Why We Can’t Seem to Organize Against the Right-Wing Nuts

Why We Can’t Seem to Organize Against the Right-Wing Nuts

Perhaps it’s our very nature as leftists, progressives, liberals, etc. that we are too divided amongst ourselves due to our fervent belief in independent thought? Maybe we’re doomed to be forever on the defensive side in the culture wars? I hate to come across as all doom and gloom but how does one put a positive spin on all that’s happening in America and the rest of the world in the year of 2011 in this new millennia? Almost daily I am shocked and disgusted at the latest assault by the corporate cockroaches and their lackeys in the media. I ask myself, how can they be so inhumane and how is it that those of us on the so-called Left stand by muttering to ourselves and not find the will to unite and man the barricades? What exactly is it going to take to piss the public off enough that they rise up and stand on their hind legs and rage against this tyranny?

Am I just spitting in the wind? Have the craven and cowardly captains of capitalism already won and I’m just too stupid to see it? When the new radio station “Air America,” started up several years ago, my hopes rose and I thought, at last we have a voice that can get out to the masses. But Al Franken seemed more concerned with making people laugh than making them think and Air America didn’t last and now it’s called “Progressive Radio.” Yeah, real progressive, they air commercials for WalMart, BP, & even military recruitment. The most popular hosts like Thom Hartman, Ed Schultz, & Randi Rhodes make good points and I learn from them but I’m very disappointed in their unanimous support for the Democratic Party and presidents such as Clinton & Obama no matter how many times they have betrayed us. These so-called progressives always make sure to not go too far and keep urging their listeners to stay in the game i.e. fight from within the system/believe in the system. It’s all a rigged-game and they won’t denounce the system entirely because it would mean the end of their profitable positions.
On the other hand, we do have Pacifica Radio’s Sunday broadcast from its L.A. station, KPFK, of Ian Master’s Background Briefing. I first started listening to Ian Master’s program around 1983 when it was called National Security, and it was the beginning of my political education. And out of the Pacifica Network’s New York City station came a little gal who is our last best hope today, her name is Amy Goodman. Amy hosts a program called Democracy Now! And in my opinion, it is the most honest and daring and truly progressive media we have in America. I’m not saying that everything they say is gospel but they definitely do their homework and aren’t afraid to go where others like Thom Hartman, Ed Schultz, & Randi Rhodes are.

Admittedly, I have more criticisms than I do solutions but I know that making people at least aware of some of the major problems facing us is a necessary start towards finding some solutions. So, to begin, I may sound like a modern day Luddite (a person opposed to industrialization or new technology) but I do feel that a lot of the technology we have today is more a curse than a blessing. For example, it occurred to me several years ago while riding on a public bus that cell phones were suppose to enhance communication between people but what I mostly see is people yakking, often too loudly, on their cell phones but isolated and not speaking to the person next to them. It seems to me that with the expansion of ever more technological gadgets comes an equal expansion of isolation of the individual.

Young people in particular are very adept at using the technological toys but spend a disturbing amount of time alone & isolated from their peers playing video games, texting one another, yakking on cell phones, etc. but not socially, physically, intellectually engaging with one another. I believe this is retarding their social growth as well as their intellectual growth. In fact, I was commenting to a teacher the other day that another byproduct of all these electronic toys is that very few kids have much of an imagination. They have been “entertained” from infancy with Sesame Street, Barney, etc. and have been playing with these game systems, computers, etc. all their lives yet, if you take away their electronic devices, and challenge them to create their own games or fun activities, they go blank and look at you like you must be crazy.

