The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.
—from T.S. Eliot’s Hollow Men
For me the Pessimist is first and foremost a realist who sees too much. Thus the cause of despair. I remember the refrain from the Book of Ecclesiastes which I had memorized as a young man it spoke so closely what I felt. Here is the passage of the King of Israel who in this Book we know as the Preacher: “I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” As I look around at my country I ask myself if we’ve got a chance in hell of democracy continuing. And, by that, I’m not going to get into some diatribe against either the Left or Right. Plenty of bullshit is being written on both sides of the political spectrum for me to add my own crapology to the sinkhole of endless pissing in the wind. No. My hunch is that we’ve got to move past this, we’ve got to rethink not only politics, but what it is as a species on a planet that some have observed is in the midst of both a fierce emergency (Sixth Extinction Event, Climate Change, Global Wars and rumors of more wars, famine, disease, political unrest, etc.) across the globe.
Looking at this scene in Aleppo, Syria reminds me of many of the old pictures of WWII and its aftermath, and how the supposed War to end all Wars was supposed to make the world safe and democratic. Right! We’ve seen the world’s leaders sit back and watch for years, doing nothing, then suddenly decide to allow refugees into their countries. Then retract it and decide otherwise. Rather than creating a stable and protective environment for all on this planet we’ve brought a brutal and cruel world of thugs who can without the blink of an eye bomb their own citizens. And, then when the Superpowers finally step in they do it all half-ass, without plan are notion of what it is their doing. Such is the State of stupidity in the Free World. A world on the brink of economic and social collapse do to this very indecisiveness and lack of courage to act.
Imagine a world where the technological promise of human connectivity is supplanted by forms of surveillance that encourage citizens to actively participate in their own inescapable oppression. Imagine a world that proclaims an end to the brutality of colonialism, all the while continuing to consciously vilify, target, incarcerate, and kill those of a different color. Imagine a world where the forces of militarism have become so ingrained that they are inseparable from the daily functioning of civic life. Imagine a world where the institutions tasked with producing the most brilliant and publicly engaged minds are put to the service of an uncompromising war machine. And imagine a world that has lost all faith in its ability to envisage— let alone create— better futures, condemning its citizens instead to a desolate terrain of inevitable catastrophe. The great tragedy of the current historical moment is that we can imagine this world all too easily, for it is the picture of the world that dominates the realities of our present condition. It is a world most people experience on a daily basis— a world that has become normalized and for which there is no immediate alternative— a world we understand as neoliberalism.1
As I study the situation of both migrant workers, refugees, and immigrants into the First World I ask myself: What if the shoe was on the other foot? What if it was New York City, San Francisco, Los Angelos, Phoenix, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, or any number of cities here in the States or in the EU that were bombed out with citizens scrambling for their lives, seeking to survive, being turned back at the borders of other cities or States? What if it were my family? How would I feel? We are so immersed in images, TV, Internet, Movies… that everything we perceive is at second remove, mediated by the Screen … We are the products of a Screen World, a world where everything is framed, staged, already removed from the cruel and dark emotional tide of pain and human flesh in its misery and spiritual loneliness. We do not feel what these people feel, we can only see – but blindly, for we are not emotionally invested in their lives, their problems. For most of us its: “Oh, how horrible, how sad, how tragic for them…” And, in the back of the mind for many it’s the “Oh, but for the grace of God…” or as a secularist “Oh, certainly glad we lives in such a country that such things can’t happen, etc.”. We have our little fables, our little lies to keep us at a distance from such feelings. We worry over gas money, our hair-do appointments, our kids running shoes, our next dance party… we are so busy with our lives that we can’t stop and think. To think or feel would be just too much. And, of course, many just no longer have the ability to think or feel. A sociopathic culture of indifference, apathy, and affectlessness pervades many peoples actual lives at home or work.
Oh, yes, I could pull out a parade of books to back up all this claptrack. Would that help? Or hinder the truth, that we’re powerless to act in our own world even if we chose too? Really after the recent election where does our power lie? Some take to the streets and protest. Fine. Will that change anything? Others spin the wheel of memes of Facebook and Twitter or any other meme rotary tool available. lambasting the net with pros or cons of the current Presidential selection. Does that do anything? Are we speaking past each other? Whose really listening? Are we speaking to the choir? To ourselves? Telling ourselves endless tales of comparison with dead worlds of Italy and Germany? How does that change anything? Tell me, I truly would like to know? I remember watching Putin come to power, and how he silenced his critics by having them killed. Simple. Quick. Efficient. Do we worry about such things here in the States? Recently Donald Trump brought a group of high-caliber TV Pundits to his High Tower for a visit. As one participant described it:
On Monday afternoon, he had a contentious Trump Tower meeting with another one of his chief adversaries: members of the news media.
