that the truth must become again become a part of American life. Human values must rise up and defeat corporate balance sheets as the primary value system of the culture. People need to discover the truth of their predicament so that they can channel their survival energies effectively, rather than latching onto false heroes and wolves in sheep's clothing. It is once again that time in history when people must rise up and seize their democratic rights. As always, this is primarily a war of ideas. Every person has a part to play. No theater of conflict is too small to be significant. Now is the time for all democracy-loving people to come to the aid of their country.
Democracy lies bleeding.