One of many authors who have inspired and informed me over the years was Neil Postman and I feel it would be appropriate to include a blurb here from a Wikipedia citation:

Amusing Ourselves to Death
Postman’s best known book is Amusing Ourselves to Death, published in 1985, a historical narrative which deplores the decline of the communication medium as television images have replaced the written word. Postman argues that television confounds serious issues with entertainment, demeaning and undermining political discourse by making it less about ideas and more about image. He also argues that television is not an effective way of providing education, as it provides only top-down information transfer, rather than the interaction that he believes is necessary to maximize learning. He refers to the relationship between information and human response as the Information-action ratio.
He draws on the ideas of media theorist Marshall McLuhan to argue that different media are appropriate for different kinds of knowledge, and describes how oral, literate, and televisual cultures value and transfer information in different ways. He states that 19th century America was the pinnacle of rational argument, an Age of Reason, in which the dominant communication medium was the printed word. During this period, complicated arguments could be transmitted without oversimplification. Amusing Ourselves to Death was translated into eight languages and sold 200,000 copies worldwide.
Others have put it perhaps a little more succinctly but this in no way is meant to denigrate Neil Postman but simply for the sake of brevity, television sends images & messages and we simply receive these images and messages with no active thinking or critical reflection. In other words, we’re simply passive recipients and the images/messages could be harmful or not true. And the most egregious abuser and manipulator of misinformation we have today is “Fox News.” It should more accurately be called America’s Pravda i.e. Russia’s former state newspaper of propaganda. By the way, I agree wholeheartedly with Postman in that I have argued for many years that the written word is far superior to any other form of media because you can take your time, re-read passages, do research, and come to a much clearer understanding of what the author is arguing.

Moreover, on the subject of receiving images, etc. uncritically from television, the Internet has amplified this problem many times over and far too many of us read stuff on the Internet and accept it as fact or truth. And with this glut of information and images, people have become far too acquiescent or unquestioning in terms of what they’re being told or sold. Speaking of which, I remember this silly half a unit course I had to take years ago in college. There was one useful bit of information I learned from it though i.e. when you want to determine the credibility of what an author is saying, you have two options; 1) check what the author’s credentials are because some writers may have the educational credentials/experience in one field but feel free to pontificate about other fields of which they have little knowledge/credential to speak authoritatively about; 2) check out what the other experts in the particular field have to say about this particular author. Of course, not many readers, television viewers, or Internet users are going to take the time to do this and in fact, I haven’t met many people who are even willing to take the time to look up a word in the dictionary when they come across a word they don’t know. This is why I have included the definitions of many words I have used in my magnum opus that I have been working on for several years. I want to be as clear as I possibly can in the hopes of truly communicating what I have to say to others.

Returning to the subject of why it’s so hard for Leftists to unite, I believe it’s also partly due to the fact that we’re so self-absorbed (preoccupation with one’s own emotions, interests, or situation). One could argue that this is natural or a matter of self preservation in a world that is ever more overwhelming with its complications and contradictions. But I contend that we have become much more selfish as we have materially progressed i.e. the more we get in terms of material comforts, luxury items, & new electronic play toys, etc., the more selfish we seem to become. Hence the often heard “The hell with the homeless & others, it’s their fault they’re where they are because they are lazy and haven’t worked hard enough or tried hard enough like I have.” It really saddens me whenever I hear things like this said. And the people who repeat these sort of comments because they’ve heard them so often that they accept them as truisms, obviously aren’t aware of the true causes of homelessness.

The overwhelming majority of homeless are in such a state because of this great American version of capitalism which has privatized health care so the greedy ones can make a profit. As a result, the owners of the health care industry do everything in their power to cut costs and people lose their homes, their savings, & their dignity and on top of this, they are shunned by society as losers, quitters, undesirables. One of the byproducts of capitalism is the erosion of compassion for our fellow human beings. Many of those who are homeless have become homeless because they lost a loved one and something inside them just snapped. It’s like their spirit died and along with it, their will to struggle and do what we’re all told we must do daily i.e. compete and fight for material possessions, wealth, status, power, etc.. Perhaps love too is a casualty of the American gospel of success and although many of us divorce our spouses far too easily, there are those who love so deeply that when they lose their loved one, and it’s just too much to bear?

