Monday, June 20, 2011

The unthinking majority

Ahhh - so much in the I flip through pages of magazines, newspapers, online articles, I get that same overwhelming feeling you get when everyone comes to you with their problems at the same time - you have to pick sides, give advice, make sense of it all in your head - while simultaneously clinging to that optimism that's getting the shit kicked out of it by circumstance. Sigh....
Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Israel, Afghanistan - well fuck, the entire Middle East - the economy, 2012 elections and the cast of characters therein, E Coli outbreaks, global warming, radiation - good times.
And these good times are only amplified by right and left hectoring, corporate control, flanked by rising apathy and ignorance. This dangerous concoction is the subject of my post.
I'm feeling too broad minded and general to focus on one particular issue. There are simply too many.
Instead, I'd like to discuss a philosophical and psychological aspect - how we deal with this news, these events, how we filter them - when all this information comes crashing down, our resolve, our power over circumstance.

The first question is of course do we even notice it? These days it seems many people are quite content to entirely avoid news and current events - to pretend that world events only happen to other people. And in part, that's true. Bad things don't happen to us, we do them to other people. We are outwardly offensive in a way that far exceeds the term bullying. We use the same tactics to wage wars as we do to protect ourselves: money and violence. The true reasons and events are masked by the same corporatocracy that pulls the trigger in the first place. It's the same corporatocracy that prefers you not look into things, prefer you wouldn't question or educate yourself - the same corporatocracy that put the White House up for sale, along with our values and morals.
That's a lot of treachery and backstabbing to handle. That's what they bank on. Some of the things that have been tucked into folds of recent history are so extreme, so intensely horrible and unbelievable, the powers-that-be are banking on a) you'll never look to find that information or b) if you do find it, you won't believe it to be true. Well, a) they don't even bother hiding it and b) it is very, very true.
The next question, perhaps the most important, is why do people not educate themselves?
I've asked myself this question for years, and have never liked the answer, but the answer is always the same. It's easy.
It's easy to remain ignorant, apathetic. It's hard to read up on things, to search for truth, it's time consuming and exhausting. And then, why bother? The country isn't perfect but it seems to be trucking along fine.

In the years after the Vietnam war, one might say that the US entered a slump - culturally at least. The summer of love wasn't what it was cracked up to be, the war didn't end so much as implode upon itself, peace didn't triumph, it limped home with the rest of the mentally and physically maimed soldiers.
I take this example because in my opinion this is the last time there was widespread involvement in government and political issues. This was the last time that people took to the streets en masse to march and demand change. The Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War - these were mobilizing agents - art and culture supported this message - the country seemed alive.
But, in my mind, the disillusionment that followed cast a dark shadow that we still live under today. After 9/11 happened, no one marched. The Iraq war protests were a joke. Having organized many myself, I can tell you that the people who did get up on soap boxes to loudly protest, that paraded in front of traffic, were either marked as complete loony tunes or thrown in a cell for a day. The specific ins and outs of how we came from A to B, the crackdown on our rights, would take up entirely too much space and time. I'll save that for a book...
However, the important thing is that we are now in effect, an unthinking majority. And an unthinking majority is the perfect petri dish for extremism.
Although polls show that most Americans think moderately, those are not the loud Americans. They are the quiet, disillusioned ones. The ones that don't vote because they don't see the point, or the ones who choose the lesser of two evils because they know it makes little difference who the face of the presidency is, when corporate strings pull at all the branches of government. They are the ones who don't do anything.
The unthinking majority however, are at the ends of the spectrum - they sit there, ignoring facts, constructing webs of truth on whatever seems to best line up with their proposed ideologies.
For example, the far right. Both religiously and politically resolute, they shove God and country into the barrel of a gun and point it at anyone who disagrees. Facts and truth are mere speed bumps, easily rolled over in a faith driven Hummer. I can recall seeing a video of a line of hundreds of people standing outside a bookstore waiting to see Sarah Palin. A young man was interviewing the patrons as they stood in line, hoping to glean some insight to her supporters. Not one of them could name a political issue she was against or supported. They couldn't explain her platform other than to say that she was a Patriot. One woman said she really loved her "spunk," and that was enough to gain her vote. The God card was played a few times, as was the anti-liberal card. As long as she was those two things, to hell with her political platform.
The unthinking majority.
And same goes for the other side. Many left-leaning centrists or liberals like to think extremism is something meant for the other side. Yet ironically, even by commenting on the "other" side, you separate yourself in such a way that is ripe for fundamentalist thinking.
For in fact, the whole idea behind extremist thinking is that you are right, they are wrong. "They" are evil, you are good. There is a stark separation rooted in the inability to question your own beliefs.
In the end, both sides suffer from the same delusion, both extreme left and extreme right completely miss the mark. Right and left is not progressive - you can not move forward by continuously bouncing back and forth like a drunk pin ball.

