Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Two Parties, One Machine

Realize that the system can’t exist without belief
Appreciate your true potential, un-twist your mouth and speak
We’re working on building a world our children can live in
Understand I can’t be free while you’re still in this prison
And I can spend my days preaching and so on and so forth
But it won’t change ’til we don’t wanna go on no more”

— Sweatshop Union, “The Thing About It”

As the election cycle drags on, it’s quite revealing that citizens still believe that our future policies and legislation will revolve around which candidate wins. Our government is fully controlled by the deep state, a fusion of corporate and federal bureaucratic powers. Trillions of dollars have been and will continue to be wasted on defense boondoggles like the F-35 fighter, intrusive satellite and computer surveillance, advanced weapons and nuclear ICBMs, military contractors, etc. These are resources that put to proper use could end poverty in the developing world, provide cheap medicine to prevent infections and disease, and build affordable housing and renewable energy for the entire world.

Both Democrats and Republicans refuse to acknowledge the responsibility, duty, and the debt the USA and rich Western nations owe to poorer countries. Rather, both parties have turned inward towards domestic issues, identity politics, and brazen sensationalism. Additionally, the inhuman and ego-driven lust for self-interest (the calls for a wall with Mexico, the calls for a no-fly zone in Syria) without considering the needs of the wider world is a profoundly disturbing phenomenon in our fractured political landscape.

Thus it is no accident that Althusser dubbed ruling class institutions the Ideological State Apparatuses. The analogy to a mechanistic device is uncanny. How did our coercive political structures assumed such rigid hierarchy, such efficient deadliness? Blame Newton and Descartes, or rather, their crude interpreters: taking their worldview too literally, their followers unleashed upon future generations a narrow vision, a path where absolute time, a mechanized and clockwork universe, and mind-body dualism and binary thought reigned supreme. This misconception spread over centuries through the cultural milieu: even back in introductory political science we were taught of Kenneth Waltz’s ridiculous and hare-brained “billiard ball” theory of international relations.

Our machines no longer work for the people: it is us who now effectively work for our pointless and deadly machines, literally and figuratively, either in useless industrial jobs or by paying federal taxes for programs which serve no common good. It is the oligarchy and its servile mass media which distracts the masses, allowing elites to control financial flows and money laundering operations, weapons smuggling, as well as privatizing potentially liberating inventions such as quantum computing, renewable technologies, cures for cancer and preventable diseases, and genetic advances. To emancipate and unshackle the human condition from needless suffering should be the collective goal of society: instead, we are servants of machines, peons of progress and GDP advances of the economy, and prisoners of the Democratic and Republican parties and their shadowy corporate overlords, the psychic vampires who siphon human potentialities and energies from what could be vibrant, egalitarian, peaceable communities, if they were allowed to prosper freely.

Emancipation, enlightenment are our collective goals, and our birthright. Anything that gets in the way, even if it is our entire machine-driven culture which clothes and feeds us from cradle to grave, should be abolished. This will be painful, and have severe consequences that will last generations. Yet there is no other way. As for mass consumer society, we should all consider taking the time to be as open, honest, forthright, and painfully blunt when discussing our collective critical condition as the protagonist Elliot in the TV series Mr. Robot:

‘What is it about society that disappoints you so much?’

‘Oh, I don’t know. Is it that we collectively thought Steve Jobs was a great man, even when we knew he made billions off the backs of children? Or maybe it’s that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit. The world itself is just one big hoax. Spamming each other with our burning commentary bullshit masquerading as insight; our social media faking as intimacy. Or is that we voted for this? Not with our rigged elections, but with our things, our property, our money. I’m not saying anything new, we all know why we do this. Not because Hunger Games books makes us happy, but because we want to be sedated. Because it’s painful not to pretend, because we’re cowards.’

‘Fuck Society.’

We were not put on this Earth to grow an economy, or fork over money to big-box stores with plastic and shiny electronics from China, or drown ourselves with senseless pop culture and processed foods. This is soma just as Huxley pictured it. Shifting baselines and bulging waistlines. An alternative can only be found beyond the superficial. As Erich Fromm once said, “There is no meaning to life except the meaning man gives his life by the unfolding of his powers.”

