By Jason Miller
While it’s a commonly held belief that “everyone has a nonbiological twin somewhere in the world,” I wonder if we all have an antithetical “anti-twin” as well. Because I recently met someone who could easily be mine. Ironically enough, it was at the public library, one of my favorite haunts.
It’d been a particularly cold winter and the mercury had finally inched up to where it was light jacket weather, so I decided to spend a day prowling around an area called The Country Club Plaza, a Kansas City “landmark.”
Picture the Plaza as a physical incarnation of the spiritual realm where all the souls of the “good” members of the bourgeoisie will transcend once they’ve run themselves to death in the race to acquire the most toys.
Featuring rather exotic-looking architecture styled after that of Seville, Spain; retailers who demand credit approval and notarized validation of net worth exceeding six figures prior to entry into their establishment (so as to prevent “the rabble” from invading their luxurious fiefdoms); and restaurateurs whose appetizers cost enough to feed a family of four for a month, this “shopping district” is at the nexus of what some people refer to as Kansas City’s “old money.” Suffice it to say that the inhabitants of the palatial estates lining nearby Ward Parkway and State Line Road enjoy extensive insulation from the current “economic downturn.”
In fact, before his approval ratings fell off a cliff and he became a pariah to his own party, George Bush paid a visit to The Plaza en route to the home of Scott Ward, the local candy magnate who maintains co-controlling interest in the privately held Russell Stovers corporation, a company the “journalists” covering the business beat for the Kansas City Star (our daily corporate fish wrap) would characterize as an “engine of the local economy.” Bush came that day in 2006 to raise money for Missouri’s Republican candidate for US Senate. As one of the several hundred members of the “hoi polloi” who showed up to protest “all things Bush,” I was actually very fortunate. Not just because I was within earshot of Bush’s motorcade when I yelled profanities at that pusillanimous sociopath. But also because I had the “audacity” to step outside the “protest zone” and scream at a cop that he was a fucking fascist protecting a war criminal, yet somehow I managed to avoid getting tasered or arrested.
I’m meandering a bit here, but I do have a point. Armed with at least a notion of The Country Club Plaza and its demographics, you now have a context into which you can place Jacob Arnst, my anti-twin and a resident of the Plaza area, whom I’m about to introduce.
Addicted as I am to reading, learning, studying, and researching, my feet naturally made their way to the Plaza branch of the Kansas City public library during the course of my wanderings. As I was perusing the well-worn book spines for names like Best, Jensen, Zerzan, Marcuse, Adorno, Mills and a host of other anti-capitalist malcontents, my eyes happened upon a rather harsh looking older man with a stocky build, squatty stature, thin and wispy gray hair that was well on its way to extinction, taught and leathery skin that gave him a rather reptilian appearance, a well-manicured moustache contrasting sharply with a heavy five o’clock shadow, and a badly coordinated but obviously expensive outfit. His bright orange Baby Alpaca cardigan, though of exceptional quality, didn’t quite match his Agave Cowboy denims, his purple Prada distressed suede ankle boots, or his black dial Rolex Migauss. His ensemble, which also included an ostentatious gold rope chain that would have looked more at home on Kanye West, made for a very odd-looking combination. I noticed that he’d lingered in the same aisle as me for about ten minutes, so I initiated a conversation with a hello and an inquiry about his reading preferences. He didn’t seem too open to talking. Without even glancing my way he grunted a barely audible “hi” and mumbled something about finance, investment and economics. I wondered why the hell he was searching shelves lined with books by Marxists, anarchists, socialists, and anarcho-primtivists.
When I politely pointed out to him that he wasn’t likely to find Warren Buffet’s latest tome amongst these texts, he looked me directly in the eye and defiantly proclaimed that he wanted to see what the terrorists, Communists and traitors were writing about. Seeing an opening, I told him that I was a sociopolitical writer and online publisher. I told him I wanted to know what the people who formed the bedrock of capitalism and the American Way of Life were thinking. I gestured toward a nearby table that was tucked away in an alcove (hence offering a modicum of privacy) and asked him if he’d submit to an interview. Obviously flattered, he consented, but only under the condition that I agree not to disclose his real name or any of his personal information. He told me that he was quite “well off” and didn’t want “creeps” or “freeloaders” finding him through the Internet. I told him I’d honor his request.
