The Voting Malaise

“I’ll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. ‘I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.’ ‘ I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.’ ‘Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding out both puppets!'”

– Bill Hicks, Philosopher-Comedian

“John, you have to vote!” I still hear this line a lot from friends and family whom I love, and who I consider both intelligent and well-meaning. They typically understand that the corporate-sponsored US Government is hypocritical, bought-out, corrupt, and war-mongering, yet they still arrive at the bleak conclusion that investing in the mainstream political melodrama is the best possible alternative. For example, let’s briefly evaluate the pro-Obama camp: If we re-install Obama, maybe Medicare & Social Security will survive a bit longer. Maybe our constitutional and inalienable rights won’t be stolen away as quickly. Maybe the economic looting of the “citizenry” can be regulated. While no real historical or contemporary evidence actually supports any of these false notions, I understand why people think and feel this way.

I don’t want the less fortunate to go without either, and on a base level I want a fair slice as well. Obviously a Neo-Con/Republican would screw us over in a more brazen fashion, and obviously the Romney/Ryan pact was forged by Lucifer himself,  but that does not eliminate the fact we’re obviously being exploited by the current “Liberal” Administration. At their core they embody the same aims, goals, and psychology as their “Rivals”. They both serve the same economic master. We are merely the human resources, collateral to be dealt with, pawns in their game. The Corporate-State and it’s team of paid actors are not in place to serve you or me. I for one refuse to be taken advantage of anymore. I refuse to keep propping up the Feudal States of America.

“And Help Perpetuate The Slave-Based African Diamond Economy While You’re At It!”

Giving into the “Vote or Die!” paradigm is basically representative of an abused, fearful, and dis-empowered person. We have been so bitch-slapped as a population, and have become so meek and helpless as a result, that we have literally developed what Joe Bageant called “Stockholm Syndrome of the Soul.” We now relate to our captors more than to ourselves. We are unable to imagine better solutions. We have passively become agents of imbibed values that are not our own.

It does not mean the dis-empowered are unintelligent, unlovable, unlikable, or without value. It simply means that as of now we cannot handle freedom, nor do we truly want it. We simply pretend we do. If we truly, deep down, did  want it we wouldn’t hand over our sovereignty so readily to the least among us. If we had genuine self-respect we wouldn’t allow it to happen. Since we no longer pursue freedom, we now yearn for “Security” because we are never allowed to self-actualize and grasp the power each of us has to change our world for the better without an intermediary. We are constantly kept within a dense climate of fear so that our development as human beings is stunted. We have been made into zoo animal consumers, no longer an active or engaged citizenry capable of handling our own problems. Voting is not engagement. Watching “The News” is not engagement. Watching the Daily Show is not engagement. These are all displacement mechanisms for avoiding the work that needs to be done (internal and external, low-impact and high-impact). We need to leave the denial behind, and self-actualize. Or if you prefer, stay trapped on the Animal Farm.

Americans constitute approximately 6% of the world’s population and consume somewhere between 25-30% of the world’s resources. When we are not over-consuming at the expense of others across the globe, we allow “our” Government to create ungodly amounts of bloody conflict and disfigurement among other cultures to maintain “Our Way of Life”. It does not matter if a Democrat or a Republican is in office, the agenda remains the same. We cannot consider bipartisan government-sponsored genocide as “just another issue”. Even “citizens” who do not support over-consumption and war are at the very least complicit by engaging in the mainstream political theater.

The devils bargain most of us have agreed to is summarized as follows. First, vote one of us into office. Then give us your tax dollars at gunpoint. After that let us use those dollars to kill, rape, torture, and steal from other people you’ll never know or see from across the ocean (or the Mexican border) and we will throw you some political scraps and provide you with the illusion of security. We will prop up whats left of Medicare and Social Security for you (for now). Just shut the fuck up, turn on the TV, and let us deform another generation of Iraqi children with depleted-uranium shells. Let us fill another 25% of the worlds ocean with garbage. Let us destroy almost everything (culture, diversity, biosphere) so that you can feel temporarily at ease in this unstable world (instability that we in fact manufactured). We have arrived at the final devolution the Milgram experiment.

