Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
Age of Reason in Eclipse

Nation of Fools

by CHARLES SULLIVAN

My entire family is being played for fools by the power brokers in Washington; and they don’t even have a clue about how they are being manipulated. I am embarrassed for them. The truth is out there; but no one is bringing it to our door step. You have to look hard. You have to want to know the facts. You have to care about social justice; and that requires effort; it requires living with a troubled conscience and trying to set things right. It requires that you inform yourself and make an effort to change things. The trouble is that most Americans don’t want to know the truth because it would make them uncomfortable. So they turn their heads the other way and allow themselves to be distracted from their civic and patriotic duties. It is easier to display the flag and plaster their cars with ‘Support our troops’ stickers. This mode of being requires no real effort; nor accountability.

Their government is murdering millions of innocent people all around the planet, torturing people and toppling both democratic and progressive governments; it is committing acts of terror against the world’s working poor; it is plundering their homelands and stealing their wealth. How can any person of conscience remain indifferent toward these acts? How can we wave our flags and support our troops when this is what they are doing? Is this their idea of liberation? Is this their perception of Democracy? Is this the kind of nation we want to be?

While this is going on they are concerned only about shopping, mindless consumption, and watching American Idol. As citizens, they have been rendered totally useless. Fascism flourishes where citizens are inactive and uninformed. Where there is apathy there is fascism.

When will the people learn that the interests of big business and multinational corporations; the interest of the ruling class-are not our interests? When an American president-it doesn’t matter which one-talks about protecting American interests, whose interest do they mean? They mean the interest of the ruling class-the Rockefellers, Carnegies, Murdochs, the Cheneys and the Bushes. They mean the interest of General Electric, Halliburton, Bechtel, Boeing, Wal-mart, Northrup-Grumman; Raytheon, Exxon-Mobil; Shell Oil and Texaco. These are not my interests. Nor are they the interests of ninety-nine percent of the populace. And they certainly are not noble causes to fight and die for.

Most of my fellow citizens would be as angry as I am about all of this if they knew what I know. But they don’t want to know, damn them! It would threaten their comfortable existence. It might even activate some spark of hidden conscience that would force them into action.

It’s not that we are a nation of stooges and idiots (though it certainly appears that way at times); it is that we are a nation of the lazy and morbidly obese-physically, mentally and spiritually. From cradle to grave we are exposed to the brave new world of Madison Avenue, the endless stream of corporate propaganda that dull our senses and wear us down. The assault upon our sensibilities is constant. Our view of the world is misshapened, distorted into the grotesque in the mirrors of the corporate media. We are a nation of addicts. Some of our addictions include: oil, entertainment, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, conspicuous consumption and hubris. There is nothing wrong with being entertained, per se. But it must be in healthy proportions to being informed. As journalist Bill Moyers has observed, ‘We are not getting the information we need to make us free.’

As a result, the age of reason is nearing an end. We are careening back into the abyss of ignorance and fear that characterized the Dark Ages. Evidence for this consists in the rise of nationalism, jingoism, intolerance and religious fundamentalism. If we don’t soon wake from our zombie state, we will no longer teach the truth of evolution in our public schools. The stage is already set in Kansas for that sorry event to take place. Science and understanding will be supplanted by religious dogma and zealotry. No proof, no evidence will be necessary. We will live our lives by faith-blind faith; deaf and dumb faith. Ecological literacy will become a forgotten dream, as the earth sinks into irrevocable ruin in the bilge of consumption and industrial waste we created. Heretics, as was done in the past, will be subject to persecution; burned at the stake as blasphemers. Copernicus and Giordano Bruno will welcome the company. Free thinking and the publication of non-religious books will be banned. White supremacists (as they do now in the slave states) will hold the reins of power; and a new era of industrial slavery will be ushered in. Behold the twelve hour work day; rejoice in the seventy-two hour work week. And it will be called a free and open society-a Christian Nation. It will be called the Greatest Nation on Earth. It will be called ‘Amerika.’ Religious leaders will openly call for the assassination of democratically elected presidents of sovereign nations. The CIA and its henchmen will obediently carry out the orders. Ignorant, supercilious, bumbling stooges will be our war time presidents. We will exist in a state of perpetual war. Ours’ will be a permanent war time economy, until its collapse in a few short decades of flaming exuberance. The war machine must be fed with our babies-those of the working class. Elections will be rigged and their outcomes predetermined by electronic voting machines that leave no paper trails. Ignorance will be called truth. Hate will be called love. Words will have no meaning. The fascist police state is emerging. Take heed.

CHARLES SULLIVAN is a furniture maker, photographer and free lance writer living in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. He can be reached at: earthdog@highstream.net.