By Phil Rockstroh
Addressing the origins of the Whose-Your-Daddy Nation
“We must become the change we want to see.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“In any case, I hate all Iranians.” —Debra Cagan, Deputy Assistant Secretary to Defense Secretary, Robert Gates
How many times do we, the people of the US, have to go around on this queasy-making merry-go-round of propaganda and militarism before we shout — enough! — then shutdown the whole cut-rate carnival and run the scheming carnies who operate it out of town? It is imperative the nation’s citizens begin to apprehend the patterns present in this ceaseless cycle of official deceit and collective pathology. This republic, or any other, cannot survive, inhabited by a populace with such a slow learning curve.
Over the last three decades, the authoritarian right has risen to create the nation they have been longing for since their humbling by the Watergate scandal. After being subdued and humiliated by the mechanisms of a free republic, the right has turned the tables — and subdued and humiliated the republic. If the trend continues, all but unchallenged and unabated, we might as well replace the torch held aloft by Lady Liberty with a taser.
How could it come to this? How did so many US citizens grow so apathetic, oblivious, if not flat-out hostile to the tenets of a free republic?
The authoritarianism inherent to the structure of multi-conglomerate corporatism is antithetical to the concept of the rights and liberties of the individual. Most individuals — bound by a corporation’s secrecy-prone, hierarchical values — will, over time, lose the ability to display free thinking, engage in civic discourse, and even be able to envisage the notion of freedom.
This is true, from the florescent light-flooded aisles of Wal*Mart to the insular executive offices of Haliburton to the sound stages of CNN and Fox News. Under the prevailing order, reality, for the laboring class of the corporate state, has become debt slavery; in contrast, the simulacrum of reality, in which, the striver class exists, is a milieu defined by obsessive careerism. Under the hegemony of corporatism, freedom might as well be fairy dust. It only exists in an imaginary land, not the places one arrives by way of one’s morning and evening commute.
In addition, economically, by way of decades of financial chicanery, perpetrated by the nation’s business and political elite, we are eating our seed crop, and the consequences of this harvest of deceit have left the people of the US, intellectually and spiritually malnourished.
As a result, many attempt to sate the keening emptiness and mitigate the chronic unease by gorging themselves on the Junk Food Jesus of End Time mythology, which is a belief system wherein corporeal events and actions (personal and collective) have no lasting consequence because even the human body is to be cast aside, like a junk food wrapper, when the cosmic CEO decides to make the earth a part of his heavenly franchise.
Accordingly, the corporate state requires modes of being that evince obliviousness and obedience (the defining traits of the US consumer) on the part of the majority of the populace. Ergo, the rise of both Christian consumerists and the vast apparatus of the right-wing propaganda matrix that dominates news cycles via the electronic mass media.
All coming to pass, as George W. Bush — the reigning mascot of this fantasyland of infantile omnipotence and instant gratification — is rocked to sleep by his handlers cooing preposterous tales of how history will place him in the pantheon of those men whose greatness was unrecognized by the shallow and petty minds of their own era.
When, in fact, Bush, whose ruinous wars of aggression, deficit-ballooning tax breaks for the wealthy, and policies of crony capitalism (that enabled the economy-decimating, easy credit banking scams of the present) displays the character traits of a man ridden with severe psychological trauma; his attempts to tamp down immense inner turmoil, by means of his grandiose bearing, his absolute certitude regarding his own infallibility, and his bullying behavior, have resulted in an exteriorizing of his pathologies on a global scale, and this is playing out ugly, for all concerned.
Why do the people of the nation (for the most part) slouch, slack-jawed and passive, before this assault upon their collective integrity and personal dignity?
For generations, the ephemeral dazzle of pop culture paternalism and tabloid Manichaeism, as confabulated by advertising and public relations hacks and corporate news courtesans, has overwhelmed gravitas, history, even self-awareness. As all the while, shallow opportunists have been elevated to the status of pundits, experts and sages. Withal, the present system generously rewards those individuals who have mastered the art of impersonating human traits and responses in utterly contrived environments. As a whole, the majority of the populi have come to garner information about the world at large, and, worse, their own self-image, from a medium where phoniness is a treasured commodity, while authentic human traits and responses are banished to a beggar’s road.
Is it any wonder that the media types who thrive in these artificial settings have come to define authenticity as being only those attributes that appear authentic on television? Apropos, if you ask these “media personalities” about the shortcomings and corruption of the present system, they will plead the careerist’s Nuremberg Defense … of only being a stormtrooper obeisant to the “bottom line.”
Fantasy alert: One would hope that if one were to descend down a ladder constructed of these layers upon layers of bottom lines, one would arrive in a Hell reserved for those possessed with such shameless cupidity.
