I actually cringed today when I reread one my earliest posts in which I defended neoliberal shill Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I called her "a breath of fresh air." And as a result, I got lots of "you go, girl!" type of comments. But if the old saying "you live, you learn" is a truism, then "you blog, you get an education whether you want one or not" is a close relative.
I have become radicalized over the last four years, thanks to this blog and the hard thinking that it has forced me to do. It took me awhile, but eventually I realized that the two-party system is a sham and the neoliberalism it represents is a clear and present danger to all of us. Quite a few of my earlier readers abandoned this site in disgust, particularly during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Blogging requires lots of research and lots of facing of inconvenient truths, lots of reading beyond the New York Times, lots of closer reading of the New York Times to discover just how the language of propaganda actually works. It was that original scholar of propaganda, Edward Bernays, who wrote, way back in 1928, that at least half of all front page Times stories consist of government and corporate propaganda. Key words: at least.
Cutting through the crap and parsing the language of deceit and examining how words are used as tools of economic, social and political control has become my main area of interest.
My first post here, titled "Out, Out Damned Spot" was written in the wake of the mass shooting that wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and for which Sarah Palin attracted much outrage because of her infamous electoral "crosshairs" website graphic, leading her to release a web video accusing her detractors of "blood libel."
Blaming Sarah Palin for the Tucson Massacre is just as unfair as blaming Lady Macbeth for the mayhem at Inverness Castle. All these two maligned ladies did was lay out the weapons: Sarah, her cross-hair graphics and Lady M, a few carelessly placed daggers. Subtle hints do not a murderess make.
Along with their histrionics and lust for power, both women have a fixation with blood. Palin, subdued from her usual frenzied harangues, looked like a robot on tranquillizers as she Youtubed herself into the queen of the martyrs and the victim of “blood libel” of the biased liberal lamestream punditocracy. To give her credit, I doubt she knows the anti-Semitic origin of the phrase, but the blood part likely was what appealed to her. And Lady Mac was totally obsessed with blood, even to the point of sleepwalking and being unable to wash the imaginary stains from her hands. Sarah, of course, also had difficulty scrubbing her website clean of the infamous Cross-Hairs map. It had already gone viral all over cyberspace. “Out, out damned cache!” could be heard echoing through the valley, according to Wasilla lore.
The Lady Sarah really doth protest too much, methinks, and all the sanguineous references in the world can’t mask the fact that this anti-mother/mama grizzly has ice water running through her veins and a stony heart totally lacking in the warmth of human kindness.On a somewhat related note to this little retrospective, I'll also include my comment to today's column by David Brooks, who somewhat uncharacteristically showcases famed leftist writer Ursula Le Guin's cautionary tale Those Who Walk Away From Omelas. It recounts a Utopia predicated on people enjoying life due to the imprisonment of a scapegoat; a child in a basement. The story is along the same lines of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery.(I've included a link to a recent speech by Le Guin; it's a must-watch). As is usual for Brooks, though, he writes a book report or presents a fictional scenario, and then fails utterly to condemn its real-life parallels. So I did:
Rousseau's social contract inspiring Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité has tragically devolved into the Gospel According to Ayn Rand. It's every rich man for himself.
Every plutocrat alive thrives not on the suffering of one child in the basement, but on the suffering of the whole planet. In today's neoliberal world, only the Market is free, while everywhere human beings are in social, economic and political chains.
In the USA, one child in four lives in poverty. One in thirty is homeless. And according to polls, the majority of us are also fine with torture and even sanguine about the drone strikes that kill innocent children.
Ursula Le Guin gave a wonderful speech last month at the National Book Awards, and challenged her fellow writers to "remember freedom." If the Enlightenment spelled doom to the divine right of kings, she said, then we can achieve a modern Enlightenment spelling doom to the hellish right of capitalists. Or, as Theodore Roosevelt dubbed them, "the malefactors of great wealth."
Fear is the enemy of literary freedom. The PEN human rights organization reports that more writers are actually self-censoring because of the chilling effect of government surveillance. We, whose Bill of Rights prides itself on freedom of speech, now rank a low 46th in press freedoms.
We can either enlighten ourselves, start thinking outside of ourselves, start treating this planet with respect and dignity, or we might as well forget about existing at all.