Halloween Special: Rationalizing and Forgetting During the Decline of the Empire

The Alberta Oil Sands are going to leave Canada with a sacrifice zone the size of Greece. When irradiated nuclear fuel storage pools are destroyed in a war or a natural disaster, they are likely to become catastrophes that will make Chernobyl and Fukushima seem mild. Pollinating and flying insects are vanishing. Coral reefs are dying. Carbon levels in the atmosphere are rising. Public and private debt are un-repayable. Yet we carry on with the status quo, as if all will be fine if we just pretend there is no contradiction in that strange pairing of the words “sustainable” and “growth.”
Then there are the political catastrophes we pretend never happened. Allen Dulles ran the CIA from its inception in the late 1940s until President Kennedy tried to curtail its power in 1961. He fired Dulles two years before he was assassinated. Afterwards, a compelling body of evidence accumulated to indicate that Kennedy had been killed in a conspiracy within government agencies. The public was confronted with numerous facts that contradicted the official explanation: the direction of the gunshots, the bullet wounds, the strange life and death of the alleged assassin. The president’s arch enemy, Allen Dulles, was a lead member of the Warren Commission that concluded a lone nut gunman did the deed. In all the years that have passed, the population never fully digested the fact that their democracy, to the extent that it was a functioning democracy (see the supplemental texts below), had been thoroughly usurped by the security state.
In spite of all the evidence that there is something deeply wrong with our world and our forms of government, in spite of the obvious fact that our elected leaders aren’t even running the show, people in the “developed world” keep electing establishment figures as heads of state and keep choosing the status quo. There has never been a radical or insurgent party rising up to confront the urgent problems of humanity. It is clear by now that green capitalism is the god that failed, but the green socialist ticket continues to get single digit support at election time.
When an ogre like Trump gets elected, the “resistance” amounts to a controlled opposition, filled with reactionary hysteria in support of the other establishment warmongering party that paved the way for Trump’s victory. The “resisters” swing recklessly at Russian ghosts. Unaware that the CIA itself has perpetrated a psy-op campaign via the corporate media to create their fear, the public begs the CIA and the FBI to re-establish order and dethrone Trump for “colluding with the Russians.” It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just the powerful insiders who couldn’t look inward at their own faults or comprehend how deeply wrong things are. Ordinary folk will gather around the Thanksgiving turkey this fall and argue about whether Hillary got robbed, or whether Trump has dementia. That’s as far as most of the talk goes. The majority is completely overlooking the need for solutions outside the oligarchy’s one-party duopoly.

Where have all our heroines gone?
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)
From Afghanistan, 20 years later, we might also ask, "Where has all the heroin gone?"

How does the population manage to maintain such deep denial for so long? Such questions are always on my mind, even when I’m trying to relax and watch an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my daughter, and as it turned out even this piece of light entertainment from twenty years ago was reflecting my own thoughts back at me. Under the veil of the fantasy fiction genre, it was more capable than television news ever could be of speaking the truth about the denial mechanism operating in the present mass psychosis.
I had noticed that in every episode of the series, vampires, zombies and other assorted ghouls slaughter a few innocents from the local high school, but the mayhem never seems to provoke a change in the community. Life at school carries on as before. I wondered how the writers would keep the larger arc of the story moving forward during the ever-rising body count. But they deftly handled the situation with a plausible explanation.
In one early episode, a gang of vampires has waited for centuries underground for their chance to come back to the surface, strengthen themselves with a feeding frenzy of young blood, then rule the earth for evermore. They invade a local night club where the town’s teenagers hang out, and they instantly horrify everyone with their monstrous visages. The leader then takes a few human sacrifices at center stage. He is watched by all as he sucks the lifeblood from his victims’ necks. Buffy then enters the scene and slays the vampires, the crowd flees from the scene, and the demons are vanquished for another day.
Everyone who witnessed these events has to process their encounter with the uncanny. The next day the kids at school are overheard saying:

I heard it was rival gangs fighting for turf... all I can tell you is they were ugly. And Buffy, like, knew them. Which is just too weird. I don’t even remember much, but it was a freak show.

