Saturday, March 7, 1998

Duh, what happened?

We think we can think clearly, when the truth is, here at the end of the 20th century, it's more like running into a tree and waking up on the ground with a circle of people looking down at you going "Are you OK?"

We're still stunned...

It is not exactly clear just what's happened to this miserable planet. This century was like the harrowing machine in Kafka's "Penal Colony," slowly raking its sentence of doom in humanity's back. What exactly?

Think, and what tends to come to mind is all the shit on the walls: slogans of the Left, slogans of the Right. What's really happening is outside the slogans -- and what's really happening is a network of buying and selling, an intricate matrix forking out over the world like tobacco mosaic virus. Whatever it represents politically, what you're talking about is the transformation of available energy. What the hell is really happening and what, exactly, is this global industrial system turning into?

The Left, in one form or another, said the workers must control the means of production. That the distribution of wealth should fit some notion of social utility and fairness...

The Right, in one form or another, said that nothing but the market should control the market. And that the Holy Market, itself, parcels out its rewards fairly in the long run. Because...

(A) So it has been ordained of God -- the old Calvinistic view that wealth is a sign of God's grace.
(B) So it has been ordained by that other face of the evolutionary process called market competition. Survival of the fittest...product or service. Losers lose, winners win and everything gets better. It's the natural order of things.
(C) Who the fuck said life had to be fair?

And now the Capitalists have, essentially, won. There is no real opposition to Capitalism in any sense, except a few harrying forces and insular societies. It's not a question of whether "Free Market Societies" will win the battle against "Controlled Market Societies." The question is: whose shit is going to sell in the no rules planet wide market called earth?

We read "1984" and think "How fucking horrible. TV sets watching you and telling you what to do." Then, everywhere you go, there's a fucking TV set telling you what to do, but you don't notice it because it ain't Big Brother -- it's advertising.

The Market sticks its nose into our homes via the TV, into our cars via the radio. Buying and selling is life; family, religion, friends and community are sorta out there on the edges...

What this will all look like 100 years from now is anybody's guess. What seems to be emerging now is the philosophy: whatever is is right.

The question -- on a down and dirty human level -- is this: if you are what you own and what you own is yours on the basis of a no-rules, fuck-you-and-the-horse-you-rode-in-on fight of all against all, where, exactly, is there room for love, friendship, loyalty, tenderness, and the luxury of integrity in a society based, absolutely, on competition?

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