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United We Stand, Divided We Fall!

 

My daemon woke me in the middle of the night recently and forced me to jot down the outline of this essay. We have been told that America is a class-less society and this is the land of equal opportunity where everyone has the chance to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and succeed. I have been a close observer of our society for the past thirty years and all I can say is don’t you believe it. This country has just as rigid a class divide as India with its “untouchables,” except we like to pretend that the divisions aren’t there. And one of the more recent phenomena in this regard is what has been referred to as the ‘culture war.’ This is a misleading label though because in my opinion it should more rightly be called a class war. It is the status quo manipulating the simple & naïve Christian fundamentalists and others. And their target is all who disagree with the way things are & all the exploitation of the poverty stricken, the working poor, the disappearing middle class, & all the rest of us.

Bush & his evil brain (Rove)

The strategy of the powers that be is the age old one of divide and conquer. One of the most glaring examples of this is the right wing, reactionary extremists’ as exemplified by George W. Bush, Cheney, Pat Robertson, Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, et al and their tactic of fanning the flames of fear & hatred. These wicked Wizards of Oz through their steady barrage of lies, distortions, & misinformation, have built a base of anywhere from sixty to eighty million “Christians” by repeatedly pushing the abortion & homosexual fear buttons of the gullible. I have watched over the last twenty-five years or so, the steady decline of American politics into a macabre circus act. When I was growing up it was the commies are coming, the commies are coming. Be afraid! Now it’s the baby-killers are coming & the faggots are coming. Hide your children! The cold-blooded, greedy thieves in the corridors of power are trashing our democracy, impoverishing America, & raping, pillaging, and plundering the rest of the developing world and all the while declaring they are men of “family values,” & defenders of democracy and freedom. The rest of the world is looking at America and completely dumbfounded as to how we can sit by and allow these vicious vultures to get away with this?

Studs Terkel

I recently watched an interview Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! had with that venerable old radio host, Studs Terkel, and something Studs said, struck me as perhaps an important insight as to why the Christian fundamentalists have fallen for the fascists’ propaganda? Mr. Terkel said, “the poor, the working class, the farmers, etc., believe so strongly in Christianity and the afterlife and Armageddon because their lives are so miserable.” In other words, they look forward to the end of this world because their lives are so desperate & hopeless. And this is so tragic because if only they could see that those who don’t believe that abortion or homosexuality are evil, aren’t the enemies but those who are playing the fear card are the ones who have made their lives so miserable, we would have a much better chance of taking back our country and making this world a place like Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount was exhorting us to do.

Equally important is the fact that as Michael Moore recently pointed out in his film Sicko!, until we learn to think as “we” and not “me,” we’ll continue to be screwed by the American Medical Association, the giant pharmaceutical corporations, the H.M.O.s, the government, etc. To put it in a nutshell, united we stand & divided we fall. This is how the power elite is keeping us down. They keep us warring with one another while they rob us blind. Divide and conquer! Do you recall Reagan’s Reign of Terror in which he championed the glories of greed and referred to the eighties as the “Me Decade?” I believe a part of our problem as Americans also stems from another one of our cherished myths e.g. the land of rugged individualists. This was used to romanticize and rationalize our stealing of the land from the Native Americans and perhaps we’re now getting paid back for the evil deeds of our ancestors? Anyway, in today’s modern, overcrowded, & interdependent world, individualism is not an option. And those who think that we can just build a fence around America & become Fortress America are clearly not playing with a full deck because while I am against “globalization” as envisioned by the global pirates, America, like every other country, still needs to do business with other countries. No nation is an island to borrow a line from John Donne. Every nation has their own particular combination of resources and we need to do business (fair business) with each other to acquire the resources we need to operate the businesses in our country.

Yet, we are bombarded twenty-four hours a day & seven days a week with constant appeals to our self-interest e.g. television ads, radio ads, magazine ads, newspaper stories & ads, etc. I never cease to be amazed and saddened at the same time at how the advertising agencies or the corporate crocodiles have perverted the ideals of the 1960s. The young people of today must think that the 1960s was one, long capitalist wet dream of unfettered consumerism & hedonism? But Studs Terkel, myself, & many others who were privileged enough to live through the 60s know, it was the total opposite of the ‘Me Decade.’ Students, hippies, African Americans, Mexican farm workers, artists, musicians, writers, intellectuals, liberals, progressives, the poor, the disenfranchised, the underclass, & eventually the middle class, all came together to create and defend the Civil Rights movement, the environmental movement, the anti-war movement, the feminist movement, the gay rights movement, etc. This is the kind of coalition that we are going to have to marshal if we are going to stop this runaway train of corporate greed and destruction that is threatening the planet.

