Writing is not a searching about in the daily experience for apt similes and pretty thoughts and images… It is not a conscious recording of the day’s experiences ‘freshly and with the appearance of reality’… The writer of imagination would find himself released from observing things for the purpose of writing them down later. He would be there to enjoy, to taste, to engage the free world, not a world which he carries like a bag of food, always fearful lest he drop something or someone get more than he.
— William Carlos Williams, Spring and All
AHH, just proposing a few hundred ‘things’ to transform the globe into a world where people control their destinies within groups of people who have their destinies in their best interest is teetering on insanity. It’s not what good people in good capitalist company do, allow, or talk about seriously.
You see, Capitalism lite or Capitalism hard is the same dog-eat-dog world of fend for yourselves, do or die, sink or swim, err, unless you can form a cabal of elites, with their colonies of soldiers and lawyers and bankers and land dealers to entitle you to a different playing field. Inverted totalitarianism.
Get a group of like-minded sociopaths, get a group of investors who want to make a quick buck, get millions who consume the lies of the business journals, the lies of the celebrity scum that end up controlling the narrative on everything, from how the local dog catcher should or shouldn’t do their job, all the way to the pigs over in Fukushima now letting out the isotopes of cancerous love into the Pacific. Imagine, the power of that cabal of industrialists.
It’s the same story told with a different spin, but we know the routine — Hanford, bombs, government contracts, the Tri-Cities (Washington state where the bomb material for incinerating one of the Japanese cities was cooked up) ‘benefitting’ from the construction jobs, the nailing and sawing and framing, all the scientists and the support teams (up to 15,000 back then in 1944) eating out, and that is the disaster and shock and warlord capitalism’s central feature — colonising people. That entire nuclear material making house of nuclear cards based on bad scientists coming into town, and then the system of capitalism runs like a smooth Atilla the Hun school of economics. Farmers out in eastern Washington, and bam, the big bad bomb making boys with their pencil necks, their big cars, their big booze bills, the cigarettes, the new homes with backyard in ground pools, the ancillary and tertiary junk of the consumer/capitalist kind, colonising in this dry land. Until the smoothly and finely-tuned and well-greased death machine ends up decades later running amok in the people’s thyroids, in the DNA and RNA of papa and mama, and alas, now Native fishers as young as 24 have thyroids removed, and the warning label now says, cut away all the fatty bellies of salmon — not recommended not for human consumption.
Capitalism — not for human consumption. That is, all those hyphenated additives and ingredients in baby’s formula, all that stuff sprayed into everything, all those extruded plastics, all those soldered joints, all those capacitors and Prius batteries, the entire thing is not for human consumption.
Now, then, how can anyone go up against this narrative, or flip the script, or make paradigm shifts and cultural transformations, when the entire mess is defended by the very people, say in Appalachia, where entire mountain peaks are blasted away, trout rivers blackened by the dust, and babies born fifty points or more below the barely average thinking (intelligence quotient) capacity of a Trump or Biden evil spawn. Dirt poor, no teeth, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Mac’ n’ Cheese food pantry boxes, and, bam, here we are, 2020, and the dumb as dirt country is being run by thieves, rapists, bombers, land razers, polluters, perverts, sociopaths.
Then the compliant ones, all the big burly tough Americans, especially on the Great Old Party and Make America Great Again side, who feign toughness, think they are blustery in their attacks on educators, intellectuals, scientists, youth, raging grannies, women, environmentalists, multi-culturalists, but the bottom line, they are the flag wavers, the slaver statue defenders, the clear cutters, the wolf killers, the church goers, the big truck lovers, lock step on Saturdays for their college football, their Friday night big high school grid iron, their Sunday hour of hate with Jerry Falwell or Billy Graham. Everything about the mythology of the United States of America — the white land, everything about the authority of the white patriarch, everything about the Stars and Bars — those are the MAGA/GOP lovers, and they want it their way or the highway. Or the way of the AR-15, and anyone moving in protest shot on sight. Amazingly openly racist, and anything or anyone that speaks of questioning the Yankee Doodle Dandy and confederate narrative, the MAGA go ballistic, and their slave patrol cops come in shooting.
This is not to say the other groupings tied to the Democratic party are that much more independent, or fore-thinking. This is the way of capitalism, and the bourgeois, the professional middle managers, the cultural warriors, all the political correctness and cancel culture and the co-opting of movement’s, the kids and adults purchasing Che printed on the t-shirt with Pink Floyd emblazoned under him, that is the other side of the capitalist isle. Really, two different breeds, possibly, the products of epigenetics, and both believing in the unholy contract within both the rule of law and the rules of engagement. A contract is a contract, sign on the dotted line for your next lemon.
War, branding, amusements, infantilism, Disneyfication, commercials, retailopethicus, and the land of milk and honey, through the veins of mother earth, clotted, and the fissures of Turtle Island, radiated, and massive murder and slavery, legitimised. Not much more of that history can be the 1619 Project levelled to define this country.
