Shed Your Addiction: Beyond Mere Survival in the American Dystopia
Social Darwinists comprising the Party, including major corporate shareholders and executives, Israeli interests, the military industrial complex, plutocrats, the power players of the Religious Right, and intellectual elites, hold the Great Beast (us “commoners”) at bay with a powerfully addictive state of being called the American Dream.1984 has come to pass, both chronologically and in the Orwellian sense. Americans are “liberators” in Iraq. Opponents of this “peace initiative” are “doubleplusungood." Unchecked by the judiciary, the NSA electronically trolls for perpetrators of “crimethink." Pundits and the “liberal media” (owned by a handful of monolithic corporations despised by people with the values which many define as liberal) have become the Ministry of Truth for the Party.
I recently witnessed Bill O’Reilly as he delivered a blistering verbal castigation to his “guest” because the man opposed America’s imperial occupations and war crimes in the Middle East. In the next breath, O’Reilly expressed his sympathy and compassion for the victims of 9/11. Ironically, the victim of O’Reilly’s abusive tirade had lost his father in the collapse of the WTC. Outfoxed, the source of this nauseating display of hatred and hypocrisy, has indeed portrayed an extremely dangerous entity. What truly scares me is that Fox News is only a symptom of a much greater malignancy.
Via Fox, the Bush Regime streams steady doses of its “opiate to the masses” via a distribution network reaching 85 million cable subscribers. Fox and most other mainstream media entities are the syringes mainlining the mind-altering, psychosis-inducing propaganda munificently showered upon Americans by the Party. Social Darwinists comprising the Party, including major corporate shareholders and executives, Israeli interests, the military industrial complex, plutocrats, the power players of the Religious Right, and intellectual elites, hold the Great Beast (us “commoners”) at bay with a powerfully addictive state of being called the American Dream.
As many Americans somnambulate through their existence, they are virtually oblivious and indifferent to the profound human misery which must occur in order for a tiny fraction of humanity to experience the American Dream.
It is indeed a Brave New World. As many Americans somnambulate through their existence, they are virtually oblivious and indifferent to the profound human misery which must occur in order for a tiny fraction of humanity to experience the American Dream. When (or if) their Soma fix finally wears off, I suspect they will be ready to chew off their own arms to escape the disease-ridden whores with whom they have unwittingly climbed into bed.
Mirroring Hitler’s Germany, this nation of “decent, God-fearing” people is pledging allegiance to a murderous regime. Are the comfort of conformity and the safety of loyalty to the Empire worth the price of one’s soul?Mirroring Hitler’s Germany, this nation of “decent, God-fearing” people is pledging allegiance to a murderous regime. Are the comfort of conformity and the safety of loyalty to the Empire worth the price of one’s soul?
America’s ruling class has created a scintillating facade to hide its dystopia, assuring the Great Beast that we all have the right and the means to attain the looks of a Victoria's Secret model, the money of a Donald Trump, and the athletic ability of a Michael Vick. Infomercials work: home schemes, plastic surgery, hypnosis, and myriad other avenues to instant success and immediate gratification abound amongst the virtually infinite number of hollow pursuits littering the spiritually barren landscape of the United States. Those who fall short of the “American ideal” simply need to continue upping their dose American Soma. If that fails and they fall victim to the ravages of unbridled addiction, spiritual emptiness, poverty, despair, self-hatred, or anorexia, they can simply end their misery with a drug overdose or a shotgun blast to the face. America’s predator class, the pushers of the opiate of the masses, is not concerned with the suffering they inflict. In their zeal to appease the triumvirate they worship (power, money, and narcissistic desires), the “chosen ones” of our society do not hesitate to sacrifice the rights, dignity, sanity and even lives of hundreds of millions of innocent human beings. After all, if they come from amongst the rabble of the Great Beast, how can they be truly human, and why would their anguish or death matter?
The Soma dispensed by the ruling class in the United States is a noxious concoction comprised of many ingredients, including Christianity and alcohol.
