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The System: Capitalism and its Role in American Society’s Plunge into the Abyss
by Manuel Valenzuela
03 Jan 2005
commentary and analysis on capitalism's devastating role in american society
Writer’s Note: This essay includes all three parts of the series, with each subsection acting as its own article. I encourage readers to read the essay in installments, taking breaks, absorbing each section before moving on to the next.
Breaths of Freedom
For one brief moment of life, when light enters our eyes for the very first time, we can claim to be the embodiment of innocence and human goodness, the essence of human perfection. It is also the only moment in our lives we can claim to be free. In birth awakens the wonderment of humanity, the hope of civilization and the positive energy of our future. In birth are we all born unclothed, unmarked and uncorrupted, and, for at least a second, engendered with the same promises of ability and opportunity theoretically endowed to us all. The promise of a new tomorrow lives in the curious smile and ever-innocent eyes of tiny humans born in the today.
At birth new life has breathed freely for the first time, no longer attached to the love and nutrition of a mother. With the severing of the umbilical chord a virgin child becomes an entity upon the world, individual and independent, resplendent in energy and captivating in perfection. The promise of a new day is captured in the beauty of new life. At no other moment is the greatness of humankind magnified so bright, flashing before the world the vast potential of Man, the end result of our existence at its most perfect moment of splendor. The awakening of hope is displayed by the opening of eyes seeing the world for the very first time.
The fusing together of man and woman, at our moment of pure animal instinct and brilliant human union transcends society’s demons to form an intertwined tango of symphonious attachment that spawns the continuation of the human species. For millions of years we have procreated, spreading our seed to all corners of the only home we know, hoping to improve on the gains of previous generations, hoping to make better the lives of our future civilization.
At birth the radiance of freedom is exhibited by the first gasp for air a newborn takes. It is at that moment that the human condition is at its most free, before the constraints of society are enabled or the corrosive tentacles of the caste one is born into are put in motion. It is at that moment that humanity is nearest perfection, combining innocence and goodness before the evils of civilization are thrust upon newborn life. With the first few breaths a newborn’s freedom will be proclaimed to the world, before American society begins to submerge yet another victim into the cesspool of capitalistic exploitation that, from cradle to grave, enslaves a citizen and defines his or her existence. It is the minor escape from our capitalistic destiny, manifested in the form of our first gasps for oxygen that is the purest form of freedom, allowing us to hope that a better world is indeed possible.
Yet these moments of true freedom are measured in seconds, for the human condition called capitalism descends like an invisible spirit to lay claim to incarnations of purity and hope. From the near moment of birth, you see, mechanisms in American society entrap our most precious creations, enveloping them with razor sharp claws that both blind and scar on a long, arduous journey through time and space.
Realities begin to emerge that even immediately after our birth we are destined to be unequal in future, destiny and opportunity. The unbridled potential might be the same for two newborns born to different mothers, yet American society, in its present capitalistic form, assures that for the coming decades two similar children possessing the same abilities and talents will in most likelihood diverge into polar opposites. The American caste system assures us of this most troublesome truth. Survival of the fittest has ceased to exist in human civilization. Our concrete jungles function using an entirely different set of rules than those of nature. Today, fates are determined based on survival of the richest, the luckiest and the less exploited, on the collective successes or failures of family and ancestors, the prosperous or deprived conditions of the environment we live in and on the genetic and ethnic predisposition of a newborn that labels and stereotypes during the course of an entire lifetime.
The system that has been created at the hands of capitalism is altering our society for the worse. It is a system whose inherent goal is the exploitation of the masses for the benefit of the few. They system is robbing us of our individuality, our happiness and freedom. An evolved form of enslavement is its end result, packaged and marketed as an enlightened instrument of human evolution. In reality, however, it is transforming our lives for the worst, sending us spiraling backwards in time to the days of feudalism and enslavement. The system is at work.
Our society is not what we think it to be, it remains hidden in a charade of smoking mirrors. Reality is being concealed, the fiction espoused, and our eyes have been made blind to the truth of our existence and the existence of the lie we continue to live.
Evolution in Time and Space
Human civilization has escaped the laws of nature but the laws of nature have yet to escape us. Implanted in us remain the many vestiges of our animal selves, deeply entrenched in both our psyches and the human condition. Modern man we might claim to be, yet the reality of our existence differs to the contrary. We are made to believe that our species has evolved past the primitiveness of our ancestors and that sophisticated beings we have become. Evolution, however, does not listen to the self-aggrandizing diatribes of our delusional selves. On the contrary, it plays under its own laws, no matter what the rulers of the planet do or think. We can control most everything on this planet, except our own mental, psychological and physical evolution.
In a planet billions of years old, human existence is but a mere hiccup in the life of Earth. Encompassing a split second in the twenty-four hour time-clock of Earth’s long history, human habitation in this home of ours is infinitesimal, insignificant really. A few million years of ape-like appearance and intelligence living in Africa was followed by a few hundred thousand years of tribal meandering of the planet. It has only been the last 10,000 years, out of a few million of human existence that has encompassed what we know today as civilization.
