By Jason Miller
Thomas Paine’s Corner
(As inspired by a conversation with Derrick Jensen)
“There’s got to be just more to it than this;
Or tell me why do we exist?”
Is the Western consumerist culture that we inflict upon the rest of the world truly the pinnacle of our evolution? If it is, I resign my membership in the human race. Though I don’t fear that I’ll be compelled to tender my resignation any time soon because our so-called “non-negotiable American Way of Life” is a piece of shit, for myriad reasons.
We in the Western “developed” nations, particularly in the United States, are an utter disgrace to our species. Our myopic, self-centered, jejune, hubristic, and benighted ways of examining and interacting with the rest of the world, including other human animals, non-human animals, and Mother Earth herself, are reprehensible to the point of nausea and beyond.
And why wouldn’t they be? We carry perceived entitlement to such pathological lengths that we actually believe that the world and all of its inhabitants are resources we can objectify and use to enhance and ensure our “prosperity,” “security,” and “the growth of our economy.” We are conditioned to believe ahistorical, manipulative and grossly distorted sound-bites streamed into our shriveled, atrophied cerebrums by well-coiffed, polished talking head sycophants who owe their careerist souls to a system that is destroying the world.
And why wouldn’t we US Americans believe that our “shining city upon the hill” is entitled to whatever our little hearts desire (and our $1 trillion per year military can plunder)? We are all living large thanks to the genocide our forefathers committed against the natives of Turtle Island. After all, who’s going to worry about a little thing like 10-100 million dead “red men?” Or the 100 million black slaves who contributed mightily (and involuntarily I might add) to the development of our economic juggernaut of a nation? I can already see the shoulders shrugging and people assuaging potential guilt with the shop-worn arguments that “we’ve more than made it up to them,” “you can’t change the past,” or “I wasn’t there when it happened.” Well, guess what. I’m not suggesting reparations or apologies. Fuck applying band-aids to gaping wounds. We are barbarians masquerading as enlightened Christian folk—we’ve even deluded ourselves into believing our shit smells like roses. How far do we go before we call a halt to our insanity?
Stocks of large marine animals have fallen 90% since 1950. The polar bears and penguins are drowning and disappearing in droves. Cattle, pigs, and chickens suffer unspeakable horrors in torture facilities euphemistically labeled factory farms mostly so we can get our “fast food fix” and destroy the world one burger at a time by eating at McDonald’s. 50% of the world’s tropical forests are gone and if present trends continue they will all be gone by 2090. A unique species of life goes extinct every 20 minutes.
Conscienceless sociopaths like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney routinely rise to the ultimate positions of power, visibility and responsibility in our nightmare society. We have already slaughtered over a million Iraqis in retaliation for the 3,000 people they DIDN’T kill on 9/11. Disproportionate scapegoating at its finest. Job well done, USA! (One shudders to think how many we would’ve killed had Iraqis been the actual perpetrators of the WTC bombings).
I wonder, dear reader, if you are wondering the same thing I’m wondering as I’m writing: Just what the fuck is wrong with us? We US Americans excel at paying lip service to worshipping Christ and/or the God of the Old Testament, but the truth is that our real god is Mammon. Even those who reject mainstream culture and its obsession with wealth and material possessions are forced to subjugate themselves to the almighty dollar in our filthy capitalist dog-eat-dog, winner-take-all system.
We fancy ourselves to have a monopoly on “freedom” and “decency.” In fact, we’ve mind-fucked ourselves into believing it is our “duty” to “civilize” the rest of the world. In reality we are wage and debt slaves who each play a role in perpetuating a system that is grossly immoral, exploitative, and malevolent. We export our evil via our blood-drenched foreign policy. “Get them before they get us” is our motto—even if we happen to be the equivalent of Mike Tyson pulverizing an infant. Hey, he might’ve attacked us when he grew up, right?
For those of us who haven’t had every shred of moral decency indoctrinated out of us, there is cause for some optimism. Like a pyramid balancing on its apex, capitalism is destined to topple. Linear, short-sighted, chaotic, grossly immoral, and dependent upon infinite growth in a finite world, it has already reached obsolescence in the minds of most intellectually honest critical thinkers. Its myriad victims have discovered perhaps its ultimate vulnerability: asymmetric warfare. In its insatiable thirst to commodify everything, capitalism is at odds with Mother Nature herself. If the victims of imperialism and monopoly capitalism don’t bring this son of a bitch down, the Earth will. And I feel confident that I speak for many when I state that the world will be truly blessed when our violent, hierarchal, and malignant culture of murder and mayhem is throttled to death like a perpetrator who finally encounters a victim with the means to eradicate him.
Meanwhile, we can accelerate the demise of the dominant culture, as Derrick Jensen has labeled our rotten-to-the-core Westernized, capitalistic way of being. As Jensen suggests, we need to build upon the culture of resistance that is rapidly expanding in the pre-revolutionary environment in which we find ourselves.
As the inevitable revolution or crash approaches (the power elite can only fuck the people or the environment so hard before the backlash takes them out), there are many things we can do (each according to our abilities and resources) to monkey wrench this merciless, murderous machine.
Students of history will note that all manner of people and activities are necessary to bring down a deeply entrenched rotten and oppressive establishment. Strikers, boycotters, organizers, thinkers, writers, spiritual leaders, protestors, civil disobedients, conscientious objectors, providers of resources, and groups engaged in direct action like the ALF are all essential to the success of resisting the considerable might and tenacity of those who hold a majority of the world’s wealth and power.
So, as Jensen suggests, find what you love and do it in such a way that it puts a little more wobble on that inverted pyramid.
And when the time comes, those of us who are clinging to our guns so bitterly will know what to do with them.
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He is Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor (http://www.bestcyrano.org/) and publishes Thomas Paine’s Corner within Cyrano’s at http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/. You can reach him at JMiller@bestcyrano.com
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