How American Society Ignores The Elephant in The Room
Hypocrisy and surrealism are incestuous, and so it is incest that characterizes the political and cultural climate in American society. Our political and social leaders, pretending to serve the people, in fact are in the secret service of an elite predator class, helping it to strip the country clean.
We are in denial about the nature of our society, and so we talk about the euro, more housing starts, the cost to cities of the Occupy movement, the national debt, unemployment, the terrorist threat, damned near anything to avoid talking about the plain fact that our society is riven with inequality, injustice, poverty, and a growing despair.
In the name of global competitiveness we have dismantled the industrial base that created the middle class. We then hailed the advent of a new service economy that would supplant it but hasn't. Then we said we're in the midst of a great housing boom when in fact we were in the clutches of a predatory scam. Then we said a free market and tax breaks for the super rich will rescue us when in truth it has strangled us. Then we celebrated the great American consumer engine, the one that built modern China but failed us, without even mentioning the fact wages have been stagnant for thirty years, unemployment is rising, and there is no longer such a thing as job security.
We're living longer in spite of having a disgraceful health care system that is ranked 37th in quality worldwide and yet costs more than any other system. Wars, no matter how many we cook up, are failing to control our population growth. In spite of all this, which is readily obvious to anyone who spends a few hours scanning the web, we can't bring ourselves to talk about the big picture, which now resembles Dorian Gray in old age. And as for our press, it contributes to the web but doesn't seem to mine its informational treasures. Or, if it does, it ignores them at the behest of its masters.
None of the remedies being kicked around by our bought-and-paid-for politicians, from the president on down to the lowliest town council member, even remotely address this sorrowful picture. All the talk about creating jobs, which so far amounts to just that, talk, is about the number of jobs, not their quality, not their complexity or the wages they're likely or unlikely to pay. Are the politicians talking about flipping burgers and patching roads or are they talking about jobs that would restore the middle class? The answer is painfully obvious.
The politician and business elite have no intention of restoring the middle class. They have contributed to the creation of middle classes in China, India and Brazil, but they regard a middle class here as bad business and a political danger. Why do we not dare to say this? Why are we so cowed by this ruthless class of predators that we can't bring ourselves even to describe the harm they have done? Part of the answer lies in their ownership of the media. But another part lies in our misplaced trust, our gullibility, our chagrin at having been conned by Ronald Reagan about trickle-down and free-market glories. How can such towering hypocrisy, such loony surrealism, such blatant absurdism, pass, as it does day after day in the press, for discourse, for political brainstorming, for strategy?
The predator class never intended that we should sit at the table, never intended even to share its crumbs. What greater proof was there than the spectacle of the government falling over itself to bail out criminals in $12,000 suits while allowing the rest of us to drown in debt?
We have been treated to the wicked scene of a judge sentencing a woman to four years in a federal prison for falsifying her application for food stamps, while the government has yet to indict a banker for screwing the entire population out of billions of dollars. No American witnessing this farce can trust the justice system. We have seen our police, whom we support with tax money and trust to protect us, misused to quash the lawful assembly of citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. Why should we believe a single word from a politician who would so corrupt our police and abuse our citizenry?
We have candidates who are more interested in marketable lies than ideas, but we don't ask ourselves why. Surely it's because the paid creature of corporations and their gouty lobbies is beyond truth. It doesn't matter to him, it's an antique, because his business is enriching his masters. So his concern is not getting at the truth, not producing ideas, it's bullshitting the ninety-nine percent of us who have no seat at the table. If we had a free press, this is the picture it would paint and hold before us.
Djelloul Marbrook's first book, Far from Algiers (Kent State University Press, 2008) won the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry. "Artists' Hill," an excerpt from his unpublished novel, Crowds of One, won the 2008 Literal Latté first prize in fiction. Artemisia's Wolf, a novella, was published by Prakash Books of India early in 2011. Alice Miller's Room, a novella, was published in 1999 by OnlineOriginals.com (UK) as an e-book, and Bliss Plot Press of Woodstock, NY, recently published his novella, Saraceno, as an e-book. Orbis (UK), Smashwords.com, Potomac Review (Maryland) and Prima Materia (New York). His second book of poems is Brushstrokes and Glances (Deerbrook Editions, 2010). Recent poems were published by American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Oberon, Meadowland Review, The Same, Reed, The Ledge, Poemeleon, Poets Against War, Fledgling Rag, Daylight Burglary, Le Zaporogue, Atticus, Long Island Quarterly, ReDactions, Istanbul Literary Review, Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review, Damazine, Perpetuum Mobile, Attic, and Chronogram. A retired newspaper editor and Navy veteran, he lives in Germantown, NY, with his wife Marilyn, and has lifelong ties to Woodstock.
Del's book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal Latté's fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother's art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt's art: http://www.irenericepereira.com
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