“There’ll be one corporation selling one little box
it'll do what you want and tell you what you want and cost whatever you got.”
Greg Brown, Where is Maria?
This is my 500th post. I never anticipated keeping the Balcony going this long, but one thing led to another, and here we are, number 500.
The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the McCutcheon case was outrageous but not surprising, because the high court is dominated by rabid ideologues. John Roberts is a second-class whore and his judicial robes should be festooned with corporate logos so his masters are easily recognizable. Money equals free speech and corporations are people – this is what passes for democracy in America. Our cherished myths about one man (or woman) - one vote and the will of the governed are only that, myths; this is not the land of the free and the home of the brave -- this country belongs to the wealthy and they operate it for their own advancement.
Our “democratic” institutions are rotted through and through, hollow, ready to topple, and authoritarian forces are prepared to take their place. Every time I hear a politician say, “the American people” I want to puke. Congress has never given a rat’s ass for the will of the people -- not from the founding of the republic -- it only acts reluctantly, when forced from below by popular movements. Unfortunately, our social movements are fragmented, more often than not working at cross purposes, and while what’s left of organized labor, the environmental movement, civil rights organizations, and the remnants of the Occupy movement bicker or dither, the lackeys of the wealthy scheme to hand more of our collective booty over to people who don’t need it.
This is what totalitarian capitalism looks like. Nothing is allowed to interfere with the chase for profits…not law, morality, common sense or decency.
Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NASA, and the World Meteorological Organization have all recently issued grim warnings about climate change. The condition of the planet is bad and getting worse, and yet denial remains the American mantra. Business as usual! Drill, blast, scorch, pump, cut, fell, and dump. If we don’t talk about climate change it will go away, right? Do political elites and members of the 1% breathe different air, drink different water, eat fish from a different ocean? Are they immune from drought, flood, fire, and tornado?
In the 1940’s Henry Miller referred to America as the “air-conditioned nightmare.” I’m glad Miller can’t see the country or its major institutions now, not that it would break his heart, but because it would confirm damn near everything he predicted, and he would have hoped we’d have regained our senses by now. I can imagine Miller saying, “Seventy-odd years later and they still don’t get it. A nation of dolts, that’s what they are!”
It’s hard for any thinking American not to feel bummed out by the hypocrisy, the waste, the mendacity, the unfairness, the greed, the impotence, and the belligerence that characterize our country in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century. I’m reading a book called, A Colossal Wreck: A Road Trip through Political Scandal, Corruption and American Culture by the late Alexander Cockburn. Writing in 2004, Cockburn relates some advice his father, Claud Cockburn, gave him: “When all seems dark, try reading a little Marx. It puts things in perspective.”