Huxley’s Soma had "all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects." The Soma dispensed by the ruling class in the United States is a noxious concoction comprised of many ingredients, including Christianity and alcohol. From birth, Americans begin receiving daily hits of Ameri-Soma from their parents, teachers, Scoutmasters, pastors, and other adults who have themselves been seduced by the alluring power of the American Illusion. Pledging allegiance to the flag, praying to the "one true god" of Christianity, and genuflecting to embodiments of "real men" like John Wayne, Americans are socially conditioned to believe in the righteousness of their masters’ cause. Our nobles desperately need the majority of their serfs to believe that the United States manifests the human pinnacle of democratic ideals, morality, courage, and leadership. And to deal with external skeptics (internal doubters will likely be in the cross-hairs soon), the power brokers of America spend $600 billion a year to maintain a military force bristling with sufficient weaponry to destroy the Earth many times over. Plutocrats and Neocons are not interested in humanitarian spending or saddling themselves with the mere mortal constraint of living within their means. Global hegemony for themselves is their ultimate goal, regardless of the cost in lives or public money.
Further insulating America’s ruling elites from the conflagration which would ignite (were the masses to awaken) is the insatiable American compulsion to shop and consume conspicuously. With the advent of easy credit, ubiquitous super stores open 24 hours, and payday loans, “buy now and pay later” has become as American as baseball and apple pie.
Alcohol, gambling, cigarettes, and pornography are but a few of the legal and readily available vehicles Americans use to self-medicate. For those wanting something more intense, a plethora of street drugs are within easy reach, providing the ruling class the opportunity to keep the black male population in check and to perpetuate their increasingly profitable prison industrial complex.
Television is the portal into which the Great Beast can gaze to experience the American Dream vicariously without lifting a finger (beyond the one changing the channels). Twenty-four-hour entertainment, “companionship," and “news” from the Ministry of Truth are readily at our disposal. A marvel of modern technology has become the nexus of the components of Ameri-Soma, the uber-drug that keeps the Great Beast submissive, tame, and intellectually stunted.
Perhaps it is human nature for a few to hoard power and resources to the detriment of the many. One can witness a consistent pattern of such behavior throughout history, at least in the "more advanced" cultures. Yet as Scott Peck so aptly noted in The Road Less Traveled, defecating in one's pants and the absence of dental hygiene are aspects of human nature at birth, but most people learn the unnatural acts of utilizing toilets and toothbrushes. One of the most beautiful aspects of humanity is that, unlike animals, people are not enslaved by their nature. Human beings can evolve. However, most of humanity has chosen to readily accept the shackles of the ruling class. Historically, the Great Beast has been domesticated, tamed and manipulated in a variety of ways. Brute military force, manipulation by religious entities and institutions, propaganda, and careful restriction of knowledge are but a few of the tactics employed by monarchies, tyrants, Popes, and generals throughout history.
At first blush, the United States appears to be the haven for freedom and human rights portrayed in legend, lore, and the propaganda of its school textbooks and media. However, if one can awaken from the drunken stupor induced by America-Soma, or if one happens to be a resident of another nation besides Israel or Great Britain (the only two nations still deluded enough to truly ally themselves with the United States), the many-headed hydra of the American Dystopia reveals its truly abhorrent nature. Lord Acton conveyed truth when he wrote that "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Despite its cleverly constructed image of a benevolent super-power, those ruling the United States are more corrupt than the power elite of any nation, including those in Bush's alleged "Axis of Evil." Due to its power, military might, and rogue leadership, the United States has also become the world's most significant threat to the perpetuation of life on Earth.
Most Americans still do not realize that they are enslaved to the ruling elite, a group with a savage, relentless devotion to avarice, the blind pursuit of money, and the domination of Earth's people and resources. Under the Bush Regime, the mask of civility, morality, and democracy has slipped to the point that the hideous visage of raw capitalism and imperialistic ambition is almost completely exposed. Yet somehow, as over a hundred thousand lie dead in Iraq, the Patriot Act strips our civil liberties, the wealth gap widens to a chasm, Big Brother has been caught watching (and is unrepentant), billions of dollars are wasted on occupations of sovereign nations, habeas corpus disappears, America engages in torture regularly, property rights precede human rights, and a major city lies in ruins due to the willful neglect of a government charged by the Constitution with promoting the general welfare, many Americans still cannot, or will not, dare to even glimpse at the lurid countenance of evil leering at them from Washington.