A democratic form of government is based on compromise.

Extremists don't compromise, They don't need to - they're right, everyone else is wrong.
The only problem is you can't govern with that mentality. It produces the stalemate we're in right now.
If you look at history, all our groundbreaking legislation - including the civil rights act, new deal - was done from the center. It was done from a place where educated people could look at facts and with an elastic relationship to their ideals, get things done.
They were able to take the facts at face value. They did not shy away from reality because it's too scary, too hard to handle. The Great Depression sucked the life out of this country - here are the images, the stories, the truths. What do we do about it? As opposed to these are my ideals - build legislation around them.

And as a people, if we are to remain the unthinking majority, if we avoid facts, if the tornadoes of truth are too much for us, we deserve every bit of rotten legislation, every blood soaked lie we're fed, every penny we're robbed of. If we don't even take the time and energy to give a shit, why should the powers-that-be give a shit about us?
Instead of seeing the news and cringing, see the news and get pissed off. Not just about the events, but how they're doled out to you - how they're twisted, sugar coated, exaggerated and piece-mealed. Use that information and push forward, don't retreat to a place where the thinking is done for you. Where you walk in, are handed a list of rules and ideologies to follow and you can leave your brain and conscience at the door. Don't do that!
Don't allow your own self to be taken over by a mass minded extremism. Think for yourself, research for yourself. And don't sit in the center and bitch and moan about the ills of society. Think. React. Do Something

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sex = jail time

I like having sex. It's fun, good exercise and depending on who you do it with, an emotional experience as well. Humans are in fact one of the few species that derive pleasure from having sex. Ergo, it has become more than a form of procreation, it is in fact an entire culture...a suppressed one over here, but still, a culture.
For as much as I like sex, I really don't like children. I hate to generalize on such a large group of the human race but for the most part it's true. In terms of my own reproductive abilities, I would really prefer never to utilize them. Not only because of my aversion to children but also because I just don't think I'd be a good mother. I have very little patience, prefer to make my own schedule around what I want to do, like spontaneous adventures and can't imagine giving up wine for 9 months. Oh, and I'm a nutty activist.
With that, if for some reason, my birth control failed me, I would more than likely opt for an abortion. And due to recent events in the good ole land of the free, I'd probably fly back to Sweden to do it. Even with the airfare, it'd be cheaper than doing it here. That, and I wouldn't end up in jail.
No, I'm serious.
A 32 year old mother of three living in Idaho faces a felony conviction and up to five years in jail for aborting a fetus. She said she couldn't afford to get it done at a clinic so she purchased "abortion drugs" over the Internet. In South Cackalacky (that's South Carolina for those of you not privy to the lingo), a Mexican migrant with three children was jailed for three months for using pills to induce an abortion. And in Iowa, a 22-year old was charged with "attempted feticide" following a fall down the stairs...authorities claim she threw herself down the stairs to terminate her pregnancy.
In all seriousness and disgust, I predict the return of back alley abortions using clothes hangers. What an enlightened fucking nation. As George Carlin once said, we want live babies so we can make 'em dead soldiers...with somewhere around 250,000 troops deployed overseas and this nonsense going on at home, how could you argue that point?
I have long felt that abortion should be as far away from any ballot as God, sexual preference and fidelity issues. I don't give a shit, I don't wanna know, tell me what you're gonna do for me and my country and leave your penis/vagina and bedroom tales out of it.
Sadly, that's not the case. This year alone, states have passed 64 new anti-abortion laws and introduced 900 new restrictions. Even without the new found stranglehold on women's freedoms and vaginas, horror stories have long been circulating about denied abortions, having to sit through lectures and atrocious images of aborted fetuses, doctors laying down guilt thicker than a double condom...and speaking of which, studies suggest that a vast majority of teen pregnancies result due to ignorance of proper safe sex methods. Instead...abstinence. Are you fucking kidding me?! When I was a teenager, I would get so fucking horny, I'd have to masturbate just to complete a sentence in my own head!
For a mostly far right leaning platform preaching ever smaller government, they sure want to know a shit ton about what your genitals are up to. Nosy fucking perverts. And it's no wonder - they must just be DYING for a good screw.
You can't fight nature - no matter how many prayers wrapped in self loathing emanate from your repressed lips. Your body will want somebody and if you're smart, you'll allow it that awesome pleasure. If you're a dumb ass, you'll probably end up bitter by age 30, raping little kids, ruining your mind and body with hate and repression or a combo pack of the three.
Like I said before, humans are one of the few creatures to enjoy sex...if you're a creationist, how do you explain that? If sex is to be a mundane function of propagating our disgusting species, why is it so much fun?!
If you don't want people to abort fetuses, why the fuck don't you teach 'em how to avoid getting pregnant in the first place?
If you don't want people to abort fetuses, why don't you support a better education system, better welfare, and less want live babies for sardined life and pro war....
My sincere belief is that all those who fall under that category should never have children, for they would make a far more twisted, sadistic and terrifying parent that I could ever become.

