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A Little Box of Bullshit
by Archie Kennedy
Email: akenn100 (nospam) hotmail.com
04 Aug 2005
The spinners and the bullshitters have presented us with a very narrow box to fit inside. But through acting and thinking outside that box, we can liberate ourselves.
The notion that the average citizen should take the responsibility and the privilege of being part of the decision making processes – aside from merely marking an ‘X’ every so often, isn’t really taken seriously. People generally satisfy themselves with the notion that elections satisfy the criteria for a functioning democracy. As a result we have a class of bureaucrats theoretically serving politicians who serve their corporate masters. The citizens that vote are not in this equation. The citizenry are merely the audience and real decision making occurs in a place remote from the general population.
Any notion of real democracy; that is, a society where the people have input into the decisions that affect society is a threat to this order. This order is different than medieval society only in degree, not in kind. The depressing notion that we are essentially in the same boat where we are in service to the masters is, unfortunately, true. And psychologically the servants of today in modern capitalist societies are not much different than the serfs or slaves of feudal tyranny. We tend to look to the master class for direction and find safety in their supposed wisdom. We have learned to defer to them and to psychologically depend on them. We don’t recognize the fact that it is us and not them that create all the wealth and make everything work.
A dog eventually falls in love with his chain.
The 64,000 dollar question is; how do they manage to do it? How do they manage to keep the general public in a state of docile servitude?
To study the answer to this question, it is helpful to watch the people with power and how they communicate to the general population. For example, when they want to do something that may be unpopular and could conceivably start a protest or an uprising, ideas are presented. The masters may want to start a war for instance and they will present their case as to why a war in important. They will instill fear into the general population. The war may be carried out for oil, or to grab billions of tax dollars through arms manufacturing or whatever. The real reasons are never mentioned by those with an interest in the war. What is really impressive is the way they can present the case to the serious minded pundits and intellectuals and the way those same pundits, commentators and intellectuals eat it up. That is impressive. And they, the educated and apparently ‘smart’ talking heads present a psychological hit to the general population.
Here we must examine the art of bullshit; the spinning of fine tales by the media establishment.
To sell bullshit and to have it adhere to most people, it must have the blessing of the educated. The uneducated or the less educated will naturally defer to them and accept that they know better. After all, they are educated. So with careful aim, the professional bullshitters must strike their target, the educated.
It is this class of citizens that are crucial to ensure that the rabble stay in line behind the invisible steel fences. It is the first line of defense. The second line of defense is a tangible force. They need these lines of defense to hold the social order. Otherwise, they, the rabble, may take control and who knows what’d happen then. After all, they ain’t educated.
So the educated talking heads will be paraded out in front of cameras and in very sober and serious tones they will discuss the impending disaster that will befall all of civilization if a war is delayed much longer.
They are there to convince us that the corporations and those that run them are our lifeline. They are our salvation and we need our masters as desperately as the educated talking heads need them. We are all on the same side after all and we must face the enemy.
Another poignant example is the problem of socialized health care in Canada. This is a potential bonanza for the private sector but they have been held at bay for a long time as a result of Canadians’ stubborn attachment to health care. It presents quite a problem. They have been working at its destruction for several decades now and they continue, relentlessly, to slowly destroy it. This is a job for the political class and they have been making impressive headway at times but the socialist monster is as resilient as hell. Their biggest victory has been in the mid-90s when the Liberal government managed to cut funding dramatically. At that time they were cutting public expenditure everywhere and health care didn’t escape the cuts. The system has been limping since that time. Those that have crippled it are quick to point out that it is limping and that maybe private insurance schemes would fix that problem.
Back then, the right wing think tanks like the Fraser Institute managed to persuade Canadians that there is a dangerous deficit that needed reigning in. The think tanks, the politicians and perhaps most importantly, the media, made the deficit a salient and pressing issue. Fear of the massive deficit was instilled into the minds of the average citizen to the point that almost everyone was on board. Everyone began to push in unison for the cutting of social programs and all government spending. At the same time, the same hysteria was being manufactured in the United States, Britain, and most Western societies. We needed free trade and we needed to put ourselves in a competitive position for the lean, mean economic machine known as globalization. To remain competitive we had to clamp down on social parasites like seniors, the ill, and the poor, was the cry. The talking heads convinced us.