Milgram Experiment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwqNP9HRy7Y

Time to get our hands dirty, do things for ourselves, and cut out the middle man. Solutions I proposed in my prior essay are a decent starting point. We can do it. We the people are the creative force in this Universe. Governments and Institutions merely co-opt the value we create. You and Me. Me and You. We are One, but we are also separate, so I can’t do the work for you. The longer we continue to stay alienated from ourselves, each other, and stay mired in denial about what we are actually doing/accomplishing, there is no hope for the future. No inherently unstable economic “safety net” can keep you safe when reality comes knocking. We live in the softest dictatorship on earth, fighting back can be as simple as disengaging (ie No TV, No Shopping, NO VOTING), then moving on from there. No more excuses. Vote or Live? You decide.

Advertisements

4 comments

  1. Of course the difference between the two parties and two candidates is not as substantial as it should be. Regardless of who is elected, we’re still going to be a corporatist, imperialist nation with massive income inequality who leads the world in imprisonment. That being said, there are still substantial differences.

    In no particular order

    Obama’s immigration policy doesn’t include military service as a method for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship.

    Obama doesn’t consider the mere thought of Iran developing nuclear weapons the “biggest threat to our security.”

    Obama doesn’t plan on turning Medicare into a voucher program

    Obama isn’t going to cut funding to Planned Parenthood

    Now of course, these things might happen anyway if Obama is re-elected, he doesn’t have the best track record of keeping his campaign promises, but surely the chances of such draconian policies being past are lower with him in office as opposed to Romney. That alone is worth the half hour out of my day to vote, plus I’ll be voting in state and local elections at the same time, so why not?

    Why do voting, watching the Daily Show, or the “news” have to be displacement? When people *just* do these things and fail to mobilize or even converse about current events (for lack of a better term) then perhaps they’re just being used to to make people (specifically Establishment Liberals in this case) feel comfortable and complacent.

    These things aren’t the be-all and end-all of engagement with our society and it is troubling when they’re used as such. But, I think they can all supplement meaningful engagement. I think writing and conversing about the things you’ve written about hear and the sort of subjects we often discuss are completely legitimate forms of engagement. I agree that people *should* keep the big picture in mind. We can’t go vote and feel like we’ve done our duty for the next 2-4 years and ignore the problems that plague our society and world until the next time we’re told to start paying attention.

    I agree with a lot of what you’ve said here, John, but I don’t understand how not voting does anything whatsoever. If not a single person voted, they might get the message, but I don’t think the winners of election care too much about how many people voted, as long as they win. Hypothetically, say 50% of current voters decided not to vote, where does that leave us? There would still be a winner and a loser and someone we don’t like would still be inaugurated. I don’t see why they would care, especially if they’re not serving us anyway. Even if we don’t vote, we’re still complicit. Not voting is, essentially, still voting. We can’t wash our hands of the latest human rights travesty inflicted by our government because we didn’t vote for him/her/them.

    I guess I’m pretty cynical, but I don’t think drastic change for the better is going to happen. We could if we were all aware and worked together, but that’s just not going to happen. There are too many dummies, too much money thrown around to fight any sort of progression that the most we can hope for is incremental progress, which I do think is worth fighting for, it just probably won’t be enough.

    I am left wondering what you think of leisure activities. I mean, surely you’d agree that even the silliest fiction least rooted in reality has value, but where do you, personally, draw the line? If we *really* want true, large-scale progress, do we need to have (in Mad-Eye Moody’s words)constant vigilance?

    Anyway, that’s enough from me for now. I think it’s great that you’ve started this blog and I hope you keep it up. You’re making a difference, even if you don’t have a large following of leaders, which I think is all we can really ask for. Look forward to your response and seeing your videos. Thanks for the thought-provoking read.

