CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site.
For the last two days, Yahoo! has featured an article, “N. Korea alters photo of Kim Jong Il funeral.” Juxtaposing two images, it shows that half a dozen inconsequential figures have been photoshopped out. It is fitting that Yahoo!, a leader in frivolity, is burdening its attentive yahoos with a pointless, carping article masquerading as political expose. This bitch slapping piece of pseudo-journalism is juxtaposed with “Baby Startled by Mom’s Noise,” “Model Pregnant on Runway,” “NASCAR Star Sorry for Tweets” and “Disney’s Women’s ‘Real’ Looks.”
Future observers will be aghast to discover that, as our economy collapses and the country slides into Fascism, our mostly numb and passive population is left to ponder the true identities of cartoon characters and who Jim Carrey is sleeping with. When it comes to putting a population to sleep, North Korea could take a few lessons from the US, and in fact, many Communist states already have. Don’t ban anything, just suffocate people with nonsense, bombard each brain cell relentlessly with so much tedious “entertainment” that it can no longer think straight.
All governments lie, but empires lie even more voluminously because they have a grander fiction to maintain, as well as a larger and more complex audience to pacify, stroke and sucker. The list of facts and events, recent and historical, that have been airbrushed from American history would occupy thousands of Howard Zinns for thousands of years. In their places, the official, unending bullshit. Wonders of wonders, tallest buildings collapsing at free fall speed, one without being hit by anything, its demise announced before the fact even. Or a murder without corpse of a most wanted target, with the “heroic” hit team conveniently packed into a helicopter, then killed. Nothing is ever explained, because nothing needs to be explained to a well-opiated audience.
I have contended that a hidden agenda of the Occupy Movement’s tent cities, now mostly gone, is to remove oneself from a normal, domesticated environment, with its attendant, nonstop media brainwashing via television, computer and other electronic gadgets. Freed from these insidious and poisonous mediators, one could discover other human beings, one’s neighbors, and oneself, at last. It wasn’t just a sacrifice to endure the elements and poor sanitation to feel solidarity and community. It was also an attraction, an atavistic yearning to see, hear and feel directly, and to jettison all of the soft yet stubborn, plugged-in shackles. As a sign at Zuccotti Park said so well, “FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I FEEL AT HOME.”
Many inhabitants of these encampments had no other homes, however, so when these tents were cleared out, they had to scramble. In Philadelphia, a group relocated to an out of the way, vacant lot in a distressed neighborhood, then issued this plea to be left alone, “We are not here protesting or to make a statement, we’re homeless. We are sick of being forced to exist alone, sick of being told that shelters, which are not tolerable living facilities for sober people, are an adequate alternative to being “allowed”, by the government, to work, live and share together to create for ourselves […] ”
Forced by necessity or motivated by activism and desire, these tent dwellers will only multiply in the years ahead. Becoming a tribe unto themselves, they will reclaim entire swaths of America. Squatting on land, they will also get a chance to occupy their own minds. There, they will discover that the tucked away answers are already many degrees wiser and saner than the drivel being pumped out daily by their masters of murderous greed and war.
So far, our overlords have not been overly alarmed by our budding awakening and rebellion. Time Magazine even gave the movement a pat on the head, with a chuckling reminder that it took the Civil Rights Movement a decade to achieve tangible results, but we don’t have ten years to chip and dally away. The bankers are more entrenched than ever, with the next POTUS, their loyal servant, no different than the last, and don’t bet on Ron Paul being allowed to occupy that ceremonial seat.
The Pentagon’s core budget, as submitted by Peace Laureate Obama, is the biggest ever, though hefty cuts have been applied to Overseas Contingency Operations. Whenever another war starts, however, and who knows how many more we’ll see in 2012, the cash spigot will spill as madly as the blood. Trust me.
It’s another year coming, but I doubt that most Americans feel any sense of renewal. In spite of reassuring or silly headlines, pervasive dread is in the air. The election year will give the Occupy Movement energy and focus, but unless it can sharpen its message and allow exceptional individuals already in its midst to emerge as spokesmen and leaders, it will continue to accomplish merely minor, symbolic victories, as their opponents continue to kill, loot and, yes, laugh in their faces.
The you are a leader, I am a leader mantra is patently nonsense, because it takes a highly intelligent, charismatic and forceful figure to galvanize and inspire. A leader must earn his status, and when he has, lesser voices will naturally defer, and if he turns out to be a fraud, he should be chucked aside. Faced with a monomaniacal, brutal and well organized enemy, we cannot just offer them a horizontal position, because they will gladly accommodate this inclination.
Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a just released novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.