Continuing on in my search for the reasons why we, on the human side of the political spectrum, fail to mount a unified front against the callous cretins who call themselves conservatives, I wonder if alienation might be another significant factor? Alienation is a psychiatric term which means a state of depersonalization or loss of identity in which the self seems unreal. And closely connected to alienation is the school of philosophy known as existentialism. I was tempted to copy & paste a long piece on existentialism but worried that it might be too distracting and lead too far afield of the purpose of this essay. So, although it is a very complicated field of thought, I will simply say that existentialism is primarily concerned with death, dread, & despair. It is a philosophy which grew out of the modern age and the advent of mass slaughter introduced via the World Wars which slaughtered not only soldiers but innocent civilians as well. It might appear on the surface to be a selfish philosophy but it isn’t. Existentialism deals with our deepest beliefs, fears, etc. What else is one to do but to withdraw inside themselves when this world full of absurdities, chaos, and senseless violence, pain, suffering, & humiliation is a constant threat to our mental, physical, & spiritual existence?

My purpose is not to offer up excuses as to why we are failing to meet the challenge of the mental midgets who are cannibalizing us but rather, to provide some insights into how we got to this dreadful state of affairs. By the way, I am guilty of many of these criticisms myself i.e. I spend far too much time on the Internet. But I watch hardly any television and prefer to check out movies from the library; although many are simply mental diversions and not especially edifying (instruct or improve morally or intellectually). On the other hand, I do start every morning listening to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! And I spend my breaks at work, in my truck, listening to “Progressive Radio.” I probably spend at least another 40 hours per week, informing myself of social, political, economic issues in one way or another. My only excuse for the cheap, action type movies I watch is that my brain and spirit become overloaded and I have to escape or fear I’ll go insane.

And speaking of insane, here’s a powerful quote from a person whom it’s a miracle that not only did he survive the death camps of the Nazis physically, it’s also amazing that he didn’t go insane:

The opposite of love is not hate, its indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
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The quote above is from Elie Wiesel, a Jew who survived Auschwitz and who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his writing and efforts to educate the world about the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust. I cited Mr. Wiesel because apathy is such a significant part of why we don’t unite against the cruel injustices being done. In other words, far too many of us say that we’re not interested in politics but if they knew how politics affects every one of us, every day of our lives e.g. our rights & pay in the workplace, our health care, our pensions, the education of our kids, etc. Unfortunately, most people I’ve met can’t seem to see the relevance or the reason to get upset about the intrusions, betrayals, & theft of our rightful benefits as citizens of a so-called “free nation.” It’s really my shortcomings as a communicator that prevents me from reaching my family, friends, & some of the strangers I meet, on these critical issues.

At the same time, every once in awhile, someone I’ll be deep in serious conversation with will say something to the effect that “this is the best conversation I’ve had in years.” Those moments always touch my heart and give me that brief, ego-stroke that helps me to persevere.

To get back to the subject of apathy, I have to include this powerful, yet simple insight:

First they came…
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
This quote is from a pastor who lived in Nazi Germany by the name of Pastor Niemoller. He was arrested and sentenced to death by the Nazis for his courageous speaking-out against the Nazi holocaust and his words are so profound for all their simplicity. In brief, if we don’t speak out against injustice, when the injustice is facing us, there will be no one to speak out i.e. defend you. So, in a somewhat selfish perspective, if you only care about saving your own skin and your loved ones, it behooves you to care about your neighbors because we are all connected/dependent on one another. What is civilization if not, learning to live together with our neighbors in a civilized manner?

Tragically though, many of those who call themselves “Conservatives,” or proud members of the “Tea Party,” don’t care about being civilized because they view the world as a jungle and adhere to the philosophy of “eat or be eaten.” This is why the “conservatives,” are the first to scream conspiracy on the part of the Left-Wing. They beat the war drums of fear and hatred all their lives because that’s how they see the world i.e. they’re scared little children. Unfortunately, far too many wealthy people have been indoctrinated into believing this garbage and therefore “donate” millions of dollars to funding the right-wing extremists trying to scare us all into submission & apathy.