During this long journey of human life, we have become the rulers of the planet, slowly transforming a once pristine land into our scarred home. We have left behind nature for the cities. We have forgotten where we come from, not understanding who and what we really are. Instead, we have created our own set of rules living in artificial environments of concrete jungles and steel-glass canyons. A species that for millions of years thrived in and according to nature has in the last 10,000 years planted itself in our new ecosystem: the city. Nature has become but a distant memory to the human condition, taken for granted and exploited for our own purposes.
As such, society’s understanding of the human condition has ceased to exist, becoming an island onto itself, absorbed in self-adulation and pompous coronation, claiming superiority to all living things. Yet in arrogant delusion our animal selves remain, no matter how mighty we make ourselves out to be, no matter what our religions and leaders say. We are the ape of yesteryear and the mammal that no matter how hard it tries, cannot escape its reality.
Evolution on Earth does not transpire at the same level as our fast paced world of today. Indeed, organisms evolve in epochs, over tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of years. Evolution is not a quick fix approach to solving an organism’s problems. Meticulous and protracted, the evolution of a species, both physically and mentally, cannot be achieved in centuries or decades. As much as we would like to believe, the human condition is not beyond the animal world it has - when compared to the long history of the planet - only recently escaped.
Many of our behaviors and emotions remain the same today as they were millennia ago. The only thing that has changed is civilization, technology, our vast numbers and the understanding of the world that surrounds us. Only now, through evolutionary psychology, are we beginning to understand who and what we are, our behavior and our animal selves. Human evolution has not changed much in hundreds of thousands of years. Our brain size has not shifted, our physical selves remain the same. Animal instincts and behaviors, societies and psychology, hierarchies and necessities have remained stable for a very long time. Our animal urges and needs have not deviated much since we became discernible human beings, capable of thought and advanced intelligence. It can be argued that our civilization, society and technologies have superceded our capacity to evolve alongside them. In our quest to advance the cause of humankind we forgot that evolution does not work as fast as we would like. We would need to allow mankind’s evolution hundreds of thousands of years in order to catch up to today’s civilization, society and technologies. Sadly, we are seeing the effects of this failure in our most advanced societies.
Today’s world moves at the speed of light, bombarding us with a hydra of stimuli and environments humans had up to now never been confronted with before. Our civilization is advancing at breakneck speed, surpassing our psychological ability to keep up. Our psychology has not evolved for hundreds of thousands of years; we remain what we think ourselves not to be.
Never has the human mind and body been subjected to the kinds of stresses and stimuli we face on an hourly basis thanks to our society. Take, for example, the imposition of the television into our lives. It is now being found that television might be one of the leading contributing factors in attention deficit disorder in children.
Scientists have found a direct correlation between television watching in toddlers up to two years old and increased propensities towards ADD. Why is this so? It turns out that television presents the young and developing brain with rapid successions of stimuli, bombarding the mind with a plethora of images, sounds and movement that affects the developing processes of the brain.
Never before had the developing human brain been subjected to something remotely close to the television, and today we can see the effects of this technology on our children. Evolution has not caught up to our ever sophisticated technologies and ever-stressful civilization. We have changed the rules of the human condition without fully understanding its ramifications on us. The consequences of our actions are beginning to be felt the more we understand who and what we truly are and the more we subject ourselves and our children to mechanisms our evolution cannot keep up with.
The degrading effects of our capitalistic society, with its stresses, frustrations and exploitations, are thus having a tremendous effect on the human condition, especially in brain development, psychology and physical disease.
The Caste System
Social classes have always existed in human societies, yet to accurately portray what has occurred in America over the last 200 years, a much more realistic term must be borrowed from other societies.
The caste system, a much more accurate semantic exploration into our reality, has been unleashed onto our collective experiences, helping to seal our fates and cement our futures through the immovable concrete barriers of our present capitalistic society. Through castes we are defined, living our role in the exploitative society we inhabit. Mechanisms at work help keep us in place, from cradle to grave, subjecting us to the consequences of our birth and the socioeconomic conditions of our parents and grandparents.
American society has in many instances become a nation of castes, much like those in India, though less transparent. Capitalism has separated the haves from the have nots, the lucky from the condemned and the perpetually wealthy from the eternally indigent. The castes we are born into as a result of the life circumstances of our parents and ancestors helps determine the order we will take in the hierarchical chain of exploitation. Few are born lucky; most are born with tremendous obstacles at their feet. These barriers, placed by capitalism and its society onto much of the citizenry, make it almost impossible for the masses to ever escape the chains of bondage clenching their bodies.
Other factors such as the macabre effects of slavery and the introduction of immigrants have also led to the establishment of castes. Slavery set back the black population 200 years, sending its society into the perpetual abyss of enslavement. While many in the white population enjoyed the fruits of free labor, enriching themselves and their progeny for generations to come, blacks became pack mules, not even considered full human beings. Many white companies flourished thanks to slavery, building themselves into prominence riding on the backs of generations of slaves.
When blacks were made free they had to overcome barriers of discrimination, racism, poverty, lack of education and integration into an already established white society. In essence, millions of blacks had to start from scratch, and only in the last decade are the fruits of their struggle starting to filter in a still mostly white society. Poverty has kept the black community down, destined to never eclipse the glass ceiling placed at its head, banished to reservations called ghettos and urban jungles from which there is no escape, no employment and no education.
