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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 12/5/11

People as Livestock: The Cult of Fundamentalist Materialism and the Cheapening Life

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Message Dan Mage

                "I first encountered the term "Fundamentalist-Materialism" in the work of Robert Anton Wilson; it appears in several of his non-fiction works, including "The Cosmic Triggger" series. As far as I know R.A.W. was the originator of this philosophical designation."

         Is there any inherent value to an individual human life? 

starving children
starving children
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Authoritarians of the left, libertarians of the right, objectivists, conservatives and even liberals and progressives fixated on "jobs" and "rehabilitation" of the socioeconomically dysfunctional give the answer "no; " sometimes directly (as in the case of the Stalinist and the American conservative) and other times through actions, policies, and preferences (as in the case of elements of the "occupation" movement distancing themselves from "homeless bums," "drug users," and "ex-cons").

Most of all, those with the power to set wages, prices, working conditions and societal expectation for those who have nothing left but their time and "docile bodies"*(Foucault) to sell, control and trade in human lives as commodities. While most of the supposedly civilized world frowns on chattel slavery (although a good bit of it goes on, especially in the sex trade, where prosecution of traffickers is the exception rather than the rule), the legal technicality of ownership is superfluous to the trade in human lives, time, labor, and in Reichian terms orgones.

What do Stalinism, objectivism, authoritarian capitalism, and global corporatism all have in common ? They are in my opinion fundamentalist-materialist cults that value the inanimate over the living, the concrete over the abstract and have effectively reduced the vast majority of the human race to livestock, or wild beasts to be hunted down, captured, contained, broken, or in the alternative, simply slaughtered and destroyed.

I have been told that it has always been thus, and perhaps in terms of humanity's historical failings this is true. There is however no historical precedent for the establishment of a global value system through electronic multi-sensory media. Even the best efforts of the Catholic Church, Protestant missionaries and Islamic holy-warriors do not equal the technology and level of sophistication in the application of "industrial psychology."

The message remains the same though, as it has been throughout history: "Obey or suffer." Individual disobedience or even mere failure to "produce" in spite of the individual's best efforts will result in stigmatization, marginalization, a degrading dependency on the state and, as state support for the economically disengaged is cut back and removed, starvation, homelessness and imprisonment; even the fact of homelessness is defined as a criminal offense by more local jurisdictions with each passing year.

The fact is that life is cheap; the idealistic visions of humanitarians are swept aside by those advocates of "austerity" and "tough choices," whose calculations in service of usury on a global scale will determine the level of human suffering in each nation up to and including death by starvation, disease, and the inevitable outcome of manufactured scarcity, war.

The blurry and dim imagery of the concretes of suffering fades from vision in the glare of the deadly abstractions; political ideologies, religions, money that does not exist anywhere other than in the record keeping of the money lenders remains in clear focus. The conclusion returns stark, glaring and obvious: human life is a commodity, the value of which is consistently decreasing. The devaluation of an individual human life to a unit of production and consumption, which therefore can be discarded if determined to have no economic value, is all that is required for the machinery of mass exterminations and genocide to be set in motion.

Arguing about wages, prices, social systems and ways of arranging economies, even in cases where "progress" is made, will be useless. The dominance of the fundamentalist-materialist cults, as well as the authoritarian religions that create legitimacy for them in the eyes of the masses (and even Stalin, the ultimate fundamentalist-materialist, allowed for the return of religion as an adjunct of the state when he realized its value) will continue to crush and compress human life, until the perverted and inverted values themselves are overthrown, shattered, burned and buried.

When will the biocentric (life centered) ethos replace the thanatocentric (death centered) ethos as the dominant culture's value system? I cannot answer even the "if" of this question, let alone the question itself. The fact that the power to collect interest on nonexistent money and the lifestyles that such usury on a global scale supports is presented, and apparently accepted, as an immutable law of nature rather than as an imposition of culture's order on the true nature of humanity seems by way of this very acceptance to be a "natural law." Images of vultures waiting for starving children to crawl to their deaths and mothers weeping over infants at the bottoms of pits do not move the master manipulators of numbers. If anything, only the fact that the die-offs are not more extensive is cause for lamentation.

Do we care anymore? I'm not speaking of our little "jobs" and "futures," and relative degree of comfort/discomfort in oppression that seems to be everyone's primary concern. I'm demanding of myself, of you and above all of those who have declared themselves to be "leaders;" what is it that matters to you? Do you feel anything at all? Can we set aside all calculations save for those needed to ease human suffering? The primary demand of all protests, occupations, strikes, boycotts and further actions of increasing effect and extremity will be "Life First!"

The life of one human being hanging on the edge of death, in suffering, is too high a price to pay, for all the glorious achievements of the fundamentalist-materialist cults, their leaders and their adherents. The cult of power, authority, war, and property as a weapon of coercion has, for all its trillions of dollars and stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, a single and fatal vulnerability; to function it depends on obedience. For obedience to be guaranteed, the "obey or suffer" directive must be enforceable. This directive is only enforceable if the doctrine of fundamentalist-materialism enjoys continued acceptance as a "fact of life," rather than the monstrous fraud that it is.


*The term "docile bodies" is a chapter title in Michel Foucault's "Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison" 1977, Random House, NY, NY.

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I was born in NYC in 1959. I grew up in the DC area, the product of suburbia and liberal parents with doctoral-level educations. I dropped out of the public school system in eighth grade, and from all schooling by the age of 16. My life rapidly (more...)

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