Without a doubt though, our greatest enemy and obstacle is the filthy rich who rule America because they rule their private tyrannies, the crème de la crème of the transnational corporations who have no loyalty to any nation. Undeniably, the corporate stranglehold on what is laughingly called “the mainstream media,” is the most powerful tool used to keep the American public in the dark regarding nearly all the critical issues facing them. And again at the risk of sounding like little more than the bearer of bad news, the mass media situation grows worse by the day i.e. fewer and fewer corporations are controlling the overwhelming majority of everything we see on television, read in books, magazines, hear on the radio, etc. The book you need to read to truly grasp the significance of this situation is The Manufacture of Consent by Noam Chomsky & Edward Hermann. And for those of you who may not be familiar with Noam Chomsky in particular, let me try to convey his contribution to the fight for justice, freedom, & understanding or compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves. Perhaps the following cut & paste from Wikipedia, will suffice as a worthy introduction to the planet’s friendly genius (my adjectives)?

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992) is a multi award-winning documentary film that explores the political life and ideas of Noam Chomsky, a linguist, intellectual, and political activist. Created by two Canadian independent filmmakers, Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick, it expands on the ideas of Chomsky’s earlier book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, which he co-wrote with Edward S. Herman.
The film presents and illustrates Chomsky’s and Herman’s propaganda model, the thesis that corporate media, as profit-driven institutions, tend to serve and further the agendas of the interests of dominant, elite groups in the society. A centerpiece of the film is a long examination into the history of The New York Times’ coverage of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, which Chomsky says exemplifies the media’s unwillingness to criticize an ally of the elite.
Until the release of The Corporation (2003), made by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan, it was the most successful feature documentary in Canadian history, playing theatrically in over 300 cities around the world; winning 22 awards; appearing in more than 50 international film festivals; and being broadcast in over 30 markets. It has also been translated into a dozen languages.
Chomsky’s response to the film was mixed; in a published conversation with Achbar and several activists, he stated that film simply doesn’t communicate his message, leading people to believe that he is the leader of some movement that they should join. In the same conversation, he criticizes The New York Times review of the film, which mistakes his message for being a call for voter organizing rather than media critique.[1]

Noam Chomsky, as Chris Hedges pointed out in his book The Death of the Liberal Class, is reviled by both the Right-wingers and the Left-wingers. This surprised me a bit when I heard that the Left revile him but it made sense because I’d been wondering for quite some time why I so infrequently heard his name mentioned on so-called Progressive Radio. Democracy Now is about the only program that has Chomsky on fairly regularly and obviously has high regard for him. The New York Times once said that Chomsky is perhaps the most important intellectual alive but went on to add “so why is he so often wrong?” Noam Chomsky is my hero quite simply because he calmly states his case, provides plenty of references for people to check out for themselves, and never gets upset but is firm in his convictions. He sparked what was called the linguistic revolution in the 1960s but I was drawn to his political writing which makes so much that is so complex, convoluted, and distorted, clear, so that a person with average intelligence like me, can see the interconnections between the institutions of power in America. Moreover, this world famous scholar, writer, professor at M.I.T., & lecturer, has taken the time to respond to my e-mails and snail mail over the past several years. Chomsky has written well over 100 books and I couldn’t recommend a better place to start your own political education than reading Chomsky. There are also many on-line videos of his lectures as well as several DVDs. I have done a fair amount of traveling and every major capital in Europe that had a bookstore with a section of books in English was almost entirely made up of books by Chomsky.

To return to the subject of the corporate onslaught against democracy, it is imperative to remember that corporations have but one goal i.e. the greatest possible amount of profit no matter what laws, environmental, moral, and financial, etc. it breaks. Corporations want us to buy their products and services and this is why they silence their critics like Chomsky with their stranglehold over the mass media. Corporations are like a deadly virus that has infected everyone everywhere. And because we have been dumbed-down by our public education system and are inundated with corporate propaganda via what is laughingly called the “mainstream media,” we are prodded to buy our way to happiness and tune in to American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, mindless sitcoms, “reality” shows, sports, etc. anything to distract us and keep us numb and apathetic. We were sold Obama with the greatest advertising campaign ever. Obama’s mantra was ‘change,’ but this was a charade designed to dupe us into believing things were going to get better. As I said earlier, faux liberal radio talk show hosts play their part in perpetuating the charade and overlook minor details like President Clinton’s signing of NAFTA & the exodus of American manufacturing to foreign lands never to return, Clinton’s assault on welfare, or Clinton’s repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act which opened the floodgates of Bankers’ & Wall St. firms greed and theft.