Obviously, Western governments are no longer geared towards providing social welfare for poorer nations, and increasingly their own people. Our leaders are only technocrats who administer fake and/or harmful policies, strategize with lawyers to protect each other from retribution in court, and use techniques from marketing and public relations to convince citizens of the bullshit they’re fed 24/7.

Democrats and Republicans have invented the sham Committee on Presidential Debates, somehow convincing everyone that the chairs of the heads of the two parties should administer the public debates our highest office. By requiring 15% support in national polls, the duopoly shuts out all third parties due to lack of media coverage early on in the election cycle. Is this not a form of an anti-democratic firewall, which repels unwanted intruders from the ideological landscape?

The language of foreign policy further betrays the calculating and murderous belief system of the machine age. Terms like shock and awe, kinetic weapons, hyperpower, full-spectrum dominance, total information awareness, all point towards the coercive, the white-washed, the sadistic display of an out-of-control computerized system of warfare. How much longer until drones are making the decisions to fire without human operators? Or perhaps this is already happening, and a cause of the incredibly high percentage of innocents killed? If our military industrial complex is prepared to spend one trillion on nuclear missiles, billions on the F-35, and billions more on such lethal yet completely unnecessary weapons like ramjet technology, NBC weapons, the SR-72, underwater drones, and the U.S.S. Zumwalt, what’s next? Super soldiers based off of old X-Files episodes?

Further, we have to examine the form of our media, as Marshall McLuhan understood it, and as Nicholas Carr perceptively did when he asked “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Well, yes it is, in a way. Multitasking online is not the same as rigorous research in a library, or even an old-school boring web journal. Social media distractions and constant updates cloud our critical thinking skills, and quite possibly rearranges neural networks which influence long-term memory formation.

Our leading scientists, supposedly sages and role models, are deeply complicit. When geneticists tell you that GMOs are OK, they are simply stating their preference for turning the world’s ecosystems into a giant experiment. Theoretically, gene transfers between organisms could be safe in laboratory controlled conditions. Not so much when you have millions of acres of genetically altered corn and soy, billions of gallons of glyphosate and atrazine flooding our drinking water, and nitrates and phosphates which cause hypoxic dead zones and toxic algal blooms. When the EPA, CDC, and FDA tell us that heavy metals and psychotropic drugs in our water is fine, that mercury and arsenic are harmless, and lead leaching from pipes is nothing to worry about, their complete lack of integrity and cult of death is on full display. This was most poignantly revealed by leader of the Manhattan Project, the genius physicist Robert Oppenheimer: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”.

How can citizens fight this utterly horrid momentum? Not with traditional media outlets. “The revolution will not be televised!” How should we vote in November? Should we follow Noam Chomsky’s recommendation to “hold your noise and vote for Clinton” in contested states? It’s hard to believe a person of his age and wisdom could utter such a thing. Haven’t we all been holding our noises every four years, for as long as we can remember? Surely he remembers more of the disastrous consequences, and in finer detail, the results and repercussions than nearly all of us!

Instead, we might want to take heed from another sixties icon, Mario Savio:

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

More articles by:

William Hawes is a writer specializing in politics and environmental issues. He is author of the ebook Planetary Vision: Essays on Freedom and Empire. His articles have appeared online at CounterPunch, Global Research, Countercurrents(.org), Gods & Radicals, Dissident Voice, The Ecologist, and many more. You can email him at wilhawes@gmail.com. Visit his website williamhawes.wordpress.com.

Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
Samantha Krop
Questioning Our Declaration on Human Rights
Morna McDermott
Classrooms, Not Computers: Stop Educating for Profit
Patrick Walker
Today’s Poor People’s Campaign: Too Important Not to Criticize
Julia Stein
Wrestling With Zionism
Clark T. Scott
The Exceptional President
Barry Barnett
The Family of Nations Needs to Stand Up to the US  
Robert Koehler
Two Prongs of a Pitchfork
Bruce Raynor
In an Age of Fake News, Journalists Should be Activists for Truth
Max Parry
The U.S. Won’t Say ‘Genocide’ But Cares About Armenian Democracy?
William Gudal
The History of Israel on One Page
Robert Jensen
Neither cis nor TERF
Louis Proyect
Faith or Action in a World Hurtling Toward Oblivion?
David Yearsley
The Ubiquitous Mr. Desplat
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail