JR'S Free Thought Pages
Intellectual Sloth and the I-Phone Techno-Nightmare
Old Fart Brain Fragments: A Discursive Diatribe (not to be confused with a logically argued philosophical treatise)
As the Self-lobotomized Bewildered Herd (The Sheeple) sleep walk through life like bloated Zombies , their communities and the rest of the World are being Pillaged and Destroyed by Corporate Vultures, Financial Swindlers and their Neo-con (emphasis on "con") Wrecking Crew Lackeys in Government...
by JR, May 2016
It's not difficult to dupe and defraud a populace that doesn't give a shit. The world population of apathetic distracted cell-phone addicted sheep is being incurably atomized, anti-intellectualized and anaesthetized. And sadly it's largely self-inflicted - by cell phones, twitter (root word "twit"), face book chit chat, hearsay and personal embellishments and a long list of other mind numbing superfluous techno-detritus. What remains of the attention deficit brains of the global herd is controlled by a cunning process of mind control and indoctrination by a newer and more venal form of Big Brother that George Orwell in his famous novel 1984 could never have dreamed up. Orwell never could have conceived of the technology presently available for mass indoctrination, surveillance and thought control by our new corporate masters, their trained seal media outlets and the tyrannical government pimps that do their bidding. In comparison to what our corporatist rulers have available today, Orwell's 1984 dystopian nightmare seems like a 1950s episode of Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best.
The mind destroying idiocy of never-ending marketing, boring TV sports with their militaristic flag waving national anthems, tedious taking heads, "reality" shows and most insidious of all, the neo-fascist sanitized carefully selected and manipulated news peppered with fairy dust we are spoon fed by our sycophantic media have all greatly contributed to our collective ignorance and stupidity. Our schools don't seem to be doing the job of inculcating the values of our conservative autocrats as effectively as in my day when even in the public schools we had to endure daily recitals of the Lord's Prayer complete with incredibly dull Bible readings which every student hated intensely. The teachers we admired most were those who refused to participate in the banal ritual. According to my 12 year old granddaughter in Ohio, at the start of each school day students are compelled to recite a pledge of allegiance "to god and country", a practise ubiquitous to fascist police states and other totalitarian regimes, certainly not in a country with a pretence to democracy. So this insidious mind destroying bullshit is still with us. What continues to be the worst mind altering threat to reason and democracy is organized religion, employing the business and marketing model to spread its mind viruses throughout the planet.
In the stifling conservatism of the 1950s, if a student questioned any of this ludicrous bible babble brainwashing process, as I was naive enough to do one morning, I was sent to "the office" and punished for my sin of curiosity by the standard ten on each hand. Back then the conservative sanitized history and many other courses we suffered from were taught didactically and tested by the pointless memorization of "facts" without demanding any explanation, thus preparing most of us for the boredom and tedium of mind destroying wage slave jobs we'd be suffering with for the rest of our lives. Of a high school graduating class of about 85 in my home town, only me and roughly a dozen other students went on to university. Most of us at that time were lucky enough to find stimulating self-fulfilling life-long careers complete with a liveable wage and pension. But those days are gone.
Education, and especially teaching methods, have vastly improved in the past 60 years but every morning in our pious city of Chilliwack in the Fraser Valley Bible Belt, I see a bus with the logo "Unity Christian School" racing down our neighbourhood street with a full load of innocent pliable young minds, future victims of faith and fables, headed for the grey matter slaughter house. These hapless kids will not even be given a chance to achieve intellectual autonomy, which is one of the primary aims of any enlightened education. Forget about critical thinking; these kids will be lucky if they are capable of thinking at all, lost forever to mind altering medieval dogma and obscurantism.
The political apparatus in the corrupt city of Chilliwack, from municipal and provincial to federal is controlled by a small number of influential churches, particularly the Dutch Reformed. All three elected members are Christian evangelicals, the result of nepotism, corruption and blessings from church leaders to their compliant parishioners. The demographic of the city is slowly changing, but insufficiently to transform it from the status of a veritable theocracy.
Despite over five centuries of humanist enlightenment and the scientific revolution that broke humanity out of the intellectual abyss of Dark Age mysticism and other forms of superstition, pseudo-science and religious obscurantism, our world continues to be contaminated by ludicrous gibberish that is an insult to the intelligence of an average nine year old. For example, more people in the USA believe in angels, horoscopes and the Genesis account of creation than they do evolutionary theory, the foundation of modern biology. But if you control the minds of children young enough, as a once famous Jesuit proclaimed, you'll have them for life, rendering them incapable of questioning anything, totally unable to reason, apply basic logic, asses evidence or detect fallacious arguments.
It's disturbing enough to contemplate the fact that the average IQ was originally pegged at 100. But a recent German study now estimates that over the past few decades, the average has declined to 85, roughly the IQ of a George W Bush or your typical dullard televangelist or financial advisor.
Our conservative masters continually bombard the masses with assertions about people's love of freedom and democracy. We're repeatedly told the old lie about freedom and democracy as foundational to human nature and desire. These notions are invoked by big business, their media outlets and politicians as a justification for fighting in every war. But cui bono? It doesn't take the IQ of Big Al Einstein to figure out that wars are invariably started by the rich who profit immensely from them, but fought by the credulous working classes who are mutilated and die in them. But many still believe the fairy tales they are told about the justification for war. They also believe the fables of The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and the Bible.
For a long time now I've had nagging doubts, not only about the honesty of those conservative bastards who wield power over the masses and make the claim about their love of freedom and democracy, but whether many of those same masses really care much about freedom or democracy at all. Certainly neither democracy nor freedom have ever really and truly existed anytime in history, except for those few who are sanctified and blessed by the prevailing deity and thereby perched atop the political and economic order, whether corporate capitalist, feudalistic, monarchical or theocratic . How do you explain, for example, the attraction by people to undemocratic, slavish and authoritarian institutions such as the Christian and Islamic Churches, their decadent hierarchies, multi-million dollar mega-churches and massive real estate holdings? Add to the list the thousands of non tax-paying religions, the "yes sir, no sir" police and military, offshore tax haven multi-national corporations or even the regimented asinine boy scouts? Conservatives love these despotic institutions, as long as they are in control, perched atop the tyrannical hierarchy, wielding power over their faithful and slavish minions.
The current mania and addiction to i-phones and other superfluous self-lobotomizing technology and media, including online computer games and gambling are aggressively promoted by our corporate masters. Elites love it. Why? Many of them are equally addicted, but it subdues the masses by way of distraction and mindless entertainment, sports hysteria, endless "apps", excessive chit chat, celebrity worship, online poker and other puerile activities that require the intelligence of a fence post. Certainly the masters of mankind do not want curious sceptics and critical thinkers who might possibly think of why they are being worked over, robbed, oppressed and screwed out of their basic economic, social and political rights. They would prefer that their inferior subjects, servants and slaves be credulous, docile and accepting of everything they are told and to not think at all. To further secure the enslavement of the masses they promote borrowing from the mafia banks, shameless reverse mortgages for impoverished retirees (have you seen the disgraceful Bill Good ads touting these financial scams? Yeah, we want your house back after you diligently paid off the mortgage for 40 years), shop, consume, run up your bank credit card at 30% per annum, be perpetually entertained and slowly slip into the trap of debt penury. In any civilized society education would be free (as in Cuba) but now the banks entrap young people into student debt peonage at the age of 25 as, with their PhD in philosophy or physics, they look for non-existent careers. PhD in physics, eh? Welcome to the wonderful world of Tim Horton's!
Most of those of my own generation who actually do have financial security, especially those who have been able to comfortably retire, don't give a damn about the political and environmental state of the planet. I'm OK, so the rest of the world can go to hell. Don't worry, be happy!
