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Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2008 at 6:12 PM
ON THE LANDSLIDE OF COMMON GROUND, or THE INEVITABLE DECLINE OF GOD AND FINANCE.
ON THE LANDSLIDE OF COMMON GROUND, or THE INEVITABLE DECLINE OF GOD AND FINANCE.
Yet again the financial markets are crashing, like all the Gods of men eventually must, and like everyone's faith in lenders like god and in the "paradise" of "credit" they promise is steadily losing popularity. There is no gold behind the fake credit "money" the system incurs fake "debt" to create, no god behind the fake hope and fear of the thousand and one doctrines, no future behind the futures contract on your life. And even if there were, what intrinsic value do gold or god really have? The current "event" of another economic recession is just another surge in the ongoing utter collapse of a system of values based on abstraction.
Abstractly speaking, "value" is whatever you say it is, or what whoever holds the most "value" already says it is, and that hollowness comes out in full regalia during a bear/stearns style "run" on the investment "bank." Concretely speaking, people have no principles or standards for behavior that are not completely worn out and inadequate to life, and everyone's money is only as meaningful as the power structures in place say it is. Like there's no real labor backing up all the trillions of imaginary labor-credits (money) in their pathetic, cringing capitalist system, so vicious when threatened -- quite like any hierarchical system -- there's no basic common sense shared by all anymore. Depending on which shows you watch most, or what style of music, fashion, god or ideology you've picked, or have had imposed on you early enough for you to never have been able to pick anything else, you surround yourself with the appropriate people; then your world shrinks to a harmless size, and though you are unaware of it, your horizons do too.
Where do we start from to communicate with eachother? How can we have any dialogue with each-other when we're drowned out by the vastly different sets of values and moralities offered by the world as they clash before our eyes? Should we take sides in the stupid, wasteful conflicts we're shown? One American may be a frequenter of G movies and sports games, and another a devotee of some political ideology or another; another may like sado-masochism, another war and violence-oriented video games. Some impose their trips on other people with glee; others' trips are already imposed on everyone they surround themselves with. But to approach a stranger seems to be getting more and more difficult for everybody, since there's less and less sure common ground to approach them on -- even the silly abstract concepts we all have fed to us are open to a million silly interpretations. So our mouths are stuffed full of words to muzzle us and keep us from really communicating, and our common ground has been eroded away by a stream of false consciousness as marketed by whichever interested corporation.
All of these corporations pride themselves on the "quality of their services," the cool sleek presentation of the product, the beauty of their models, the high breeding of their product. Similarly, my fellow Americans (products of the system that is the American way of life) tend to be overly concerned with their "ethnic origin." They will ask you what your "nationality" is and "where you're from," seemingly incapable of just facing it that all of us are Americans. But after all, culture takes on the shape of whatever petri-dish it's grown in. Like corporations and politicians, we have nothing but meaningless words to attach ourselves to; words that sell images.
Like corporate PR slogans translated into foreign languages, we identify ourselves futilely with countries we've never been to, priding ourselves on our richness of "identity" precisely because we have none -- our roots are in the strip malls and parking lots, temporary/precarious labor, and chain stores that everyone's roots grow from in the globalized corporate world. "I'm Irish Italian German and Dutch," someone says; what is this but a frightened, imagined running away through all these lands that so many different peoples have tread upon and lived in -- an expression of a silent need for dreamlike running somewhere else? It is this need that grows from the fear, the alienation, and the miseries of a mass broken into small, closed off social groups ever desperately seeking a seemingly promised individuation -- the trademark of a good business in human bodies, a rootless, precarious, timid mass in an utter economic, emotional, and physical mess.
The American Government's historically increasing willingness to trample those who transgress the tacit law of its global hegemony is perhaps a good index of our progressive loss as Americans of the openness and ability to communicate fluently and intelligently that once was the inherent quality of our hemisphere, a hemisphere borne of massacres and mass rapes, mutilated languages and force melded cultures, where a total clarity of understanding and solidity of mutual aid was always the usual experience with strangers, whether in spite of this history or because of it.
Latin Americans seem to retain much more fully this quality of America which we North Americans seem to have forgotten, perhaps because of their acute awareness of an exploitation that can't really afford all the bells and whistles ours gets up here. I've found much profounder and more prevalent kindness and hospitality when hitch-hiking around down there, at least, than here (although I certainly had a lot of good times doing it in the US). But after all, don't we vaguely remember that in North America the natives were all just killed and moved into isolation whereas in South America the natives were integrated by force and rape? No one ever had as much luck in making the Latin dictators' years US co-engineered mass murders look fair and honorable as they have had in making a century of US imperial wars, from Filipino water-torture to water-torture in Cuba today look good and even advertising-glossy.
