This is my spot to politically vent a little—ok, a lot—as well as
a section to post letters from other socialist individuals & organizations. The opinions I express here do not represent the views of other people associated with Parallel Perspectives.
Dear Comrades #1 [April 2008] California budget woes; Red Army in Afghanistan; Humans unwilling to modify their behavior.
Dear Comrades #2 [May 2008] Treacherous Arab Oligarchy; Capitalists & the Environment.
Dear Comrades #3 [August – December 2008] Stimulus package; Animal Rights Terrorists; Castro praises Russian Orthodox Church.
Dear Comrades #4 [March - April 2009] More bailout (for the Capitalists); The Disarming Myth of the Liberal Bourgeoisie
Dear Comrades #5 [July - August 2009] California draconian budget cuts—and more on the way;
Anti-religious views; Michelle Obama vs. Laura Bush.
KARMA or COMPLICITY?
I’d like to focus a bit on the concept of karma & complicity.
Karma is not necessarily restricted to an ethereal notion of past lives & reincarnation. In essence, it simply refers to the natural force of cause & effect, action & reaction. The question that concerns us here is: does this principle apply to nations as well as to individuals? Can an entire people be somehow “cursed” or doomed to suffer in direct proportion to the suffering they have collectively inflicted on another nation? Well, you can see where this is going. Has the failure of American democracy to prevent the invasion & bloodbath in Iraq, for example, somehow doomed the U. S. electorate to big time karmic pay back? How complicit are people in a democracy (albeit a smoke & mirrors one) to the martial outrages committed in their name and, more often than not, with their passive, moral support?
American capitalist society is violently corrupt, with a history of projecting its violence overseas. Nobody wants to take responsibility for anything political—and in the United States everything is political. Religion is political. Jobs are political. Anger & despair are political articles for sale, the more in oppostion you are to the status quo, the less you get—and the more that’s demanded. The real big jobs, the ones that are designed to keep everybody in line, are available to those with the stomach & thick-skin to smile as they mislead, and close their eyes to the international bloodshed involved in their unwritten & nonverbally understood job descriptions—a big wink-wink between employee & Oligarchy.
judgement. Then, even if I felt competent to proceed, I would have to look at others who fall into the huge category of people & professionals who can be said to directly bolster up the position of the United States Oligarchy/The New Rome. Soldiers. Writers. Actors. Musicians. Capitalists, of course. Teachers. Scientists. Priests, MinistI had a friend in high school who went on to become a very successful woman, a bright light on local television in a major city with national affiliation. In the distant past we could be found in the peace marches & all the other “liberating” things popular in the 60’s. She was the only person I knew who was so in command of her priorities that she actualy seemed to allocate a specific time frame for the expected “sex, drugs & rock & roll” stage of life almost compulsary at that time. In fact, this became the main issue that led to my being unceremoniously jettison from her triumphal progress in achieving the Alpha Girl, ideal life. While she took occaisional excursions on the “Wild Side,” I moved in for an extended stay & really liked it—of course in the long run, it came with a high price tag, but that’s how my personal life unfolded. While our crowd was bar hopping & tripping the light fantastic, Our Lady of the Air Waves would remain at home serenely balancing her checkbook. I really can’t fault her for basically dumping me—because now she has realized every major goal that qualifies for Success in Life (and everything she ever wanted): Love, money, fame, a stellar career that keeps her at the center of attention; husband, son, etc, etc. She really is phenomenal; with just a suggestion of arrogance in her self-assurance—and something just a teeny bit repellent in her unrelenting perfection. Meow. At any rate, she rose to the pinnacle of her career on prime time doing promos for the Oligarchy & cheerleading for the Better Business Bureau. Does this mean she is as corrupt as the social order she fronts?
Before I could attempt to answer such a question, I would have to examine the subterranean vault of my psyche for any repressed antagonism to her or envy, just to determine if I have the “objectivity” to passers, Chaplins, Rabbi etc.
In other words—just about everybody in one way or another.
We’re tied into a a political reality of buying & selling ourselves & each other.
There are 3 major themes American State Capitalism expects its prophets & priestesses to intone. The first is to lead the chorus of the nationalist slogan: USA, USA, USA #1! and in this maniacal chorus the American beer set of the working class fanatically join in. [NOTE: Micro American Brew respectfully excepted.] The second is to harp on the additional theme that this is “the era of the common man”—he who sticks not his neck out, who is “safe,” not too smart & just a little dumb—but, gosh gee, aren’t we all? This tact denies the existence of anything even remotely resembling an Oligarchy. The third (least popular) capitalist dogma is to admit the existence of financial elite in positions of power & control, but insists that democracy levels everything & everybody out and, besides, the wealthy in power deserve to be. They are superior by nature. They are entitled. They rule by Divine Right.
They are The Chosen.
You too might be Chosen, provided you learn to keep your mouth shut.
Over the years I have begun to doubt the notion of a Benevolent & Egalitarian Humanity. It’s a view in direct contrast to a remark made by a tragic & forgiving Anne Frank. Despite the cruelty of her situation, she stated that she still felt that people were really good at heart. I don’t think people are necessarily evil at heart, but everybody knows how their bread is buttered, and few people, no matter how hungry, are willing to storm the bakery. But the reality may be even worse. Famous American playwright Tennessesse Williams describes a nightmarish vision of people & life in general in his play SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER.. Williams sets up a scenerio to illustrate his anti-hero’s (who effectively never appears in the film version) belief that life is predicated upon the awareness that the stronger always preys on the weaker in a hideous display of carnivorous brutality & amoral cannibalism. The “God” who watches over this bloodbath is as monstrous as his creation. The Gnostics called this false god The Demiurge.
I noticed a promo for a new movie release (didn’t catch the title): Anyway, the plot is simplicity itself. A person who is at the end of the rope financially gets a visit from a stranger who in turn displays an even stranger black box. The recipient is informed that if they press a button on the box they will shortly receive a million dollars. The catch is, an annonymous someone, somewhere in the world, will die as a direct consequence of pushing the button.
I believe a lot more people than we’re supposed to think, would activate that box.
Back to the original question regarding my former friend, not only am I not qualified to even presume an answer to such a question, but it can’t be answered without taking into account the wider question of human nature under decaying capitalism in the 21st century. How is that to be answered? Shall we use the example of unremitting political brutality that has run unabated from the last century—from all of human history really—with few protests in comparison to the bloodshed & the barbarity? Is all the cruelty, as the main religious and “democratic” politicians would have us believe, nothing more than a slight deviation from the natural, angelic state of man?
All animals are opportunistic, and man is no different. The first rule of nature is self-preservation, and man is no different. There is a unique difference that does divide man from the other animals: Only man is violently & cunningly destructive both to himself and to others of his own species. Only man soils & devours his entire environment. Only man creates religions that soon enslave & cause him to enslave others for its sake. Only man creates political systems that turn around & slaughters millions upon millions for its own sake. Only man makes up laws & proscriptions to persecute, torture & ultimately “neutralize” all who are different, any who dare dissent too loudly or effectively.
Only man has brought the world & its inhabitants to the point of extinction.
With these images before our eyes, what can it really matter how a bright, intelligent woman obtained her high status & what moral qualms or political reservations she dismisses in order to remain up there? If we follow the model of karma, she has obtained the social role inherent in her nature. Her ascent has been productive to others as well, an inspiration to many. She is perfectly aligned with the Tao, the Way of Life. In the general way of things today, her complicity in the political darkness of the age is marginal. It might be different if there were a profound escalation of the class struggle. If the working class ever came to power through a “permanent revolution” (don’t hold your breath), my friend’s personal glory as a media functionary would be looked at somewhat ascance, good karma or no good karma. No, wait—I take that back. Knowing her as I do (or did), she would find a way to turn the class struggle to her advantage and rise even higher in the world than before. She’d probably become Minister of Culture & Propaganda ( that’s a position I covet!)
An excellent examination of compliciy in the media is found in the satrical (and prophetic) 1976 film NETWORK. Although fictional, the scenario is horrifically convincing. It shows how the corruption of materialism has created a society & media where everything is based on ratings & the quest for truth has become lost in audience share. The content of the nightly news has become nothing more than a show place for crackpots & charlatans (not too far off by today’s standards.) Even a violently homocidal, Maoist guerilla group has its own primetime “spot” in a network deal brokered by the Communist Party! An almost mythical capitalist mogul presides in the background in a nebulous highrise. The revelation is clear: Money controls the media, and the media controls & conditions society while entertaining it.
Which brings us around to my own complicity—oh, it’s nothing like being a news anchor, or a soldier or an armanents manufacturer—but like everybody else I have a little share in the muck. I believe that the main obstacles in my life have been the result of personal karma, and to some degree, social background & genetics—as opposed to strictly class forces (that was to come later when I became interested in communism). Finding an artistic media form that gives me a sense of purpose came relatively late in life. My artistic expression more often than not takes an anti-capitalist form—and yet, strange as it may be, in that is the center of my own deepest complicity. I have no social power, and relatively few people will probably ever read what I have to say. However, my posted musings provide an escape valve that blows off said anti-capitalist steam. I’m no danger to the Oligarchy. In fact, my artistic release valve actually props up the social order because it can point to me and say, “See how democratic we are—we allow this nut to rant all he pleases and we don’t interfere.” Not a very attractive picture, but I’m afraid it’s pretty accurate.
If for some reason they did feel a need to liquidate me—there a hundred ways they could effectively do it—and I’m not going to make any suggestions here how to go about it.
Karma or Complicity?