    1. Here’s a bunch of stuff on the subconscious mind:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leonard-mlodinow/subconscious-mind_b_1468263.html

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2440575/

      http://exploringthemind.com/the-mind/brain-scans-can-reveal-your-decisions-7-seconds-before-you-decide

      http://www.lifetrainings.com/Your-unconscious-mind-is-running-you-life.html

      http://www.briancollinson.ca/index.php/2011/01/consciousness-unconscious-mind-and-neuroscience.html

      A brief comparison of conscious mind capapility vs. unconscious mind capability by a theoretical physicist:

      The conscious mind is a serial processor; it is extremely fast but still perceives snapshot by snapshot, serially. It essentially has been fitted to the single photon interaction, as has Aristotle’s three laws of logic. The problem is in the operation of conscious perception itself, not in nature which is not limited to just serial processing.

      The unconscious mind is a massively parallel processor, so it can have many “different slides or snapshots in the slide projector” at the same time.

      The unconscious (massively parallel) perception can handle both snapshots simultaneously. The conscious mind only can see a single marble at a time, so it will see one or the other.

      Jerry Mander on the nature/effects of TV on the human brain/nervous system:

      I think trying to defend TV as some kind of neutral technology is like trying to argue that an M16 is a neutral technology. Sure you could own an M16 and potentially defend yourself from an intruder, but its only purpose is to kill people. TV may be used for more benevolent ends, but at its core its a device that was created to infiltrate and seed the human mind by means of a one way/authoritarian communication, not an active, thoughtful dialogue.

      “Are you swearing off all comedy, then? I’m not sure I understand your line about not needing comedians anymore.”

      Nope:

      “I understand seeking out documentaries, cerebral shows, even a bit of straight-up entertainment now and then that does not integrate blatant advertising is OK, I do the same”

      I’m not saying that comedy is not worthwhile; I’m just saying most comedy nowadays has reached the point of diminishing returns.

      ”It enriches our lives by teaching us, opening our minds, making us more empathetic, and provoking us to create art ourselves”

      Yes, completely true. I would say that stuff like Simpsons and TPB fit that bill. But most American humor has just become one-dimensional, stagnant, divisive, redundant, etc. Daily Show/Colbert is probably still some of the best writing around, but I don’t see it as educational, mind-expanding, building empathy, etc. To me, it feels more like an artifact of our talking-heads/partisan/echo chamber society where each side feels inclined to make every bullshit issue into some melodramatic “liberal vs. conservative” charade (even if done with humor). It’s just another show encouraging you to pick another dogmatic-ideology to adhere to, not encouraging you to seek out or craft a belief system that integrates what’s good from the Left with what’s good from the Right. We need a holistic, non-partisan synthesis of ideas to create a better future in this country, not fundamentalist “my side is right, your side is wrong” nonsense that is completely pervasive. If we actually want to create a durable future for later generations here and around the world, we need to stop indulging in this superficial political game because it does not offer real answers to our problems. If you have it at the store, please steal/read Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy.

      BTW FYI Niki and I are coming home 12/20/12 – 1/2/13. So see you then. Take care my friend!

  2. Didn’t respond to everything, but I hope this partial response does your excellent one some justice:

    1.In regards to displacement, I think you mostly answered your own question when you said “they make people feel comfortable and complacent”. That’s a really dangerous notion for a supposedly free society. Really what are we gaining out of watching anything that is scheduled TV? I understand seeking out documentaries, cerebral shows, even a bit of straight-up entertainment now and then that does not integrate blatant advertising is OK, I do the same, but what is everyday TV like the Daily Show, etc, telling us/educating us about that we don’t already know? We already get that it’s a big joke. I just can’t see how it’s not a big waste of time anymore. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a sense of humor, but I guess I’m just exhausted by the redundancy. I have enough to laugh at about myself and everyday life without needing a comedian to stimulate me anymore. We take for granted that there is so much more about the world and life worth educating ourselves about. I believe the stuff that people neglect to study is what holds the key to our collective liberation. Considering how truly precious a commodity time on earth is, I think other alternatives such as sitting in quiet meditation (what I’d call “low-impact engagement”), reading philosophy, or even watching educational YouTube videos all day is an exponentially better use of one’s time. I think we never really get in touch with ourselves otherwise, and will never unlock emotional and psychological potential that lays dormant. I think work, family, stress, and so on already consume enough of our precious brain energy, without us giving more away to pointless political processes and TV. Beyond this, spectating in general is a highly passive preoccupation that subconsciously influences our development of passive habits. One of Terrance McKenna’s golden tenants is “do not watch”, because felt experience is the only true thing. Studies show 90-95% of our behavior is guided by subconscious programming that we are unable to filter. Therefore, not only do we need to be consciously vigilant, we need to cut out certain things entirely so they don’t bury themselves within our subconscious unknowingly. So in that regard I cannot see standard TV programming as supplemental, or neutral, but rather a step backward that hinders our development.