There's hardly any more one thing that everyone knows about, that everyone holds as a basic self-evident truth -- but we all have been told our whole lives how the stock-market is doing, even though it had no relationship to our lives whatsoever. Dirt poor on the street listening to the radio, you will still hear how the Dow Jones is down 3 points and the S&P plunged 12 and a half. Whether you care or not, it is imposed on you that you must be aware at the very least of the fact that other people are making money, and that that's what people do. That private control over every "natural resource" (nature) is a just affair, even though all people have need of food, space, clean air and water to live; that the simultaneous exploitation and pollution of these resources is to be taken for granted as a necessary evil -- these are some of the unspoken basic assumptions playing havoc in our minds.
Our whole frame of mind is constantly being reshaped by reminders of the existence of other people's money, by our play-acting urge to power, by lavish lies. Our urge to be happy and to live fully, to have free access to the things you need and want, to the means of being creative, always ends up either too expensive, or just cheapened -- that is, if we don't simply force our miserable selves to dismiss it as sinful. This molding and hardening of mindsets produces authoritarians like sausage meat from the grinder -- not to mention piles of corpses, populated of course by deluded young people that thought it would be fun or honorable to call themselves soldiers, and innocents caught between some Government and what it perceives to be a threat.
Global domination by this silly "market," of course subject to repeated spectacular collapse (if only to increase the ratings, since watchers find in the "economy" yet another thing to identify with in their swamped befuddlement) is a major cause of Fascism, second perhaps only to sexual repression. Fascism's typical empire-building nationalism mostly finds its embryo in the impotent tantrums of businessmen excluded from the big money deals, and, like state communism, always rides into power on the backs of the healthy urge of an oppressed people to identify themselves; these illusions of the people are invariably betrayed. Remember, the Boston tea-party, though it is talked about as if it were some proletarian uprising against Britain, in fact was an uprising against Britain's favoritism to a corporation, pulled off by businessmen dressed like natives.
The whole world is certainly getting tired of having all its big money investors pulling all the strings in the first place, but indeed all the big business has to be done with or go through American dominated global economic institutions and/or American corporations. Hopefully the rest of the planet will abandon the sinking ship of American debt and credit; but it's already starting to take on water... for the sake of giving liquidity to the big exploiters. When Ben Bernanke takes a shit and lowers the Federal Reserve Bank's interest rates, he loses no weight -- but the whole world smells the stink. Lower interest rates means more vicious loan sharking down the line, like power means corruption; when people get easy access to imaginary money they over-stretch it like gum, oblivious to the subtle resistance until it's far too late and it all snaps. The American economy, a Great Pacific Garbage Swath of debt, has been sold to the highest bidders (mostly Saudi), who regardless of their religion don't hesitate to charge their pound of flesh. And while those pounds of flesh pile up, human life everywhere goes hungry.
Back in the realm of the social, our points of reference are all gone awry, scattered around and across the ranks of the petty social hierarchies that everyone tenses up to keep their place in, mimicking the petty, asocial business-boys that rule us, whose business language, business religion and business power relations have taken over and replaced everything. We're lost in a world wide web of words that we think say something, and don't know how to talk to each-other. Internet or no internet, we're caught in their net. We speak only in foreign tongues. But hey- at least we know how the Dodgers are doing! At least I've asked you, "how's it going?" and you've reassuringly answered "fine, thank you." At least I know what you do for a living and what's in the paper this morning. And we might even know where the NASDAQ market average is at, without having any idea what it means. Like horoscopes, are such superfluous news items and gestures of the establishment's little world always constantly being presented us only because we actually like to hear and read them, or because the subconscious propaganda message that we all unwittingly repeat to ourselves and each-other is that external, uncontrollable, unaccountable forces guide and determine us, in spite of the fact that no one really likes or needs it at all?
Over-filled by the mass production of ideologies for social consumption, we can't see the living trees for the petrified forest. But Freedom is transparent and playful, as is total Democracy and the total socio-economic self-management it implies. But the Gods are all stinking dead, and the Financial lawgivers are drunk on the fumes; meanwhile we wobble, unsteady -- we have become opaque and work-obsessed, as capitalism intends, while getting riled up about "freedom" and "democracy" as mere words, words that no one really knows how to define anymore, whose meanings have lost their clarity. Will we at last regain our footing on some solider ground? First we'll have to clear our minds of ideologies and think freely! Many a northwest passage out of this world is opening now as the rotting capitalist system emits the hot gases of its slow decomposition... and new frontiers will soon be uncovered for us to stand together on as our resistance to rule by money and power grows, like a fist breaking out from under cracking pavement.
LIVE FREE OR BUY TRYING?
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