I’d like to repost a diary I wrote over at Everybody Comes from Somewhere almost a month ago. I thought it spoke to some of the general themes that seem to be emerging on the blogosphere these days.
I’ve never seen the TV show “The Wire” because I don’t have HBO. But I can tell you that later today I’m going to rent copies of the dvd and start watching it all the way through its 4 seasons. That’s because I just finished reading an article by William Hughes over at The Black Commentator that describes a speech by its creator David Simon.
Simon predicts the end of the American Empire as the result of the triumph of capitalism over humanity.
I am wholly pessimistic about American society. I believe The Wire is a show about the end of the American Empire. We…are going to live that event. How we end up…and survive [and] on what terms, is going to be the open question… There will be cities. We are an urban people…What kind of places they will be are…dependent on how we behave toward each other and how our political infrastructure behave…
But what I found most interesting in all this, is Simon’s thoughts about why this is happening:
Continuing, Simon emphasized: “We are in the postindustrial age. We do not need as many of us as we once did. We don’t need us to generate capital…to secure wealth. We are in a transitive period where human beings have lost some of their value. Now, whether or not we…can figure out a way to validate the humanity of the individual…I have great doubts…We (America) haven’t figured out the answers to these questions. I have doubts whether anyone is going to be able to do it…
As for the characters on the program, Simon explained, “Their lives are less and less necessary. They are more and more expendable. The institutions in which they serve…are indifferent…to their existence.”
This spoke to me on so many levels. First of all, like Simon, I see the effects of this indifference daily in the lives of urban youth and families. I keep trying to tell myself that if people knew how these families lived…they’d care. And sometimes I get that confirmation from individuals. But for the most part, the system as a whole gives it all a big yawn. We might care about an individual we hear about, but there is absolutely NO interest in changing the system that continues to put urban families in these circumstances.
Here’s Simon about why…
“I didn’t start [out] as a cynic…,” Simon underscored, “but at every given moment, where this country has had a choice…its governments…institutions…corporations, its social framework…to exalt the value of individuals over the value of the shared price, we have chosen raw unencumbered Capitalism. Capitalism has become our God… You are not looking at a Marxist up here…But you are looking at somebody who doesn’t believe that Capitalism [can work] absent a social framework that accepts that it is relatively easy to marginalize more and more people in this economy…[Capitalism] has to be attended to. And that [this attending] has to be a conscious calculation on the part of society, if that is going to succeed…” If it doesn’t succeed, Simon predicted, “You are eventually going to have the gated communities and the people inside saying: `Isn’t it a shame you can’t drive downtown anymore’. That is where we are headed…[towards] separate Americas…Everywhere we have created an Alternate America of haves and have-nots…At some point, either more of us are going to find our conscience or we’re not.” Simon believes that the city is basically “the victim” of this ongoing brutal process of “unencumbered Capitalism.”
None of this comes as any surprise to me or to any of you. The only question remaining is, can we do anything to change it? Can we find the value of humanity and hold it up as worthy? And what will have to change to make that happen? Its not just in our war zones that we are fighting for “hearts and minds.” I think that it is right here in our midst. I think its about each of us, engaging those around us and challenging the many ways that daily, the value of our humanity is sacrificed on the alter of greed.
Here is the challenge that Simon leaves us with:
Simon described himself as a storyteller. He concluded his insightful and relevant remarks by stating: “The Wire is certainly an angry show. It’s about the idea that we are worth less. And that is an unreasonable thing to contemplate for all of us. It is unacceptable. And none of us wants to be part of a world that is going to do that to human beings. If we don’t exert on behalf of human dignity, at the expense of profit, and Capitalism and greed [which] are inevitabilities, [and] if we can’t modulate them in some way that is a framework for an intelligent society, we are doomed! It is going to happen sooner than we think. I don’t know what form it will take…But, I know that every year it [America] is going to be a more brutish, and cynical and divided place.”
Every year – a more brutish, and cynical and divided place…sound like any place you’ve been lately??