Friday, September 29, 2006

It is finished...

With the signing of the "Torture Bill" into law, we will now officially have a dictatorship in the U.S. The President has demonstrated that he can effectively ignore, work around, whatever you want to call it, the Judicial Branch of the government; his party's complete control over the Congress assures him control of the Legislative Branch, and HE is in complete control of the Executive, so what's left to challenge, check and assure accountability? Nothing.

Once the bill is signed, he will be able to detain whomever, whenever, for however long, without letting anyone know. In other words, he will have the powet to "disappear" people as well as subject them to various forms of torture. All of this, of course will be legal.

In the past I have posted about not knowing what is like to live in a fascist country; I now need to amend that and say that I have always wondered what it is like to live under a fascist dictatorship...guess I will find out.

Given that daily life has continued virtually uninterrupted due to the masses remaining ignorant of this most recent development, I am sure I will not be able to tell much of a difference between post-dictatorship and pre-dictatorship.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

last bit of hell for awhile...

if the fundamental structure(s) of society do not change, then all we are simply doing is assisting previously un-privileged people become privileged. this is the current model of social change -- helping the "disadvantaged" (however that manifests) become "advantaged," i.e., privileged. we are not, however eliminating privilege. we will never do this until the structures that dole out privilege change. under the current model when we are successful in our efforts all we have
succeeded in doing is increasing the number of privileged people.

not a bad thing, as we know (and as all the data indicate) privilege has
it's advantages, that's why so many people want it.
even more hell!

i'm not referring to those who watch TV all the time, just those who do...consistently. in my estimation, for things to change, the very foundation of social organization must change. it cannot change, however, as there are those who are convinced that this organization is the best, the most civilized, etc. how does this view continue despite massive evidence to the contrary? one way is by the constant consumption of news, information, images, etc., that reinforces how great the organization is.

letting go of privileges is like letting go of one's own identity; not easily forsaken. i think we would have a chance at change if people could, for a period of time, get relief from the constant bombardment of notions about how great things are. one way to do that is to turn off their TV sets for, what, a year? can you imagine that? no one would do it, even if it meant that there was a really good chance of improving their situation. "take away my TV? that's, that's, jihadist!!!"

In the US, we are a hair's breadth away from legalizing torture. anyone upset? not really. those powerful people who want to see something different, are they able to do anything about it? apparently not as it is going to pass. we have, for all intents and purposes a dictatorship in the US, and life goes on gleefully, just so long as I can shop, shop, shop; no worries, mate.

let them eat cake has been replaced with a teflon Marie Antoninette who now espouses, "give them their X-boxes, their cell phones, their 165 channel cable TV, their GAP clothes, and let them continue to think that they are free in the land of liberty" while i usurp their power, trash
their constitution, and elude accountability -- all in full view of the entire goddamn world.

this is the model of morality presented by "the moral leader of the free world" and we think that the masses are going to what, rise up and demand something different? hell, no, college football is on and i am too damn tired from working all day.

here in the good old US of A, no one gives a goddamn about social change, about improving living conditions for others; at least not at the level that will make any REAL difference. sure, we'll donate money, do some volunteer work, write letters to the editor, talk about how there is no social justice in the world, but we will never actually create anything resembling an equal and just society because so many people are convinced that it ALREADY EXISTS here.

hell, we don't need nobody to brainwash us, we do it to ourselves, gleefully. Marx wouldn't have a chance in the world today, especially now that "we know that Marxism doesn't work, just look at what happened to the Soviet Union."
more hell

for anything to change barriers to inequality need to
be more than confronted, they need to be removed. not going to happen. i
truly cannot forsee that. in fact, i am unaware of any culture in which
there is no division, no categorization, no inequality. would love to
hear/read about one that is in existence today.

study revealed today that there are more TV's in American homes than
there are people in those same homes. it is estimated that the average
person watches about 3000 ads/day on a typical day. think about
it...that many TV's, bombarding people with propaganda about "the way
things are" day in, day out for years at a time. note my previous quote
about "...voluntarily accept this position as his or her own" -- the
mcmasses (ourselves included) consume these ideas, and accept them as
our own, despite the fact that they are simply one version of things.

consider the amount of $$ that is spent annually on advertising,
marketing, etc. check out The Merchants of Cool to get a sense of the
insidiousness of mass marketing.

in other words, there are people who are suffering due to structural
inequality (in its myriad manifestations) and will defend the very
structures that create and maintain that inequality to the death, THEIR
death, because they have accepted the "...position as [their] own."

Goebbels had nothing on Viacom, AOL Time Warner, Vivendi, and Disney.
welcome to hell

i think it is noble to consider new ways of assisting people; I have been trying this for years. Recently, though, I have to admit, I have been asking towards what purpose? Having new resources implies alleviation, not eradication; and if all we are doing is alleviating (not a bad thing in itself), then aren't we really colluding in the process of keeping the organizational constraints going? Again, not a new thought.

I am not convinced that people will act any differently just because they have more or new resources. There are many resources that are available today. I would further that thought by noting that many people may not know about them, may not see a reason to access them, etc., and so they never use them.

I think that this latter points speaks to social control; we are all under its' effects whether we acknowledge it or not. Social control serves to maintain the organization. It is irrelevant what the organization is, who it benefits, what the purpose is, social control(s) continue to maintain it. Ironically, social control lies in us, not in the ether somewhere. Seemingly, since it lies within us, it should be easy to change; but that's the rub, isn't it? It's not.

Certainly there are insitutional arrangements that work overtly toward its maintenance, but there are those other, covert mechanisms that are far more pervasive, subtle, and insidous. Those mechanisms are utlized each day, buy us, but how many of us recognize the part we play in the maintenance of the existing social order? The same order that requires new and innovative resources to counter its effects? How many of us pay attention to our own efforts to exert social control?

I do a lecture in my Intro class on propaganda; I reference "Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion." Note the following quote:

"Propaganda is the communication of a point of view with the ultimate goal of having the recipient of the appeal come to volunatarily accept this position as if it were his or her own."

Sound familiar? Internalization of cultural ideas, beliefs, norms, etc., that we "accept as if [they] were [our] own" — hmmm, we call that socialization, don't we? And once those ideas are "ours," we can become willing to die for them; pretty powerful stuff.

If we essentially, participate in our own collective restraint, and we are completely unaware that we are doing it, how is anything supposed to change? I don't see any practical way of accomplishing the structural changes that are needed to eradicate the need for alleviation.