Toward this end of literally saving our planet and ourselves, we need to continue to inform each other and ourselves as to how our power has been eroded and we must pool our collective creative talents in this battle against the death merchants. For instance, have you ever noticed how the politicians and the corporate media machine appeal to our sense of patriotism or nationalism when they want to drum up support for a war but the majority of the time, the message is do what feels good to you, be selfish, be materialistic, he who dies with the most toys wins, etc.? As a matter of fact, it just occurred to me how ironic it was that last Sunday, November 11th, 2007 (Veteran’s Day), the CBS program 60 Minutes, had a story on the generation of Americans born after 1985, which are referred to as the “Millennials.” I say ironic because Veteran’s Day is a celebration of all those who have served in the military for the supposed defense of America and our values and this new generation of “millennials,” are all about self-gratification and are having such a powerful impact on the workplace in America that the old work-ethic has basically been discarded.

Hurricane Katrina

Another sad note in this review of American society is the fact that we only seem to come together in times of national emergencies like after 9/11 & Hurricane Katrina and slip back into our old, individualistic ways? I know that there are others out there who see the warning signs of the coming disasters but I still feel like a lone voice in the wilderness most of the time. I don’t want to sound like an alarmist and my intention isn’t to add to the fear that the “compassionate conservatives” so skillfully manipulate us with but I sincerely believe that if we don’t discuss the state of the union, we are going to be blindsided big time and could have a very rude and serious awakening. Again, Michael Moore’s movie Sicko served as a sort of shock therapy for me and got me to thinking of the possible tsunami of suffering coming our way. Even those who think they are covered by their medical health insurance can and are losing their homes when a catastrophic illness strikes them. Our public schools are not only cranking out generation after generation of unprepared & functionally illiterate young people and our kids are becoming ever more angry to the point of shooting their fellow students and prowling the streets looking for elderly, handicapped, or other possible victims to terrorize. We are being forced to work harder and longer and for less & less money because our decent paying jobs are being “outsourced” and we are being “downsized.” And Wal Mart is touted as the American success story with their rabid anti-unionism, paying of slave wages, & elimination of our local small businesses. Predatory lenders in the credit card and housing markets are causing people to lose their homes, declare bankruptcy, and become homeless. What is it going to take or just how much worse do things have to become before we wake up and smell the coffee? Is it going to take another “Great Depression,” for us to see the writing on the wall and for us to unite and stop these bastards?

In addition to the centuries old technique that military commanders would implement in battles with their enemies of divide and conquer, was the tactic used by Roman emperors of distracting and amusing their citizens with Circus Maximus. In other words, as the emperors were waging wars of aggression or imperialism to spread their empire and taxing the citizens of Rome to death to pay for these wars, they would distract the people by putting on the vicious “games” in the Coliseum. Contrast this with modern day America and our glorification of sports to an almost sacred, national obsession and the general public’s absurd preoccupation with the trials and tribulations of Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears, and etc. but apparent apathy when it comes to Americans losing their homes, homelessness in America, the illegal & immoral war against the people of Iraq to steal their oil, etc. What does it say about us as a people when “reality” TV has become so overwhelmingly popular? We seem to be living in an Alice in Wonderland world where reality is no longer important and the artificial reality of TV is all that matters.

