Monday, August 11, 2008

Americans wait for the big smackdown

http://beinart.org/artists/alessandro-bavari/gallery/alessandro-bavari-6.jpg art: Alessandro Bavari

Mr. Bageant,

Thanks, asshole, for writing a book that makes me feel so fucking miserable I could cry. For all the redneck jokes I've heard and the feel-good superiority they engender for having been born into a northern Virginia culture, yet rising above it, I now feel like a traitor to my class. I feel a compulsion to do something more than merely espouse liberal values. I feel a need to do something about them, and I thank you for awakening me to this need.

Your book, Deer Hunting with Jesus, is the most profoundly moving social tract I have ever read. To me, it ranks with Thomas Paine's Common Sense as a call for social justice.

Jim
Georgetown, Texas

------

Jim

Well, I'm not sure one is a class traitor just because he or she utilized their potential on the only terms offered. I think it's more a matter of a society maintaining a sense of ongoing interactive compassion for its members, which of course starts on a one-to-one basis.

In my humble opinion, it's like this:

We are told that freedom is entirely individual. Which means we owe nothing to any other man and they owe us nothing. That leaves us all to depend upon the government for any broad measures of human care and development. That also leaves us isolated from one another for lack of normal human connectivity through mutual responsibility and care of one another, which is the real conduit for human growth.

Having a government that is essentially a global corporation, the emphasis is naturally upon productivity and profit and maintaining a disposable work force at the least expense. Societal support systems are expensive -- schools, health, etc. So we slash 'em or dump them altogether.

Meanwhile, our isolation from one another as the body whole is rewarded in accordance to our usefulness to the state. A professor is more useful than a backhoe operator because a professor can disseminate the state's free market message or its officially approved history, or any number of things to future generations. The professor -- and life for educators these days is not easy -- is rewarded with goods and commodities and a more pleasant social atmosphere, and at least some degree of economic security.

The professor is not a bad guy. He is just living in the world as it presents itself to him during his life. But the established career paths, lifestyles, and cumulative subjective experience leads to further isolation from the whole of society, undermining the collective perceptions of society itself. And after a while the interpretation of freedom as individual and non-responsible for the outcome of our fellow man eats away the very cohesiveness, the very weft and warp of any approximately free society. The so-called individuals become mere moving parts in the great faceless state machinery.

As Mario Savio said back in the Sixties, the time comes when we must throw ourselves onto the machine and stop its very works. To me, that time has passed. An opportunity was missed because the keen edge of liberty has been dulled in Americans through satiation of the senses and overload of plentiful but meaningless material goods. Which leaves us to watch the whole sad miserable machine come to a slow halt, then collapse, due to unsustainability and a host of other factors.

In the end I believe societal awareness and compassion will be achieved (assuming it is ever achieved) the same way our numbness was arrived at. Slowly, very slowly. Personally, I give this country about 40 years. It's too big to fall apart in an instant and all sorts of makeshift means will be used to prop it up, including increased force and state generation of public fear, and elimination of privacy.

I find it very interesting that so many more advantaged American citizens do understand what is about to happen, but believe they can buy their way out of it by accumulating wealth. As if genuine danger did not threaten everyone equally. Naturally our nation as corporation is making a profit on their fears even as the state cranks up the fiat money machine and their sequestered dollars become increasingly worthless.

Ya know, as much as Americans want to see everything in black and white, there ain't no bad guys causing all this to happen from behind some curtain. There is only us. All 300 million of us. Even as mere moving parts we are mutually dependant upon one another for survival. In fact, especially as mere moving parts. In some relative unison AFTER the big smackdown of American numbness and hubris, we just may have enough sense to choose to be parts in a different machine altogether, a more compassionate and fair one.

In art and labor,

Joe

Source: http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2008/08/americans-wait.html#more

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