Day-to-day life within an empire consists of the deceitful leading the disengaged. Although when the artifice shielding a nation’s populace from the ruthlessness of their leaders begins to fall away, hysteria and displaced rage rises in the land. Ergo, in the American empire, we’re witnessing these demented days of congressional boy love and despotic rockets.
Day after day, the pace at which insane tidings arrive quickens: it’s as if we’ve become passengers on a high-speed train, commandeered by lunatics, that only stops at insane asylums in order to board more lunatics. Naturally, it follows that the train has gone runaway, careening down the buckling tracks, blue spark spraying from its steel wheels, while any approaching curve becomes a threat to derail the whole hurdling madhouse.
For many years, these episodes of mass psychosis have been gaining velocity. Empires are inherently bughouse crazy because, by their very nature, they grow conservative to the point of becoming totalitarian. After a time, the singular raison d'être of this form of pathological conservatism is to fiercely cling to the things it has gained through expansionist practices and policies. In addition, it must find ways to rationalize the brutal and deceitful means required to sustain itself.
Accordingly, when its imperial ambitions are thwarted, rage and hysteria will seize both its elites and hoi polloi alike. The ensuing scene is similar to an inmate riot in the cafeteria of an insane asylum when the traditional Saturday night dessert of chocolate pudding has been withheld.
At this point, in the brutish life of an empire, the term conservative becomes a misnomer. What exactly is being conserved by policies of expansive militarism and environmental and imperialistic plundering? That is, other than conserving policies of expansive militarism and environmental and imperialistic plundering? To claim this is conservatism is analogous to claiming that an army of rampaging fire ants are, only, at times, prone to becoming a little excited about their property rights. Since when is a rampage regarded as a worldview?
We have endured an era reeking with the miasmal runoff of “conservative values” spewed by these toxic totalitarians, as, all the while, they have employed classic Orwellian Newspeak as a means of perfuming its stench, thereby terming their brazen acts of exploitation -- freedom, and calling their smash-and-grab economic looting -- free enterprise.
Yet, the conservative mind is obsessed with the notion that life could . . . should -- must! -- be returned to the values of a simpler, purer past. Perhaps, this is a compensatory fantasy, an attempt to escape the enervating machinations of their own rationalizing minds: a desperate coping device that allows these scheming cartels of aging frat boys to be in deep denial of the ruthless desires of their own rapacious ids. Among their pathological wishes is the compulsion to slip the entire planet a date rape drug then, along with their frat house brothers, molest her.
Indeed, it’s unnerving to realize -- we are being ruled by a collection of totalitarian, frat rat, date-rapists endowed with the introspective capacities of rampaging fire ants.
For the conservative (oxymoron alert) imagination it’s a psychological imperative to believe in the possibility of returning to a more moral past (even if this Helicon land never has nor ever will exist). This variety of cognitive dissidence, roiling the minds of those at the head of our one party, corporate state, in combination with the rapid dissemination of spurious information and contrived imagery ubiquitous in the mass media, has suffused contemporary life with an unreal quality. Within this bubble, we’ve become benumbed; consequences become diffuse; history and political acts carry no more weight for us than a television commercial for chewing gum or toilet paper.
Although in diametric opposition to our weightless misapprehensions: To live in these times is to be subject to the madness of an era wherein those possessing personality profiles matching those of Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada have been given access to high-tech surveillance devices, the plunder-prone European imperialists have global communication satellites at their disposal, and Genghis Khan has the means to solicit the duplicitous talents behind public relation and advertising firms to re-brand his image.
If the corporate media had existed in Khan's era, it doesn't strain credulity to imagine the 13th century's equivalent of CNN's Kyra Phillips, who, during the invasion of Iraq, asked the attending physician of an Iraqi child who had lost three limbs and suffered the loss of his entire family as a result of the so-called Shock and Awe bombing campaign: “Doctor, does he understand why this war took place? Has he talked about Operation Iraqi Freedom and the meaning? Does he understand it?” This is tantamount to asking the orphaned children of lands sacked by the Mongol hordes if they understood the glory of the Great Khan's Operation Enduring Plunder.
It’s small wonder the conservative keepers of the present order insist that the world must be returned to what it was. But, inevitably, when these fervent desires are thwarted, the desire grows into an endless feedback loop of aggression, accompanied by more self-justifying lies -- thereby creating the self-resonating circuitry of thwarted triumphalism and perpetual paranoia that passes for the belief system of the contemporary conservative. As, all the while, the feedback loop continues to build in pitch and intensity, growing ever more insistent that the world be changed back to what it never was to begin with . . . and then, again, being thwarted by reality . . . then, exponentially, building in pitch and intensity . . . rinse and repeat . . . ad infinitum . . . ad nauseam.
