Usually, I won’t make political comments, but in this case, they’ve walked into territory we’ve claimed as our own, so here goes:
The latest move by the Supreme Court to lift all corporate limits on campaign contributions is clearly aimed at preventing a repeat of the Obama election, who didn’t put them in office. Sure, he’ll be re-elected. But then the corporate stooges will make their next serious bid to regain executive power, and they’ll utilize the funds from the almost unlimited treasury of the very thing they’re about – corporate power. The wars of invasion the US is fighting are wars of corporate power. The wholesale elimination of environmental controls over the past few years have been acts of corporate power. Corporate investments in military contracting is so prevalent that it really doesn’t matter what we supposedly fight for – we fight, regardless, for making corporations richer and more powerful.
We’re looking at a successful corporate campaign, in this case, to regain near absolute control of the political engine and eliminate the last hint of genuinely democratic political power. It is no less significant than the Supreme Court ruling that invested corporations with the keys to the state in the first place, namely Santa Clary County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad which entitled corporations to full personhood in reference to the 14th ammendment (thereby making them super-persons). In that case, the Supreme Court (and we let them do it), made corporate dominance the law of the land in the U.S., and it has radically altered every institution, political, religious, social, that has any legal status at all, not to mention the lives of every person born in the U.S. then or since or wishing to become a part of the United States. Now, the very engine we prop up with our daily labor will make decisions about who is entitled to public office that are contrary to our very interests as laborers. Every drop of sweat we invest in corporate life is essentially invested in our own coffins.
And this, of course, is in our realm of conversation.
In our culture, corporate affiliation automatically conveys some sense of legitimacy. Try this on: “I’m a trainer for the Rand Corporation’s division of personnel….” What do you hear? Respectable – has health benefits and a mutual fund. vs. “I’m a freelance contract trainer…” Hear it? Probably out of work, scraping for just about any gig he can get. Now let’s modify that: “I’m a freelance contract trainer, currently working with Fortune 500 clients like IBM…” It’s a little different, isn’t it? It’s a lot different. Corporateness, corporatishness, corporatization, or whatever fun noun we want to make up, conveys not just the impression of financial stability, even after the last 4 years, but also respectability, prestige, something ironically akin to what once was called honor.
But with this master stroke in the Court, we’re feeling the first wave of what will, in some years, further marginalize anything independent, individual, or unaffiliated. Remember, we always acknowledge that, in our frenetic, reality TV, mass media culture of constant personal stimulation, that we don’t even have a one year memory anymore – we’re tired of hearing about Haiti after less than a week, though most of them will be worse off, not better, in that time, because the water will run out and they’ll be homeless. We’ll remember that we don’t have a memory, but we won’t remember why it’s important. And we won’t remember this wave, this point of launch as the revenge of the corps, when they have seized such an unparalleled and unprecedented level of cultural control that we’ll look back at the days when people commented on it derisively and think they were being too gentle. Or, if they’re as successful as they’d like, most of us won’t even feel it – corporateness will be our point of reference, our context for thinking about all problems – including corporateness – and we will be like the soma-eaters in a Brave New World, or more like the devourers of technological media in Fahrenheit 451.
Make no mistake, we’re looking at, if not reversed, the financial acquisition of the political system in the US. ‘It was already acquired long ago,’ cultural critics like Noam Chomsky will say. Quite right. No disagreement at all. And that acquisition makes this one possible. I’m only commenting on the blatantness of basically saying it’s OK to buy elections, local and national, and to purchase policy. If this were Sicily, and we took out the word “corporations” and stuck in “mafia”, we’d be appalled. But the testament to corporateness being the reference point of all our thinking, is that we are incapable of being appalled. In fact, we look at such statements as “extreme” (corp-speak), “exaggerated” (corp-speak), and we’re willing to put on our little pastel shirts, and shave our chins, and eat our crappy fern bar lunches (and think that’s food), like the effete wusses we have become, the corporate little boys we have made ourselves, and repeat the same kind of mantras we did before the financial collapse. Back then, the naysayers – and there were plenty of them – were just exaggerating, just overreacting, just extremists (when they wouldn’t shut up), and the resulting millieu is one in which corporations can’t be wrong even when they’re wrong. It was an “unforseeable” situation. And if we’re saying “No, they could have forseen, they were warned, and I’m mad as hell”, well we were warned too, and we should be mad, but what are we doing about it? Are we still just propping up the system, like a blind earthworm who bangs his head against the wall of the maze and never learns to turn right or left? Even an earthworm would have randomly gone a different direction by now. We’re caught up in it – that’s no lie. We’re all cogs in the corporatey pastel of our culture.