As we sat down across the narrow table from one another, I scrutinized him with the cautious enthusiasm of a scientist observing a lethal strain of bacteria under a microscope. I was face to face with a parasitic capitalist overlord. “Is his disease contagious?” I mused to myself. We shook hands as he was telling me how affluent he was and how he’d made his money. His touch was oddly effeminate, more of a caress than a shake, and his grip was surprisingly feeble for a ruthless business man who had acquired his fortune with a “take no prisoners” attitude. It was a creepy scenario.
We made small talk for a few more ticks of the clock, which is how I gleaned the details about his wardrobe. He was delighted to boast that his attire for the day cost him over $1500.00 and that these were his “bumming around clothes.” When I told him I paid about $100.00 for what I was wearing, including my “expensive” vegan tennis shoes, he guffawed slightly before realizing his “social faux pas” and quickly apologizing. He then fidgeted with his watch, nervously cleared his throat a couple of times, and lowered his gaze to avoid my eyes. I smiled and told him not to worry about it, putting him at ease again. Funny how even the most callous and mean-spirited individuals can lapse into moments of self-consciousness.
Seizing the momentary pause in our discourse, I informed him we needed to get started on the interview as the increasing intensity of the sunrays cascading through the westerly windows indicated it was growing late in the afternoon. He nodded his assent.
Note: Jacob Arnst is an alias for my “library friend.” I am keeping my promise not to reveal his true identity or specifics about his business or personal life.
Jason Miller: All right, let’s start with a rather broad question. What do you think of the impending global economic collapse?
[Much to my surprise, Jacob burst out with a gut-busting laugh.]
Jacob Arnst: Is that what you think it is? Boy, oh boy, did you drink the Commie Kool-Aid! This is nothing more than a down-turn. In fact, it’s nothin’ compared to the Great Depression. Our economy goes in cycles. We’ve hit a valley and we’re on our way out of it. Plain and simple.
JM: How is this “valley” affecting you?
JA: Actually, I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s made my life BETTER. Some of my investments are off, but my business, which is a rather large enterprise and represents the core of my financial holdings, is booming. There are many ways to profit from the losses of others. For instance, I give you permission to at least tell your readers that I’m making a killing off of the rash of home foreclosures.
JM: Don’t you feel guilty that you are prospering at the expense of human misery?
JA: Nah, I don’t look at it that way. God gives us all a mind, body, soul, and five senses when we’re born. What we do with it after that is our own responsibility. I can’t help it if Bob the factory worker, who’s now laid off, was too damn lazy to get an education or start his own business. And if I can improve my position because he made stupid decisions that caused him to lose his house, I’m going to do it. It’s really no different than playing chess. Bob left an opening and I check-mated him. Too bad, Bob. You lose; I win.
JM: What about “Bob’s” family?
JA: Well, first of all, his damn wife should have chosen a better mate to be her bread-winner.
JM: And their children?
JA: The state’ll take care of them. That is why I pay outrageous property and capital gains taxes, my friend. Before you judge me too harshly, remember that I pay thousands of times the taxes that you and the “Bobs” of this world do. I pay taxes so I don’t have to worry about the plight of lazy, stupid, insignificant people.
JM: What are your thoughts on the eco-crisis?
JA: I don’t think there is one. Senator James Inhofe, a highly respected man, along with many leading scientists, have proven that global warming is a hoax.
JM: Global warming aside, what do you think about the Sixth Extinction? Is that a hoax too?
JA: No, that’s not a hoax. We can observe that some types of plants and animals are dying. But that’s just part of the natural order of things. Just like in business. Some companies can’t hack it, so they fold. The animals and plants that are disappearing just don’t have what it takes to survive. It’s a brave new world and only the tough make it.
JM: How do you view the problem of human overpopulation?
JA: I’m not worried about it. Some sort of catastrophe will take care of all those excess Africans and Asians. Those of us who are intelligent and live right will be fine. The ones, like your “Bob” you were so worried about, who make idiotic decisions, will reap the consequences. For many of them, that will mean death, which will be a good thing for the rest of us.
JM: Wow, Jacob. I’m trying hard to remain an impartial interviewer here, but that’s incredibly barbaric.
JA: Call it what you will, but I’m a realist. You don’t get to my position in life by feeling sorry for people. Let them pull themselves up by their bootstraps, just like I did. If they can’t make it, I’m sorry, but that’s the way the ball bounces in life. God’ll take care of ‘em in the hereafter anyway.
