PHILOSOPHICAL LESSONS FROM MY FATHER’S MOST DEDICATED FAILURES

 

Berlin (1586)

One person… or a thousand people… or a hundred thousand people… won’t stop Predatory Banking, or Corporate Environmental Degradation, or War, et al. Marching, signing petitions, watching “edgy” satirical political comedy, paypal-ing Leakers, even throwing Molotov cocktails: the system is designed not only to absorb or shrug off such things but, worse, such things help to stabilize the system. Such things are (romantic) cathartic gestures that blow off steam and provide the illusion that things are changing and that opposition lives and All is Not Lost. Keeps the lid from blowing.

There are lucky apparent exceptions scattered around the planet, of course, in which opposition (temporarily) works, owing to very rare conditions: Venezuela (for a few years)… Iceland. Cuba (that’s another topic entirely)? But in the USA (and most of Latin America, and Canada) and Western Europe: no. The machine is very, very powerfully entrenched. The TV shows, the Pop music, the junk food, the “news”, the political theater, the para-military surveillance and policing sector… it’s all just far too firmly entrenched. We of the West, locked in the iron vice between free porno and SWAT teams, are, at the moment, perfectly caged. And we love our prison: we lick the sugar-coated bars. This is, by far, the most entertaining Techno-Fascist Hegemony in the Solar System. Even the quasi-revolutionary gestures are a form of entertainment. OWS, Wikileaks, Snowden: The hits keep coming.

But it’s time to face the fact, for example, that if OWS had been an effective (ie genuinely radical) “movement”, we wouldn’t have heard of it; it wouldn’t have become world-famous… the story would have been covered with the anti-ubiquity of, say, Iceland’s arrested bankers. Mainstream Media is a tool and the tool is owned by “The One Percent” who aren’t in the habit of popularizing the memes that will lead to their downfall (which is not to say that They don’t use their megaphones to fuck with each other, from time to time). What they really like to popularize are blind alleys, fata morganas, false alarms, snark hunts, wild goose chases and total wastes of time… such as camping out in leaderless clumps in public parks in winter and banging drums, right?

No, the approved forms of “dissidence” don’t work. Change won’t come that way and it won’t come, in any case, during Our Lifetime. We’re trained, of course, to think of change occurring in four-year cycles or increments, which is nonsense: what we commonly misinterpret as cyclical change is, in fact, a pattern of accelerating fluctuations in a Steady Trend. Guess where the Trend is heading.

It took many, many generations for Us Serfs to get in the headlock we find ourselves in and it will take a few generations (barring celestial cataclysm, aka “divine intervention”) to get out of it. The 20th Century amplified Oligarchic Psychopathy with technology and rendered the Revolutions of the past impossible: the Serfs no longer have access to the same basic weapons that our managers/oppressors use. Hegemony now relies on Hard Weapons (techno-armaments) and Soft Weapons (electronic mass media) on a scale that no mob of Serfs armed with samizdat and pitchforks can hope to equal.

My Father was a Militant during the 1960s, caught up in the heady drama of “revolution” and comradeship and revolutionary sex behind the barricades. He marched in marches secretly organized by the FBI, attended meetings for “radical” organizations secretly funded by the CIA, and helped spread memes, strategies and pamphlets crafted by Rightwing Think-Tanks. While my father was lifting his fist and linking arms, the really dangerous Radicals of his acquaintance (like Fred Hampton, who was dangerous because he was a racially-inclusive and charismatic speaker capable of unifying the classes) were simply killed while young. It was and is incredibly easy to kill them. My father figured it out… eventually. And I learned from the years he wasted before he finally wised-up as an old, spent, futile “radical”. All those years being a dupe. Swinging that cardboard sword. Hopelessly out-maneuvered, posthumously. Cardboard swords vs gunships. Liberatory Manifestos vs HBO. My poor father!

What he didn’t know until it was too late: the only real weapon left is Public Opinion. How people see the world and their (our) place in it. It doesn’t influence the world, it  IS the world.

Public Opinion is the most precious commodity being traded and managed on the planet. And Public Opinion resolves, ultimately, to the pixel of YOUR consciousness… the individual consciousness of your friend, your neighbor, your sister, your lover. Scale that up, again… multiply it by billions… and you have The World. In other words: we can change things. The ancient weapon of Word of Mouth.

The World As it Is is a Game that we Billions have agreed… to our detriment, in a deluded state… to play. The Game is Over when the delusions fade. The delusions will fade when the Billions start THINKING. One person… or a thousand people… or a hundred thousand people… won’t stop Predatory Banking, or Corporate Environmental Degradation, or War… et al. THINKING has to reach a demographic Critical Mass. Which, as a Revolutionary Program, is not, admittedly, very fun. It’s not romantic. It’s not cathartic. It’s not youthful or sexy or dashing or cool. It’s tedious as fuck. It requires geologic patience. It takes a few generations or many generations or centuries. How long will it take to get BILLIONS of people to start THINKING?

We’d better start working on it now.

 

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