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Welcome to America


I'm thinking about the vast amount of time and energy I wasted on popular culture during my youth. As a lower-middle-class white kid growing up in the US, the socio-political landscape was barren of meaningful involvement. My father was a white collar office worker and my mother was a stay-at-home mom.  No one in my social sphere was involved in anything until my late teens with the rise of the anti-war movement opposing the US attack on Vietnam. I devoted time and money on such things as buying vinyl records and attending concerts of the Rolling Stones. They appeared mildly oppositional to power. That myth was dispelled only after The Rolling Stones sold their song, Start Me Up, to Microsoft for use in peddling computer software. My home, school, and social spheres were realms of passive fashionable consumption. Nothing much has changed in home or school or social circles of American youth today. Welcome to America.
 
In Egypt, the challenge before the people is overcoming the vast power of the Egyptian military control of the government. Kicking out the dictator is the first necessary step. In the US, the mightiest military on the planet is content following orders from the civil government because behind government is the phalanx of the secular rich. The challenge here is not the military-industrial complex but rather the industrial complex alone as manifest in popular culture as massive distractions of the public time, money, and attention. Political dissidents in Egypt remain jailed. In the US, political dissidents remain free (mostly) but invisible. In the US, rule is manifested through the purchase and manipulation of everything. The strategy is to buy everything and everyone in the public eye, from Tiger Woods to Lady Gaga. Woods is particularly instructive. He was the darling of the media until his wife whacked his SUV with a golf club. Both his cash fortunes and celebrity fortunes collapsed thereupon as corporations stopped stuffing his pockets. His presence in the public sphere is limited to his usefulness as marketing tool and mass distraction from the power of the industrial class. Tiger Woods and Lady Gaga are tolerated as long as they perform their appointed task of distracting the public while the industrial complex destroys Social Security and privatized public schools.
 
In the US, we have no single male figure commanding the heights as dictator, yet we are controlled nonetheless. That control and pacification is achieved, not with AK-47s, but with the scatter-guns of game shows, TV celebrities, athletes, movie stars, and Lady Gaga.  The people do not have a political commons they can call their own. What passes for political discourse in the mass media is as controlled in the US as is any state-run media in China.

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