Many of these people I'm referring to are the post World War II generation, born roughly between 1940 and 1955, have been fortunate to have been the beneficiaries of a brief era of "democracy breakout". This rare phenomenon occurred not because of any inherent benevolence on the part of our liberal and conservative masters, but rather was a direct consequence of long hard fought for concessions to the working classes that were granted out of fear and trepidation from decades of labour strikes, civil unrest, disobedience and revolutionary fervour that reached a peak during the Great Depression. Strikers literally paid for these crumbs and drippings from the chins of the wealthy business elites with their lives, many beaten to death with batons or simply shot by cops, hired thugs. the military and other hired working class goons of the corporate state. Precious few know this history.
As an outgrowth of these concessions, a liberal arts or scientific university education for a brief few decades became affordable and readily available to the offspring of working class families with the academic credentials, ability and desire to put in the effort. Moreover, tuition was affordable, scholarships, bursaries and summer jobs were plentiful and for most graduates a college degree guaranteed a life-long well-paid satisfying career, complete with benefits and a decent pension. In the past three or four decades, this brief era of democracy and social justice outbreak has all but disappeared, both the affordable scholarship funded undergraduate and graduate degree and the stimulating well paid careers. That's now all kaput; the conservative masters of mankind are in complete control once again, as they have throughout history - and they want it all back.
Sadly, those who attend institutions of higher learning today feel compelled, not to enrol in mind expanding, intellectually stimulating and challenging course work about which they are passionate and well-suited, but rather opt for mind numbing degree programs in such banalities as marketing and business administration. By turning their brains into mush on such mundane intellectual pabulum, they are perhaps counting on the possibility of securing a stimulating career with a six figure salary as an assistant manager at MacDonald's or selling i-phones in a kiosk at Costco. These days young people are told "you're lucky to have any job". Thank you Jesus.
When I was a university student in the 1960s, despite the ongoing barbarism of the Vietnam War, I can vividly recall being idealistic, cautiously optimistic, even hopeful that we were on the threshold of a more just and compassionate world. That all began to collapse in the mid-1970s. Even many of the people my own age that I speak to at the gym and elsewhere don't seem to care anymore. That's assuming you can find someone not perpetually mesmerized by their i-phone, wired up to their i-pad or mp3 player. If you can actually gain someone's attention and hold it for a nanosecond and engage in dialogue with them on the prevailing global problems such as the venality of neo-con capitalist ideology, the state of the environment, climate change, or Western imperialism and terrorism, you typically get blank stares, as if you are some alien from a different galaxy. It seems that many prefer blissful ignorance, despite the fact there's little bliss to be found in willed ignorance - only delusion and denial. I can understand cynicism, pessimism and despair, but to have lost all desire to reflect, understand, learn, know, seek the truth, however unpleasant, to care about the future and even try to do something about it, I simply cannot accept.
Over the years, and especially since retirement as these problems have become more severe and pervasive, I've become extremely disappointed and periodically outraged by the behaviour of the human species, especially the many complacent sell-outs and know-nothings of my own generation. Many, it seems, assuming they ever thought seriously about anything at all, gave up learning and thinking when they finished their less-than-inspiring public education, most of which was an air-brushed history and other forms of top-down propaganda. Some, like me, were fortunate enough to have experienced two or three inspiring teachers sufficiently courageous to venture beyond the indoctrination, sanitized banalities and outright lies of the conservative curriculum. Contrary to popular mythology, most teachers are political and social conservatives. But there were a few daring radicals and contrarians who provided us with the unvarnished truth about history and other valuable knowledge not found in our deadly boring textbooks, challenging us to be sceptical and think for ourselves.
