The laborer and the soldier met each other along the way of an old dirt road.
“Where are you bound?” the soldier asked.
“Off to the factory,” answered the laborer. “And yourself, where are you bound?”
“I’m off to the barracks, for the village of Jalapa has revolted and we have orders to go there and crush the revolt by fire and sword.”
“Could you just tell me,” the laborer pressed him, “why these folks revolted?”
“Certainly,” the soldier said with a smile, “I’ll tell you as best I can: all of a sudden these folks refused to pay their house rent, the rent on their land, and their government taxes. When the authorities turned up to evict the tenants and drive the share-croppers off the land, whilst at the same time collecting the taxes, the villagers resisted, stabbed the magistrate, the notary, the gendarmes and the chairman of the town council and all of the officials. They set the archives on fire and atop the tallest building they erected a red flag bearing the inscription in white lettering: “Land and Liberty”.
The laborer shuddered. It occurred to him that these were folk from his own class, the poor and the disinherited, the proletarians who had revolted.
“And you’re off to fight them?” he asked the soldier.
“Naturally,” answered the uniformed slave. “These villagers have trespassed against the right of private property and the government has a duty to protect the interests of the proprietors.”
“But you aren’t them,” the laborer told the soldier. “What interest have you in killing these folk?”
“I have to enforce the law,” the soldier dryly responded.
“The law?!” cried the laborer. “The same law that upholds privilege! The law that is an oppressive burden to those at the bottom and an assurance of freedom and well-being for those on top! You are poor and yet you support the law that grinds down those of your own class. Your relatives, your brothers, your family are all poor. The folk who have revolted in Jalapa are poor who suffer just as you do, as your relatives, and there may well be a member of your family among the rebels!”
The soldier shrugged his shoulders, spat on the grass along the roadside and threw the laborer a look of scorn and haughtily shouted: “the law comes before all else! If my own father were to break it, I will kill my own father, because those are my orders!”
“Fine,” said the laborer, “so go and kill the flesh of your flesh, the blood of your blood!”
The laborer and the soldier continued on their way in different directions. The former was off to toil for the greater enrichment of his master. The latter to kill so as to see that his master might enjoy “his” wealth in peace.
Jalapa was a hub of activity, of rejoicing, of boundless enthusiasm. The sad faces of the evening before had disappeared. All of the villagers were on the streets celebrating the day of freedom. One old man was haranguing the crowd like this:
“Comrades: now that every one of us is his own master, let us celebrate our victory! Let us draw up an inventory of everything in the village and its environs so see what we can call upon in terms of provisions and tools and then, like brothers, and once we have celebrated our success, let us set to work to produce what is useful for all and…”
Not that he got to complete that sentence. A shot rang out and the old man, mortally wounded, fell, never to rise again, his face turned towards the sun.
The soldier had killed his own father.
-Ricardo Flores Magón, “Regeneración”, June 1st, 1912
A Short History of the Current Status Quo and the Illusion of Media Bias
One of the toughest things to deal with, living in America, is understanding origins. So much of how you view the current society, whether it be it’s successes or failures is based on the postmodern POV where race, class or gender serve as the primary way in which you interpret reality. This works of course, as long as you think and base your ideas, primarily on your self-identified group…however, if you’re like me and have a distrust of group think, you realize that reality is much harder to understand in this day and age.
Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon is the media. The media, or the Main Stream Media, mostly consists of a couple conglomerates who own Hollywood and Television programming. When you talk to people in major groups, they almost always view that the media exists to be their antagonists. Many black women for instance see the media as the avenue in which the white standard of beauty is exported to other countries, in other words the media favors white women. Many white women view the media as a tool that is used to create impossible body standards for young women, in other words, the media favors models and women who are famous, but on the low have bulemic tendencies. On the left, the liberals view the media as a tool used by the wealthy and the corporations to deceive Americans into being consumerists. To the conservatives, the media exists to prevent the spread of conservative ideas and to make progressive ideas normal. To the black activist, the media exists to spread the religion of white supremacy and to also portray anything originating from black people as uncivilized. To the white nationalist, the media exists to denounce European culture and values, while promoting the spread of multiculturalism and raising the influence of minorities in the culture, at the expense of white people. Can all these be wrong? Can all these be right?