At the same time almost 40% of tax dollars went into the pockets of investors that were owed money by governments for loaning the money in the first place. These collectors of interest made off like bandits and this interest collection scheme was never questioned. It was all perfectly legitimate and government workers and the poor and the ill were branded parasites. Government spending was the monster that would devour us all.
That was then. Now there is not much said about the crime of running a debt and borrowing from our grandchildren. There is a war in Iraq and it is costing many billions of dollars. But this money is going feeding wealthy weapons manufacturers. So, where is the media? Where are the politicians that were screaming about the deficit? They are saying nothing because they are part of the same bullshit shell game. They are playing us all for fools.
They have pulled off some impressive displays of bullshit over the years beyond the two examples cited above (the need for war and the urgent need to cut social programs). In a broader context, they have managed to convince the educated talking heads, and as a result the rest of us, that the system that enslaves actually liberates and the very notion of liberation from THAT system will result in slavery. In other words, the capitalist system is touted as liberation itself and the only means of achieving freedom for mankind (sic). Any notion of wealth distribution will result in gulags and forced labour.
Capitalism is liberating for the wealthy but it is not for those that must work in order to survive and especially for those that are poor. Aside from that, it has an ostensible tendency toward freedom of expression and ideas and freedom of movement. But as liberating as capitalism can be, its oppressive nature is obvious and ugly. It is the very nature of capitalism to control people and commodities. Both are involved in the process of exchange; the process that makes capitalism work. People need commodities and capitalism needs to provide them. If it does not do this, it perishes.
Capitalism cannot control everything we need. If it could, it would. Suppose gravity could be restricted or taken away from people. Capitalists and the capitalist state would conspire to make it a commodity. It would be illegal to manufacture your own gravity or to own it without permission. You’d have to pay the legal owners of the source of gravity for it. In a similar fashion, you cannot just put up a satellite dish willy-nilly and grab the signals out of the air even though doing so does not diminish the quantity that is available to the owners of the source or anybody else.
Commodities and services like insurance are controlled by the capitalists with the enforcement of the state to ensure that the citizen pay for insurance and for electricity.
This is the nature of capitalism. A capitalist society is touted as a free society but in fact individuals are held into wage slavery in order to survive and citizens are forced to pay capitalists for their vital necessities. This is not a system prone to freedom. They will hold up totalitarian examples and say, ‘see here, that is socialism’. This is to ensure the idea that ‘anything that is not capitalistic is less free than capitalism’ is swallowed by those that pay and the class that must work in order to eat. The selling of this doctrine is vital to their survival.
It is up to you to see bullshit for what it is. It is up to you to see a shell game and a scam performing before your eyes, especially when it affects your life and the future of your children.
When we accept ideological premises as our own, we must chew them up thoroughly before we can properly assimilate them into our psychic system. On the other hand, if we swallow whole chunks without chewing them properly, we will not digest them. They will make us insecure, defensive and aggressive because deep down we know that we really don’t know what we are talking about, just like the educated talking heads. We have swallowed bullshit whole and that is what we put out. And we know that, like them, we are phony lackeys to a remote master who is located the social stratosphere. To develop an identity that is truly ‘me’, it is necessary to question our beliefs rigorously and to have the courage and the desire to toss out what truly is bullshit and to allow the truth to develop our being. That means we must place our energy, each one of us, into the development of critical consciousness. As a result we will become truly ‘me’ and at that point, the bullshit emanating from the bullshitters will be inconsequential.
Freedom and democracy are not only noble ideals. They are very real and necessary aspects to a healthy and happy life where we have some control and where we are able to take our own initiatives. But we have been cut off from the decision making processes that affect each and every one of us and we have accepted slavery and called it freedom. The spinners and the bullshitters have presented us with a very narrow box to fit inside. But through acting and thinking outside that box, we can liberate ourselves.
This work is in the public domain