A handful of years ago, I had a truly weird dream which spawned a short, and equally weird book entitled Requiem for a Small Planet. What was stranger still was that the book, or more accurately the novella, was stretched out over the poetic lyrics of a Dylan song. You probably know it by heart. Like a Rolling Stone.
“Once upon a time you dressed so fine……Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you? People call, say Beware doll, you’re bound to fall…you thought they were all…kidding you.”
Years later, a man whom you really need to know put his thoughts and myriad lectures into a brilliant movie lecture. His name is Noam Chomsky. He’s been a world-class thinker, on the order of an Einstein, or Hawking, or Feynman, only his thoughts lie upon a social/political spectrum. Chomsky is widely regarded as the most influential intellectual of our time. Filmed over four years, Requiem for an American Dream speaks softly, but with staggering revelation as to what has gradually taken place in America.
It began right at our nation’s birth, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, as well as our Constitution. But you can go much farther back and discover in Plato’s life the germ of what seemed an extremely wise idea…at the time. Franklin, Adams, Hancock, each of our founding fathers, contributed to the near perfect document upon which to grow our country. Near perfect…. but with a couple of flaws carried forth from Greece and Rome.
If you really and truly want to know what’s happened and what’s now happening today, don’t blame single individuals... though many on both sides have contributed. And don’t blame one party vs. the other for you will see quickly that in many ways, our two-party system has been as gullible as single entities who’ve lived and worked in America.
If you want to know where it all started, click over right now to Netflix or Amazon and see for yourself, decide for yourself. All over the planet, virtually every nation has succumbed though in different ways. In the first sentence Chomsky speaks, he notes that he was a child of the Depression and that it was bad, relatively speaking worse than the depressions we have today. BUT, even with a terrible depression underway, there was a sense of hopefulness that existed. People expected things would get better. Today, there is no such hopefulness. For many in America today, the situation is Hopeless…Without Hope These are, indeed, gloomy times.
The American Dream: Class Mobility: Just coming out of World War II, GIs returning home from treacherous years, protecting what is America, the dream thrived…temporarily. With the GI Bill, some sweat and hard work, one could rise from poverty, get an education, a new car, a new house, a new thing called a television and 2.5 children. In that dream, the car, the house and the education were attainable and…a key factor back then. Mostly, when you turned that TV on, you watched someone pledged to tell the truth. Douglas Edwards, Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Huntley and Brinkley, Eric Sevareid, and on and on. The truth…for the most part. What happened?
Noam Chomsky tells you much more eloquently and with more gravitas, but in a nutshell, you and I and virtually every American succumbed to what soon became the American Nightmare. Spoiler Alert: Today, if you take the combined wealth of people in America and examine who actually owns what, the wealth goes to one-tenth of just one percent of the population.
They are called The Superwealthy and they live up (or down) to every aspect of the term. Recently, Pam and I sat at small restaurant right on the marina in a super wealthy area in South Florida. The couple sitting next to us looked like they’d just lost their dog. The husband was utterly disgusted. He’d just had his yacht completed…it was 125 feet long and cost the GNP of many small countries…and yet, he had miscalculated. The in-group at this particular marina all had much longer yachts. In his mindset, he was nothing, just a proletariat…a failure. And yet, if you compare yourself to the superwealthy, the one in a thousand who have mostly all of the money…….where does that leave you and me and virtually every one you know and break bread with?
If it isn’t the Democrats or the Republicans who messed it all up, who is it? Well…a good place to start might be to glance and see just how the super rich became multi-millionaires and very often billionaires. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s the American way. Get as rich as you can get…but are there no limits? Apparently not. In 1809, the first of ten Supreme Court decisions took place, moving the business entity of a corporation slowly in the direction of the same rights as a human individual.
This progressively got worse until in 2010 in the Court Case of Citizens United, vs. the FEC, huge invisible monsters were born…monsters with fingers squeezing the hearts of every senator, and congressman…and presidential nominee. They squeezed with gargantuan amounts of money that they could spend as frivolously or frighteningly as an actual human. You or I might send a few hundred bucks to help a candidate. So can corporations now only, to the tune of any amount of money it takes to get their own legislation passed. There are democracies, and oligarchies, and plutocracies and now there are Corporocracies, governments ruled by corporations and there’s not much you can do about it. The moment you succeeded in making any fledgling point, any corporation that might be affected can flatten you in the blink of an eye and proceed to do anything it pleases. The teeth to fight a crooked corporation will never be sharp or potent enough to win.
Right now, who are the biggest offenders of all? Virtually all of the media. Is it mostly Fox News? To date, they are probably better at the game and have been at it longer. (This is not meant as a compliment) but MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and well every news corp. has dirty hands to some extent. And like following one religion vs. another, if Mom and Dad were weened on Fox, chances are 50 to 1 that’s what you’ll watch and that’s what you will believe. Same odds for MSNBC and the others. Each network is a corporation unto itself with nearly infinite money to spend and the unbelievable power to shape your opinion…and mine.
Chomsky follows that concept way back to the 40s and 50s where, you as an individual, had little or no opportunity to counter-think what was being thrown at you. To steal a line from the Stones, ‘But you can’t be a man cuz you don’t smoke the same cigarettes as me.” What you drink, smoke, eat, wear, read, watch and listen to…each of these choices was predetermined, depending on what you watched.
