The course of action taken by the present-day U.S. political class in addressing the era's rising tide of economic hardship and ecological peril has proven as helpful as tossing an anvil to a drowning man.
The following two, axiomatic headlines reveal much about the dovetailing mindsets manifested by members of both the drowning class and the moral compass-bereft captains of the ship of state:
"Nike Foamposite Galaxy Shoe Spurs Frenzy At Malls" (Associated Press, Feb. 25, 2012)
"Mitt Romney: Wife Ann Drives "A Couple Of Cadillacs'" (The Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2012)
Inadvertently, Mr. Romney's declaration, stated in his own blandly deranged way, captures the As Above/So Below nature of consumer-state psychology. By means of incessant, womb to tomb, commercial propaganda, the corporate class has promoted the idea that an individual's identity is based solely on the sum total of his worldly possessions.
Yet, when young people, denied a decent education and stranded in circumstances where they have been deprived of a means to gain a sense of identity by acquiring the skills and the development of the talents necessary for the pursuit of their individual aspirations, have the temerity to reflect the societal values they have internalized -- for example, by acting in an aggressive manner in a mindless pursuit of material items that they have been conditioned to believe will bestow a sense of self worth -- then media elites and bamboozled bourgeois should not, as they can be counted on to do, react with consternation, carrying on as if these acts of desperation on the part of the young are wholly devoid of any cultural context.
A defining trait of declining civilizations: A yawning, unbridgeable chasm develops between the ability to connect cause and effect e.g., between the excesses of the privileged and powerful (apropos, a multi-millionaire, presidential candidate's braggadocio involving the multiple ownership of luxury automobiles) and the causative effect that evincing such an arrogant and self-serving worldview exerts on the actions of the so-called underclasses.
As a consequence, a demeaning view of the world -- and of themselves -- has been instilled within the young: According to the internalized cosmology of the consumer state, individuals, sans materialist signifiers, register as non entities.
When the one percent crash the global economy and loot national treasuries, this is termed the neoliberal economic model, but rowdy behavior, including the coveting of relentlessly hyped athletic shoes by a few of the least powerful denizens of the consumer state, evokes waves of condemnation.
Existing in a culture that robs people of self-respect by
countenancing the ongoing crime wave, perpetrated by the one percent, we
should not be shocked when those born bereft of privilege, at times,
conduct themselves in a less than polite fashion.
The emptiness of consumer state existence leaves many so wanting for purpose and identity that, in their confusion, they seek meaning at a mall. " Lost in endlessly proffered distractions, swooning in the negative enchantment of the commercial hologram, it is no mystery why so many in the general population of the U.S. cannot approach, neither on an emotional nor intellectual level, the dire situation presented by, for example, feedback loops of escaping methane gas now active in the Arctic, Siberia and the Gulf of Mexico, and the manner that this manmade phenomenon imperils their own survival.
In this regard, predictions of doom are not the stuff of dour old men, afflicted with Cassandra complexes, long, unkempt beards flapping, as they hector passersby with gloomy auguries of a rapidly arriving "time of reckoning" -- when what they mean is, their libido is waning, and it feels to them like the end of the world.
No, this is truly bad news. And if these effects of climate chaos are not mitigated and begin to be reversed -- and soon -- then there will come, in the not too distant future, mass suffering, in the form of a great die-off, on a scale almost impossible to envisage.
We're talking peer-reviewed scientific inquiry not crank-speak here. These are extraordinarily dangerous circumstances.
The cultural, social and political arrangements that have created this approaching catastrophe must be radically confronted and changed. Accordingly, the times call for extraordinary action. Business as usual will constitute a death march.
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