The fact remains that when so many people can come to such strong conclusions about something, and all have very strong beliefs that what they are seeing or getting from the media is true, usually means, that people are seeing their projections, far less so that reality itself or in it’s entirety. What we all know and is relatively undeniable, is that the media exists for advertising. And advertising exists to get you to buy stuff. A good question to ask, and which will probably not get asked by most, is do victimized people buy more products, because if this is indeed the case, I think we know what the greatest trick the media ever pulled - to make you believe that it cared about you.
To understand how this trick developed, and how we’ve come to this stage today, where reality is so hard to decipher, we first have to understand how it came to be, and as with most major changes in human society, it always begins with an idea:
For most of American History, the primary driving force that drove everything was pretty much money. America was a commercial society, and even with and without slavery that driving force of commerce drove America to becoming the most powerful nation to ever exist. Many conservatives would say that America’s rise was due to being a Christian nation, this is false, since most nations in Europe were Christian, what made America separate, was it wasn’t defined by one religion…it’s also highly unlikely that a strict Christian nation, would’ve elected it’s first president as a Free Mason. The progressives would say that the rise of America, was due primarily to exploitation of black slaves, and imperialism, this is more seductive, but America actually became far wealthier when it abandoned such things. Basic economic shows that it’s better to have workers than have slaves. Slavery is irrational, especially in an industrial society. So yes, it was the ignoble pursuit of money among all free people, whether they were laborers or industrialists that drove this country for most of it’s history…until something changed.
The 1950′s are a time in American history that most would view as the time that the American conservative, can proclaim America was closest to it’s utopia. The 1950′s marked the decade when America had risen to superpower status and the rest of the world looked to it for guidance. It was also a period where Unions and Corporations were in close enough balance with each other, where one wasn’t trying to gain a major advantage at the time. However, within this period two things would occur that would greatly change the direction of the country would go in the 60′s that is responsible for the way we view the world today.
The first major thing that happened was an event called Sputnik. Sputnik was basically a satellite device that was able to go to space. The hysteria that came about this was amazing. At the time, this was the cold war, and the fear that the Soviet Union was powerful enough and more scientifically advanced than America, made people fear for their own destruction. This marked a change in the American society, that the pursuit of money, was no longer sufficient to satisfy the survival of the nation or human needs. A shift began, where a lot more focus was put into the building up our universities and research agencies with government funding, we now began to see people being encouraged not to try to figure out how to make money as early as possible either through entrepreneurship or apprenticeship for jobs, but rather, as people who could contribute to the greater economy by getting an education. In other words, we began to see the rise of academia as a powerful force in shaping out society.
The second thing that happened, was a book was written by an Academic called the Power Elite. The Power Elite was a book that pretty much claimed that contrary to what many people expected, Academia, Government, Corporations and even the Unions in America, were all in cahoots, trying to expand the reach of American power, and were all getting rich in the process leaving the rest of the people behind. This book, when it first came out didn’t have a massive effect, but in the period after the assassination of JFK in the 1960′s, it would come to define the direction of progressivism in the U.S. It would also mark the divide in Academia between conservatives and liberals that still exists today, and is at the core of what drives the mess we are in today.
These two separate events would shift America’s focus from being a wealth oriented commercial nation, where the average citizen concerned himself primarily with the amount of money they were making, to a nation, primarily concerned with education and security through social planning (even on the right, this was the case, they just wanted to do it with police rather than education). Today we take it as an axiom, that education, despite it’s costs, is what drives the economy and without it, the public would be stupid and dumb…like many intellectuals, we tend to believe now, that the vast majority of people need to be forced to learn and that the incentive of wealth and survival are insufficient incentives to learn what one deems useful to get a job done.