Psychologically, it becomes all too much for the conservative mind to bear; therefore, the attempt is made to cope by means of displacing one's anger, as well as, projecting one’s hidden desires upon the people of distant countries and scorned groups within the culture. In short order, the war drums thunder; the flesh of the era’s designated witches hiss from the flames of public burnings; and pathetic sorts such as pedophile Mark Foley must carry all of our darkness.
These are examples of the epic cognitive dissonance borne by self-destructing empires. Ergo, if the zeitgeist were personified and was granted a thought process mirroring the belief system of contemporary conservatism, the poor bastard would have to be provided with massive doses of anti-psychotic medication to be prevented from roaming the streets raving (or, at least, as in the case of Rush Limbaugh, OxyContin to sustain his ravings on rightwing hate radio).
Or, provided with employment as the engineer of this rattling death train of a runaway empire. And what of us -- the passengers aboard the train -- what instructions have the madmen manning the locomotive given us, during the harrowing course of this doomed ride: They have advised us to hold on tight to our values. Insanely, a frightening number of credulous sorts seem to have accepted their instructions; accordingly, they're desperately gripping the armrests and handrails of the train’s passenger compartments,
in the thrall of a mass delusion that such actions might keep them personally out of harm's way, as well as serve to hold the careening train itself on the tracks.
Then what are a few of these much-vaunted values that we so ardently believe will save and sustain us? First off, as recent events have revealed, we Americans are a people who are united in our firm and abiding conviction that pedophilia is wrong.
This might lead one to the conclusion: If only we had collectively engaged in online, sexually innuendo-larded chatter with Iraqi teenagers -- instead of killing them -- we might be able to workup some moral outrage at ourselves. In our madness, our values inform us that the lives of well over half a million Iraqis have no value. Obviously, sans our sacred values, we Americans would most certainly become a nation of morally suspect people.
Although, in an era where the culturally defining myths of fundamentalist Christianity and corporate consumerism mix, merge, and envelope us, we do hold sacred the following value: We believe that incessant self-promotion and successful salesmanship is close to godliness. Ken Lay died for our sins of self-doubt. He slipped the surly bonds of this earth and his soul rose to paradise where he will spend eternity, close to our father, the cosmic CEO. Kenny boy is now so close to The Lord he can hear The All-Mighty count his money. For God so loved the world: He bought the company.
Here and now: on earth, as it is in heaven, the values of present day conservatism inform us sinners we must, without question, embody a godly consumer's credo: “I am what I buy; ergo, the facade I show to the world is who I am. Perhaps, if I begin to believe this shimmering lie deeply enough -- possessed of a saint’s abiding conviction -- then it will become an abiding truth.”
In addition, in our secular dealings, we must endeavor to become socially and agreeably dumb; this credo -- the ascendant and defining credo of our age is: “The less you know the smarter you are.” Let me explain (very slowly for those reading this without moving their lips and who are unable to wrap their big, snobby, reason-bound brains around the concept): Time, in the corporate era, is more valuable than intelligence, so it follows that anyone who would waste valuable time pursuing mere knowledge is stupid; therefore, stupid is the new smart. Got it, stupid?
In addition, one is expected, at all times, in speech and bearing to render oneself non-threatening to the bullying corporatist and religious order -- or join the ranks of the bullies and cheer them on. There is an added bonus in this choice: You get to call your hate, fear and bigotry -- “values.”
Our values are as precious to us as life itself. Accordingly, one and all can see how precious life is to us by the realities of our present day healthcare system. Also, our values include honest, hard work. Many of us value work to such a profound degree that the ruling class corporatists have allowed us to hold down two or even three, low-wage, zero-benefits jobs so that we can vainly attempt to make ends meet. What sorts of values are these? Who has the time to answer such a frivolous question -- we have to get back to work.
But we the people of The United States know this much: There are people, very bad people, in this world, who want to destroy our values. And there are consequences for this. For example, the people of Iraq are suffering so badly due to the fact that their belief in their false god has made them a callous and cruel people. So much so, that it leaves them indifferent to the suffering of us Americans who feel a deep sense of betrayal due to their cruel rejection of our charitable desire to share our values with them.
Therefore, we're left with little choice but to bring on our faith-based indifference to their suffering. Where would the people of Iraq be without our values?
As an empire grows grotesque, its populace mirrors its ugliness in mind and action. Yet, in this era of authoritarian corporate rule, just below the level of our conscious understandings, we’re aware of the sad fact that all this nonsensical palaver about values is simply a desperate gambit to keep reality at bay.
Why is it so difficult to face facts? Perhaps, because, in an age when we’ve lost any semblance of economic independence and have forsaken so many of our rights and liberties, what do we have left to call our own? What we're left with are our values.
So what exactly are values anyway? Values are what the clergy and the corporatists allow us to keep for ourselves -- after they've made off with all the valuables.
Phil Rockstroh, a self-described auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Articles by Phil Rockstroh