    2.In terms of voting vs. not voting, I agree that it is not much of a time investment (but you already know how I feel about even small blocs of time). I also agree it won’t “change the world”, but I still think it’s important. I see it as an act of identity-reclamation. Returning to a prior point, I see tons of value in breaking subconscious mechanisms that control our everyday behavior. If I’m truly about establishing principles, why am I doing something I don’t believe in at all? I don’t think I’m truthfully helping anyone by doing it. I’m flat out unconvinced that either candidate really sets their own agenda at all. I see it all as deceptive theatre meant to manipulate us. However extreme or moderate a candidate appears at any given moment is purely a byproduct of what their economic masters are demanding of them (ie telling them what to do). Democrat, Republican, they’re both just brands. There is zero substance, and zero decision making power underneath. Their differences in rhetoric are simply to get us fired up, and goad us into engaging in the sham process. We don’t have to agree that a secret cabal actually runs the show, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to prove me wrong on these points. I think this is probably the issue that fundamentally divides us. We sync up on almost everything else. That bums me out a little, but I’m OK with it. I just feel personally like I’m being made a fool of by these assholes, and I won’t be compromised/guilt-tripped/deceived anymore into thinking Medicare or Social Security is going to fall apart because I didn’t vote the “right guy” into office. It is their fault if someone doesn’t get the medical attention they need, not me, not you, and we had absolutely no power to change that fact through the political process. Those safety-net systems will go away when the puppet-masters want them to go away, not because either Obama or Romney is in office. Politicians are actors, politics is theatre, and I don’t think anything they say or supposedly “do” is real by any stretch of the imagination. I just can’t see it as anything but an elaborate front. This is ultimately why I think it’s on us to establish our own local systems to make sure people’s needs are met. It’s a tall order and not easy, we’ve been neck-deep in shit for a long time, but it’s far from impossible. Numerous communities have done it and continue to do it successfully. The issue is personal empowerment and shaking off political distractions as I see it.

  3. I’m not ready to entirely dismiss politicians as non-people who are entirely bought and void of their own thoughts and ideals. I think they are certainly too often influenced by money, corporate or otherwise, and the bureaucracy of it all makes it incredibly difficult for any one person to have much of an impact.

    As far as TV goes I don’t buy into the idea that it’s inherently bad if you have some level of media literacy. What studies show that 90-95% of behavior is governed by the subconscious? What sort of impact does TV at its worst (blatant advertisements or shows that are little more than advertisements themselves) have on this subconscious? Of course I believe that there is something, but I remain unconvinced that someone with a healthy level of media literacy can’t significantly ward themselves from any harm.

    I believe that TV shows can be a form of art, Carnivale and Buffy the Vampire Slayer included. Comedy is also a form of art. Art is undoubtedly a positive contribution to the world by human beings. It enriches our lives by teaching us, opening our minds, making us more empathetic, and provoking us to create art ourselves. I agree that the majority of television programming is garbage and anything but art, but I don’t think this is because television is inherently bad. It has much more to do with producers lacking creativity, a conscience, or the spine to not let the money of advertisers influence their programming. It’s also on the general public demanding more of such bullshit.

    Are you swearing off all comedy, then? I’m not sure I understand your line about not needing comedians anymore.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s