The Bush Administration effectively gutted our Bill of Rights and initiated the illegal spying on Americans which Obama has continued. As Chris Hedges has pointed out, all the measures taken under the Patriot Act and Homeland Security were not taken for the purpose of stopping terrorism but rather, to tighten the vise on us because as we grow ever more desperate due to the assault on us by the corporate elite, we may become violent and therefore we’ll need to be controlled. The growth of private mercenary armies, along with private security forces, spying on us, etc. is all designed to keep us in our place. Obama has shown his true colors from the beginning with his embrace of Wall St. and his consistent caving-in to corporate interests. He won’t prosecute the Wall St. bankers, insurance agencies, hedge fund managers, credit agencies, federal agencies, etc. but he has fervently prosecuting Whistleblowers who have dared to warn us of theft and fraud in the government and in private industry.

In summary, we are in for a very bleak future because as Gore Vidal has pointed out, we are the United States of Amnesia and as Neil Postman showed us, “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” I have been trying for the past 30 years to get family, friends, & strangers to read some of the authors I have mentioned here and I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness. My efforts have generally met with ridicule, hostility, or dismissed as the ranting & raving of a bleeding-heart liberal divorced from “reality.” My own son won’t even take the time to read an essay I wrote trying to save his life because his mom & her brother thought that joining the military would be good for him. I spend my nights alone & isolated. I can only take so much of the negative news I pursue daily, and have to escape via beer and movies I check out from the library. I have tried time and time again to reach out to people to socialize but everyone is too busy. Co-workers, former supervisors, family, friends, etc. are all so self-absorbed in their daily concerns, work, “reality” television, watching or attending sporting events, etc. can’t even bother to return phone calls I make to them. They all claim to love me like a brother but can’t be bothered to call me, send or return an e-mail, etc.

Think about it, what a perverse point in history we have arrived at as reflected in the ever growing popularity of “reality” television shows. We watch television which bombards us with images, selected for their psychological usefulness in getting us to buy corporate products as well as political agendas. People are so beaten down by their daily realities that they turn to television & movies for versions of reality that take their minds off of their ugly realities. Chris Hedges new book, The Empire of Illusion, lays out in frightening detail just how horrific our situation is and as I sit here writing this, I’m listening to a talk he gave on the subject of this new book & it’s very depressing. Nonetheless, we can’t afford to bury our head in the sand any longer. It won’t make things go away. I agree with Chris Hedges that things look very ugly indeed but we need to get busy committing acts of civil disobedience. Violence is not the answer because the State uses our military, spy agencies, & police against us and they have vastly greater fire power. No, I believe our last best hope is to effectively organize on such a massive scale that through well-timed and consistent acts of civil disobedience committed by huge numbers of citizens at key institutions of power and wealth across America, we could possibly bring this entire corrupt empire to a screeching halt. The corporate conglomerates that have grown to behemoths ruling over the planet must be broken up and all their “power,” must be taken away from them and we must never allow them to acquire power again if we are to survive as a species on this precious planet we call home. By the way, we need to find another way to communicate with one another for the necessary organizing and logistics for this revolution because the power elite have infiltrated all our so-called “social media” e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Google, etc. I started writing a work of fiction a few years ago which I have titled The Return of the Flower Children and it’s been fun toying with imaginative ideas of how to organize a revolution under the radar so-to-speak, of Big Brother. I thought that adding sex to the book would make it more appealing to my non-political friends but fear that I may have gotten carried away with the sexual scenes?

Persevere!
—Rob DeLoss, May 23, 2011

18 replies
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