Whites arrived in America and were allowed to build up a society that evolved for centuries. They were allowed, through the passage of time, to makes mistakes and exploit land and labor. White society took possession of all the lands of the indigenous populations, enriching itself through the mechanisms of free land, free labor and free society, itself free of racism, discrimination and those hindrances that constantly push back black advancements. Blacks have only tasted so-called freedom for 140 years, though they still struggle to escape the caste the effects of slavery has had on them.
Unable to escape their urban reservations, the masses in the black community seem condemned to the caste thrust upon them by the years of subjugation, oppression and exploitation at the hands of the white majority. Without adequate and equal education, access to a semblance of fulfilling jobs, equality in standards of living and the unhindered right to escape their perpetual chains those living in urban squalor will be unable to call freedom into their lives. Equal access to American society, free of the many barriers that have historically been used to curtail assimilation is needed for blacks to say they are on equal footing with their white counterparts.
The above example of the black caste is but one of many that grip American society. The convergence of a child’s family income level with the dastardly quality of education combined with corrosive environmental factors associated with lower castes help create exploitable slaves, gushing out of the conveyor belt of capitalistic opportunism, that are purposefully oppressed for purposes of transforming blue-eyed babies into blue collar workers.
When education is dismal and blatantly unequal in many parts of the country, completely different than those of rich neighborhoods, a child’s future becomes his worst nightmare, but a capitalist’s dream come true. While many children enjoying the great schooling wealth provides will go on to higher education, trained to become the exploiters and oppressors of the lower castes, those clustered with the masses will be squeezed of once vibrant energies, their hopes and dreams squashed through the corrosive cancers of negligent and appalling levels of education. It is these many that will in most likelihood become the slaves of the past and the automatons of the future, exploited for their energy and labor, subjugated by capitalists to continue the vicious cycle of exploitation passed down from generation to generation.
In the wealthiest nation on the face of the planet a seemingly sinister mechanism is at play. It is the vastly different levels of education afforded to our children. Based on where a child lives and on the socioeconomic status of her family, her education will in large measure determine her future. If it wasn’t so obvious, one could argue that what is taking place is the deliberate dumbing down of schools through financial and moral bankruptcy for purposes of making worker bees out of vast segments of the population.
Those in power know that education equals liberation, that knowledge is power. Yet they also know that in order to continue expanding their wealth and power, the masses need to become the exploitable entities that have historically enriched the capitalists’ ancestors. They know that in order to achieve this, the masses must be subjugated and controlled, kept under ball and chain, never being allowed to escape the grip of indigence or the ignorance of enslavement. It is for this reason that the sorry state of education is today nothing but a sinister ploy to oppress and dominate the masses. The calculated dumbing down of education continues the downward spiral of the masses. It keeps us from advancing, from prospering and from knowing what is being done to us and our children.
This vicious circle of exploitation begins at birth and continues into childhood, conditioning the mind and the body for the eventual enslavement of human energy. As adults, our energy drained of hope and dreams, we seem to accept our fates as the slave of the few elite capitalists. Years of conditioning breaks our back as the figurative whips lashing our bodies take its demoralizing toll. From cradle to grave, the caste system prospering thanks to capitalism is succeeding in making us the disposable pack mules of the elite. And through our submissive acquiescence to this feudal apparatus of personal destruction we allow it to continue, to be passed down to our progeny as the system gains momentum, energy and power. With each passing year the system grows, becoming an unstoppable monolithic entity whose life is enhanced through the absorption of our energy and spirit.
Capitalism has made the system perverse and eviscerating. At our and our progeny’s expense the system grows, mutating in power, enhancing the wealth of the few elite, making us exploitable and easily replaceable slaves. After all, an entire assembly line of workers continues to be procreated, slowly programmed through years of environmental conditioning to accept their fates as the machines, mules and eventual slaves of our corporate and capitalistic masters.
The evils inherent in our capitalistic society make it so. The inescapable conundrum hundreds of millions find themselves trapped in is the ultimate devastator of lives, condemning before birth, conditioning during childhood and exploiting for life. The system is at work, forming castes and ruining lives, making us believe in the virtue of an American Dream that has over the years turned into our nightmare.
The American Nightmare
Social classes are today an illusion designed to create the impression that upward mobility, even in this age of capitalistic exploitation, can be easily achieved. The American Dream is one such instrument of deception that, while at one time a functioning reality, now assures those who exploit of the hard and ceaseless work of those seeking to escape their lifetime subjugation. For decades the utopian idea of the American Dream has captivated the masses. Indeed, it is the psychological cog that runs the American capitalistic engine, making hundreds of millions nothing more than obedient producers and consumers whose enslavement is the backbone of the effervescent and continually expanding economy.
The American Dream is the slogan to strive for, the mantra to hum in our misconceived perception of upward mobility even as we delve further into our predetermined caste. It is our battle hymn as we march merrily to work, eager to jump into the next stage of our caste-filled lives. The Dream, implanted from birth through television and culture, has become ingrained in our hypnotized minds as we seek to emulate the perfection we see on the screen. We have become Pavlovian dogs drooling at the fiction we think is within our grasp.
Yet the fantasy we desperately crave and the reality we want to escape are mutually exclusive, never attaining the former and never evading the latter.