Buffy listens to them with her two friends and the librarian who are in on her secret, helping her in her mission to slay vampires, and the librarian teaches them a lesson about cognitive dissonance:

Buffy:           What were you expecting?
Xander:         I don’t know. Something. I mean the dead rose! At least an assembly.
Mr. Giles:     People tend to rationalize what they can and forget what they can’t.
Buffy:           Believe me. I’ve seen it happen.
(Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season one, episode two, 41:00~)

Yes, the old librarian perhaps remembers Dallas in ’63. In 2017, we see it again as Americans wander dazed and confused in the halls of their old cold war schools, ranting paranoid fantasies, railing about Russian ghosts contaminating the precious bodily fluids of their democracy. "They spent $100,000 on Facebook ads! How could Hillary possibly match that?" 
The horrible state of national affairs can be rationalized in only one of two ways. The Republicans blame Mexicans and assorted domestic and international demons. The Democrats blame Russians, their own party’s dissenting faction, sexism, and an assortment deplorables, non-voters and third-party supporters. They both conceal or forget whatever they can’t rationalize: the empire is over, wealth inequality is tearing the social fabric, the duopoly doesn’t represent the common folk (the 99%), the national debt is un-repayable, and a combo-pack of ecological catastrophes is bearing down on their world. 
Then again, perhaps those at the top know all this and talk about it among themselves. Perhaps they’ve just decided to keep everyone distracted and anesthetized, and discovered along the way that it isn’t that difficult to do. In fact, the recent “opioid epidemic” seems to be showing capitalism doing what it does best: seeking efficiencies by removing the middleman. Religion used to be the opiate of the masses. Now they just cut straight to it and use a menu of powerful and addictive new opiates as the opiate of the masses.
I could elaborate further, but sometimes one finds other writers who get to the point efficiently, and the best way to close off is with a few supporting quotations and suggestions for further reading.

1. Phil Rockstroh, from http://www.facebook.com/phil.rockstroh  2017/08/10

... the US governmental set-up has been an elitist con job from the get-go. The retailed notion that the nation was a democratic republic was a canard perpetrated to mask the inherent classism and racism that were the true founding principles of the nation... sham revolution simply replaced royalist rule for homegrown aristocratic rule. All the palaver about US democracy is simply a smoke and mirrors trope to distract from the hidden-in-plain-sight fact of the US experience–Class.... Why? ... The fact would give the scam away. Only those born privileged are privy to the liberties and freedoms promised in the US Constitution. Moreover, the wealthy deem true freedom thus: Their right to plunder the bounty of the earth and exploit the labor of the wretched masses in so doing... That is the true nature of life in the US. Sure, the ruling class will pluck a small number of useful and talented members of the underclass to serve their ends... But, to state what should be glaringly obvious–but isn’t to most US Americans–they are the rare exceptions and not the rule. Trump, the psychopath scion of a millionaire capitalist psychopath, is hated by the ruling elite because he is a crude version of themselves–a bloated, bloviating emblem of what capitalism is all about i.e., ruthless, craven, self-serving grifting and other forms of criminality. Trump is the imp squatting in the dark recesses of the capitalist’s forsaken soul.

Same author at Consortium News:

All who are aware are wounded by the apprehension. If you do not take hold of the monster within, he will take hold of you. Both on a personal basis as well as the monster we know as human history.

2. Mike Whitney, “John Brennan’s Police State USA,” Greanville Post, October 21, 2017,

What we know is that high-ranking members of the US State Department and Pentagon threatened Moscow prior to Russia’s military intervention in October, 2015. US diplomats made it clear that if Russia helped the Syrian government, Washington would use the media and its other assets to retaliate... [emphasis added] It will take decades for [Obama’s] influence to be neutralized and wiped clean, if ever. But don’t tell complacent liberals and sycophants like George Clooney, Michael Moore and Stephen Colbert, that Obama–the very embodiment of identity politics–does not walk on water, as that will only piss them off. Their minds are closed. Obama’s evil was and is far more repulsive than Trump, itself off the charts, as Obama’s was wrapped in smooth underhanded demagoguery. Trump, not because he’s by character sincere but because he’s simply coarse and inept, can’t pull that kind of trick off. So he is vile and appears vile. Obama, one of the vilest presidents in history, fooled just about everyone.

“Libya was Hillary Clinton’s war,” Julian Assange said in a filmed interview with me last year. “Barack Obama initially opposed it. Who was the person championing it? Hillary Clinton. That’s documented throughout her emails ... there are more than 1,700 emails out of the 33,000 Hillary Clinton emails that we’ve published, just about Libya. It’s not that Libya has cheap oil. She perceived the removal of Gaddafi and the overthrow of the Libyan state [as] something that she would use in her run-up to the general election for president... she was the central figure in the destruction of the Libyan state, which resulted in around 40,000 deaths within Libya; jihadists moved in, ISIS moved in, leading to the European refugee and migrant crisis. Not only did you have people fleeing Libya, people fleeing Syria, the destabilization of other African countries as a result of arms flows, but the Libyan state itself was no longer able to control the movement of people through it.” This, not Clinton’s “visceral” pain in losing to Trump, nor the rest of the self-serving scuttlebutt in her ABC interview, was the story. Clinton shared responsibility for massively de-stabilizing the Middle East, which led to the death, suffering and flight of thousands of women, men and children.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.