JM: As a dedicated vegan, I have to ask, what are your thoughts on exploiting animals?
JA: God put the animals here for our benefit. He told us that in Genesis. Besides, look around you. Everything of significance and value on this planet was invented, created, or made by people. Quite frankly, I don’t even like animals. My wife insists on having a cat, but I refuse to allow dogs into my home. And humans were made to eat meat. Everything else is just filler.
JM: Aren’t you concerned about the skyrocketing global demand for “meat,” the extensive damage “meat production” does to the environment, and the suffering of “factory farmed” animals?
JA: Jason, none of those issues are of any consequence to me. Not one. I could give a fiddler’s fuck if some Chinaman goes hungry because he doesn’t have a hotdog or a burger to eat. Green technology is going to clean up the environment. The Earth is durable and renewable. We haven’t put a dent in the vast resources God provided for us. And as for the cows and pigs that we raise for food, they wouldn’t even exist if we weren’t going to eat them. They’re lucky to be alive. Besides, we provide for their basic needs, giving them more food than they need, shelter from harsh weather, and medicine when they’re sick. They certainly have plenty of interaction with others of their kind too. But what does concern me though is that those Commie Chinese are sticking their chop sticks onto my plate of steak instead of keeping them in their rice bowl; that the governments are over-regulating businesses to the point that we can’t get at the abundance of resources on this planet; and that we coddle the animals that we farm for meat.
JM: I’d like to shift gears and talk about foreign policy for a bit.
JA: Fine by me.
JM: What do you think of US imperialism?
JA: I think it’s a figment of vivid Marxist imaginations. The US has ALWAYS been on the side of freedom and democracy and we’ve NEVER invaded and colonized another country. We only send our forces in when it’s necessary to right wrongs and crush tyranny. Look how we saved the world from Hitler.
JM: You do know that Russia lost over 20 million people defeating Nazi Germany compared to our 600,000, don’t you?
JA: That’s irrelevant. We provided the industrial and economic muscle. If it hadn’t been for the US of A, it would have been game over and Stalin and the whole lot of those damn Reds would have been learning to speak German.
JM: What about the one million or more Iraqis who’ve died as a direct result of the US invasion and the four million whom have been displaced?
JA: What can I say? War is hell. I think Bush and his staff under-estimated the strength of resistance they’d meet, but Hussein is deposed and properly hanged, we’re withdrawing our troops, and a fledgling democracy is in place. Sounds to me like we did some very good things in Iraq.
JM: I’d like to hear your opinions about Israel.
JA: I’m highly critical of the state of Israel. I’m enraged actually. We’ve sent them billions of our hard-earned tax dollars for years and they still haven’t managed to solve their Palestinian problem. Their leniency is an outrage. If I were calling the shots, I’d have unleashed hell on Gaza and the West Bank until every last one of those rat bastards died or capitulated. They’re all terrorists, plain and simple and they’re squatting on land that belongs to God’s chosen people. They need to be thankful for what they’ve got and toe the line.
JM: Anything else you’d like to add to this impromptu “man on the street” interview?
JA: Sure, I want to say that I appreciate the opportunity to straighten out an obviously misguided young man. And even if you’ve learned nothing from me today, that’s what makes this country great. You have a right to continue being wrong.
JM: Jacob, if you’re trying to provoke an angry response from me or spark a debate, you’re failing. I told you at the outset that this was going to be an interview for publication on my highly controversial anarcho-vegan blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner. While I disagree with almost every one of your views, I’m not here today to argue. I’m simply going to write an intro and publish it along with our Q&A so that readers can see for themselves how an outrageously cruel and twisted soul justifies his contemptible existence.
JA: Just see to it that you don’t put my name on it. I’m going to the country club to eat the most succulent T-bone you could ever imagine. Then I’m going to drive my Porsche Carrera GT to my 75,000 square foot mansion and fuck my 25 year old wife who has the body of a Greek goddess. I hope you choke on your Tofu burger you goddamned tree-hugger!
JM: You’ve given me plenty of material. I think we’re done here. Thanks for your time.
Jason Miller is a relentless anti-capitalist, vegan straight edge, and animal liberationist. He is also the senior editor and founder of Thomas Paine’s Corner and the blog director for The Transformative Studies Institute.