The American Dream is the nightmare we cannot seem to wake up from; it is the mirage that grips us until death. In its potential most everyone has been made to believe in; in its promise our minds seem to dwell, unable to escape the wonderment of its hollow assurances. Espoused as the greatness of the American nation, the Dream is but a vacant fantasy for hundreds of millions that cannot, and unfortunately will not ever escape the destiny of their creation nor the predicament of their environments.
Perfected over the last century, the Dream is but that most perfect marketing tool designed to capture those who seek better lives. Espousing the greatness of escaping the caste we have been born into, inculcating into our minds the benefits of a better life, it dictates that our lives become the stress-inducing calling of a drill sergeant. It dictates that we become marching grunts and soldier ants, never ceasing in our commitment to work tirelessly for ourselves, the state and especially the capitalists enriching themselves through their exploitation of our energies and at the expense of our lives and happiness.
By exploiting our emotions, fantasies and dreams, not to mention the greed and materialism capitalism unearths in our minds, the purveyors of the Dream foster in us a sense that what we see is attainable and what we were born into escapable. Like black widows capitalists and exploiters wait for us to become trapped in the web of lies they market, only then striking us down with their venomous poison running through our veins. Our primitive wants and needs become the tools the capitalists use in pushing us towards greater productivity and consumption.
We are pursuing that most noble of American institutions, we are told. The American Dream is within our grasp, if only we work harder and consumer more. The American Dream furthers the enslavement of the poor and working class, entrapping them further into the bowels of exploitation. It advances the enrichment of the oligarchs and capitalists, allowing them increased production through lower wages. Belief in the Dream pushes us toward commitments of greater working hours and harder sacrifice. It fosters the abandonment of individuality and happiness, forcing us to choose our jobs over our lives, our career over our family. But, we are told, if we sacrifice long enough, if we work hard enough, if we give our last breath of air and our last vestige of energy we will move up in the hierarchy, only to realize after years of servitude the futility of it all and the untenable fiction we were led to believe.
In the end we become aware that the Dream has become the nightmare, that our energy has been drained, not for our pleasure and happiness, but for the bulging pockets of the capitalist exploiters. Before we realize where time has taken us, the vigor of youth has given way to the frailty of age and the wisdom of experience opens our eyes to the enslavement we have lived in for dozens of years.
Through the years our masters treat us like the slaves we have become, discarded unappreciated and expendable. If we do not cater to the capitalist demands an entire assembly line of worker ants eagerly awaits to take our place. To our capitalist masters, we are nothing but entities without human emotions or feelings, without lives and families, robotic automatons waiting for the final guillotine to end our working days. They shed not a tear when our Dream becomes a nightmare. We have become complacent and submissive thanks to the tortured lashings of a life working excessive hours, sacrificing our greater good for that of the capitalists, dominated by frustrations and the ever-present demon of exploitation extending its many tentacles over our feudal lives.
Society has deemed it so, for capitalism needs exploiter and exploited, oppressor and oppressed, master and slave. The divergence of polar opposites gives capitalism its nectar and nourishment to continue the vicious circle of perpetually unhindered inequality that keeps the difference between poverty and wealth from ever disappearing from our conscious. Capitalism breathes, lives and thrives through the creation of the pyramid of exploitation, where the few at the top enrich themselves at the expense of the many at the bottom. The charade called the American Dream is the illusion needed to continue our exploitation.
After our first few gasps of air our freedom is relinquished and the assembly line of slaves welcomes in a new energy. Those born in wealth and power go on to become the future exploiters of the lower castes, becoming masters destined to rule those born into the lower strata of society. Those born to be exploitable entities, on the other hand, must suffer the consequences of a society that in their childhood prepares them for enslavement, indigence and inequality. This is the reality of the American Dream, a cruel fiction espousing wealth, mobility and happiness but offering only lies, torture and subjugation.
We are born, luckily or not, into a series of castes, from those untouchables at the bottom to those of privilege at the top, each determining our role in a capitalistic society that engulfs our every inhalation of oxygen and assures that the vast majority will forever be relegated to the chains of enslavement. Thus the necessity of the Dream, of the idea of upward mobility that very few get to ever experience. As long as the fiction of the Dream lives in the hearts and minds of Man, the nightmare will be shielded from ever seeing light. As long as the fantasy that is the Dream lives it will envelope society, making us blind to the dungeons of our workplace and deaf to the shackles dragging behind our feet.
Through the brainwashing of our minds the illusion of what we believe we are is enforced, yet the reality of our circumstance contradicts our dreams and lives. In the end the dream we believe to be living disappears with the awakening of our long slumber of escapism. By then, however, age has overtaken us, our bodies are now fragile and the sands of time have claimed the vivacity of youth as the pulsating energy we once possessed has been usurped by our capitalist masters.
Drill Sergeant Syndrome
It is only natural that a society enamored with violence, its military and the wars, death and destruction it spawns would ultimately espouse a drill sergeant mentality in the functioning mechanisms of daily life. With capitalism acting as drill instructor, shouting commands and demanding obedience from it hundreds of millions of grunts, American society has been conditioned to function in an unsustainable, fast-paced lifestyle that is giving rise to a myriad of psychological, emotional and physical problems amongst the citizenry.
