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The Politics Of Revenge And Submission: "When the individual feels, the community reels"

By       Message Phil Rockstroh       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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Osama bin Laden is dead. And so is the U.S. republic. We had to destroy
our freedoms in order to save them. What is left to save from the next
rampaging dragon when the knights, sworn to kill the monster, destroy
everything in their path in the pursuit of him? One killer is dead. Now what
are we going to do with all the killers in our midst who killed him.

 Since 9/11/2001, due to the lust for revenge of the people of the U.S.,
hundreds of thousands of innocent Islamic people are dead. These human beings
were killed in our name. Be very careful when you proclaim: "I'm glad 'we'
got bin Laden. He deserved it." Be very grateful most of us don't get what
we deserve.

To appropriate a classical understanding of the situation: Aeschylus, in his
Oresteia trilogy, dramatized that civilization begins when (in fact,
civilization is not even possible until) retribution yields to justice i.e.,
The Furies, goddesses adorned with serpent-seething headdresses and an abiding
passion for retribution, must be transformed into the Eumenides (the kindly
ones). They must cease their seeking of revenge (which engenders endless
revenge cycles, inflicting a trauma-wrought callowness on the people of a
culture) and become the enemies of those who bear false witness and stand
against the democratic process.

In contrast, in the U.S., a state policy of genocide against its native
inhabitants determined the geographical dimensions of the nation itself, and,
in many ways, determined the inner dimensions of its collective mindscape,
which created and maintains the death cult calculus of U.S. militarist
imperium. (The U.S. military still envisages its enemies as "Red Indian
savages." Witness: Osama bin Laden having been given the moniker,

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Hence the isolated, alienated U.S. populace (its males in particular) clutch,
to the point of fetishizing, their guns, because they feel powerless before the
depravations of an exploitive system rigged to benefit a small class of
privileged insiders. Much damage is done by this compensatory fantasy:
Vulnerable children and teens are bullied by their troubled peers to the point
of clinical depression and suicide; in domestic situations, crimes of passion
take deadly turns; and episodes of mass shootings erupt across the landscape of
exploitation, alienation and anomie.

The collective mode of mind of the corporate consumer/militarist empire leaves
both the hoi polloi and the privileged unable to even approach the problem of
their alienation"thick walls of self-protection must be breached"In the U.S.,
individuals have become so withdrawn into themselves, it seems as if Home Depot
outlets sell ready-to-assemble, prefab bubbles of self-enclosure, with optional
mounted gun turrets.

How is it possible for troubled individuals to live in a culture in which the
response of their government (mirrored in its movies, television programs, and
video games) to almost every problem abroad involves military force and
imperialist coercion -- and not have these death-leveling policies leave their
mark on the psyches of the populace?

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All too frequently, in the increasingly desperate and denial-ridden nation,
deranged chickens come home and reap havoc in the roost (also known as The Law
Of Perpetual Poultry Return). As above with its government, so below with its
populace: With troubling frequency, in shooting rampages, unhinged individuals
stage freelance, military-style commando raids, defending (in the tormented
perception of their besieged minds) their internal homeland.

The rigid hierarchical structure of U.S. corporate oligarchy (but veiled by the
internalization of its upward class mobility hagiography) imposes a type of
domination and control compulsion (and attendant low-level hysteria) in the
psyches of the nation's males. Hence, the need for disproportionate amounts of
control to displace their own sense of being dominated by brutal power (e. g.,
they feel so deeply diminished by their own submissive position in the economic
order that the men and boys of the nation are driven to taunt other males by
bandying demeaning invectives, such as, "You're my b*tch.")

What they are expressing is the displaced anger, engendered by their
helplessness before the dictates of the corporate state. An insidious order
that determines the course of their day: At what hour, they will rise (at the
insistence of an alarm clock) to meet the day; what they will eat (generally,
processed or fast food); the roads and routes they will travel (stranded in the
grinding limbo of commuter traffic); who they will be in contact with during
the day (the dharma-decimating exigencies of the workspaces of the neo-liberal
economic order). In short, how their day unfolds (exploited for the benefit of
the oligarchs of the corporate state) and how their day ends (on edge,
enervated, muck-brained, in hyper-attenuated communion with some form of the
mass media hologram).

The inimical effect of this mode of being has come to be known as "the
American way of life." Therein, individuals, reduced to mere assets of the
economic elite, grow bereft of the means and motivation for personal
transformation. Moreover, the culture -- always an organic, collaborative
effort between individuals and the collective mind of an age -- withers into an
economic, as well as, psychic wasteland, because the means of social engagement
have been denuded due to the full-spectrum domination of both cultural real
estate and individual mindscape by the corporate state.

Corporate domination of everyday life has left the soul with a scant amount of
wiggle room. But it has not always been so, even in the Deep South, in the
belligerent ignorance and staggering naivety, of my youth.

Homer counseled that we should straddle time with our backs to the future, our
faces to the past. Thus this digression:

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In the year, 1970, in the summer I turned fourteen, in Piedmont Park, in
Atlanta, Georgia, the Allman Brothers, among other bands, would perform free,
impromptu concerts for a tie-dye clad, reefer reeking, bell
bottoms-caressing-the-Georgia-red-dirt gatherings of "freaks," --
which was the preferred tribalist term, as opposed to the media-created,
socially pejorative -- hippies"which, when bandied among counterculture
insiders, was generally applied ironically.

Although the park was located only a few miles from my family's home,
undertaking the trip presented a degree of peril. To make ones way to the park
included traversing a tough, in-town, white working class neighborhood (now a
gentrified into soul-sucking blandness, yuppie enclave) where, from the
perspective of its denizens, their world, and all they held in reverence and
reference, was under siege. And, although inchoate, their animus was instantly
distilled, simply upon a glimpse of the untamed tresses of a singular, thin of
wrist, dirty hippie, commie f*ggot -- whose mere presence was considered an
affront to their pomade-crowned, muscle car-thundering parcel of redneck

Accordingly, the locals were pledged to do their part to fight the scourge"by
increasing their intake of PBRs and Jack Daniels, and, upon sight of said dirty
hippie interlopers, bestowing ass-stompings -- and for no-extra-charge -- involuntary
haircuts upon errant longhairs caught in their midst.

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Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phil.rockstroh

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