September 30, 2012

money fire community . . .

To begin, here are a few random quotes from Lewis H. Lapham:
Money is like fire, an element as little troubled by moralizing as earth, air and water. Men can employ it as a tool or they can dance around it as if it were the incarnation of a god. Money votes socialist or monarchist, finds a profit in pornography or translations from the Bible, commissions Rembrandt and underwrites the technology of Auschwitz. It acquires its meaning from the uses to which it is put.

More than illness or death, the American journalist fears standing alone against the whim of his owners or the prejudices of his audience. Deprive William Safire of the insignia of the New York Times, and he would have a hard time selling his truths to a weekly broadsheet in suburban Duluth.

A society that presumes a norm of violence and celebrates aggression, whether in the subway, on the football field, or in the conduct of its business, cannot help making celebrities of the people who would destroy it.

More to the Point: here are a couple of more quotes from the man in a recent opinion piece called Feast of fools published in AlJazeera:
The ritual performance of the legend of democracy in the autumn of 2012 promises the conspicuous consumption of $5.8 billion, enough money, thank God, to prove that our flag is still there. Forbidden the use of words apt to depress a Q Score or disturb a Gallup poll, the candidates stand as product placements meant to be seen instead of heard, their quality to be inferred from the cost of their manufacture. The sponsors of the event, generous to a fault but careful to remain anonymous, dress it up with the bursting in air of star-spangled photo ops, abundant assortments of multiflavoured sound bites, and the candidates so well-contrived that they can be played for jokes, presented as game-show contestants, or posed as noble knights-at-arms setting forth on vision quests, enduring the trials by klieg light, until on election night they come to judgment before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they were produced.

Best of all, at least from the point of view of the commercial oligarchy paying for both the politicians and the press coverage, the issue is never about the why of who owes what to whom, only about the how much and when, or if, the check is in the mail. No loose talk about what is meant by the word democracy or in what ways it refers to the cherished hope of liberty embodied in the history of a courageous people.

The campaigns don't favour the voters with the gratitude and respect owed to their standing as valuable citizens participant in the making of such a thing as a common good. They stay on message with their parsing of democracy as the ancient Greek name for the American Express card, picturing the great, good American place as a Florida resort hotel wherein all present receive the privileges and comforts owed to their status as valued customers, invited to convert the practice of citizenship into the art of shopping, to select wisely from the campaign advertisements, texting A for Yes, B for No.

. . .

The concentrations of wealth and power express their fear and suspicion of the American people with a concerted effort to restrict their liberties, letting fall into disrepair nearly all of the infrastructure - roads, water systems, schools, power plants, bridges, hospitals - that provides the country with the foundation of its common enterprise.

A friend of mine, ASA Army buddy, recommended the read to me . . . I now recommend it to you dear reader . . . (as an aside: if in the Houston area, AlJazeera news can be heard morning exclusively on KPFT). (2nd aside: reminds me of one of the existentialist cowboy's righteous rants a few years back.)

1 comment:

  1. You're a good man, Bill Boydstun ...

    For those of you who still read, I highly recommend the Al Jazeera English website: for news about what's really going on in the world - even in the US. Also highly recommended:

    For any kind of self-government to have even a chance to work, the citizenry must be well-informed. And you should know that what's commonly referred to as the MSM (Main Stream Media) have long since dedicated themselves to selling advertising, so all you're going to get from them is distraction and limitation of the debate to what suits their advertisers.

    'Nuff said.