The purposeful manipulation of an entire society in order to make it perform at exceeding levels of rapidity has in the last few decades produced the world’s most powerful economy. Yet hidden in dark closets of silence are the ramifications of embarking on such a fast-paced excursion. At the sacrifice of people’s lives the economy thrives, and to a greater extent the capitalists that run it, having created an engine run on human blood, sweat and tears.
This smooth running machine depends on an exaggerated level of production and consumption that has affected the poor and working classes in severe ways. From birth the masses are conditioned that in order to partake in American society, one must sacrifice life, energy and happiness by joining a non-stop, rapid-paced, never resting, unchallenged and unquestionedway of life. With capitalism yelling commands and exerting control over our minds and lives, we grow up knowing onlythat which has been implanted into our thoughts by a society that has lost all attention span and curiosity, having been trained to think in terms of fifteen second sound bites, flashing visual imagery, channel surfing and Hollywood endings.
Through television children are blitzkrieged and inundated with stimuli that causes drastic changes in our developing primate brain. Images bombard the mind, fiction moves at the speed of sound, and in the sponge-like capacity of the child’s brain a sense emerges that real life is a consequence of the fantasy being watched. The Dream produced on television thus transcends the screen and becomes a compartmentalized image of reality in the young and innocent brain.
As children turn into working adults, the conditioning already deeply entrenched, the idea of a fast-paced, breakneck speed way-of-life becomes second nature. The transformation of innocent child to subservient and unknowing slave has commenced. The robbing of mind and individual thought has been achieved after years of constant propaganda bombardment. With television and society shouting instructions those graduating into the real world become automaton robots whose fluid movements resonate the guiding principles of factory machines. The time to enrich our masters has arrived; the time to become subservient workers is upon us.
Yet what our masters do not want us to know is that with our ever-growing productive lifetimes still more working days can be engendered from our trapped energies. Living more and more each decade, our productivity continues to increase as we remain in the labor market for a protracted number of years. This only benefits the greed-mongering capitalists that squeeze every last ounce of energy from our bodies, milking us for everything we’ve got. Yet if 60 is the new 40, shouldn’t 30 be the new 20? Our working lifetime formula still retains the ingredients of those created 30 years ago, when those aged 60 were considered old and those aged 20 were seen as being in the prime of their working lives. Why when we are living so long today are our young still under command of those beliefs of yesterday while our wise are now entrapped to the new formulas of today?
America’s drill sergeant syndrome pushes us straight into the workforce. No time is given to see the world or understand its complexities. No permission is granted to pursue a voyage of self-discovery or to take advantage of the vivacity of youth to embark on a most monumental and necessary expedition. We only live once, after all, and our youthful energy is not everlasting. Instead, society calls us to arms, pointing us down the road of marching ants and worker bees, automatons and slaves. Drill sergeant syndrome commands us to work, oftentimes for the remainder of our still-energized lives. And so we abandon the world of the unexplored for the world of the slave.
Waking up in the morning, our switches turned on, we robotically perform our daily routines. The engine begins heating up, programmed to never question the reason behind its actions nor the inherent struggle to fight our conditioned minds. As we leave our front doors and garages, escaping the feudal cookie cutter homes we have been provided, we enter the ever-clogged arteries of the capitalistic beast. Rush hour is upon us. Our fast-paced life has been recycled for yet another day. The drill sergeant syndrome once more rises over the horizon like a hypnotizing beam to guide us on our way.
Bumper to bumper, we are forced to endure a river of congestion, breathing in contaminated carbon emissions emanating from the highway saturated with vehicles. Oxygen has been replaced by poison; frustration and stress fill the air. These known carcinogens and catalysts to disease rising from the exhausts of our gas guzzling contraptions are diminishing our years. The stresses of the morning contribute to the lowering of our immune systems, the advanced aging of our bodies and the deteriorating condition of our minds. One and two hour commutes are the rule, not the exception, to be methodically endured morning and evening. We are sacrificing our lives for the benefit of our capitalist masters, sacrificing our precious time on Earth for their profits, power and wealth.
The drill sergeant syndrome affects us every second of every day. With capitalism calling forth commands from its minaret called society, we rush through our daily lives, working non-stop, shedding sweat, tears and blood for the meager wages we receive. Rushing to work, wolfing down disease-ridden fast food, sacrificing family, children, happiness and love for the benefits of our fast-paced society, we are meddling with a human evolution that has not had time to adapt to its changing circumstances. Our psychology cannot handle the speed of our existence, the stress of our experiences or the emotions of our frustrations. As such, the cycle of perpetuating anger and frustration keeps rolling down the mountain of capitalism like an exponentially growing snowball.
Ours has become a society in which time is of the essence, where to simply waste time is frowned upon. As a result, we are filling our bodies with ever abundant supplies of fast-food that are making America the most obese people the world has ever witnessed. Our reluctance to slow down from the always-on-the-move mentality has deviated us away from healthy, though time-consuming nutrition. Our inability to stop and breath is condemning our children to premature disease and prolonged obesity. The vicious cycle of velocity is being imputed onto them as they learn our behaviors.
At no other time in human history has a people consumed so much fattening food. Our bodies have not had time to evolve to this growing phenomenon, nor to the sedentary circumstances of our society where the car has supplanted our legs. Children have never been subjected to such unhealthy meals, and this results from our preoccupation with time, with moving at the speed of light, thereby ignoring our kids’ emotions, health and developing psychology.