Like a swarm of locusts, Social Darwinists have descended upon our nation and are rapidly devouring the fruits of our labor. Resembling leeches, these parasites drain the life-blood of America and return nothing. Acting as virulent strains of previously undiscovered illnesses, these pathogens have infected a nation filled with the promise and potential envisioned by Thomas Paine. The resulting disease has reduced the United States to a wheezing, gasping tyrant nearly on economic life support. This once admirable nation flails almost blindly as it wields the only real power it has left like a bludgeon, dispatching its awesome military on imperial errands and acts of revenge (against the wrong people) under the pretense of humanitarian intervention. Employing quick sound bites, propaganda packaged as gospel, tantalizing distractions, the lure of easy money, and a highly insular environment, these sociopathic plunderers have hijacked America. Their reckless piloting is destined to result in a disaster of Biblical proportions. America’s rulers view the world as their playground. Recess is in session and the schoolyard bullies have seized control. They kidnapped the school-yard monitor, have stolen the lunch money, are taunting and beating the weak, and are playing kickball with the class misfit’s head.
This doesn’t have to stand. America has exhibited true greatness in the past. Think of the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. This is the nation that spawned the Abolitionist Movement. The powerful Labor Movement arose in the Twentieth Century and claimed unprecedented rights and protections for the working class. The Civil Rights Movement made powerful gains for minorities and the oppressed. Women won the right to vote. Populists made strides for farmers and the working class. Anti-war protestors broke the will of the military industrial complex to continue their genocidal “pacification” of the Vietnamese. Progressives have been a significant force for social changes to benefit humanity since the 1890’s. There are still champions for the oppressed in America and spiritually enlightened values are woven into the fabric of our culture.
We the People have a choice. We can bend to the will of the hectors who have stolen the soul of our nation or we can follow the example of our predecessors and work vigorously to reclaim our humanity. Borrowing the words of a blueblood of American aristocrats, Nancy Reagan, I say it is time to “just say no” to Ameri-Soma. Actually, Lady Nancy’s statement was grossly over-simplified. In addition to saying no, one also needs to replace the behaviors associated with the addiction. Might I be so bold as to make some suggestions to counter the effects of withdrawal from this powerful drug, and to propose some means of coping with the loss of the false feeling of security it imbues?
Join or support an NGO like Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International. Boycott dehumanizing corporations like Wal-Mart. Conserve resources, recycle, and drive as economical a car as you can afford. Support and vote for individuals who have genuine concern for humanity, like Lynn Woolsey, John Conyers, Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich (assuming they do not die under “mysterious circumstances” like Paul Wellstone). If you choose to support a specific political party, explore those outside the corrupt Duopoly, both of which represent the interests of the ruling class. Refuse to enable the ruling elite’s addiction to war by declining to join the military, hence depriving them of additional cannon fodder.
Embody the Golden Rule to the extent that it is humanly possible. Embrace cultural, racial, sexual, and religious diversity. Read some books by Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn to cleanse your mind of the elite’s polluted version of historical, social and political issues. Educate yourself and your children beyond the warped world perspective portrayed by the media and our public education system. Participate in your child’s education by teaching them to think critically and dig far beneath the surface. Live within your means and avoid credit card debt like the plague. Demand and support justice for the oppressed; peace will follow justice. Donate your time and money to truly compassionate and humane causes (as much and as often as you are able). Take personal responsibility and act as honestly as humanly possible in your affairs. Through non-violent action, press for social justice, human rights, dignity and peace.
In the end, the prognostications of martial law, “re-education” camps for dissidents, the collapse of the American economy triggered by crushing debt and the Iranian oil bourse, massive unemployment, the successful elimination of the remains of our Constitutional republic, and the relegation of the Great Beast in the United States to Third World conditions may ring true. So as you pour sugar in the tank of the engine powering the American Empire by refusing your daily dose of Ameri-Soma, do not relinquish your Second Amendment rights. Someday, the members of the Great Beast may need to exercise our inalienable right to self-preservation. If it comes to this, there will be activity in the streets, but it will not be dancing.
In the future, I may be writing to you from behind concertina wire, or I might meet you there. Who can truly predict? However, if we happen to meet under those circumstances, at least our souls will be at rest knowing that we pursued social justice and human rights in the face of abject evil.
Jason Miller, a 39-year-old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts, works as a loan counselor. He is a member of Amnesty International and is an avid supporter of Oxfam International and Human Rights Watch. He welcomes responses at email@example.com or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner.
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This story was published on February 13, 2006.