Back in high school, the best essay I ever wrote was based on a favorite book of mine, Brave New World. A world where people willingly submitted to a controlling government and society as long as their personal needs were met. Society was separated by rigid classes yet all were controlled by their pursuit of pleasure. Unlike Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s world was not controlled by fear or a police state but by the manipulation of society’s institutions. Both books were popular but Orwell’s vision was more widely subscribed to. Looking back, it seems we were being seduced down the rabbit hole and into a wonderland. Over time the seductiveness of pleasure and time wasting pursuits has evolved into a tacit acceptance of a totalitarian government….or has it?
Yes, there is far too much acceptance of the Bush doctrine, the Bush torture years, the Bush cronyism, the Cheney police state, the submission of the media, and the list goes on and on. In a way, it’s remarkable that Clinton’s relatively minor infractions dominated the airwaves and the far greater crimes (lying, ignoring laws, the Constituttion, you name it) does not inspire a revolution. We’re still being massaged, too many people are still trying to live their lives as if everything were ‘normal’. Electronic games distract us, flat TV beckons us and the government has mandated digital only TV broadcasting. Not sure why that bothers me, but it does.
The key to a brave new world is that one does not see it operating in plain view. The problem with the Bush Administration is it believed in its agenda and brought it to the open. Under the almost light of day, they are losing their converts and are poised to be swept out of office, if not into jail. But there’s a problem that is not being talked about. It’s the notion that all politicians are pathetic losers who only serve themselves and their corporate masters. The public’s low opinion of Congress encompasses the Demcrats as well as Republicans. A pox on both their houses, leave mealone, got my own problems and besides, the game is on. There’s a great song, Give It To Me, by Rodney Crowell that captures some of this: “Give to me my tax cut outsource / Build me my own private golf course / The Dixie Chicks can kiss my ass / But I still need that backstage pass.” In point of fact, that song is on his latest CD entitled “The Outsider”.
Of course, the media is really of little use as most of the voices of dissent have been marginalized (to the internets). Yes, there are some great opinion columns but that’s all they are, opinion. Occaisionally a reporter here and there raises an eyebrow or an anchorperson raises an eyebrow but not much more than that. The publishers and TV channel owners are entirely complicit. The fact that a publisher and editor of the supposedly liberal NY Times can be persuaded to sit on a story for years, that an investigative reporter who, in his youth was instrumental in exposing lies, can be seduced by power is a searing indictment of an institution we depend on. Media has been well massaged and we are seeing the results. I’ve never seen a transit strike covered so completely. I’ve never seen the stench of dead bodies in New Orleans and Iraq more thoroughly ignored.
The word embedded has entered our language and it seems very accurate. Until, and if, people of conscience who happen to work in government and media take the step of telling their personal story and providing evidence AND getting heard, we stand little chance of throwing off the mind meld that has seduced society. There are a lot of ANDs and IFs. Most of us are still convinced that politics and politicians are the scum of the earth and Democrats are just as corrupt as Republicans. Fact is, some Dems are worthless hunks of plasma. But it’s only some and fewer than many think. There are far more elected Dems who are motivated by doing for the common good, who want to raise all to a table of opportunity while enhancing the environment and who really believe in truth and justice.
I’m not sure if we’re too far down the rabbit hole, if too many of us accept the premise that politicians are bad, and our trust is shot. If so, we’re fair game for the crusader who will come forward and lead us to a higher moral plane. If we fall for that then indeed we are all complicit in writing the final chapter. Those are my thoughts, what are yours?