The drill sergeant syndrome is transforming our minds and bodies. Living to work and not working to live has become our slogan. The concept of “mañana” (tomorrow) espoused by Mediterranean and Latin American societies that reduces the levels of stress and increases the attention to children is being ignored in America.
Looked upon unfavorably by those entities brainwashing us clean, the concept demands a more relaxed lifestyle, devoted to happiness and life, not work and money. Mañana entails the principle that everything will eventually get done, if not today then certainly tomorrow, that stress is corrosive and that life is to be enjoyed, not abandoned. Ignored in America due to the fact that production, time and work are not maximized or that the belief in not wasting time is not espoused, mañana is marginalized as a method of the lazy, the uninterested and the uninspired. Yet it is those cultures living its philosophy, not America, that can claim to live less stressful and healthier lives, warmer and relaxing societies, and increased levels of happiness.
Drill Sergeant Syndrome is slowly sending American society plunging down into the abyss. Our “Move it! Move it! Move it!” way of life, combined with the “Now! Now! Now!” mentality is altering the capacity of our slow evolving brains to deal with new environmental stresses. We must remember, this Syndrome is rather new, encompassing the last fifty years out of the several hundred thousand of homo sapien’s existence. Our dynamics are shifting, our bodies and minds are not evolving to increased stresses, pressures and environmental factors and the road to the abyss is getting much closer than we are ready to acknowledge.
The human condition demands that we corrupt our future through the sins of the past. It demands that the unstoppable momentum of the human snowball continues on its precipitous sojourn downward, granting the inheritance of all things wrong to those who through no fault of their own are burdened by the massive and ever-accumulating weight of preceding generations.
The drill sergeant syndrome and American nightmare that envelope our society are growing, not diminishing, becoming omnipresent and all-encompassing, capturing our lives and our essence, and entrapping our past and ensnarling our future. American society has been hijacked by capitalism, benefiting only the few at the top looking down at the decrepit view of a people controlled more and more in body, mind and spirit. We are being lied to, deceived and manipulated. The essence of our human existence is being occupied and oppressed by those trying to make automatons of the American public. American happiness is dissipating, giving rise to growing frustrations and resentments, remedied by the vast array of mind-altering drugs our masters kindly provide us so we can forget the reality of our existence and the defecation onto our lives.
The nebula hovering above our minds is slowly drowning us into the deep trenches of the abyss. Whether we swim back up and once more gasp the sweet, crisp air of freedom is entirely up to us.
The Poisonous Tentacles of Capitalism
A living poison embedded inside us fills our lungs and brains, clogging our lifestyles and rendering us unable to stop its progression through our impotent minds. We have been contaminated by the demons of capitalism, and throughout our existence its permutations seep out of our porous bodies to wreak havoc on our lives and those of our loved ones. Unable to excrete it from our lives, the poison grows over time, from our childhood until death, making us feeble creatures under control of the tentacles of capitalism. We seem powerless to stop its thriving energy inside us, allowing it to command and control, influence and exploit. The mighty tentacles have us wrapped in their powerful grip, sapping away our verve and plunging us down further into the dark abyss. Living in the most prosperous nation in the history of the world has made us immune to the troubles afflicting billions of human beings around the globe. Our lands, from Pacific to Atlantic Oceans, have for too long been immersed in the apathetic trivialities and ingrained ignorance engendered by our nation’s excessiveness, lavish wealth, comforts and capitalistic philosophies.
America’s superfluous lifestyle has flourished while that of the developing nations we exploit and plunder diminishes. As a result, we have become detached from a planet that is on the retreat, mostly due to our voracious appetite for land and labor exploitation. A plague of locusts we have become, devouring Earth’s natural resources, polluting its air and exploiting its human inhabitants. Our appetite for material goods is insatiable, our quench for property and possessions suicidal. The fault, however, lays not at our feet but at a capitalistic society that conditions, almost from birth, the dogma of perpetual consumption. For no reason we shop, for no purpose we purchase. American society has been programmed to work ceaseless hours only to spend and return our wages to our corporate masters.
A materialistic society like ours thrives on the consumption patterns of its citizenry. When we give back our wages the economy prospers, when we hold back it flounders. Witness the months after 9/11 when our own government pleaded for us to return to our consumerist, materialistic ways. Make no mistake, our conditioned minds will, at the drop of a hat, sound of a jingle and view of a fictional perfection impulsively and seemingly without analysis or logic consume for products that make no sense owning.
Ours is a society that feeds off our consumerist tendencies, giving rise to an exploitation of our wallets and our insatiable hunger to riddle ourselves deeper into debt. Credit cards give the misguided psychological impression that a purchase does not cost money, since no cash transaction takes place, thereby becoming the greatest ploy creditors have ever invented to exploit less sophisticated shoppers. As a result, Americans are bombarded with credit cards, making the US a nation up to its nose in personal debt.
Yet when society compels us to consume, debt is but an afterthought to fulfilling our materialistic dreams. Unfortunately, our nirvana is born in sin as billions of world citizens, enslaved and exploited in labor, environment and wages, produce the products we most want, sold to us cheaply and conveniently. It is their counties’ lands, also, that are exploited as their forests, jungles, waterways, fauna and air are eviscerated at our expense. The tentacles of capitalism indeed ensnarl the world as well as America.
