Originally published on December 5, 2012 on occupy.com
Shakespeare, Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde could not have asked for a better piece of irony than what has become of the American dream.
A dream that once encompassed the idea of entrepreneurism, individuality and hard work is currently devolving – or, some would argue, has already devolved, into its antithesis: a developing, collectivist, Big Brother society that does not respect privacy, press, speech or religion, that is not transparent or accountable, whose middle class is collapsing and whose State makes decisions without consulting the People, all the while operating under the guise of fealty to old ideals while secretly uprooting them.
Our country is now overrun with executive orders, immunity for telecommunication companies that spy on and wiretap innocent American citizens, data mining by the NSA, excessive and intrusive security at airports, legislation drafted outside of Congress, undeclared wars, billions invested on political theater instead of social programs and curbing poverty, taxpayer bailouts for corrupt financial institutions, severe crackdown on whistleblowing, unconstitutional and illegal drone strikes, torturing facilities, indifference to war crimes, a chain of hundreds of military bases around the world and a restrictive, controlled “free-market” that has given us a Walmart every 10 miles and a McDonald’s every two.
We are now a country wherein 1% of our nation controls about 43 percent of the wealth, more than the entire bottom half of the population; where six corporations control 90 percent of mass media; and where about one in four corporations pay nothing in taxes while getting millions of our dollars in refunds.
In our country today, most politicians are no more than spokesmen employed by wealthy special interests. Meanwhile, people are being foreclosed on by the banks their taxpayer dollars bailed out. They are having to choose between food and rent, as about 47 million Americans now need government help to feed themselves.
The deeper you look, the worse it gets. Our government has contracts with corrupt, private multinational corporations to purchase weapons and surveillance technology while not even receiving a slap on the wrist for blatant war crimes of past administrations. Our taxpayer dollars fund and supply weapons to oppressive oligarchic regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen and Kuwait instead of areas at home such as Benton Harbor, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; and Pine Ridge, South Dakota, where the male life expectancy is 48 – the lowest in the Western Hemisphere outside of Haiti. All the while, draconian bills to regulate and monitor Internet activity have seen a push in Congress (SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, and most importantly, CISPA).
What may be most disturbing about our current state is that most Americans still accept emotionally-charged mantras like “We are land of the free, home of the brave” and ridiculously misguided and ignorant claims that we’re “spreading democracy and freeing nations around the world” (all the while expanding our number of military bases). We tell ourselves that soldiers overseas are dying to ensure our own freedoms at home (to be indefinitely detained without trial, conviction or due process). We are entering a near-psychotic state wherein we chronically see our country for what we want it to be – a constitutional republic – and not for what it really is: a corporatist, surveillance empire.
This illusion and psychosis is maintained in large part through control of the media, but also through the guise of humanitarianism: by bombing metropolitan areas such as Tripoli, and now-defunct award mechanisms such as the Nobel Peace Prize for a president who drops bombs, and a European Union that shoves millions into poverty with crippling, anti-democratic austerity measures.
Our psychosis has reached such a point that we ignore reality and continue indulging in our delusions. For many, it is much easier to believe the lie than to accept the truth because it is so distant from what is truly happening. Many simply reject the data and claim that these facts – surveillance, war crimes, political persecution and detainment without due process – are actions reserved for far-away developing nations and can’t happen here in America.
But they can, and they have, and they are. We as Americans must come to terms with what we have allowed to happen. We must accept what our country has become and quit sticking our heads in the sand and hoping that things will magically get better. They will not. If we look at the track record of our rigid economic-political dynasty governing from Wall Street and Washington, we do not have the leadership to extricate ourselves from this devolving socioeconomic crisis.
We must learn to hit the “Bullshit!” button more often and discredit the meaningless, mind-numbing ideology and doublespeak emanating from Washington if we are to understand what is really going on, because if the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China can teach us anything, it’s that terminology and ideals are a great way for governments to operate as legitimate governing bodies performing a puppet show while pulling the important strings behind the stage.