Automatons and Slaves
"The history of the twentieth century was dominated by the struggle against totalitarian systems of state power. The twenty-first will no doubt be marked by a struggle to curtail excessive corporate power."
--Eric Schlosser, Author Fast Food Nation
The struggle humanity is now facing to escape the chains of slavery and serfdom presently being inflicted on us by corporate multinationals that is making automatons of us all is one that must be manifested to the masses; the billions of human beings that have not had the good fortune of being alerted and liberated through education. The brainwashing of humanity that begins at youth, through media channels that feed off our own human nature, and which continues until the grave through an ever expanding array of techniques, tools and technologies has created a society – stronger in the Western world but increasing throughout the globe – that is self-destructing yet remains ignorant to the coming decimation we are bringing onto ourselves.
Corporate power has, over the last century, risen to the point that out of the top one-hundred economies in the world, fifty-one are corporate conglomerates. This unyielding supremacy is increasing daily, and it is having a profound effect on nation-states, or what remains of them. Corporations, and the few who control them, now exert great influence on all nations, their governments and their peoples. They control "us". In every facet of our lives, throughout every human interaction, these giants manipulate the human system for their own selfish motives. Profit drives them, the almighty dollar strengthens them and power feeds them.
Like a human, the corporation grows, matures, becomes more knowledgeable and intelligent, gains experience and learns to survive through whatever means necessary. It is a product of humanity, with human rules and morals – or lack thereof – and thus, capable of every vice and defect that we as a race possess. It represents the dangers of power left unchecked; it is run by humans, thus making it fallible to the consequences of our own human nature. It is a monster, a Leviathan without a conscious that destroys everything in its path, feeding off the weak and producing what it ultimately aims to achieve: profit, return on investment, power. Because it does not breathe it pollutes, because it does not feed it intoxicates, because it does not feel it ignores the calamities it unleashes onto us.
The corporation must grow, year in and year out. Indeed, a corporation that fails to meet expectations can expect to disappear or be gobbled up by a bigger beast through a merger, takeover or acquisition. Survival of the fittest never seemed so fitting; it survives by expanding, by producing more waste, acquiring more customers, buying off governments, decimating peoples, becoming morally bankrupt and gaining all forms of advantages, both legal and illegal, moral and unethical, until finally, at the end of the fiscal year, its shareholders and executives are satisfied that their wallets have been made thicker. There are thousands of corporate multinational conglomerates, all living for the present, not caring for the future. The corporate Leviathan is a product of a system gone awry, a system created by man, once within our control, now nothing more than a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself year after year. It is now bigger and more powerful than we could have ever envisaged and its power continues to grow exponentially. Capitalism has spawned its most frightful beast.
In order to survive, the corporation must begin to create a target market, one that will expand and continue growing in perpetuity. The easiest way to do this is by manipulating the most vulnerable and susceptible of all: children. The corporate Leviathan spends billions of dollars a year on marketing, on targeting a segment of society that cannot yet make viable decisions, cannot yet think for themselves, cannot see the world for what it really is. The corporation preys on innocence. It sucks the mind and blood of children, brainwashing them from the cradle to the grave, inculcating them to consume, consume and consume some more. It robs them of their individuality, their ability to think for themselves, and, most ominously, the collective future of the human race.
This systematic brainwashing, nothing more than massive propaganda and an ingraining by means of mass media manipulation, is fast becoming parent, teacher and role model for millions of children worldwide as parents abandon their traditional historical roles due to the ingrained and indoctrinated need to produce and consume that causes them to leave the job of child rearing to the television. It is done through advertisements, cartoons, shows, movies, the Internet and many more forms of media whose sole aim is reaching as many children as possible, as cheaply as possible, in order to create a new generation of consumers, a new generation of drones and automatons. The brainwashing of the American mind assures allegiance, acquiescence, ignorance and indifference. Those who controls the media control the masses.
Children, the last bastion of innocence, are quickly and systematically transformed by what they watch into unwitting consumers, leaches that see not reality, but a fiction that in reality does not exist. They see beauty, wealth and perfection. They are trained to want and seek these fantasies, though to the vast majority they are and will forever be unattainable. To them, the television, and the images that are regurgitated every second of every day is reality and is the only thing they know and understand. This has a profound effect on the as yet undeveloped brain. The corporate Leviathan preys on this alteration of reality; it encourages and indeed creates it to further its goals of maximizing profits and making ignorant millions of future adults. It is harvesting slaves.
By manipulating and exploiting the human condition and human nature, by abusing our needs for food, shelter and clothing, the corporation exerts tremendous pressure on both children and adults to conform to society, to have what everyone else has, to not be left out. The corporation feeds off of our insecurities, our needs, wants and desires, our fragile egos. Advertisements, television shows and movies are designed to reach our psyches in order to manipulate behaviors that have evolved for millions of years and that, with a turn of a button on a remote, ignites in us our passions, desires, fears and fantasies. It is the system at work, fed by our own ignorance, our own human nature, and we seem powerless to stop or control it.
Rather, it controls us; it makes out of us nothing more than mere automatons from where corporations recycle their brands, test their products, make their lofty profits. We are simply machines that turn beer, soda, foods, candies and the like into urine and toxic waste. We are trained to consume like a voracious plague of insects. From the tastes and ideas we are ingrained with since birth by corporate brands and marketing, we continue purchasing, consuming, wasting; materialistically selfish we become. The cycle continues for the rest of our lives. We are nothing more than expendable automatons, trained from infancy to produce and consume, to enrich the Leviathan.
As we become teenagers and later adults, our tastes and brand preference already clearly established by the incessant brainwashing that has enveloped us since birth, we begin the next stage in corporate global realization: slavery and serfdom. We begin to "work," heading off to corporate factories, farms, stores and restaurants, earning a wage determined by our corporate masters, working hours established by these same sovereigns, under conditions dictated by them.
