FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Glamorous Servitude and Sexy Debt

by KATHLEEN PEINE

When Earl Butz said “get big or get out”- well, they got out.

It was nearing the appropriate time anyway, they were getting old enough to merit a retirement. But truly, the world of “big” requires the working class to borrow enormous amounts to achieve such largeness. My grandparents would never survive in such a world, so they left the farm and slid into a gentle slope of retirement, an insulated existence of tidying the house. Well, until Parkinson’s brought them to our home. A nightmare realm that only emerged at night accompanied my grandfather, and it was full of things like deep sea divers with knives, all there to threaten and kill. My grandfather, in his terror, even thought my grandmother was a villain, but again, only during the night. I wondered if he would see me the same way, but I was too scared to emerge from my room to find out- 3rd grader, after all. I couldn’t fathom that this was the same gentle soul who would let me sit by him and watch footage of the Mars Missions of the 70’s- some of my best memories from childhood. It was an early instruction in the fleeting nature of reality and even sanity itself. If the sun can go down and cause a sweet man to go crazy, what other horror and spells exist in this world? Things are not what they seem. After an especially ragged night, my grandfather was sent to the local nursing home, a shadow sadly irrelevant to the churning of the modern world just like the philosophy from which he came.

Those of his generation often feared debt above all things; I suppose it was due to Depression era memories- that a palatial estate on verdant land could be reduced to nothing with the power of a piece of paper. As those like my grandfather passed away, an opening was found since all Americans love the shortcut- suddenly a new spritz of respectability was placed on debt. It was a means to becoming large, getting big. Never mind that the fallacy of this worldview has more than ample evidence. Suddenly the person living in a paid for shack was the failure, and the McMansion mortgage holder became the hero.

Projecting a new normalcy-that it is the only way to live- this stifling debt, be it student loan penury or the cost of your living space that you “own”….when this became a norm that was rarely questioned, the populace certainly became even more vulnerable and controlled without a shot even being fired. They successfully got citizens to internalize values of expected debt.

Incremental steps brought this on. First the appearance of items like credit cards for “convenience”…then later status. Look at the color of my card. It’s how much debt I can get into. But it eventually worked, and the handcuffs became more firmly attached by the day. The weapon of debt is powerful when the victim believes.

Refusing to play the game is difficult. There are some success stories out there–contrast the living standards at this moment of Iceland (who essentially said who gives a fuck about our debt to the powers of the world) and that of Greece (who evidently wants to stick with that austerity debacle as evidenced by their last elections).

As these dramas play out worldwide, we consider matters of celebrity and nonsense. But our servitude is to be made more marvelous. Why you can even by a pair of shoes from Adidas with a shackle attached. I am not making that up.

Our “literature” involves young women who sign contracts or some such shit to be a billionaire’s sex slave. (I admit I haven’t read that one, life is too short, but like an ass, I’m going to comment anyway). How romantic and glamorous! And I’m not railing about that dorky book due to prudery. If you want a diatribe of that kind, I think Hobby Lobby might have a new library section next to the cross stitch “no Adam and Steve” kits (50% off this week). It’s not that kind of a gripe, it’s that I’m just stunned that people can’t even get their perv fix on without consigning it to submission to the wealthy- once again putting a shine on an indebtedness to someone or something. Why can’t there be free weirdness? Are we really turned on my contracts? Will a visit to the lawyer become an aphrodisiac in this new world? I’ll show you a legally binding agreement, baby.

And I just know somehow the kink of “50 Shades of Grey” has something to do with those Adidas sneakers. Give me time, I’ll figure it out.

But every single day, what is real is becoming veiled just a little bit more. Substance is gone, the winners are those able to avoid Ponzi’s pinnacle. Glory in the servitude and find ego in your shiny things.

There are no pat answers, we all struggle and straddle this world of fantastic illusion. Like someone sane in the morning, insane at night- trying so hard to hold this all together. But in the end, you can’t coexist with crazy, and your shackles are not glamorous, no matter what cultural conditioning rains from the sky. But like a cheesy movie’s voodoo, it mainly has power over you- only if you believe in it.

I don’t believe. What about you?

Kathleen Peine writes out of the US Midwest and can be contacted at kathypeine@gmail.com or at the website paintedfire.org

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail