2006/12/28

At the seams

This is a time of year for burning the Yule log at both ends, ramping up for an otherwise lackluster election cycle by deciding to do something you'll never do, and making resolutions you don't really want to make in the face of an omnipresent self-doubt brought on by late-empire America. Like the degeneration of the traditional culture of the Romans as they became richer and more powerful and more remote from the striving for survival that is the lot of the average human in all of our species' history, we are breaking down. I'm not calling for a raturn to traditional values. I'm saying, civil society is coming apart, breaking down, dissolving. Dripping out the bottom of that handbasket everyone's always talking about.

No one interacts with anyone anymore, except by remove behind the walls of an electronic world in which physical harm is made to seem at once both remote and continually threatening. An electronic cocoon whose inner atmosphere is like the Scarecrow's fear-chemicals... I've railed against infantilization of the citizenry of, well, everywhere (elsewhere), and this is a part of it. A child needs the protection of the parent figure, but the adult doesn't require this support: she gives it. Thus in order to keep the people docile and dependent the ever-present threat of harm must seem real, must be lurking behind every shadow and person whose appearance isn't like the appearance of one's own ancestors.*

But this is obvious--see also basically anything N. Chomsky's said about the power structures of Western culture, especially since the end of the New Deal. After the establishment of (somewhat) effective social support systems, elites needed a new method for maintaining power. Thus the Cold War, thus crack addicts, thus single mothers, thus Slobodan/Saddam, thus Terra-ists. Thus liberal media. Thus democracy. But that last one isn't mentioned. To keep the people from trying to figure out what's good for them (though, they must be too busy with their lives to be able to figure that out anyway, right?), elites ought to do it for them. Gives everyone job security, as it were. Win-win.

Corporations fight corporations, trade groups fight trade groups, strongarms wrestle strongarms for the keys to slaves' chains. And what have we got? Bread and Circus. Or, obesity and "pop culture." And it's all coming down, by which I mean the facade by which elites maintain control of the purposefully mislead populace. That doesn't mean the revolution is coming. No, it means, more likely, that the revolution won't come in time, in our lifetimes. And then it's climate change and the end of fossil fuels and the end of clean water and finally the collapse of those precious structures which the aging and obsolete top .000005% are busy protecting.** A return to a township-style societal structure, anyone? Thus the "end" of capitalism is not a quiet dissolution of government, as perhaps Marx predicted, but a firey collapse. Not a whisper but a cry of agony.

*Thus mixing of the races (as it were) must be subtly discouraged. Thus mass media stereotypes by effete elites in (perhaps unknowing, see **) service to their cause.
**Class consciousness being what it is, I can't in good conscience accuse anyone of doing more in service to the elites than acting in their own (material) self-interest. Certainly usually not in their moral self-interest. Bill Gates' philanthropy is not a balance to his misdeeds or those of his issue (corporations) if any. But the net effect is very similar to what would expect if there were a conspiracy in the WTO or Trilateral Commision or Illuminati/Masons, or whatever. It's those advocating for lower echelons of society who know just what they're doing, whether futile or not. And this is itself commendable. The mutineer captain has committed to going down with the ship even if she succeeds in her coup.

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