The poisonous tentacles of capitalism absorb themselves into the caste system, creating ever-worsening levels of inequality and as a result becoming a purveyor of crime. Millions of low-wage laborers are born thanks to the purposeful inequality in education that is despicable at best and criminal at worst. Schools are poorly financed in poor neighborhoods, offering appalling resources and levels of education, thereby exacerbating poverty as the many who pass through their doors will be unable to escape the environment and the caste fate has placed them in. The horrendous level of education in so many American schools is creating a caste of millions, growing daily, that have no option but to become the exploited slaves of the capitalist and corporatist elite.
Unable to escape their predicament thanks to the same government created to help them, millions must survive by working low-wage jobs, seeking welfare or turning to crime. Higher education is an impossibility, thanks to morbid education; escape from their malignant neighborhood futile, thanks to poverty and inequality. Trapped in the reservations they were born into, millions become unemployed as the level of jobs available is outnumbered by the number of despondent citizens. Without doing the math, it is easy to see that scores will live lives unemployed and many, productive, bored, energetic, materialistic and pressured, will out of necessity turn to crime. Combined with the ignorance lack of education breeds, a life of crime will invariably lead to a life associate with the criminal justice system, resulting in the hugely disproportionate numbers of minorities incarcerated today.
To the ones born in such dire environments that are nothing more than assembly lines harvesting slaves, furthered by both government and capitalists, a vicious circle inevitably becomes a living hell, unable to escape, unable to get something other than a token education and unable to find meaningful employment. For those lucky few who can muster work, a life living under the meager salaries provided them only serves to contain a further decline into the abyss of the American capitalistic system.
For the children of millions, the same cycle that befell their parents will be repeated, year after year, knowing that a system of, by and for the people is contributing to their slow and gradual decay. Neighborhoods full of ability and talent, devoid of opportunity and hope. Hidden behind the misery and reality lies a sinister indifference by those who govern and those who employ to preclude the escape of millions from the caste and reservation destiny has maliciously placed them in. This purposeful ignorance of the plight of millions is to be expected, however, as corporations and governments feed off of the same human beings they are helping to condemn. Capitalism needs to exploit, it needs to disembowel, for inequality, injustice and poverty allows it to prosper and enrich its masters.
Love of the almighty dollar has altered our way of living. It has made us tireless workers that have sacrificed our personal time for the benefit of the companies we work for. Granted, slaving ourselves at work might also mean professional satisfaction, yet at whose expense? The most innocent among us are the ones suffering and being severely affected by our willingness to sacrifice family and the vital attention children need in order to satisfy our thirst for power, promotion or the almighty dollar. It is our ceaseless pursuit of money, for those not living paycheck to paycheck, that is threatening the basic fabric of our lives, family and society.
It is greed, selfishness and materialism that are destroying American society, helping it implode in spite of its potential for greatness. Always busy or on the go, parents are leaving the rearing of children either to the television or strangers. The television has become parent, teacher, role model and babysitter to our children. The attention, instruction and discipline humans have historically afforded their progeny is disappearing at an alarming rate, becoming an endangered parameter of society. This inattention that capitalism has created is transforming children’s development patterns, altering their psychology and emotional makeup.
The necessity of parents in a child’s life has, during the course of human existence, facilitated their entry into society and civilization. The young learn, see and hear everything, their brain basically a giant sponge absorbing the world around them. They learn behaviors, discipline, how to function in human societies. They must attach to their parents, feeling the love and affection engendered in the relationship between parent and child, thereby ensuring proper brain, emotional and educational development.
Today, more and more, this is not happening. As parents sacrifice their traditional roles in child rearing for lives devoted to work, children are growing up by themselves, educated by the corporate media, unable to fully attach to a parent. The debacle in public education today can be partially blamed on parents who have failed to educate, discipline and properly rear their children. Also, the long hours a child devotes to the television is having profound effects on their development, as their immature brains are conditioned to fantasy, subjected to excessive imagery and visual/audio stimulation, and as their developing, naïve and innocent minds are brainwashed by corporations in order to create lifetime loyal customers.
It is these factors, combined with other external conditions that are transforming our children’s brains and ways of thinking. Attention deficit disorder in children has now reached epidemic proportions, and, when combined with less parental supervision, is creating severe emotional and developmental problems. In order to control this troubling manifestation, a child is subjected to Ritalin, Valium or other pharmaceutical drugs. These pills are robbing children of their childhoods, numbing their creativity, curiosity and intelligence while repressing normal development. The effects on their adulthood can be drastic. Yet when pills create the solution teachers and parents desire selfishness replaces common sense and logic. It is the children who suffer; it is their childhood lost and adulthood condemned.
The poisonous tentacles of capitalism are omnipresent, affecting us in every way, reaching into every home, becoming an equal opportunity discriminator, afraid of no neighborhood and ready to continue its nefarious control over American society. The examples above are but a few of a vast multitude surrounding our lives, eroding the very fabric of a heterogeneous society. The past has erred, the present continues the vicious circle and it is America’s future that will suffer the gravest of consequences.
