“We cannot tear out a single page of our life, but we can throw the whole book in the fire.”
— George Sand
Dinosaurs Among Us
As Uri Avnery ably points out in the Labor Day 2002 edition of CounterPunch, “the dinosaurs have returned“. This is not so much a matter of politics as culture. The risk to culture of the small-minded and myopic is profound.
In Europe there is a lively debate about culture primarily because of the expansion of the European Union. This debate takes on urgency as nation-states undergo the internal dissension between wanting to open borders and the anxieties of losing one’s unique cultural identity. As a result, the bureaucrats have to fudge and fiddle with the strictures of integration, not the least of which includes allowing certain powerful nation-states to “opt out” of key agreements. The overall package of EU transnational identity has, since its last metamorphosis into a trading block, generally been watered down and tweaked to accommodate both political and cultural queasiness here and there.
In the U.S. there is no such argument. The transnational powers have complete control. These powers are so well institutionalized that any debate whatsoever is automatically reduced to a question of “personal hygiene”: Do I buy that product? Do I hold my nose and vote for that candidate whose rhetoric is calculated to the one-thousandth degree of demographic polling? Do I refuse to read that increasingly nasty newspaper or watch television at all?
There are endless, lovely axioms of the kind that make one smile — e.g., “Swords into Ploughshares”, “Bread not Circuses”, or “Knowledge is Power”. Is there one that has not been reversed in these bizarre times? “Ploughshares into Swords”, “Circuses not Bread”, “Power is Knowledge”? Of the first, “Swords into Ploughshares”, here, in New York, one may drop by the United Nations compound to see Evgeny Buchetich’s monumental (Social-Realist) statue of this heroic act frozen in time (in bronze). Quite odd, really, since the U.N. has been reduced to cleaning up and administering the devastated lands and people caught in-between “emerging markets” and the neo-imperial colossi of the First World.
The Super-Greased Corridors of Power
The obvious condition of debility across the board is 1000 times worse than the 1980s when there was actually an opportunity to expect something to be done through representative government to forestall and/or investigate the shenanigans of the hooligans in the ante-rooms of the White House. No such “avenue” now offers itself — Pennsylvania Avenue is now a DMZ. Congress has become the “loyal opposition” (or a willing accomplice) and the judiciary is operating in mostly secret or unidentified locations. The motto of the 1980s, “Greed is Good”, has transmogrified in the new millennium into “Greed is US”.
It would seem that Americans disparaged by this scenario might decamp to Sweden or Canada, “loving it or leaving it” being the default action for all dissidents today. If only truly open borders did exist … Alas, there is no leaving home. We are required (and coerced) into inhabiting the fortified cage set up for us by the usurping armies of Mammon and Reaction. Our pulse and brainwaves will soon be metered, our every movement (of body and spirit) monitored. If sleep and sex could be commodified an Enron-type sleep-and-sex trading scheme would emerge.
The current battle for everything requires that American citizens think, read, breathe, and observe deeply what is going on. The newspapers and television will not suffice. The Internet is full of misinformation and self-serving sniping and harangues. Just visit Drudge, or Salon … It is more important than ever that Americans dream, and, in dreaming, wake up to demand a new and better world.
The first realization will be that power has been handed to the most corrupt cabal of self-interested interests in the history of history. This power includes the power to deny the most basic freedoms in an instant by manufacturing crises. This power is blind and knows no bounds. Its daytime smirk is matched only by its nighttime revels — deep inside the darkest sectors of the reptilian core of the brain. Greed and perfidy unchecked … Power-mad and happy about it … Rampant nihilism passing as faith-based usurpation of everything that might be exploited to extract monthly payments from an enslaved populace …
The Dark Heart of the American Dream
These are but a few of the “pictures” (patterns) that might appear on an EKG attached to the monstrous brain of the beast stalking America (and the world). This beast must be driven back into its swamp … Clearly, we must take up our pens (and intellectual cudgels) and act vigorously — now — to reclaim our right to dream.
Aux armes, Citoyens! Bury your senators and representatives in e-mail, boycott the usual scurrilous suspects of corporate media, read novels that quicken your pulse, lay in supplies of uncontaminated works of the human spirit, go see the “new” Godard film Eloge de l’Amour, speak your mind (and soul), vote with your feet, and expect the miraculous.
URI AVNERY, Return of the Dinosaurs (CounterPunch)
JEAN-LUC GODARD, In Praise of Obscurity (Archive-Grotto)
ALAIN GRESH, There is Another, Better World (Le Monde Diplomatique)
FORUM SOCIAL MONDIAL, Appel ? Initiatives (Alliance pour …)
FEEL-GOOD NGOs, The Unbearable Lightness of NGOs (CounterPunch)
BETE NOIRE, The American Golem (CounterPunch)
THE ANTI-REPUBLICAN PARTY, Go Tell Karl Rove! (CounterPunch)
LOOSE LIPS, Liberty, Democracy, and Bush (CounterPunch)