All bets on the table, ladies & gentlemen, put your money down…
PS. Obviously I took a BIG detour from the original question, Can an entire nation suffer the effects of “bad karma.” Was the overwhelming majority of the 1932 German electorate that supported Hitler & the Nazis responsible for the Holocaust & the massive murder & destruction of World War II? Frankly, I see the Berlin Wall as being an almost justified consequence for the unrelenting German genocidal devastation of the Soviet Union. Is the American electorate that voted to maintain Bush II in office & by consequence supported the torture & mass murder in Iraq, guilty as well? I think so. In this late stage of capitalist dementia, the American people will increasingly find themselves the victims, rather than the benefactors, of The New Rome. This will be the collective pay back—misery inflicted on them by the System they’ve enabled.
Now that’s a classic case of karma.
MISSION TO MARS: FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS?
We’ve been tinkering around with web changes & my last message posted here got lost in the Void of Accidental Deletion, the Sin of Backup Omission. It’s too bad because, of course, the article was brilliant…oh, well.
The gist of it was lambasting the California State budget cuts. On top of a major cut in Social Security & Social Services including auxiliary diagnostic & other medical services last July, Social Security recipients were notified of another cut in their monthly checks starting in November. The sneaky way in which these draconian cuts were implemented—in 2 waves of austerity—have caught many desperate people off their guard. The Federal Social Security Administration already informed pensioners that there would be no cost-of-living adjustments, even though prices for everything—and especially food, clothing & shelter—have gone sky high. When you calculate the State cuts, many people find themselves in a frightening & hopeless situation. All levels of society are feeling the pinch, but not as harshly as those on the lowest ring of the ladder. The Republicans are proud of this giant step toward dismantling their big boogeyman “Welfare (i.e. Socialist) State,” and the Democrats have made it all possible. Personally, I think the Democrats are most culpable because they "speak with fork tongue” and pretend to be the only buffer between the poor & heartless Republican budget slashers. They actually appear to want people to feel sorry for them—as if it weren’t for the pesky poor they wouldn’t have to lie so much. At least with Republicans you know they're jerks to begin with.
To paraphase Alice at her trial in Wonderland: They’re nothing but a pack of cards!
The only strata who have gone completely unscaythed in all this economic turmoil are the people at the top who have it all to begin with. Why shouldn’t they be expected to “share the pain” like every other American? The reason is simple: they aren’t every other American. They call the shots, make the wars, give the orders to kill—but they’re not the ones who actually do the dirty work & sweat the sweat & spill the blood. The Capitalist Oligarchy hoards the precious resources of the earth for themselves, wining & gorging in orgies of opulence from Washington to South Beach, to Palm Springs, New York to London, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, Beijing, Riyadh, etc, etc.. They will never allow the fair, revolutionary redistribution of wealth that could prevent the social explosion that’s bound to happen—and soon. If we’re all going to go down, I say let the Oligarchs go first!
UPDATE 11/19/09. The media is already in gear preparing people to accept even more cutbacks in 2010. On one hand they pass on little rosy snippets about the “worse being over” and drivel about the Recession being “almost” over! On the other hand, the Oligarchs have to look like they’re full in control, and so they also have to look in charge as the economy can only continue to crumble over time. The media’s nonsensical line is, “It is…and it isn’t.”
I recall one incident on the Nightly News when news of the historically dismal state of the U.S. economy was just being released to the media to pass on (and somehow make palatable) to their audience. For just a second, I saw the mask of smug assurance slip from both anchors’ faces. What was that on their nakedly exposed mugs…Fear? Then the mask was back as before, but not quite as confidently as before.
I remember another part of the deleted article: On a TV news program an MD/research scientist stated that he believed that a coctail pill would be developed “soon” that could extend active life expectancy to 139 years, maybe even longer. I mused a few moments on this information, and the first thing that crossed my mind was, “Would I really want to live that long, in this life, on this planet, under current conditions?” The immediately yelped answer was, “No way!” Then that thought was replaced by an even more appropriate one, “How could I afford to live that long?” Presumably the anti-aging pill would enable you to work longer (and that would probably be a condition to receive the latest miracle of science.) Then the whole thing became clear in my mind: That pill’s not for us, the common folk—it’s for the Oligarchs!
Like all the wonders of modern science—stuff like drones & bombs & poisonous gas & plague—they are made possible by our taxes. The Oligarchs get the good parts & we get the worst. This is why Establishment scientists cannot be politically trusted. They go where the cash doth flow, whether it be extending life, or bringing death. It’s been said that the current interest in Mars reflects a need to have a contingency planet to colonize when life on our Earth becomes too polluted to support life. And guess who will have 1st Class tickets & highest primority? That’s right, the Scientists & the Oligarchs. Oh, a working & service industry force will be allowed to go (2nd Class, of course)—but who can doubt that the vast majority of humanity will remain down here to scorch?
So it boils down to this: The Oligarchs will live forever, abandoning the masses who aren’t essential to their comfort, and escape somewhere safe in Outer Space—and on our dime, no less!
California 'first failed US state'?
By Rob Reynolds in Los Angeles
As cost of living rises, more Americans are finding it difficult to afford food.
Court, governor dig in heels on prison crowding
Deep cuts push Californians to edge