Symptoms of a Disease: Pill Popping for Happiness
A fundamental disease has risen from the massive roots of our capitalistic society. From the underground world of hidden truths has emerged a tangible extension of debilitating symptoms that should signal a radical shift in the way our society has evolved over the last fifty years. It has manifested itself, wanting to be made known, sending us a warning over the couse we have taken before our way of life plunges forever into the abyss. A people, lacking inner happiness, robbed of once beaming energy, manifesting increased levels of depression and having everything yet seeking escape through wanting more is a nation calling out for help.
A citizenry that more and more is depending on pharmaceutical pills to alleviate stresses, depression, unhappiness and low levels of energy is a society in trouble. America is undergoing an enormous increase in the number of people who are depressed and unhappy. Millions now resort to one pill or another for a temporary escape that allows demons to subside and frustrations to be shelved away.
Yet the relief is temporary as the chemical effects of the pill subside, releasing from prison the demons that return to once more haunt an ever growing number of Americans. Trouble this way comes when the call for help is millions of prescriptions to help contain the demons unleashed by a capitalistic society that is affecting hundreds of millions of citizens. Turbulent winds of concern are fast approaching, wanting to warn about our self-defeating ways that are eroding American minds, bodies and spirits.
Something is amiss in this great nation, with increased depression, unhappiness and ever-growing consternation. The symptoms of a disease are readily apparent, capitalism and its exploiting tendencies are altering our psychologies, behaviors and lifestyles. Pill popping for happiness is a giant hint that the system is not having the intended consequences we all thought existed. Happiness is the greatest virtue to strive for, depression the greatest vice to avoid. When a society and people cannot be made to enjoy life and discover perpetual happiness then the mechanisms of the system responsible for such failures need to be replaced. For hundreds of millions capitalism has been a system imposed on them, from the moment of first gasps until the time of last rights. We have known nothing different. A chance to see if something better exists has been denied us. Surely a better way exists, encompassing sustainable development, not egregious consumerism, equality, not castes, humanity, not selfishness and communalism, not individualism. Too many people are left behind, denied a chance of ever developing their natural abilities and talents. Too many people become exploitable energies, not much different than beasts of burden. For too long the gap between rich and poor has existed, ever-widening, ever-corrosive to the fabric of society. Humanity’s history has been defined by slave and master, exploiter and exploited, rich and poor. The oppression and subjugation of human beings only creates violence, frustrations, anger and a society devoid of love and peace.
Capitalism is the culprit. It grabs onto our raw primitive emotions, squeezing every ounce of vice available. Our selfishness emerges, our greed perseveres and the humanity we are capable of having vanishes into the dustbins of lost opportunity. The many are being devoured by the few, as has happened through time immemorial, and we are losing out on a multitude of talent and ability that can have a positive affect on us all. Einstein’s are being lost; Mozart’s never see the light of day and in the meantime, ability is hidden while opportunity denied.
Like women, who are finally allowed to prosper and show us the wonderment of their incredible talents, the billions who are forever stuck in their misery and dehumanization must be allowed to escape their perpetual castes. Capitalism only serves to create and expand them. It only serves to divide, to ruin and to enrich the very few. Pill popping for happiness should never be the end result of a system of living that does not serve the many and only contributes to the plunging of a society into the abyss.
Something inherently wrong exists when a symptom of a disease is the unhappiness, depression and pill addiction to the millions who seek to escape the devastatingly psychological effects unleashed by the workings of capitalism. This system destroys dreams, squashes hopes, condemns billions and erodes the very foundations of human existence.
When a child’s idealist dreams of a future job must be scrapped in adulthood as a result of the perceived need to associate money with happiness a wrong exists that must be alleviated. How many of us fantasized in childhood of someday becoming that which we most cherished, only to have our dream dashed when in adulthood we realized that in order to live comfortably money had to be made? Only in jobs that did not suit our talents, likes, abilities, predispositions and dreams could we live the American Dream.
Only by exploiting others could our perceived happiness be assured. Only by selling our souls to the demons of the capitalists could we thrive. Yet inside us remain the last glimmers of hope and the last vestiges of childhood dreams, trying desperately to escape the dungeon they have been chained to for our entire lives. In these dreams lies happiness and fulfillment. In these dreams lies the strength to forever flush down the toilet the pills that fill us with imaginary, temporary and artificial escapes from a reality our minds want desperately to escape.
Capitalism, the demon of modern man is called, meticulously robbing us all of happiness, independence and freedom, evaporating our energies, transforming our lives and slowly plunging us down into the dark confines of the abyss.
Mr. Valenzuela’s new novel is now on sale through Authorhouse.com at Echoes in the Wind Sales Page. A philosophical, educational and spiritual story on humanity and our civilization, as relevant as today’s headlines, this book is almost 600 pages in trade paperback form on sale internationally through secure web page transaction. Additionally, the novel is now available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, as well as other online book sellers. If preferred, the novel can also be ordered at any local brick and mortar bookstore worldwide through the book’s ISBN number, 1418489905.
Manuel Valenzuela is social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst, Internet columnist and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel now published by Authorhouse.com. A collection of essays, Beyond the Smoking Mirror: Reflections on America and Humanity, will be published in early 2005. His articles appear regularly in alternative news websites including informationclearinghouse.info . His unique style and powerful writing is read internationally and seeks to expose truths and realities confronting humanity today. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at manuel (at) valenzuelas.net. A collection of his work can be found visiting his archives and by searching the Internet
This work is in the public domain