It is too easy to get caught up in the details (as in the “weeds”)….the rising carbon emissions, the gutting of the EPA, the bombing of Afghanistan, the missile strike in Syria, the privatizing of public schools, the release of mining permits in national parks, the return to coal-fired electric generation, the call to Erdogan congratulating him prematurely on becoming another world dictator (“I have a big property in Istanbul” as the excuse and rationalization for the call)…
Even the details of a health care bill that endorse the pharma and insurance industries, the wimpish FDA that does not conduct clinical trials in order to prevent “side-effects” of new drugs aimed at ailments never even heard about a couple of decades ago…the 54% increase in the Pentagon budget proposal, the failure to appoint several hundreds senior and middle-rank public servants to government departments or the conflation of three North Korean dictators into one….these are merely zits on a face, cranium and brain that is eroding with a cancerous tumor to which the American people, (and who knows how many others from other countries?) have become so enmeshed that our survival is now in jeopardy.
‘Profit trumps people’ seems such a glib and easily dismissed aphorism. I recall being told several times, when I made lame attempts at poetry, “It reads like a drop of water sliding down a windshield!” And the danger is that this slogan will, like that water drop, slide into the ditch of our collective unconscious.
And yet, it merits a lengthy pause for reflection.
If the country’s political, cultural, academic, ideological cornerstone is the for-profit corporation, and all of the public actors, thinkers, speakers and political leadership worship at some variation of that “idol” then everything and everyone are subject to its iron-clad demands, requirements, expectations and discipline. Swept aside in such a “climate” are things like “side effects” of drugs that could result in death while disabling bowel dysfunction, medications that generate thoughts and acts of suicide while clearing the skin from blemish, micro-beads that wash human bodies while they kill the fish in the downstream of public effluent, chemicals that make us smell sexy, chemicals that “preserve” our food (simply to enhance the profits of both producers and wholesalers and retailers, a digital technology, including the deep internet, now out of control of its designers, and public access to the ‘public internet’ over which legislation is so lagging in both time and enforcement, that it provide an instructive model for our purposes.
The demand for new and improved “everything” in every industry, for the purpose of generating profit and investor dividends, both within the research departments and the sales departments of all corporations, including tragically the multi-billion-profit driven chartered banks, extends to the politicians whose careers are so “siamesed” (or less politely, incestuously embedded) to the tax privileges, the lobbyists and the economic and fiscal cycles that are driven by the indices measuring stock and bond prices and trading rates.
Underlying the premise of this capitalist wildfire (whether operated with decreasing regulation and control in western countries, or with oligarchic dictatorships) is an unleashed “Thanatos” whose ultimate outcome is either a slow or a more dramatic death. And whether that death is epitomized by single individuals who shoot others at random and then post their “exploit” on facebook, only to finally shoot themselves after a police chase, or the civil wars in Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Nigeria, Mali, Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, or the assassination of any residue of truth and factual evidence, replaced by the most convenient and self-exonerating flippancy, including the denial of verified and credible evidence gathered and compiled and peer-reviewed by the academic community, or the kind of evidence that obliterates responsibility for public disclosure of tax returns, or for the avowed “deconstruction of the administrative state” making way for malignant autocracy, or for metaphorically opening the gates of the zoo and letting all the caged animals loose on the population, in the latest version of Darwin’s survival of the fittest….
We are now living in a period of history when public regulation and control, of the kind that legal systems, and measured bureaucracies and educational institutions and churches and banks and even the military, and in some distant and foggy past, even corporations considered a needed balance to the dangers of human greed, opportunism, narcissism, selfishness, racism, religious superiority and the wanton abuse of power. We have now let the “abuse of power” free from the constraints of regulation, tradition, law, the truth, and common sense and evidence of its release can be witnessed on every continent, while the specific expressions may vary.
In Russia, we learn of suddenly wealthy oligarchs squirrelling their stash of cash in bank accounts around the world, while “respectable” billionaires in the west do the same, while the drug, arms, oil and tech industries operate so far out of touch, (and the control) of normal laws, perhaps because the laws are no longer relevant and the legislators are too resistant to make the necessary changes, or because law-enforcement too is profiting from these “under-the-table” profits...
There is a respectable veneer of professionalism attempt to ‘cover’ the political class, all of whose members know intimately that if they were to defy the corporate, capitalist ‘gods’ their political careers would be toast.
It is not only shame, and the abuse of power, and the truth that have been laid to rest: so too has the kind of public scrutiny, activism and dissent that motivated people like the owner/operators of the Warsaw Zoo in WWII who secretly harboured several endangered Jews from the clutches of the Fuhrer in their basement.
We are not likely to get warnings like the bombs that were dropped on their home, today, the weapons of power having morphed into the cyber variety and so stealth has also become the arm of those in power. They can and do know more about their naïve and innocent and mostly trusting “subjects” the populace. And they can and will manipulate both what they know and how they sell such information for their own purposes.
Only when all of the horses have left the barn will there be any acknowledgement of the “failures” of both commission and omission that plague the world, and by then there will have been so much irreversible damage done that the balance so honoured by the Greeks when they proposed democracy for the world will have found its resting place in the mounds of garbage through which those left will have to search for food.
Of course, this sounds apocalyptic, and ominous!
Is there really anyone who truly can look this scribe in the eye and say that s/he knows things are moving in a different and opposite direction?
More importantly how many are willing to pay the price of full-throated, fully committed and sacrificial dissent so that such a scenario is not the bequest we leave for our grandchildren? And make no mistake, the price of dissent is very high!
Whenever we make the conscious choice to say that what is going on under the umbrella of society, and conventional political economic culture is unacceptable, w choice to stand out, to stand virtually and literally ALONE and that is precisely what is needed in the western world and it is needed now!
Are you up for the challenge? Or do you still think the world is heading in the “right direction?”