Reality redux: Yet as much as the human heart might yearn for such outcomes, there will never arrive the terrible majesty and bitter reckoning of anything resembling Judgement Day, heralded by celestial trumpets and legions of naked and cowering sinners; instead, in human affairs, there arises dire exigencies that can no longer be ignored nor explained away. The arrival of such a moment for the US is nearly at hand.
When a nation manifests a mixture of mass ignorance and official mendacity, in combination with uncheck power emanating from an insular and arrogant elite, a golden age of peace and plenty is as possible as holding a tea dance in a tsunami. As sure as a village of desperate fools who devour their seed crop, a nation that refuses universal health care to its children — yet rushes to the aid of its parasitic class of wealthy “speculators” and “investors” from the consequences of their own greed-besotted, fiscal debacles — is doomed.
This is the classic pattern of collective immolation experienced by a nation when power and privilege is increasingly consolidated in fewer and fewer hands. In essence, this is the key to the conundrum paralyzing the leadership of the Democratic Party: In a culture in which an individual’s worth is determined by the degree one can be exploited by the corrupt interests that control both the private and public sector, the public at large has little value to the political establishment … That is: other than, every few years, being bamboozled for their votes in the sham spectacles known as the US electoral process, a scam mostly financed, hence controlled, by the aforementioned big money interests.
In sum, this is the reason the Democratic Party feels little allegiance to their base. In turn, the political classes themselves are only of value to the big money corporate elite, because, by their delivery of staggering amounts of pork, massive tax cuts, and the passage of desired anti-regulatory legislation, they serve as their errand boys.
Moreover, the corporate control of congress is a microcosm of US society as a whole. Accordingly, the increasingly corporatized, ever more submissive people of the US should be termed, the Whose-Your-Daddy Nation.
Yet, since life does not exist in stasis, within this hierarchy of deceivers and dupes, we will gnaw at one another’s ankles until the whole pathetic pyramid collapses.
All around us, we can feel the shoddy structure starting to sway and buckle. Axiomatically, the value of the dollar is collapsing like the smooth facade of a con man called-out by a group of wised-up marks. At present, in the wake of the bust in the housing market, repo men are retracing the tracks of real estate grifters who fleeced legions of wishful thinkers who brought the American dream and now only possess the misery of debt slavery.
One would think the time for insurrection has arrived — that, at long last, an awakened and enraged public would rise up and foreclose on these reprobates and ne’er-do-wells squatting in the White House and skulking through Congress. The power and privilege of the corporately controlled elite of Washington should be repossessed like the Lexises of Atlanta real estate agents and the oversized pickup trucks of Tucson contractors, confiscated in the wake of the collapse of the housing market. Foreclosure signs and repossession notices should festoon the whole of official Washington.
Turn about would be fair play. Since, the rise of Reaganism, the financial sector has been engaged in selling off the assets of the nation’s public sector to the highest bidders. It is amazing that, at this point, this klavern of kleptocrats haven’t yet torn from the walls and absconded with all the copper plumbing fixtures and fittings on Capitol Hill.
Is a turnaround possible?
If we wake-up and smell the jackboot. From the miasma of right-wing media propaganda, to the proliferation of predatory capitalism, to the corruption and cupidity of the prison industrial complex, to the pandemic of police brutality and the trampling of the rights of the accused, to perennial civilian shooting sprees, to the muzzling of descent, to the rise of the national surveillance state, to the use and acceptance of torture as state policy, to the adoption of an unlawful, immoral foreign policy doctrine that promotes policies of perpetual war, one is forced to conclude that bullying, and deferring to bullies, has become the dominate mode of being in the US.
Remedy: In order to turn this trend around, the people of the US must begin to acquire the anti-authoritarian traits of empathy and engagement. The gaining of empathy alleviates the pathological need to be a bully, while social and political engagement mitigates feelings of powerlessness that authoritarian bully-boys, such as Bush, Cheney, Giuliani, et al., exploit.
In short, remedial human lessons for the US population, in general, and for the corporate and political classes, in particular.
Let us start the process by having a period of grief and repentance for the death and suffering that our government, in our name, has inflicted on the people of Iraq. This should be done as the US begins the process of a complete military withdrawal from their decimated nation, and the bestowing of economic reparations upon the millions of Iraqis who have suffered under the brutal machinations and murderous mayhem unloosed by our country’s contemptible invasion and occupation.
To do so, might save the people of our next target, Iran (as well as ourselves) a world of grief.
Phil Rockstroh, a self-described, auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Visit Phil’s website, http://philrockstroh.com/