Friday, June 3, 2011


You may have noticed, I'm kinda into politics. You may also have noticed that I dig writing, words and all the wonderful eccentricities and pitfalls of our mother tongue.
Last night, a new friend gave me her book - a book of photography. It's a beautifully presented book: a black canvas wrapped hard cover. Against the black background sits a map of the United States. A hologram image consisting of the blue and red map of the 2000 elections. Guess which state changes as you move the image? Ah - Florida, yes...memories...
As you flip through the book, words blitz your brain - big, bold, blurred, superimposed, digitally broken, faded, tiled and tilted. Words that have come to signify our time, our country, our legacy. Although it is short, one feels as having read an entire manuscript of information by the time the last page flips over. It is an artistic avalanche of information - a unique way of representing not only our past but how the media serves it up and how we devour it. The book is entitled Newspeak.
For all you out there who haven't read George Orwell's 1984, first of all, go get it - the parallels and eerily prophetic musings make this book a top priority in any literary canon. Secondly, newspeak, in the book, refers to a dumbed down language promoted by the state. It is based on English but consists of an entirely impoverished vocabulary, with the intention of demonizing any thinking outside the box..."crimethink." Any words supporting the ideals of freedom, rebellion or independence are systematically pulled ; an ever dwindling language, destroyed at the hands of a centrally controlled corporate-like dictatorship. The ultimate goal is to reduce all language to one word that will encompass all emotions and thoughts deemed suitable by the state, for the un-thinking masses.
Now, this book was first published in 1949. It takes place, obviously, in 1984. While the full scope of this dystopian society wasn't realized by 1984, nor even now, the wheels of a "Big Brother" styled society were set in motion long before teased hair and neon barrettes.
When corporations first came into being, they maintained a strict civic and business role. Damned if they were allowed any place in elections or political policy. They were also contractually only allowed to exist for a certain period of time, unless a charter was renewed. Basically, they would fill a charter and that charter would have to deliver some sort of social service. Once that was fulfilled, the corporation would be dissolved. At that point, the shareholders would take their portion of the assets. By law, corporations were only allowed to exist within the rigid confines of their charter, and charters were not handed out willy-nilly. It was in fact, pretty damn difficult to create and operate a corporation.
As difficult as it was, Corruption and the American corporation became fast friends. More and more frequently, corporations overstepped the bounds of their charters - using their corporate power to control labor, resources, elections and rights. Huge factory systems and company towns were born. Money and power were never meant to be steadfast bedfellows of the body politic. But the turbulent romance flourished as the industrial age surged ahead, creating an exodus from the rural "mom n' pop" to the urban big leagues. The influx of former farmers looking for city work created an ideal platform for corporate power to breed on. Blacklists of workers rights organizations and unions became commonplace. When the smell of rebellion wafted through the stale factory air, corporations hired private armies, bought newspapers, and legislators to disinfect the activist auras.
The days of the Charter were gone - although legislation still exists outlining the purpose and duties of a corporation, the people to stand up for it are missing.
Words on their own are just words. Just like the book I was gifted, just like 1984, just like our prized Constitution - all just words. Unless there is someone who attributes meaning to them, unless there is someone who sees it, thinks and reacts, they are dormant ideas.
Interestingly enough for Orwell, the 80s saw the largest increase in corporate trusts, conglomerates, privatization and transnational dealings. And here we are, 2011.
Our government, supporting corporate deregulation, personal rights - giving praise to the very entities holding a match while the domestic and international hell fires burn.
I don't want to ruin the book for you, but it doesn't have a happy ending. It takes more than one "crimethinker" to fight against Big Brother - it takes more than one mind uncovering meaning and hope in words and ideas to effect many of us are there?
The greatest threat to a dictatorial regime is a thinking populous. It may sound extreme to liken our situation to a dictatorship, but think of our issues - economy, health care, education, infrastructure, terrorism, homeland security, foreign policy, wars - tell me one of those that isn't wrapped in a corporate contract.
The more you think, the more you dig, the more you research, the more you find, how much of your life is not your own, how many rights you don't have, how much of this country is not what it seems to be. And in effect, that's our fault. By doing nothing, we have allowed them to do so much.
It's about time, we all did more "crimethinking" - think critically - think of freedom, rebellion against a dictatorial regime built on power and greed.
Think, react - Do Something.