Until, everyone, on all sides of the political manure pile, is the enemy of transformational living and collectivism.
How many times have I gone up against college presidents who actually come from the ranks of MBA schools, or with degrees in ‘institutional leadership’ (yes, and WTF degree, PhD no less)?
Try out the Journal for Higher Education Managers, running with the American Association of University Administrators. Then, yes, the journal of research on the college president. They have their lobbying arm, their professional insiders, their army of propagandists. Always, top down, and nothing to do with teaching and teachers.
Look, more is not better, and bigger is not better, but in capitalism, in supposedly valiant and worthy areas like education, that is, working with humans to allow themselves to share/advance knowledge and nurturing systems thinking and expanding critical interdisciplinary skills; to learn to work across disciplines, cultures, nations, well, you might think the idea is to work socialistically to bring our societies and our various countries towards some decent survivability and mutual aid across all lines…. Each person is an individual in a systems thinking collective. But the reality is that bigger is better in destructive capitalism, schooling or Amazon fulfilment centre; and competition is not just expressed on the basketball courts. Each school, trying to hook the next and the next generation of potential students. More and more Club Med amenities. Working on amusing themselves to death. A nice tidy $100,000 school loan bill for that undergraduate degree no one in the US gives a shit about.
It’s not about intergenerational, multi-dynamic cross-educational pathways to community and collective healing and mutual aid; ie, emancipation from the consumer path. It’s about the big fish in the ocean eating the most sardines. It is all about free market hucksterism, and the constant getting one, two, three thousand things over on your fellow citizens. Compatriots for Americans are the opposite of compassion.
You think those provosts and institutional leaders and vice-presidents and human resources professionals give a shit about the actual individual student, or the workers keeping the system, and their big pay checks, going?
Nope. I have worked with colleges where the outliers like me, left of left, are not only denigrated, but marginalised and sacked. I have worked with colleges where exploitation is the maximal form of employment. The student is not always the centre of things, and alas, now the student is a customer, or in a time of plan-demic, a data donor on a huge digital dashboard.
If you want to talk about technocratic and technological fascism, you will not be embraced in neoliberal circles, and lite liberal circles. Not in most departments at the universities. Forget the community colleges, where more and more college across the land have drone technology programmes. You know, bomb them back to the stone age from the comfort of your Lazy Boy lumbar supported counsel chair. No matter how much the liberals spew about the community supported agriculture and farmer’s markets and the like, they still feel as if technology, artificial intelligence, all the apps and tools of the managerial class, the tracking tools, the aggregating tools, all the ‘so called’ medical and banking and taxing tools, well, the show must go on in their Zoom doom minds. How do you stop it, they might ask. How? And, for the most part, many of them profess that tracking who does and who does not get the vaccinations, who does and who doesn’t agree with the entire narrative, well, that is a-okay to put them on some kind of passport, wristwatch with all the goods on that person.
These are scary times, and desperate times call for desperate/fascistic/ technological neutering measures. That is the narrative of both MAGA/GOP and the Democrats.
Every Dissident Voice and Facebook post, all the entanglements of the process of exploring ideas and expressing opinions, it is like a forever chemical — data and stories and tweets and postings, they stay in the digital hell of the overlords, ready to be paraded out anytime. I have been told, ‘You didn’t get the job because they “Googled you”.’ And those millionaires and billionaires and soon-to-be trillionaires have offered up the backdoor keys to the National Security Agency and given all the other alphabet soup agencies of oppression and repression, all the info, as well as given it to any major or minor corporation having the dollars to access everything. The outfall is, of course, revolt, dissent, dissidence and clarity of dissension will be, well, verboten if one is to survive in this global digital and AI/CCTV/Big Brother panopticon — which is now not just an institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. Now, each internet, each bureaucratic, each retail transaction, each consumer moment is being observed by a single security guard — the AI god in the cloud.
The Republicans, the Democrats, the Libertarians, all of them, want that level of control. Even the Chinese do. This is the value of oppression, economies of scale, the conundrum of each nation out for itself. Each hundred million souls or each half a billion humans must go after the goods, the others be damned.
This is the psychopathic way of ‘the market,’ the bulwark that is the steal jaws of competitive markets, where the commons is always a tragedy, where the Greek tragedy is played out every nanosecond in the arms of mothers and on the lips of babes, as land is paved over, jawed open, blasted clean, denuded, soil and life and people and animals turned inside out, used in the grand corralling of the minds and bodies. We are the sheep and cattle in the elites’ sophisticated system of domestication, husbandry, monocropping plants and people.
Social-intellectual-spiritual-dreaming control. Pre-crime is not some Phillip K Dick fantasy; it is, rather, the reality of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, started decades ago with every transaction, every educational move, every financial move, every medical move, every legal or illegal move monitored, checked, and filed away. Artificial intelligence and Google and the plethora of other evil app providers and software makers, well, they have the web spinning as I write this.
