excerpts from joe bageant’s latest and my response


. . . The brutal way Americans were forced to internalize the values of a gangster capitalist class continues to elude nearly all Americans. . . . We are made in Americas’ image, whether we admit it or not, and America’s image is the face on a ten dollar bill.

Liberal or conservative, money is what we care about — period. From birth, the empire has made one thing very clear to us: If you do not produce or acquire enough of the green stuff, meet the quota, you will be ground beneath the heel of the machine we call a society. No universal health insurance or higher education, no guaranteed minimum income, no worker rights, nothing for you suckers but the tab. So keep humping.

With such a national ethos, who can blame Americans for caring most profoundly about money? Everything is secondary to money. The future of the world’s children, the planet, everything. I’ve been watching the horrific BP oil spill on CNN (doncha love the way they call it a “spill,” as if it was a cup of coffee?) The first and biggest ongoing question has been, “Who is going to pay for it?” Right off hand I’d say the fish, birds and wetlands will pay for it, along with future generations. One quart of motor oil will pollute 250,000 gallons of water, and already there have been millions of gallons of oil blasted into the earth’s waters from this single spill. Yet the big question has been “Whose money and how much is going to change hands here?”. . . .

It is now clear to me that the people’s rage is a tool in the hands of the new electronic and digital corporate state. Its various channels, eddies and pools, regardless of type, can be directed toward all sorts of mischief and profit. Left or right, the angry throngs on both sides can be managed and directed. They can be sent chasing various injustices, denouncing evil characters on Wall Street, Times Square bombers, BP executives, or whatever, worked up into slobbering outrage over Sarah Palin, and thus kept divided and working against each other for the benefit of last gasp capitalism. . . .

Once outside the furious drek of American political and economic life. . . I found myself asking: “Why did the good in the American people not triumph? How can it be that so many progressive, justice-loving citizens failed? Their positions were well reasoned. The facts were indisputably on their side. Obviously, there was, and is, more going on than merely losing battles to demagoguery and meanness. Why do we lose the important fights so consistently? What has kept us from establishing a more just kingdom? Something is missing.

I think it is, in a word, the spiritual. . . .

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my comment: i rarely disagree with you about anything, joe, but you kind of lose me with the spirituality. for what is lacking in the american character, i would find a much more cogent argument in the brutal repression of dissent and free speech throughout this nation’s history and the government-owned and -sponsored brainwashing with which we are constantly bombarded from the first day we are exposed to tv and when we are first forced into those government jails called schools. for the former, robert justin goldstein’s political repression in modern america 1870 to the present relentlessly presents page after page describing the outright murder of those who would have led us out of the morass. we need go back no further than the government’s murders of fred hampton, george jackson, malcolm x, martin luther king, jr., jfk, and bobby kennedy to know that both the behavior and the threat are ever-present. for a more recent view of how we got to where we are, jonathan simon’s governing through crime (2007) is chilling. for schooling, we can start with plato and list hundreds of philosophers, politicians, capitalists and educators who have testified to the success of government-controlled schools in destroying the ability to think.

i’m about a dozen years older than you, joe, and, if not well educated, at least well schooled, with a bachelors, two masters, and a doctorate. yet i, with my IQ of about 150, was so thoroughly brainwashed — and this in the pre-tv age when governmental propaganda was but a smidgen of what it is today — that i quit college at age 17 and enlisted in the marine corps to defend my country in korea. i have no problem at all in understanding how the “average” american is essentially numb from the neck up. and i am, unfortunately, in complete agreement with your assessment of our future.

jack tobin


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