Why America Sleeps

By J.S. Porter

“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” ’ George Orwell

“The object of power is power.” George Orwell got it partly right. But not power for power’s sake. Power for money’s sake, money for power’s sake. Orwell’s mistake in 1984 was to pay insufficient attention to the connection between money and power. He obviously hadn’t heard Bob Dylan’s line: “Money doesn’t talk; it screams.”

In the United States, the ones with the most money have the most power. They use the military, the police, the media, the entertainment industry and the education system to keep their money and therefore their power.

A June 7th. 2005 editorial in The New York Times states that “the share of total income earned by the top 0.1 percent of earners more than doubled, while the share earned by everyone else in the top10 percent rose far less. The share of the bottom 90 percent declined.”

Michael Moore got it right in Fahrenheit 9/11: The Bush constituency consists of the haves and the have-mores, more have-mores than haves.

A Times reporter, David Cay Johnston, in “Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind” (NYT, June 5, 2005) writes: “Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes’a minimum of $87 million in 2000’now pay income, Medicare and Social Society taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to 75,000.”

“Those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000.”

All’s fair in money and power.

How do the super-rich get away with it?

Distraction is a big factor (with a little help from smokescreens and scapegoats).

Give the masses TV and movies, cars and alcohol, sports and spectacle. Every once in a while, throw in some fireworks, a little “Shock and Awe”. Large numbers of people can’t tell the difference between the puppets in Team America and the soldiers in Iraq. They believe that both are standing up for American security. They know that there are Dicks, Pussies and Assholes in the world. Dicks (true-blue Americans) have to turn Pussies (liberals) aside to get on with the real task: that of plugging up Assholes (terrorists) before shit spreads.’

Deceit works when combined with repetition.

Tell a lie enough times and it becomes a truth. There are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq’

Reality is what Bush says it is. If he says that there is a social security crisis, there is a social security crisis. If he says that the U.S. gives the most aid (perhaps it does if you count military hardware), has the least pollution, and provides the best health system in the world, then it must be so.

Slogans work.

America good; critics bad. Most discourse is at the level of slogans, soundbites and bumper stickers.

Platitudes work.

The United States stands for freedom and democracy.

Freedom is the freedom to invade and protect monied interests; it’s the freedom to make obscene amounts of money and pay little or no income tax; it’s the freedom to be unemployed or outsourced or bankrupt.

Democracy is making sure that most people don’t vote in the U.S. by making it hard for African-Americans to get to the polls and by making voting as complicated and inconvenient as possible.

Democracy is ensuring that admen, conmen and spinmeisters control the media so there is no analysis, no context, no history for a real debate on the class issues facing the nation.

Give’em that old time religion. It’s better than opium.

If you’ve got it bad here, don’t worry: grin and bear and wait for heaven. Meanwhile, enjoy the spectacle of some (the poor, the imprisoned, foreigners) burning in hell right now. A double pleasure: heaven for you later, hell for the bad guys right now.

Count on amnesia.

Millions of Americans have Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyper-Active Disorder. They can’t remember who they’re at war with, how the war got started or how the wars of the present resemble the wars of the past. The old enemy was communism. The new enemy is terrorism. What’s important is to have an enemy.

“War is Peace.”

The U.S. is in a state of permanent war, a continuous war against Terrorism, represented for now by al-Qaeda which, according to Gilles Kepal’s The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West, is more a data base of like-minded jihadists than a military base of operations.

People need something to believe, someone to hate and something to fear. Between believing, hating and fearing, they need amusement and distraction. Enter Disney, Hollywood, Professional Wrestling, Football and Basketball, Big Macs, Coke and potato chips.

Belief?

What Harold Bloom calls “The American Religion,” which used to be about service and have some connection to the Gospels, is increasingly about personal salvation. The principal concern of the new American Religion is being saved and having one’s own personal Jesus.

The connection between money and religion is an old one in the United States going back to the Puritans. If you’ve got carloads of money, high-rises of money, you were meant to have it and keep it and pass it onto to your heirs. Your money is a sign of God’s favour, of His providence, and further confirmation that God and the super-rich are two peas in the same pod.

Hate?

You need someone to hate. Orwell in 1984 had official “Hate Minutes,” even “Hate Weeks.” Bush has his Axis of Evil: Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Reagan had The Evil Empire, the Soviet Union as Darth Vader.

Fear?

Bush constructs it and promotes it. You wake up each morning in a state of anxiety, not knowing whether the colour of the morning is Red, Orange or Yellow. Strange that the most powerful country in the world is the most fearful and paranoid. Why? Because the super-rich have the most to lose.

Keep people afraid, keep the enemy or bogeyman in sight, keep people amused’distract, deceive, divide— and the middle and working classes won’t notice their slipping standard of living.

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