I don’t have a prescription, so don’t think I’m going to say lets write our congressmen. Hell, he’s one of them, more likely. Look at those dumb farks in Massachusetts who just elected another one of them. And every one of the self-employed among them should just turn around and shove their own foots all the way up their arses, because that’s what they just did to themselves politically. In the film, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” (based on the book), the premise is that places like Kansas, once populist centers where people pursued their own interests in politics, have become suburban sprawls where people are indoctrinated (often in their mega-churches and religious circles) with an ideology of defeat. They vote against their own interests, propping up the very institutions that deprive them of proper health care, sanitation (which is what environmental cleanliness is, of course), and further political opportunities – institutions many of them believe have some innate, divine, manifest right to power and to having their way. In other words, Kansas has become a corporate state.
No, no prescription. I’m not even obligated to offer a prescription, if I had one. I think the whole system blows. What I know to do is stand here and say that there is another way to think. That there isn’t just one way. It’s not that I’m making my opinion the gospel.” No, I’m not. I’m saying that almost all the opinions out there are coming from one thing, the presupposition of corporate life as the context, of corporate dominance as the basis of society (even if they don’t admit it, that’s what they’re saying), and that it is possible and healthy to get outside that context and point out how it’s harming the very people who hold those opinions. It’s like Scientology or faith healing. If we keep denying ourselves medical attention, because we’re not supposed to be sick in the first place (I’ve known people who just kept saying “I’m not sick, these are only symptoms” – That’s what symptoms ARE – indications of festering sickness!), then we’ve essentially invalidated our own voice – here, in the culture, everywhere. Rational people have no need to listen to us anymore; we’ve removed the ground of our own conversation; we’re reasoning in a circle: “corporateness is good because corporateness is good, so even if it’s killing us, corporateness is good”. Wake up and smell the turd pile, Kansas! If we can’t smell it after THIS freaking disaster, we’ve got too much corn up our noses! Either that, or our heads are buried exactly where a corporate-dominated US wants it to be – guess where!
My opinion is just that we need to be able to formulate opinions outside the context of pre-determined, presupposed, corporate life. If we can’t, everything we think is just begging the question – it was logically invalid before it started. And that isn’t really my opinion. It’s a basic tenet of all thought – so denying it is removing the ground of thought in the first place. We’ve got to ask the question from outside the assumption that corporate domination is God’s will, or some such thing. If we can’t, it’s just an ideological crack pipe, and we might as well all get high together, because life is going to be short, sick, dirty, and self-defeating. The Supreme Court ruling yesterday is a missile right up the arse of every free person in the US, and it will dictate elections where there is no incumbent candidate, and we’ll get our executive handed to us as a line item on our pay stubs, if we’re in the corporate world, and so will those of us who aren’t – the point: it makes everything the corporate world. Our grandkids will look back and wonder at the absurd, backwards arrogance of anyone who thought they should live as a free agent. And free agents? They’ll exist, but not like now – they’ll be just the outsource workers for an entirely corporate reality – a way to dump the tax and benefit burden on our shoulders and mine. I don’t have an action plan to fight this, for one reason: I don’t think there’s enough people who think any differently left. Prove me wrong. I’ll be more than happy, if you do.