BY JOHN STEPPLING
Overpaid, arrogant, terminally ignorant, malignant scumbags rule the earth thanks to the ascension to the pinnacle of power of corporations…whose global stronghold remains the United States of Manufactured Imbecility.
Let’s start with this….(part one of two parts….both available at the Socialist Project)
Since it’s well into planting season here in Poland, I found this piece particularly compelling. I have been growing white carrots (old European kind) and purple (from Pakistan) and white beets and lots of collards and kale and spinach and several kinds of lettuce, as well as fava beans and pole beans and two kinds of onions and black Aztec corn and six varieties of tomatos as well as a white short season watermelon and three winter squash (from Greece and Japan). All this in a small garden in my backyard. Also in containers are two varities of peppers (one hot, one not).
What strikes one in this article is not just the obvious agribusiness hegemony over world agriculture. It’s the naked greed and rather clear destruction these corporate ghouls express. In Iraq today there is a tomato that is all but extinct — although heirloom seed companies in the US will send some to you. This is typical, for Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, and Dupont need control, and this is the recurring lesson of advanced capital today. Total domination. The world in which we live is so mediated by waste capital, so compromised in terms of quality of life, that most people have forgotten there are alternatives. These alternatives take the form of community gardening, they take the form of resistance to institutional culture and to the rampant militarising of everything.
They knew very little history of much in the way of details — but what they did possess was a firm belief that the United States was a force for good, no matter how much it had to destroy people to make them understand this.
Under all of this is the question of authority. Recently in a public chat forum on the chess site where I play, several Americans were holding forth about how great the US was, and how it had every right to correct problems in places like Iraq or Afghanistan. They knew very little history of much in the way of details — but what they did possess was a firm belief that the United States was a force for good, no matter how much it had to destroy people to make them understand this. Now, there are clearly large numbers of people who see this madness and are, indeed, resisting. Friends in the US remind me of this frequently. However, I remind them that there are also even more people out there who refuse to see the delusions of corporate monopoly, of the insane disregard for the environment and who exhibit an almost jaw-dropping lack of compassion for the world’s poor. If you are poor, you must be stupid they think — even though the majority of these people are themselves quite poor. This is false consciousness. I recently screened Ace in The Hole, Billy Wilder’s great 1951 film. Amazing to see how prescient it was, how even before the advent of TV, the structures were in place for a voyeuristic exploitation of suffering. Already fifty years ago the media was driven by profit and a new corporate structuring. It’s a film worth finding and watching.
“Industrial farming continues not because it is more productive, but because it has been able, until now, to deliver uniform products in predictable quantities, bred specifically to resist damage during shipment to distant markets. That’s where the profit is, and profit is what counts, no matter what the effect may be on earth, air, and water — or even on hungry people.”
Profit at the expense of human beings. Profit at the expense of everything. This is capitalism. But add to this the erosion of quality of life. In England there are a couple fruit tree nurseries who still carry the old apple varieties, many from the 16th and 17th century. These are gourmet apples, wonderful and flavorful and yet when you go to Tesco or wherever, you will see at best three kinds of apples. At Scott’s Nursery they have several hundred kinds to choose from. Life is diminished when you cannot express the creativity that comes naturally from the earth around us. Life is being reduced to robotic wage slavery, and to increasingly stupifying recreations — whether TV or film, or simply shopping. People learn nothing, they strangle their own creativity, and as a replacement they double down on their aggression and sadism.
This is a theme I return to again and again. The toxic inner life of those in the Empire. I know from my own experience what a long struggle it is to try and free onself from the marketed reality of corporate media and The State Department. I feel more often how almost nothing said on CNN or FOX is to be believed….NOTHING. The assault on muslims, and now on the South (Chavez, Morales, Correa, Lugo) are the desperate reactions of a ruling corporate class that must, even in their small rodent brains, see the writing on the wall. The Empire is collapsing. The wasted meth driven rural white, the welfare poor, the sonambulant and ever FATTER middle class (who are of course just more working class, but it’s nice to pretend to be special) are in ever greater mental crisis because the contradictions are harder to ignore. Militarism is a religion at this point. Appeals to patriotism more shrill and hysterical — and I see where Bush has given up golf in solidarity with the dead of his colonial wars. What a guy.
Fish are dying, and Cheney kills any moves to protect endangered whales. Fuck’em, and I wish I could shoot ’em all too, thinks Dick. The demonizing of the rational leaders of the world; Castro being the best example, is ratcheted up — but the Empire has little with which to counter the rationality of a Chavez or Castro. The sock puppet theatre of public discourse is more rancid and threadbare; Bill Kristol or General Whateverthefuckever, or Charles Gibson, or Oprah, or Krauthammer or Hannity; none of them look well actually… and all of them seem to barely keep a hold on things. The culture of punishment cannot go much further — the culture of resentment and sadism and amnesia. It’s turning brown and wilting before our eyes. Free Tibet, send marines to Darfur, protect Israel from (fill in whoever you want) and let’s fucking well bomb Iran. Fuck ’em, bomb ’em. Nuke ’em maybe. Yeah, that’s the ticket…..let’s nuke those lousy towelheaded cocksuckers. And let’s remember we are a force for good. From Belgrade to Baghdad to, probably, Tehran, the Empire spreads death and destruction. It’s important to start in local and small ways; with a food activism and with a refusal to engage any longer with a corporate sculpted reality. Grow some black tomatos, small wonderful French muskmelons and a few Italian onions — and turn off the TV and look for even the most basic forms of community organizing as a corrective to the spectacle of Obama and Hillary and McNutter. I hope Obama wins — but I know anyone who is even *considering* Joe Biden as a running mate isn’t going to really do much of anything. He can’t. The show goes on. Two billion plus each day for defense, and zero for health care. Death cult. Waste capital.
John Steppling is co-editor of VOXPOP, our special blog dedicated to theater, cinema, culture and politics. His sparring partner is co-editor Guy Zimmerman.