In our technological age, the protocols of the zeitgeist are shrouded in dubious practices. Like the use of the term ‘force’ in Star Wars, force has become a very special fluid simultaneously circulating in the body politic and the imagination of speculative investors. The monographic stamp of neoconservative politics is everywhere apparent, showing how money has become what it is today in capitalist modernity, an unpredictable and ungovernable human institution that benefits the financial elites. It is a force that subjects the polity to the ambiguities of casino casuistry.
Money, allegedly invented as a general equivalent, to serve as an accounting unit, means of exchange, store of value, has become a force unto itself in the hands of the privateers. It has over time managed to penetrate the remotest corners of human society, constantly assuming new forms while serving up fresh surprises and perplexities. As a process of progressive dematerialization, abstraction and ever-growing commodification, its branding operations have been adopted as a template to replace grammar that identified the values of past epochs. Where once we identified an epoch by its spirit, we are now experiencing capitalist modernity as a feckless narrative written for and by the Jedi Masters of Wall Street, City of London, Frankfurt, Tel Aviv etc., whose appetite for easy money is unquenchable.
It has become ever more apparent that the ideas and beliefs of our epoch have become more artificial and craven. Ever since technology became the Jedi Master of capitalist modernity, the essence of social society has been drained of its creative modus. Capitalist modernity, having set up a system that limits participation within the system to those who possess money . . . sustenance becoming dependant of economic casuistry . . . finds that it can profit from the misery of those it has ensnared in its rentier gambit.
For example, on May 17, 2018, the United Way released a study indicating that nearly half of Americans could not afford basics like food, housing, and healthcare. Yet, in the same month, a report stating that unprecedented levels of wealth continue to balloon for Jeff Bezos ($112), Bill Gates ($90 billion), Warren Buffet ($84 billion) and their ilk. Together with the rest of America’s richest 1 percent . . . they now possess nearly 40 percent of the nation’s wealth . . . statistics confirming that capitalism works for the speculators in the money markets by withholding the spoils of war from the workers, are clearly verifiable. Brainwashed into believing in American exceptionalism, the risible antics of casino capitalism keep on mesmerising a gullible public who fail to understand that the resolution to the 2008 economic crises might have commenced with the nationalization of the banking system.
The fact that the fat-cat genre du jour fiasco making the rich richer is not questioned by established media, is because the fourth estate is mainly focused on its own bottom line per medium of stake-holding interests which situate it at the centre of the system. Consequently, few can be bothered to do hunger-watch, or homelessness-watch, or speak truth to power. We watch as the Jedi Masters, having created their own form of equivalence, continue to print money for use in their speculative gambits, while the sun sets, lamentably, on the American dream. The half of the population thrown under the bus by merciless, unpredictable and ungovernable ‘human’ institutions is of little concern to those who regard social order as inferior to wealth-by-stealth-governance.
The machine of state that runs on fostering speculative finance and a military that intimidates its adversaries so that it can secure its place in the annals of the ‘exceptional’ American playbook, is bound to fail. The military concept of leadership is atavistic, relying on the manufacture of ordinance to secure its position in the geosphere. In time, even the American somnambulant public must awaken to the fact that might is a relative phenomenon rather than a given.
Hopefully, the national psyche may awaken sometime soon to shape an inclusive future worthy of the ideals of the republic. Once the ‘people’ discover that ‘we-the-people’ have a voice in matters of how our tax dollars should be spent, the process of restoring the health and dignity of the homeland . . . Heimat . . . can commence to deal with the intractable subjects of social alienation, depression, drug abuse etc. At which point the spirit of the people . . . zeitgeist . . . may reappear on the radar yet again, to reaffirm the principle that it is the spirit of the ‘people’ which ultimately reveals to all the prerequisites that are required to set the nation on the path to inclusiveness.
The present path, which secures tech-ownership of everything for the billionaire privateer-class, produces unanticipated consequences in the public domain by giving investors the power to establish themselves as the purveyors of social order. How money functions in its present form in relation to the polity is more difficult to anticipate; where it is going from here, harder still. As divisiveness continues to add grievance to grotesque injustice, the character of the state becomes ever murkier.
For as long as the present arrangement continues to line the pockets of the 1 percent, there is no likelihood of change occurring. The monographic thrust of capitalist modernity toward reducing the status of public-domain activity is a strategy designed to suppress the case for social cohesion.
It seems that where the American way of thinking is concerned, nothing has value unless it is privately owned. So, 2018 may be a good time to pay closer attention to a system that is haemorrhaging credibility. We need to pause and observe how the new face of American-exceptionalism communicates; in the case of Donald Trump or Nikki Haley, barking has replaced speech. Clearly, the American idea of homeland . . . Heimat . . . is based on the premise that individuals can possess a portion of the physical homeland commensurate to his or her appetite for self-aggrandizement, by supporting the rules of the capitalist way of doing business . . . amassing capital in every conceivable way!
But, as ‘home’ or ‘homeland’ is in the head, social order can only have meaning to the public when it invokes a spirit of cohesion. America came into its own believing that God meant them to be exceptional and privileged by dint of hard work. The manufacturing juggernaut that shaped 20th century American culture was responsible for reforming the perceptions of the homeland we live in today. It was cathedral capitalism that spread the intoxicating mantra, ‘we have caught the vision splendid,’ so let’s all share in it. It was a pitch that irrevocably shifted the public’s imagination away from the concept of ‘Heimat’ and the rural connotations that came with it, to become one where all were subjected to open slather hustling for the mighty dollar.
Over time, individuals who rose to prominence by way of successful business transactions, cemented their role as entrepreneurial high-priests in a belief system that would, in the end, expose the unspiritual nature of the enterprise for what it was . . . mammon unhinged . . . the system that celebrated individual gratification as the ultimate good while simultaneously corrupting the body politic.
As the fourth estate settled into its role of arbiter in chief of utilitarian norms masquerading as truth, obfuscation of reality becomes ever more pervasive in the epoch of casino capitalism. Yet, in spite of monopoly journalism, we sometimes get an opportunity to hear unadulterated facts that truly reveal the state of our situation, thanks to people like Professor Philip Alston.
The “Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human” . . . Washington, December, 2017 . . . had this to say; “The United States is one of the world’s richest, most powerful and technologically innovative countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty.”
He also had this to say: “I have been struck by the extent to which caricatured narratives about the purported innate differences between rich and poor have been sold to the electorate by some politicians and media, have been allowed to define the debate. The rich are industrious, entrepreneurial, patriotic, and the drivers of economic success. The poor are wasters, losers, and scammers. As a result, money spent on welfare is money down the drain. To complete the picture, we are told that the poor who want to make it in America can easily do so; they really can achieve the American dream if only they work hard enough.”
What Philip Alston’s stats show, is that micro-misery exists due to macro-malpractice at the highest level of governmental policies in thrall to corporate finance. Everywhere, the effects of casuistry and technological development impale the American dream on the greed-spike of privateer exploitation—scamming the best efforts of ordinary citizens trying to survive in the hoax-system that is America in 2018. To define and quantify poverty in America, the Census Bureau uses ‘poverty thresholds’ or Official Poverty Measures (OPM), updated each year. In September 2017, more than one in every eight Americans were living in poverty (40 million, equal to 12.7% of the population), and almost half of those (18.5 million) were living in deep poverty, with reported family income below one-half of the poverty threshold.
“The United States is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance,” explains UN rapporteur on poverty Professor Philip Alston, in “The Statement on Visit to the USA,” “they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from a lack of access to affordable health care, or growing up in a context of total deprivation.”
And it is stats that allow us to glimpse how the imperial game is played in 21st. century America. It is the euphoniously named Department of Defence (DOD), employing 1.3 million active duty servicemen and women as of 2016 that best represent macro-America. Adding to its employees are over 826,000 National Guardsmen and Reservists from the four services, and over 742,000 civilians bringing the total to over 2.8 million employees representing the macro-face of a ‘democratic’ state committed to endless war for democracy.
At the micro-level, abundance and deprivation and meagre shades of half-life exist alongside each other, attesting to the presence of those who benefit from, as well as suffer within a system cooked-up to serve the interest of the Pentagon and Wall Street elites . . . two species of four-star predation that gut democracy . . . have succeeded in giving new meaning to the term ‘discretionary-spending.’
So, when the stats are analysed, the first question that comes to mind is: whose interests does the United States Department of ‘Offence’ serve and where does its allegiance lie?
The second question: is finance an embalming fluid that preserves the rights of the warrior class while switching off life-support to those deemed to be unfit to wear the mantle of aggressor?
The third question . . . tongue in cheek . . . is: does anybody believe that the American system of governance is a model worth emulating
The fourth and final question is: do young Americans read . . . do they know that there is more to life than the white-washing, white-outing, racist gabble that presupposes that the American way is the only way . . . like selling itself to the rest of the world as a viable democratic model . . . seriously??
And the zeitgeist . . . a barometer recording historic duality . . . governance and the governed . . . can it be reduced to a . . . some-are-in and some-are-not-in paradigm?
Denis A. Conroy is a freelance writer residing in Australia.