But this screed is not about that so much as it is about my writing. Another novel, started, on a roll, and yet, daily, I am sure, minute by minute somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I wonder ‘why?’ Who the hell will read this book, and how do I market it, and if I am so radical and communist in my philosophy, should I be worried about who reads it and how it gets read? The Collector and Story Teller, the working title, is very very loosely based on people I meet.
The problem is I am a novelist without an audience, in this shit-show that was big time publishing in the 1980s through the 2000, when I had an agent looking to score semi-small/median with the New York City/Boston publishing houses, that has shifted big time, until the big bucks are thrown at the putrid people, the Obamas paid in the tens of millions for lies and more lies; all the tell-all crapper books; all those Master of Fine Arts style sessions; and, well, a stack to the moon of how to get rich, how to get laid, how to get self-actualised, how to get one or a million scams on your neighbour — how to get a million bucks/spirituality/love/instant success/happiness/multiple orgasms without any work.
I get the scam of publishing (one shit-load of rejection slips and letters, even… ‘well, mighty evocative, mighty powerful, but not our cup of tea’), and I get the competition is ruthless. In fact, you can create great art, and it will, alas, stay locked up in a file case or hung up in papa’s garage next to the Vargas women.
Imagine, Vassar College and Smith College interns, reading piles upon piles of manuscripts (that was in the 1990s–2000s), and if the first two lines, or in rare cases, the first two pages didn’t catch their attention, then, bam, the slush pile. Rejection City.
My New York agent wanted like hell to get my books/novels sold, but he too was up against this pedestrian bullshit East Coast triple bias.
Now, at age 63, what’s the point of lashing out lines and incredible concepts and narratives, when, well, here we are — a nation of triple consumers. Students are consumers, that is, customers. The entire fear city shit of the plan-demic with all those yellow bellies up against the functionally illiterate masses. To mask or not to mask, that is the question? Really! No MAGA or Christian pervert will read my stuff. Let alone buy it. Cancel culturists won’t buy or read my fiction. Highfalutin ‘artistic’ types won’t. The pile of mush getting churned out on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, all of that, this is the American gel, the mush and mutilated crap of the elites and the duck dynasty folk. Podcast after ever-deadening podcast sucking up more attention spans. The incredible right-wing news feeds. The incredible unintelligible pop culture, the hate culture, the faux Buddhist shit, the entire mess that is the United States has that ‘artistic’ tastes which are more than just banal, they are cancerous.
But here I am, trying to get to the point: in one scene in the fast-paced book, The Collector and the Story Teller, my protagonist, Raymundo Pena, or just Ray, is trying to solve a murder and disappearance of the collector, Aubrey Searles, and find Aubrey’s disappeared wife, and in that process, he ends up at the food pantry, the food distribution point for the poor and the downtrodden. A very short-lived scene, but real, and telling.
Of course, you guessed it, me, the author, having worked in a few places that we call ‘food pantries,’ and now, with the plan-demic, Ray ends up talking to a few make-believe characters working at and utilising the pantry.
It’s a short chapter, but the reality is this — this country, broken from sea to shining sea, is way beyond the massive slippage either of the two prostitute parties will grasp or admit (maybe both of them, and their majority backers, have zero idea how threadbare systems are in the US for massive poverty and massive slippage of the American people).
Hunger was bad ass before the plan-demic, the entire lockdown, the shuttering of businesses. A mean country, under any bloody Yankee-confederate flag. Food stamps cut and cut every year. The punishment society ramped up every month, full of token groping rules and laws, making people line up for voting now, for hours, so imagine the shit that poor people and hungry children have to go through for basic assistance (they don’t get it) and then ramp that up and put in poor undocumented people and hungry undocumented children have to do just to get calories.
Now, in the local food bank, shortage after shortage. No turkeys, no dry beans, shortage after shortage. Plenty of Mac’n’Cheese cartons given away, and the bread and cookies and cakes, thrown at the pantries. Piles. Mountains of them. Packaged for the next apocalypse, with so many preservative and a 20-line ingredient (chemical) list.
Welcome to capitalism, a million choices, but ‘not really choices.’ Which red dye number 5 or yellow dye number 55 do you want in your kids’ cereal puffs? Which inorganic compound do you want sprayed on the baby’s mashed potatoes? Which percentage of sugar-hydrogenated oil-salt lick do you want in the toaster cinnamon buns? How much lead in the pipes and fluoride in the toothpaste? That is the United States of America. And we get more hungry every minute. The hunger of the elites hoping for more marks and suckers born every living minute. Hunger. For love. Hunger. For community. Hunger. For justice. Hunger for air. Hunger. For shelter. Hunger. For food.
Dissidentvoice.org, November 4. Paul Kirk Haeder has covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism
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