When Power Speaks

Photograph Source: VOA – CC BY 2.0

The language of power reassures and obfuscates.  Rather than communicate ideas, it’s a tool that enables the overclass to impart self-serving platitudes that intentionally trigger associations with things generally considered ‘nice’.  Take for example, “wellness”, - an industry that seeks to replace universal healthcare with New Age quackery.  The word itself conveys yoga pants, sunrises and smoothies.  It’s one of those expressions imbued with filtered and carefully posed beneficence, repelling any critical inquiry into its implied definition.  Instead of considering a multibillion-dollar industry dependent on the average person unable to afford medicine, we are left to contemplate a host of products unfairly and often violently extracted from an impoverished country.  We call this process of being unmindful of planet-devouring, neoliberal economic practices “mindfulness”.

Against our better judgment, we believe a re-purposed office broom closet we can “meditate” represents corporate America’s commitment to our “wellness” rather than a means of discouraging the realization that we are merely biding our times as obsolete automatons until AI makes us altogether redundant.  There’s a reason that tech and banking bros often cite ‘Zen’ as their guiding principle since the word (in English, at least) redefines a moral vacuum as a sea of white stones in a private temple garden somewhere in wine country.

The same goes for “connectivity” - as if being stalked, monitored, wiretapped and harvested for residual data by powerful microwaves puts us in the same league as Bill Gates.  Misidentification with the ruling class becomes “aspiration”, yet another misnomer re-labeled as a scented candle.  The language of power, collated from our involuntarily surrendered medical records, and carefully implanted inner thoughts, is then focus-group-tested on lobotomized lab marmosets and Joe Biden supporters.  Eventually, all this manipulated data is willfully disseminated in the media and echoed on social media platforms until we are all mindlessly disconnected from reality and plugged into a labyrinthine, neuron-imitating grid on a Pentagon computer screen connected to Amazon’s cloud server.  This digitized dragnet that installs in humans what Marx termed “false consciousness” has become the final frontier of capitalism.

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Jennifer Matsui is a writer living in Tokyo and a columnist for the print edition of CounterPunch magazine.

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