Many of my generation have been materially successful, despite an inadequate third rate education, and are now content in their retirement to sail away on exotic holidays such as decadent cruise ships or all-inclusive escapades in Third World countries to be pampered and pandered to by people making slave wages. Yet I'm told by my geriatric friends that two weeks on a boat gorging on non-stop buffet food and swilling back limitless booze as you listen to a Lawrence Welk band is exciting. Yeah, like a two week visit with a life insurance salesman or dentist performing root canal work. For the rest of their non-holiday time they often attend bingo, mindlessly waste their time and money at casinos, buying lottery tickets or scratch and win scams, rot their minds in church, play golf (badly) six times a week and watch re-runs of Gilligan's Island, Beverly Hillbilly's, Love Boat, Let's Make a Deal and Dr. Phil.
About ten years ago, for the first time, my wife and I decided to take a holiday to Mexico to an all-inclusive five star extravaganza in Nuevo Vallarta which, despite the rude arrogant Americans, Spanish-looking wealthy Mexicans and pervasive decadence, we thoroughly enjoyed it. That was until we discovered what the indigenous Mexican locals were paid at the massive Spanish owned hotel. Many of the overworked employees informed us that they were forced off their farms and out of their small family businesses by US agri-businesses and multi-national corporations such as Walmart. I have sometimes joked about this trip, telling friends that I found Jesus during this Mexican holiday. Was it because so many of the Mexican males were named Jesus? In addition to the disturbing fact that the vast majority of indigenous Mexicans have been brainwashed into Catholicism as soon as they pop out of the womb, these very hard working friendly people were paid a shocking $5 a day for a 12 hour shift. The descendents of the murderous thieving Spanish conquistadors such as Carlos Slim, who own pretty much the whole country, knew what they were doing. For inspiration I perhaps need to watch Viva Zapata once again.
After that disgusting revelation, we were so embarrassed and ashamed, we just wanted to return home. Before leaving the hotel to catch our return flight, suffering from guilt, we distributed all the cash we had left to the Mexican people who worked in the buffet restaurants and toiled at cleaning the hotel rooms. We have never gone back, refusing to participate in such blatant exploitation. It's called "free enterprise" folks, a wonderful Orwellian euphemism for "profit justifies anything".
In our faux democracies, many people seem to have an almost limitless ability to divert their attention from unpleasant stark realities and the unvarnished truth. They absorb themselves in consumerism or laying back on a couch or recliner like blobs of protoplasm, watching programs promoting greed and other degrading behaviours such as Storage Wars, Pawn Stars, Jerry Springer and the nauseating Shark Tank featuring the consummate Canadian capitalist asshole Kevin O'Leary. The latter is regularly featured on CBC, demonstrating how far our once respected public media network has fallen into obloquy and idiocy. Many people wallow in exploitive programs such as this with the moral reprobates featured on them having become worshipped icons. Perhaps they fantasize about becoming a bloodsucking "money for nothing" venture capitalist like the bad actors on these pathetic programs. In the meantime, their political and economic lives have been hijacked by Wall and Bay Street banks and other predatory financial swindlers, payday loan parasites, billionaire plutocrats and neo-fascist lobbyists and media moguls as the world's ecosystems are trashed with impunity, public assets bankrupted and privatized, social services underfunded or simply handed to voracious corporations at fire sale bargains while anti-labour laws are invoked as workers are subjected to ever lower unliveable wages. How did we end up with such superhuman passivity, docility, complacency and apathy? Man is born free said Rousseau, and in a 21st century update, he is everywhere in online chain stores. Wake up people! A promising start would be reading Noam Chomsky and listening to George Carlin.
The problems are not entirely connected to politics. Almost universally we now seem content to lead a proxy life, an anti-life of vicarious, illusory relationships, online dating services that resemble demeaning sex slave auctions or platforms for prostitution, of second-hand pleasures and mundane entertainments that are amusing us to death, of atomization without individuation. Many online dating services have been tailored according to socio-economic status, class or religious persuasion. One I've seen advertised on television is called Christian Mingle, for like-minded members of the Christian evangelical community. I wonder if there's a precondition that members do not hold hands until the tenth date? A few years ago I met a recently divorced guy at a gym in Surrey who told me about an online dating service he signed up for called Plenty of Fish. On his first date with a woman he described as "attractive thirtyish and pleasantly plump", he discovered sexual intercourse positions he had never dreamed existed in his previous encounters performing "the wild thing". By the time he went home the next morning he said, "I felt as though my entire body, particularly a certain appendage, had been twisted into a pretzel".