In the session with more than a dozen television executives and on-air journalists, Trump was highly critical of coverage of him, according to several people familiar with the gathering. Keeping his voice calm and his tone flippant, he told the group sitting around a conference table that they failed to provide their viewers with fair and accurate coverage and told them they failed to understand him or his appeal to millions of Americans.
Trump expressed particular ire at CNN and at several reporters at other cable networks whom he sees as unreasonably antagonistic toward him, though he did not mention them by name.
The people variously described Trump as “combative,” “proud,” and “dismissive” toward the news organizations present. He also shrugged off the need for a constant pool covering him, they said, although he did not delve into specifics.
Problem with all this Trump bashing is that the Democrats themselves opened the door to it. President Obama expanded the Presidential powers of the Executive Office more than any previous administration, while at the same time castigating the coming regime change and Trump’s coming to power. As Greenwald states it:
…beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them. His administration detained terrorism suspects without due process, proposed new frameworks to keep them locked up without trial, targeted thousands of individuals (including a U.S. citizen) for execution by drone, invoked secrecy doctrines to shield torture and eavesdropping programs from judicial review, and covertly expanded the nation’s mass electronic surveillance.
Blinded by the belief that Obama was too benevolent and benign to abuse his office, and drowning in partisan loyalties at the expense of political principles, Democrats consecrated this framework with their acquiescence and, often, their explicit approval. This is the unrestrained set of powers Trump will inherit. The president-elect frightens them, so they are now alarmed. But if they want to know whom to blame, they should look in the mirror.
Yet, now, once again they decry that very power in the hands of a Republican. Hypocrisy?
I think what bothers me most at the moment is the Leftwing Meta-Narrative and Mytholigization of Trump and his followers. Taking the extreme limits of the spectrum one is seeing the pundits and meme twisters reducing the Trump world to Fascism, comparing him to Hitler and Stalin. Instead of taking the long hard look at their own failures, the Democrats are spending time building up a fear and terror narrative staging Trump as some ultimate dictator in a play scripted by the Democratic Nightmare Squad.
As an Independent it irks me to no end that both parties are stooping into such antics. It’s more like a childish game, but one that has consequences in the real world. What we need is to create a stable and livable environment on this planet where humans and non-humans can share whatever time is left for this earth and its resources. But, no, people can’t push past their ideological punching bags, and would rather sink into fear mongering and terrorizing each other with Horror Stories and Brutal insane scenarios of the future.
Sadly there’s no place to get away from such things anymore. Where would you go? I’ve heard many speak of secession? Pipe dreams… hogwash! Either we learn to live on this planet together, or we will find we will all definitely die together. Caput!
We live in a transitional period that could go either way. At the same time, the narrative world of neoliberal ideology, policies, and modes of governing have become so normalized as if there is no outside or alternative to capitalism. As corporate power replaces political sovereignty, politics becomes an extension of war and all public spaces are transformed into battle zones. Not only are all vestiges of the social contract, the safety net, and institutions of democracy under siege, but so too are all public spheres that support non-market values such as trust, critical dialogue, and solidarity.
One thing for sure is that Democracy is on the line, this time. The Republicans have the House, Senate, and Presidency. Will they destroy it or reconstruct it, and thereby revive it? Most on the Left see ‘doom’, as an Independent and a pessimist realist I’m neither optimistic nor doom ridden, but rather observing and challenging. Doing the only thing I can do speaking out for the working class not matter the ethnic, gender, or class. For those that cannot help themselves. Even though I’m an unbeliever, I still remember that man who once turned over the money changers tables and helped the poor, lame, blind and diseased. And, if he lived now, would probably been as riled up at the current bullshit as I am across this planet and its brutalization of life.
- Giroux, Henry A.; Evans, Brad. Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of Spectacle (City Lights Open Media) (Kindle Locations 138-146). City Lights Publishers. Kindle Edition.