Friday, April 03, 2015

10 Years After: 2008 -- The Hollow Men Who Rule Us

The 10th blogiversary fundraiser continues with the Hope and Change year of 2008.

In 2008, as the Age of Bush was drawing to a close --
They Made A Desert

And Called It Peace. (click pic for larger)
-- I found out by accident that I was being tossed into the maw of the Great Recession and losing the last full-time job I will probably ever have.

I found this out the same week Barack Obama was elected.  Which was also right around the same time Blago's ship started to crack at the keel and head for the bottom.

It was deeply disorienting.

On the one hand, it was very weird to be in Revelry Center, USA at the same time my future was going up in smoke.

On the other hand, I suddenly had a lot more time and opportunity to write about all those amazing species of local political decadence.

And so a few more themes began to show up on this blog.  Manufacturing and how we might rebuild our middle class.  Andrew Sullivan's long, ridiculous, moonwalking Conservative fan-dance. And of course all of that Chicago/Illinois-based corruption that was suddenly capturing the nation's attention...

Corrupt Governor Update, VII

The Hollow Men Who Rule Us

File under: One of these things is not like the other

One of these things just doesn't belong.

The Demand: Gimme $2,000,000,000,000 to fuck up a war we should never have fought or terrorists will kill your children. Also, for no additional charge I'll pardon a steaming pile of treason named Scooter Libby.

The Response: Yes, Dear Leader. Whatever you say, Dear Leader.

The Demand: Gimme $700,000,000,000 -- right this fucking minute, no questions asked and no strings attached -- to bail out my college roommates who have raped the international credit and banking systems to death and are having a weinie roast over the bones, or I’ll crash the world economy and start a 10,000 year Depression. Also when half of that Urgent!Urgent!Urgent! money sits idle for months, and another slice of goes to pay for bonuses and spa dates for my banker pals, you will sit in the corner as quiet and dutiful as a Promise Keeper's wife until I tell you it’s time to suck my dick again.

The Response: Will you take a check?

The Demand: Gimme $38,000,000,000 to prop up our miserable failure of a business model until we figure out how to make cars that people want again, or three million Americans will be out on their asses by New Year’s Day.

The Response: We can only scrape together $20,000,000,000 OK? And you’re gonna need an actual business plan. Also, to get Slave State Senators to co-sign, you’re gonna have to publicly execute a few thousand Union workers.

The Demand: Gimme a chunk 'a change and a cool job or no Senate seat for you!

The Response: Holy Blessed Mother of Jebus! This "out-herods Herod" (h/t Bill Shakespeare)! Off with his fucking head!

You know, maybe two centuries ago, Mary Shelley's husband really could make that era’s intelligentsia put down their opium pipes long enough to say “Dude!” when he wrote:
"Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world"
but in my lifetime is has been men like Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth who have penned the most eloquent and prescient visions of which "unacknowledged legislators" really spin the secret cams and cogs of the world.

And then cleverly hid their fearful portents in luridly-covered pulp magazines in the back pockets of 14-year-old boys.

Fifty years ago, in “The Space Merchants”, they were already painting a detailed picture of a future where Senatorial designations are no longer based on quaint notions of community, constituency and geography, but on corporate affiliation:
“He spoke of trouble with the Senator from Du Pont Chemicals with his forty-five votes, and of an easy triumph over the Senator from Nash-Kelvinator with his six.”
(p. 11)
A world where the poets have finally discovered that writing for truth and beauty is a short, doomed road to poverty and have moved on to more lucrative professions...
"‘Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time ---‘
"That’s the sort of thing she would have written before the rise of advertising. The correlation is perfectly clear. Advertising up, lyric poetry down. There are only so many people capable of putting words together that stir and move and sing. When it became possible to earn a very good living in advertising by exercising this capability, lyric poetry was left to untalented screwballs who had to shriek for attention and compete by eccentricity.”
A world of Spin Uber Alles...
"It was an appeal to reason, and they’re always dangerous. You can’t trust reason. We threw it out of the ad profession years ago and have never missed it."
(p. 77)
Where Teh Stupid is cultivated because stupid is good for sales.
“Biometrika was one of the everyday tools of a copysmith, It told the story of population changes, IQ changes, deaths rate and causes of death, and all the rest of it. Almost every issue had good news in it for us – the same news that these Consies tut-tutted over. Increase of population was always good news to us. More people, more sales. Decrease of IQ was always good news. Less brains, more sales. But these eccentrically-oriented fanatics couldn’t see it that way…”
(p. 83)
A world where whole counties are bundled into mercantile combines; where multi-generational debt-bondage is just another name for “Middle Class” and every ounce of raw material and every erg of human labor has been packaged, commoditized and sold for the benefit of the few at the very top of the heap.
“’We all know,’ he said, ‘what put us where we are. We remember the Starrzelius Verily account, and how we put Indiastries on the map. The first spherical trust. Merging a whole subcontinent into a single manufacturing complex. Schocken Associates pioneered on both of them…’”
(p. 7)

“Fowler, of course, hoped to repeat on an enormously magnified scale our smashing success with Indiastries. His Boards and he had organized all of India into a single cartel, with every last woven blanket on iridium ingot and caddy of opium it produced sold through Fowler Schocken advertising.”
(p. 1)
Well, that world is here, now, and plutocrats are our (barely) "unacknowledged legislators". Behind microthin legalistic pasties where what is a crime in one room on one phone is perfectly legal in another room on another phone, the proxies and creatures of the malefactors of great wealth buy and sell policy, politicians, news and nations like lean hog futures and light, sweet crude.

Among his catalog of sins, Rod Blagojevich tried to turn Barack Obama’s Senate seat into his 401K, and shake down a children’s hospital for 50 grand. And for this he richly deserves and will do time in the House of Many Doors.

Among their catalog of sins, our Wall Street overlords have nearly destroyed the global economy. And for this, the sun is being blotted out the sheer number and size of their Platinum Parachutes as they float away from the scene of their crime on a gentle breeze of taxpayer dollars.

Among his vast catalog of sins, George W. Bush lied us into a war that got hundreds of thousands of people killed and pissed away trillions of your dollars into the sands of Iraq and the pockets of his cronies. And for this he will get a Presidential library and a retirement plan that will make the most lavish UAW pension look like a rounding error.

We are a nation which, for some congenitally fucked-up reason, cannot seem to grasp that modern Big Dollar government – at all levels – is barely more than “…the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex” (h/t Frank Zappa).

And until we give up our charmingly anachronistic notions of what defines the borders and parameters of political corruption and accountability, we will always miss that bigger picture.

We will always be “straining out gnats and swallowing camels” (h/t Matthew) and the Hollow Men and their hirelings will always rule us from just behind the curtain.

UPDATE: Welcome Twitterati

UPDATE: Welcome C and Lers.

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