Tony Binn

To return to Michael Moore’s recent film, I particularly enjoyed the scene where Michael Moore was interviewing a former Member of Parliament, Tony Binn because Mr. Binn said that they (the British & American governments) don’t want an educated, healthy, & confident citizenry because it’s harder to control. I have been saying this for years and have been repeatedly dismissed as a conspiracy nut. So it’s very gratifying to hear others—especially well known & generally well-respected people, reaffirm what I have observed. And since we’re on the subject of ‘conspiracies,’ reflect on this if you will; isn’t it interesting to note that we seem to have an obsession with the TV series Law and Order as evidenced by all the spin-offs of the original series? As Gore Vidal pointed out, “law and order is code for get the Blacks.” Law and Order is in fact all about control that connects with Tony Binn’s claim that “our” governments want to control us. Why? Because it is necessary to control the poor, the workers, & the middle class so the super rich can do as they please i.e. steal our land, our rights to privacy & equal protection under the law, treat us as wage slaves, pollute our air, water, and food, etc. all in the name of enriching themselves. The law part of the equation, Law & Order, only applies to the non-rich and is a tool to keep us down because we all are aware of how often the rich get away with murder literally. Or consider the public record of the so-called Fortune 500 corporations and how often they get a slap on the wrist for their criminal activities and how miniscule their fines are as compared to the profits they rake in by regularly breaking and flouting the “laws.” Many of our most “prestigious” corporations whose founders and leaders are held up to be such stalwarts of hard work and champions of the “free market” and capitalism, praised Hitler & Mussolini and did business with them before and during World War II while our boys were dying on the battlefields of Europe. J.P. Morgan bought defective rifles for $3 and sold them to the army for $17 apiece during the Civil War. I could go on and on but I think the message is clear i.e. the true elite aren’t the liberal or progressive intellectuals trying to make this world a better place but are those corporate cockroaches pulling the strings of the prostitutes known as politicians in Washington D.C.

In conclusion, we, as Americans, have the weight of the world on our shoulders because American corporations primarily—but not alone—are oppressing the world’s poor who are starving & dying by the millions if not billions. We still have it within our power to stop them. It’s a monstrous lie that Bush and his kind care about the Iraqis and want to bring democracy to Iraq. All you have to do to see how phony he is, is take a look at how heartless he is to the poor, the working class, the prisoners, those without health care, the children, the elderly, etc. here in America. He laughed about killing more prisoners on Death Row in Texas than any other governor of Texas. He is trying to destroy Social Security, that last, meager federal program that so many of our senior citizens depend on so desperately. He has cut funding for health care for veterans. The list goes on and on.

Perhaps America can live up to that ideal of representing a sort of beacon of light & hope to the rest of the world, for the huddled masses as inscribed on our Statue of Liberty. And by practicing charity, compassion, & true and honorable leadership we can erode the spread of terrorism? It’s the greed and selfishness of the transnational corporations that has brought the world to this dangerous point and it’s up to each and everyone of us to educate ourselves, get involved, and raise up our voices against the corrupt corporate thieves in the halls of power whether they be the boardrooms, the White House, the Congress, or wherever! If we don’t participate as is our right and our duty as laid out in our Constitution, and if we don’t all work together to find solutions, the world will no longer be fit for human habitation. The air, water, & land are being poisoned more and more with each passing day. Our cities are war zones and we live in fear of foreigners because the powers that be want us to be scared so they can control us and therefore continue to live the lives of the rich and famous which we so love to watch and envy.

Finally, anti-intellectualism is another weapon in the arsenal of the power elite and is a major obstacle to our taking back our country. Because the vast majority of Americans are the products of our pitiful public educational system & because of the steady stream of insults & ridicule of intellectuals by the molders of public opinion, if you know or read from the rich storehouse of information available in history, political science, philosophy, etc., and speak about what you’ve learned in public places or amongst your family or friends, you are labeled a snob or an elitist and your motives are considered suspect. Another disastrous example of united we stand, divided we fall! If you know and speak what everybody else does, it’s called “common sense.” But if you speak of matters that are not common knowledge, you are often labeled an elitist or as someone who thinks they are superior. It’s okay to be rich and it doesn’t matter if you broke the law and committed a multitude of immoral acts to gain your riches but it isn’t acceptable to be an intellectual or “too smart!”

In Germany they first came for the communists; I did not speak because I was not a communist. Then they came for the Jews; I did not speak because I was not a Jew. Then they came to fetch the workers, members of trade unions; I did not speak because I was not a trade unionist. Afterward, they came for the Catholics; I did not say anything because I was a Protestant. Eventually they came for me, and there was no one left to speak….” (Pastor Martin Niemoller, a Protestant minister imprisoned by the Third Reich)

—Rob DeLoss, November 17, 2007

P.S.  And if we are to unite, we must start by communicating with one another so please let me know what you think about what I have said & let’s talk.

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