When the 1960′s came along and there were multiple assassinations of mostly liberal politicians, the ideas of Power Elite aka the system began to have great appeal to young college students, who were increasingly getting frightened that they were going to get caught up fighting in a pointless war in Vietnam. The other problem was the major situation that black people were dealing with in the in the South. Despite all the great economic growth in the 1950′s, black people who mostly lived in the south, were being denied a chance to participate due to the tough restrictions put on them with Jim Crow. When some were able to move to the North, they also faced suspicion, because laborers viewed them as cheaper labor alternatives, so most of them were denied the ability to make a serious living. This is why the protests and riots in the North were far more vicious than in the South, because those who came to the North had hope, and hope denied is always replaced with rage.
The hopelessness of black people as a group, the poverty they lived with, not to mention the assassination of many talented black leaders as well as liberal politicians, created a sense of validity that there was powers working that were responsible for the way the world works. And thus, there was an increasing desire to fight against the system, or the Status Quo. At that same time though, seeing all these protests and criticisms of American culture that were leading to younger adults engaging in experimental lifestyles, triggered a reaction that would come to be known as the conservative movement. Similar to the left, the conservatives, saw or came to believe that there was a distant Status quo, not an imperialistic, but as something that had been bought and paid for by communists or globalists, who wanted to rob America of it’s sovereignty. Though, these two groups would come to battle and dominate our current political climate, they both came to the conclusion that there was an external or hidden force that was influencing reality and that most of us were similar to sheep, and we were living in the Matrix - where they differed was who they thought the enemy is.
It is interesting that all of this began in the age of television, it might be fair to say that television created this political divide. The desire for law and order, was what shaped what the right would be in future: from prohibition laws, to tough prison sentences. The amount of money and power put into the judiciary to deal with crime during the 70′s and 80′s, would lead to America becoming the number one nation in the world, in terms of chances you would go to prison. All this in the name of law and order.
On the left, the idea of being a permanent revolutionary was born, and the enemy in this case was the right: which defended the corporate status quo, and wanted to maintain WASP culture and WASP values. There was pretty much an assault on WASP culture throughout the 60′s and 70′s, this is how eastern religions, the new age movement, the drug culture, the sexual revolution, these all took prominence on the left, and for the most part, were more a result of the war with the status quo than an actual enlightenment that took the world by storm. In general, when one is at war with an enemy, despite the initial cause of conflict, the fight always ends up being total in it’s nature.
In America, historically speaking, the desire had always been to be left alone and to make enough money where you could generally fend for yourself and those you cared about…in reality, this is what the American dream actually is, and it’s not bad actually, that a society would embrace such a simple idea that as long as you focus on work and mind your God damn business, society will function fairly well…however, there’s nothing sexy about that, and definitely not something that an academic can write a research paper on. This was the initial dream that pretty much made American citizens the envy of the world, and is ironically, what most immigrants still think America is, but that isn’t what America is anymore. It’s a society obsessed with empowerment and victimization: where empowerment is needed to defeat the group that is victimizing you, and where the media serves solely as the evidence that you are in fact being victimized.
The cycle of empowerment and victimization is pretty much what drives disperse groups today and what is responsible for our political divides. There are divides in a culture all the time, but there is a difference when the divide is about money, which is negotiable, always has been always will; power on the other hand is not negotiable and never has been, it can only be taken away. When you have groups completely dedicated to exercising power over other groups rather than being left alone and having the freedom to make money and take care of one’s affairs, people begin to sit back and try to design ways in which they can one-up each other, which is a non-productive use of their time.
And no where are we most likely wasting our time pursuing ghost that aren’t there, but which we want to be there, so that our narrative can make sense. So that is what the media is, our tool for making narratives, which motivates others, politically, but in the end, wastes our time, as all wild goose chases do.
Behold the awesomeness that is Baby Hulk on the Houston Bowery Wall in New York. This outstanding mural is the latest creation by legendary American pop artist Ron English (previously featured here). Baby Hulk, also known as the “Temper Tot” and “The Incredulous Hulkboy,” is one of English’s most recognizable characters. For this piece English placed him in front of an American flag made of countless satirical commercial propaganda pieces.
Head over to WHUDAT for additional close-up and process photos.
Join Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace on our weekly antiwar walk around the lake in Oakland. Every Sunday at 3PM.
We start and end at the colonnade between Grand and Lakeshore Avenues on Embarcadero. [Near the Grand Lake Theater]. https://www.facebook.com/LakeMerrittNeighbors