We live in an employer’s market; struggling to survive with minimum wages, with precious few hours to spend with our children, few hours to think on our own. We subserviently obey; we fail to question authority. Our corporate masters, having control of our tastes, needs and wants since birth, in essence dictating what we purchase, now tell us how to work, how to produce, how to spend our waking hours. Their propaganda makes fools of us all, and the great beast continues gorging without pause, without accountability. We are easily disposed of; overlooking our shoulder are millions more slaves, eager to work for the same or lower wage, higher hours, under worse conditions, because, after all, we need to survive, we need to live.
Every wage we earn is quickly returned to our corporate masters. Hours of blood, sweat and tears vanish in an instant as we must buy the same products we were inculcated with as children. Our wage returns to the same beast that we work for. Wages are but an illusion, a way of controlling the masses into thinking that they are not slaves or serfs. It is the only instrument differentiating us from serfs and slaves of yesteryear. It is great deceptive marketing.
We slave ourselves at work, for meager earnings and for little happiness and satisfaction, creating a population ever dependent on mind numbing and altering pills, gladly supplied by our feudal lords. The corporate Leviathan feeds, shelters and clothes us with its brands, the same products it forces down our throats with the few hours of relaxation we have on a daily basis. The television has become, along with the almighty dollar, our religion; our corporate masters, our gods. We pray to the television monitor on a daily basis, receiving instructions on what to buy and on how to improve our "miserable" lives through our gods’ ever-increasing array of products. Our wages go back – as a form of indulgence, a sacrifice at the temple – to our gods. The cycle is repeated with the rise of a new sun and the awakening every morning of billions of humans.
The corporation, together with its brethren in the industry, does everything possible to deny workers the right to stand up and think for themselves. It controls, indeed owns the government and the bunch of traveling salesmen that comprise it. Through a legal form of corruption called lobbying and campaign contributions, the corporation and its industry command what the government of a nation does and does not do. The leaches that are the people’s representatives, already some of the most unscrupulous in all humanity, easily corruptible, greed mongers, addicted to both the almighty dollar and power, bend over to the dictates of corporate interests, sacrificing the lives of millions for their own rotten existence.
We punish terrorists, we punish drug users, pushers and petty criminals, sending them to rot in jail, yet every year hundreds of thousands of innocent people die and more heinous crimes are committed by the Leviathan and as a result of the cowardice of our representatives and the unscrupulous actions of corporate executives. Death and disease due to pollution, military weaponry, toxins and chemicals in food, tobacco and alcohol sales, defective products, denial of medicines. Are these wretched scoundrels punished? Do they ever see the inside of a cell for the greater crimes they commit? No, they are given lucrative bonuses, promoted for increasing the bottom line. Consumers are subject to the worst injustices as a result of corporate greed and avarice because the Leviathan has government officials in the pocket.
What we are witnessing is the pervasive cancer that is greed, and how it translates into how we are treated by corporations and its elite rulers, in every industry, in every way. One does not have to look underneath a microscope to see the reality that is our life today; full of abuses, full of the worst in humanity through the actions of the Leviathan. Is there such a thing as the American Dream anymore? Surely the American Daydream still exists, but as long as corporations have a say in almost every aspect of our lives, where they control what we buy, what we eat, where we sleep and how we live, how much we make and how to think we will never truly be free.
From cradle to grave, the corporate world is a part of us, it manipulates, it indoctrinates, it controls and enslaves. We are being transformed, our individuality is being eroded. Food is becoming one and the same, our homes now look more like beehives than a sign of our individuality, the Americanization of the planet is progressing at an alarming rate. The path leading us to a system of automatons and a new form of slavery is gripping us the longer we remain passive and submissive to the commands of the giant beast. Clearly, our governments are now owned by corporations, so the answer will not come from those who have been bought and sold. The nebula of greed is all-encompassing, infecting those whose love of the almighty dollar and materialism is strongest. Greed-mongering capitalism has spread from coast to coast.
The malignant cancer that is greed is eating away at the fabric of society, and, the longer we let it grow, the harder it will become for us to find a cure for it. It is growing ever bigger, more powerful, ravaging land and man. We are becoming expendable entities, billions more can take our place after all, and, with the centralized system of all industries, our minds are no longer useful. We are drones used for subjugation and exploitation, able bodies that create profits.
We are living an illusion, believing in freedom and liberty, independence and individuality, when, in reality, as corporations become stronger and stronger, wiser and more powerful, our lives are being transformed to those representing the slaves of the past and the automatons of the future. Like cattle, poultry and pork, the corporate world is fattening us up, turning us into docile, sedentary and easily manipulated and controlled beings, corralling us, millions of people together, sending us up the chute of despair and into the pit of eternal damnation, ready to be slaughtered, both mind and soul.
Is there a solution to this predicament? Can we be saved from a frightening future that will undoubtedly affect us and our progeny? Yes, there is. The answer is education. The answer is action. The answer to so many of the problems inflicting humanity today is education. The masses need to be informed; they need to be made aware. An educated mind is a wonderful and incredibly liberating tool; it emancipates the mind and frees the spirit. Those in power have historically shunned educating the masses for fear that an educated populace would realize what was being done to them and would revolt. By not educating the populace, those in power remained in control. Ignorance is their tool, education their enemy. Education, however, leads to action, which leads to change. Education equals liberation. Only a free, liberated mind can see reality and the truth. And today, more than ever, we need to see reality for what it really is. We need to see the truth.
Manuel Valenzuela is an attorney, consultant, freelance writer and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel that will be published in 2004. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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