Thomas Paine's Corner
Gluttony and greed kill more than the sword.
Gluttony and surfeiting are no proper occasions for thanksgiving.
~Charles Lamb, 1821
Another propaganda-driven greed-fest has nearly passed in the land of the corporatized and the home of the subservient. Obedient little wage slaves and consumers that most of us are (to varying degrees of course), we have once again dutifully greased the wheels of the monstrous capitalist machine and made our proper sacrifices at the altar of Mammon. Between our voracious inhalation of all manner of edibles to our obscene spree of rapacious spending using money eagerly fronted by the usurious kings of finance capital, Thanksgiving and Black Friday are celebratory days indeed for the moneyed elite comprising the allegedly non-existent ruling class in our “egalitarian” and “democratic” nation.
I celebrated Thanksgiving. However, I wasn’t bowing my head and expressing gratitude to the Calvinist God in which I am “supposed to” believe for the things for which I “should” be grateful. There was an interesting duality to my day as I contemplated that for which I feel a deep ingratitude and celebrated that which sparks my feelings of sincere gratitude.
The components of my “Thanklessgiving” included:
1. The trillions of OUR tax dollars OUR government spends each year attempting to attain global hegemony through nearly ubiquitous military bases, a nuclear arsenal large enough to obliterate the universe, and numerous ecocidal, genocidal invasions of ridiculously weaker nations which, fortunately, usually give us a bit of what we deserve by sending us home limping.
2. The US American Gulag, a penal system populated by over two million human beings. The “land of the free” has the largest number of incarcerated people in the world, even surpassing China, the most populous and allegedly most repressive nation in the world. Criminalizing select forms of self-medicating (those that predominate in the urban core Bantustans to which we have relegated much of our black population) has proven to be an efficient means of “legally” repressing black males. Meanwhile, alcohol, a drug which severely impairs judgment, lowers inhibitions, causes the bloody demise of over 16,000 innocents on our highways each year, and tends to increase the belligerence factor exponentially, remains quite legal and practically flows from the spigots of our homes. And we’re imprisoning people for the possession of marijuana?
3. Factory farms and the fast food industry that necessitated their genesis. Speciesism is a cancer that has long infected our collective thinking with the notion that we can selectively inflict wanton cruelty on non-human animals. Pigs are as intelligent as dogs (imagine the mass outrage if we began large-scale torture, mutilation, and consumption of family canines) yet we imprison them in such tight quarters for such extended periods that they go insane, treat sows as breeding machines, rip out their teeth without anesthetizing them, sometimes disembowel them with hooks through their anuses while they are alive, and at other times boil them to death while they are still conscious. Recently, the turkeys who suffered unimaginably painful lives and deaths (so their flesh could help expand the midriffs of scores of millions of human animals) experienced their own “thanksgiving” when their agonized existences finally came to an end. Instead of using the monster military (which We the Taxpayers have paid to create) as a means to murder untold millions of civilians who “are in the wrong place at the wrong time,” perhaps we would be better served to evacuate the human and non-human animals from the murderous slaughterhouses and thus finally facilitate the smart use of “smart bombs.”
4. The crypto-racism that continues to mar our sociocultural landscape like cesspools of toxic sludge. Aside from the aforementioned “War on Drugs” that targets black males and enables us to justify arming and supporting Latin American Right Wing dictators who foster an environment which allows our corporations to rape their nations, there is still a chasm of inequality between blacks and whites in terms of income, wealth, health, and education. The root causes of this gross injustice are myriad but include rampant covert racism (Jim Crow is not dead; he has simply gone incognito) and epidemic intergenerational poverty perpetuated by deplorable public education in predominately black schools and various other nearly insurmountable systemic impediments to climbing the socioeconomic ladder. And let’s not forget Lou Dobbs’ crusade against the Mexican migration to the US forced by neoliberal economic policies born of savage capitalism.
5. The War on Terror. A more appropriate name for this abomination would be “The War on Islamic People because many of their nations possess much of the oil that capitalism needs to continue fueling the engines of profit and endless growth and because many Muslims are furious that the Zionists stole Palestine.” I guess they went with the War on Terror because the true name is too cumbersome. If we stopped bankrolling the terrorist state of Israel, launching imperial invasions, installing and supporting ruthless regimes, and wielding our economic power like a cudgel, we would stop pissing off so many people and wouldn’t have the constant concern of angry victims employing asymmetric warfare against us.
6. The evisceration of our Constitution and steady march toward fascism. Bush’s signing statements, the Patriot Act and subsequent Orwellian legislation, the trend toward privatization of the military, the increasingly incestuous relationship between the public and private sectors, two consecutive stolen Presidential elections, Islamophobia, pathological nativism, and an ever-increasing obsession with militarism are the obvious symptoms of a nation plunging into an abyss not unlike that experienced by the Germans under the Nazi regime. While we are not there yet, we are certainly experiencing the prefigurements of “capitalism in decay.” Remember that Hitler and his cabal did not fully initiate the machinations of fascism overnight either.
7. The soul (and human and animal and Earth) murdering socioeconomic construct of capitalism. While it is true that selfishness, greed, narcissism, and the tendency to exploit are intrinsic to each human being, we choose to glorify, embrace, amplify and perpetuate a system that demands that we hone these characteristics like weapons in order to “succeed” within our malignant means of economic organization. Tragically, even those who recognize the infinite toxicity of such practices still need to employ them to some extent simply to survive.