For those who’ve been on the planet a while, do you remember, when a two-speed automatic was just fine? Then a three-speed, then a four-speed was what you really needed to be a “success”. If you’re up on your cars, the dictating continues. Five-speed…you poor cheap SOB. Six-speed…a bit passe’. We’re up around 11 and twelve-speed autos now and with 600 hp. A little whisper in your ear, once you’re up around 3-4 speeds with that power, the rest is bullshit. And that’s one tiny example. Remember when you just went out and bought jeans? That’s changed. Everything has changed. The moment you turn on your TV, computer, laptop, iPad, or cell phone, you are told microsecond by microsecond what to buy, wear, eat, drink, drive and best of all…THINK.
Accountability: You and I are paying the price…for just about everything as well as being brainwashed to think. Things have gone off the deep end…but are they hopeless? Are they really hopeless? I choose to think not. This year, the corporations, and the politicians they created to run for president of the United States, this year the whole thing went off the rails. You don’t like the other candidate? I agree with you 100%. I don’t like mine, either. What is ironic is the puppet masters are no longer the GOP or the Democratic Party. They are about as powerful as the corporations lobbying and outright buying what used to be politicians. Anymore…….I don’t know what the hell they are.
A dangerous thought: We, the Americans, and creators of the Supreme Court have managed to endow Corporations with “life and human rights and infinite money.” If that is so, should they not be accountable or are they too big to fail??? If an individual commits murder or theft, or destroys the lives of real humans, cannot we humans convict these “Human corporations”? Fine them till, it’s painful, punish the perpetrators with hard time in prison, and if guilt is found beyond a shadow of a doubt, cannot a Corporation be put to “death”…liquidated and divided up among the shareholders?
How many people’s deaths haveR.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris caused? Millions. And they are still out there, selling death and cancer and now selling it in a new pretty package that is attractive to children? Vapes.
Okay, I vented my spleen tonight. With Noam Chomsky, who is hardly a radical, however, one finds it difficult to just go to the gas chamber…or cigarette chamber without a whisper of regret.
And, the obvious: Whomever you truly believe is best for the country, however crippled and crooked they may be…get out and VOTE. If you don’t do that, you don’t deserve to gripe…at all.
P.S. Oh, by the way, Requiem for a Small Planet vs. Requiem for The American Dream. Ole Noam is a genius and a voice and a face to experience if you still care. My little book is fiction…God I hope so, but years before the movie, my little book arrived at the same conclusion. One thing I hope we can all believe in. God bless America and God bless us All.
Spot-on as usual. Enjoyed the read.
I think one thing all of America just might agree on. This thing took WAAAAY too long and cost WAAAAAY too much money. I’m pretty sure I can make a decision in, say, three months or so. The rest is just masochistic.
If I could wish just one thing for America, I wish in one moment, everyone in all 50 states could wake up and have an epiphany. Each one of us would look in the bathroom mirror and realize: Every damned one of us is being hyper-manipulated…as to what the truth is, what to buy, who to vote for, what to read, listen to, what new “stuff” we absolutely have to have to be a success. Just one clarifying moment.
I share your wish. But it’s really hard to erase mind- controlling that’s been taking place for decades. Maybe they could make a movie.
I really resonated to this one. I just watched Chomsky’s video. It clarified issues that have been on mind for some time now. Thanks for your astute insights, as usual.
What’s truly amazing is we have some mental giants on this planet, wise and soft-spoken, and yet we hang on every word from a celeb or reality show idiot. Your brain is a lot like your body. If you eat nothing but garbage and junk food, it shows. If you watch nothing but garbage, it shows too, only in a different way. It shows when you open your mouth.
This is so enlightening, I just emailed your blog to the local high school’s teacher of governmental studies. This is what our kids need to study. Time for a change.
Yup, you’re right. But teachers now are competing with Facebook and Tweets, and 12 second videos with music and special effects. Hard to compete. Henry
Wish we lived closer to NC. I would like to get together, have a beer, and follow up on this topic.
Yup….beer always makes things MUCH clearer…and simpler, too!
In Requiem, you did not mention the movie, Rollerball, where corporations rule the world and instead of wars, the winning country is determined by who wins at a violent game of Rollerball. It was made in 1975. It is set in the future….2018! Noam wasn’t the only one who was thinking of a strangely dangerous world….Ayn Rand, “Anthem”. Aside…Noam and I both graduated from Central High, 10 years apart…but it is an academic school that allows one to think without penalty. I will vote. I have pushed others to vote. I have used the same argument as you….don’t complain about the results if you failed to vote. I have one question for you. How did nearly 50% of the people become so dumb that they support the end of democracy and the First Amendment? Churchill said “Americans will do the right thing when all else fails”. I hope so.
I have to confess that I missed Rollerball, though I know the premise. A part of my brain just couldn’t buy-in to deciding world dominance by playing Rollerball…..though it seems like it might be a better alternative to what is going on now
FWIW, since we’re talking movies, two come to mind, both old, but classics. The first is Seven Days in May, with Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster, with an attempted coup by Burt as a general orchestrating the thing. Douglas is his second in command and in the key scene, they meet presumably in the West Wing. Burt stops him and asks, “Do you know who Judas was?” Douglas replies, “Yes, sir. Judas was a man I worked for and respected.”
Then in “A Face in the Crowd” an unlikely Andy Griffith plays a charismatic performer who almost succeeds in conning the entire country.
A young Patricia Neal finally takes him down after a particularly effective TV appearance. As they’re rolling the credits, all we see is Griffith’s face talking with the sound turned off. He’s saying what suckers the American people are, knowing the sound is off. And then she turns the sound back on.
Part of me is amazed at the large percentage of people who turn a blind eye to the massive amount of evidence against the possibility of Trump being president. Hell, every sitting president, rep and dem, plus, Colin Powell, plus half of the rep party see the mistake that would be made, and on and on and on, ad infinitum, but here we go…
Very cool having gone to the same school as Chomsky, even if it was a decade apart.