It's a truism that life's contingencies, especially poverty, seriously limit one's freedom. This is especially the case in our undemocratic me-first hyper-individualistic capitalist societies of stark economic disparity, also noted for their indifference to the pain of others and a blame-the-victim mentality. Quite obviously, in such societies those who possess significant disposable income are far more "free" than those that do not. But how do the well-off handle this excess freedom, other than make more money with the surplus loot they already have? I've briefly discussed this depressing scenario with regard to my own generation, many of whom are fortunate enough to have been able to retire quite comfortably while squandering their rapidly dwindling retirement years on the hedonistic treadmill of frivolous mind destroying activities.
Many who are financially secure, frequently the result of a lucrative inheritance, permanently postpone retirement and continue to work. What; work until you drop - you can't be serious? Why would anyone prefer to work rather than pursue some personal interests and passions they had no time for in their careers? Yeah, I know, I love my job! What a load of horse crap. My idea of the perfect job has always been "showing up is optional".
There's a limitless list of personally chosen activities one could mention such as an intellectual life of reading, reflection and writing, sports, going to the gym, regularly, auditing a university course, finish that PhD, volunteering for charity work, learning something new such as how to play a musical instrument or just daydreaming, something I engaged in frequently as a kid. To admit you are bored with life, as many do, is mind-numbingly mystifying. Isn't life too painfully short to be bored? There's always the option of suicide, as Albert Camus once wrote. I have known retired teacher acquaintances and friends who place themselves on the call list for substitute teaching. This I find disturbing and pathetic. This practise should not be permitted because it denies aspiring young teachers an opportunity to perhaps gain a full time position in today's tough market.
Capitalism, contrary to the bullshit we are regularly fed, is not synonymous with democracy, freedom, fairness and justice, none of which in any event, we have ever had or will have. Our apparent political limitations are just one manifestation of a wider reticence, a more serious malfunction of the desire and will to be truly free and engage in real democracy. Iím not referring to the freedoms conceded to corporations and wealthy privileged elites, seemingly by divine right. Rather than the crumbs that have been handed out to the poor, pillaged and inherited wealth of entrenched power is always what has been meant by "entitlement". The impoverished masses or working class schmuck scratching out a living has numerous superficial freedoms such as choosing Pepsi v Coke or reading Kant v Reader's Digest but does not have the freedom of multi-millionaires to drive a BMW or a Rolls Royce, live in a mansion and own a helicopter pad yacht as opposed to living under a viaduct, the privilege to not pay taxes or not abide by the rule of law, of corporations to contaminate the earth, exploit labour, pollute the atmosphere and induce children to consume toxic waste passing for food or slumlords to exploit their tenants. Real freedom entails egalitarianism and ethical sensibilities such as responsibility, a conscience and acceptance of justice, fairness, tolerance and respect for human decency and dignity we owe to others. We are in fact our brother's keeper. It's the basis of an almost universally accepted adage called the "golden rule" that can be traced back to Confucius, but on the other hand, almost universally ignored by all banks, financial institutions, corporations, the super rich and other bastions of the amoral profit driven capitalist gorgon.
Real freedom is also only possible without fear and paranoia, especially the fear of the "other" that now pervades our countries and communities in the West. It's a powerful psychological control mechanism used by those holding power that's always been with us. But fear has become an epidemic, primarily perpetuated, perpetuated and promoted by our corporatist governments since 9-11. Fear has been regularly employed as a propaganda device, the manipulative and coercive contrivance by those who control political and economic power, justifying infringements on civil rights and basic freedoms such as surveillance, persecution and incarceration of perceived enemies.
