Sunday, May 23, 2010

The evil among us.

The evil billionaire businessman or the evil corporation have been been staples of crime fiction since the middle of the last century, right after we got over all that gray-flannel-suit melodrama, and of more mainstream fiction for at least half that time. Such entities always used to seem somewhat overblown and sensationalized. No longer.

In the age of Halliburton and BP Oil, of Wall Street criminals and health care liars, in a time when great national banks have pissed away a significant portion of our wealth with risky and self-serving schemes, it has become more obvious than ever to anyone paying a modicum of attention that true evil lives among us. Such characters are all too real. If anything, the malevolence and disinterest in anything other than putting more money in their own coffers at any cost manifested by "corporate" sorts make most of those fictional versions almost laughably ineffective and short-sighted.

Oddly though, with all the evidence right there before our lyin' eyes, the same large minority of the population which suffers most from the machinations of connivers at the very top is still buying in to the self-serving myths propagated by big business and big media, still clinging to the idea that somehow allowing the rich to become richer and businesses to be entirely unfettered will work to their benefit in the long run.

That this condition still persists, indeed prevails, is an example of mind control beyond the visionary capabilities of most practitioners of fiction. George Orwell's 1984 and the host of anti-Utopian novels which followed in its wake envision a beaten and defeated populace held down by drugs or military forces or some other physical manifestation of power. But it was much simpler than that. All it took was a constant drumbeat of misinformation and the acquiescence of the comfortable. Which is to say, you and me.

The manipulators of what the average American sees and (much less often and  much more selectively) reads have managed to inculcate their message so thoroughly and completely that it is seen in many quarters as Un-American to even question that version of reality even at the edges, much less to challenge it openly. The Tepid Middle and the Timid Left bow before the roaring, if empty, winds of talk radio and Fox News. The Bright New Hope in the White House seems more and more The Conciliatory Overseer, the occasional flash of anger quickly erased by day-to-day policies which, in the face of all evidence, seem founded in a numbing belief that there is a way to reconcile with those who feast on the growing and continually stoked anger that threatens the very principles of the nation with platitudes and watered-down fixes.

We are becoming a nation which prizes ignorance above all else, just so long as it coincides with our own uninformed world view, because is easier and more comfortable than the truth. We rail against the present and long for a past that never was, all the while refusing to see who was to blame and how we got here.

It is a time when Dick Cheney, a creature who would have made Dr. Strangelove cringe in fear, was once the most powerful man in the country and remains a behind-the-scenes force for all that is wrong in our natures. That snarling visage is the face of the nation. God help us all.


  1. Brilliantly written and oh, so true. Sadly. This country is, I am sore afraid, screwed. Like the old British Empire before it, we are over the top of the hill and slowly will slide into the same "used to was" power that Great Britain is. No empire lasts forever and this great power has seen its best days.

  2. Do you read Andrew Sullivan's blog? He has an interesting on-going take on Obama's approach to governing, in which he likens the pres to the Roadrunner, going on about his business, while the Coyote destroys himself with his constant attempts to destroy the Roadrunner. Look for postings headed "Meep Meep"

  3. "Interesting take?" is that code for "making excuses?" I have much the same view of the Obama approach and thought it served him well in the campaign (where his team seemed to be step ahead of everybody else although it didn't always become evident until after the fact), but it is not an approach suited to these angry times in many instances and certainly not in the face of a crisis like the oil spill.

    Also, Andrew Sullivan? Really?