Paranoia is why parents these days drive their kids to school three blocks away. Risk and contingency cannot be avoided; it's a price one pays for being alive and free in a world dominated not only by natural disasters, but human induced bellicosity, irrationality, misinformation and superstition. An over-protected mollycoddled child will very likely be a fear ridden dysfunctional adult. In my generation, you'd be shamed and labelled a sissy or wimp by your school chums if you allowed your parents to chauffeur you to school , even if it was 5 km away and minus 40 degrees F. Instilling fear has also been the justification for gratuitous wars of imperialist profit and plunder. Our pathological government prevaricators and lap poodles for corporate power refer to these wars as "fighting for our freedoms". "Oh Canada, our home and (on?) native land, we stand on guard for thee. God save our land!" What mind destroying rubbish. Sadly, many believe and recite this putrid worn out patriotic horse manure.
It's not hard to understand how our political and intellectual impotence leads us to authoritarianism and tyranny. Recall the history of Spain, Germany and Italy between the two Great Wars of the 20th century. Can it happen again? Of course; the authoritarianism model is the normal human condition today as it has been throughout history. Without genuine popular bottom-up movements, which are required to prevent opposition parties from being co-opted by the slimy clutches of oligarchic multi-millionaires, corporations and their smarmy lobbyists, almost any government would be tempted to engineer a fascist police state.
The political parties these days that call themselves democratic and socialist behave like reactionary conservatives, even full-blown fascists. Fascism has always been only a short waltz to the right of conservatism. How else did fascist tyrants like Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and dozens of others gain absolute power? From the unqualified support of powerful conservative forces such as wealthy elites, the military, Christian churches, corporations and big business. Freedom is something we must use or lose. But we seem to have forgotten what democracy means. Have we ever known?
Consider what's now happening in the United States, Canada, Australia and much of Western Europe? In Europe, with the hysteria about refugees and ISIS, far right wing neo-Nazi and fascist parties with sweet sounding innocuous names such as The Danish People's Party, Polish Law and Justice Party, Swedish Democrats (rooted in neo-Nazism }, British Independence Party and National Front in France are making huge gains in popularity. In some Eastern European countries such as Hungary and Turkey, these dictatorial parties have formed the government.
With impending elections this fall (2016) in the United States, Americans are faced with the status quo of the war mongering imperialist super-bitch Hilary Clinton or the equally unsavoury multi-billionaire authoritarian proto-fascist strong man asshole Donald Trump. Trump claims to not have any moral issue with torture, in fact wants to increase the severity of torture, kill any suspected terrorists and even "take out their families." His disgraceful ignorance of international law such as the Geneva Convention and even the US Constitution id mind-boggling. Trump informs us that he has a big dick and that god appointed him the "greatest job creator ever conceived".
But as I mentioned earlier, some people, it seems, prefer to be sheep, having someone else do their thinking for them and tell them how to live their lives. I loathed this slavish attitude as an inquisitive kid and loathe it as much as ever as a much more knowledgeable and wiser old geezer approaching my date with oblivion. And when conditions for the masses become dire and intolerable, do they defer to political movements on the left? No, rather they look to some ghoulish proto-fascist authoritarian strongman like a Donald Trump. Are far right wing tyrannical plutocratic demagogues like Trump the new normal?
But the game of politics has been rigged from the start folks; for example, simply examine the drafting of the US Constitution. Two of its major authors, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were wealthy land and slave owners. The masses were never intended to have any power or voice in the affairs of state. They still don't, as even the parliaments and congresses of our democracies for the few are mere shams and facades. Major decisions, including laws and wars, are made in corporate offices, banks and annual meetings of the G-8 in lavish resorts such as Davos, Switzerland where the billionaires and oligarchs (the Masters of Mankind, as Adam Smith called them) carve up what's left of the planet to suit themselves as they stash away their ill-gotten loot in offshore tax havens
The Lord is my shepherd, what does that make me?