Musings From a Mechanical Life


Musings From a Mechanical Life

Jonathan Gillis

18-22 November 2012

With regard to the Cosmos, human beings are rather insignificant. Perhaps we are akin to but a single wave in the ocean of the Cosmos. We habitually fail to "see the bigger picture" as it were, notwithstanding the empirical common knowledge that we inhabit one planet in a single solar system, of billions throughout the known universe, which is cohabited by perhaps millions of planets capable of sustaining life as we know it. In dominant imperial society, the ego manifests so extremely, that we do not tread beyond the very narrow cultural frameworks which assure us we are exceptional and exceptionally important. Putting aside such arrogance, one might stand along a shore and look out at the expanse of the ocean, and ponder all the life and relationships thereof which once, not so long ago, used to thrive below the surface. One might look at the stars during a clear night, a common practice throughout the ages, and watch a pictorial history; astronomically thousands, millions, or billions of years away, and thus thousands, millions, or billions of years ago. One might stand on a sidewalk and casually look down, noticing small plant life growing upwards through a crevice between cement slabs, and marvel at this small way Nature defies human domination. Were it not for humanity, all other nonhuman species of life, would freely ebb and flow within accordance to natural evolutionary phenomenon, or law. In short, nonhuman life is not dependent upon human beings whatsoever. To the contrary, and quite obviously, human beings are dependent upon all nonhuman life for immediate sustenance, and for long-term survival. Yet weighty segments of modern humanity have constructed, maintained, and expanded an artificial and dominant world, replacing the real World by destroying and domesticating it, and the fragile interconnected webs of life therein.

By promoting arrogance as a virtue, dominant imperial humanity has become eagerly divorced from reality and nearly absolutely estranged from the real World. It follows that generations dependent on the dominant global hegemonic culture will defend such a way of life, or death, which is inherently anti-Nature. Nature, like virtually all aspects of dominant imperial life, being considered and treated as separate, has become a spectacle. As patrons of public parks and forests, of zoos and aquariums, and vacationers to places preserved and managed, we are tourists of Nature. Incidentally, human nature, so-called, has become modified to the point that we use our heavily standardized behavior as a pretext to cast our irrationalities in a favorable light, insisting that our blatant violations of fundamental reasoning is rational, when in fact our reasoning is based on psychosis. We are of course in denial of this fact, for to acknowledge our loss of contact with reality would imply that our entire life, and every way in which we execute our life, is inherently predicated on a lie, or, an invention as it were, and thus, rather arbitrary.

An extraterrestrial observer would certainly note the narcissism that underlies modern civilization. When apologizing for present crimes of genocide, slavery, and ecocide, it is not uncommon for the argument to be made, that due to historical events, or more specifically, due to the interpretations, and creations, of historical events by the dominant culture, present macro-criminal pathologies and acts of destruction, which taken collectively, have regional and global consequences, are not only justified, but completely rational. There cannot be any meaningful, sustainable, or tangible relationship with Nature, and thus all of the nonhuman life encompassed to compose the full portrait of the real World, when Nature is perceived and treated as a commodity, whether generally, specifically, or abstractly. Indeed, an extraterrestrial observer would certainly note how so called "civilized" human beings treat each other as commodities, when they do not treat each other as inconveniences, obstacles, or enemies.

To draw a particular point home, the Obama administration, and empire generally, equivocates the most recent Israeli attacks on Palestinians in Gaza, carried out by U.S. F-16's, Apache helicopters, and so forth, as Israel's right to defend itself. In other words, according to outward doctrinal logic, or rhetoric, Israel commits disproportionate aggression, or terrorism, in order to defend itself from a largely defenseless population of Palestinians. As of this writing, the Palestinian death toll is some 162 killed, and nearly 1000 injured, including many, if not mostly women and children, resulting from the latest indiscriminate Israeli bombings, a continuation of Apartheid policies, i.e., the illegal occupation and annexation of Palestinian lands, an oppression of Indigenous peoples that goes back over 40 years. In contrast, 5 Israeli’s have been killed with a few dozen or so wounded, from low-tech and low-grade rockets reactively fired from Gaza, 24 of which were wounded in an explosion on a bus in Tel Aviv. The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is expected to rise, while Israel continues to commit war crimes, adding to a long legacy of such crimes, with the full support of the U.S. and the West generally. As of November 21, a precarious ceasefire has been brokered between Israel and Hamas. It is largely and mainly up to Israel, and by extension and association the U.S., if there is to be lasting peace. The status quo, of which the cycles of violence are expressed and anticipated, the continuned U.S. funding and support, Israel's imposed blockade, the arbitrary detention and the policies of Israeli apartheid, including issues over water and food distribution, freedom of movement, and so forth, creates the environment whereby Palestinians are obliged to respond with violence.

Because we subscribe to a mass media apparatus, the broadcast wings of highly concentrated doctrinal power, which produces and disseminates lies and manufactured realities, we are disconnected from reality itself, and the context in and of which reality occurs. This creates what is termed cognitive dissonance. We are inculcated to perceive a reality, and thus believe in a reality, which is inconsistent and incompatible with the actions that occur in actuality. In this highly technologic digital age, mass-mind control has reached an apex. A little over 60 million U.S. citizens voted for one brand or version of the same concentrated centers of elite power. The illusion of choice is merely the precipice upon which our acclimated beliefs are suspended in the balance between illusion and reality.

We live a mechanical way of life. Insofar as we serve as a replaceable cog in the machine of empire, we are useful; confined of course, to our stratified caste, and relegated further to the divisions within. Restricted to our mechanical routines, we are dissociated from the natural rhythms of the song and dance of Life. We endure the routines of our enslavement, worshiping our masters and championing the devastation which sustains our imperial way of life. We are separate from Nature, insofar as our perspective is that from being bred and raised in a superficial dominant system where everything and everyone is objectified. The economy, of which we are forced to partake by being employed in jobs, which award us a non-livable wage, is predicated on the control, degradation, and destruction of the Natural World. In short, the economic apparatus, is in fact anti-economy for it is so inefficient and wasteful. The real producers, the acculturated under-classes, are oppressed, suppressed, and depressed, and for their toils garner minimal wages–the less fortunate languish in impoverishment and abject poverty. Nearly half of the wealth of the oligarchy is spent on global military hegemony, incidentally, the military industrial complex is perhaps the biggest polluter on the planet, the United States the largest arms dealer on the planet, and thus is responsible for much if not most of the violence that engulfs the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and so forth. That billions of humans around the world are impoverished is correlative to dominant empire and the operations thereof, to say the least. Also correlative is the 100-200 species of life that go extent every single day; incidentally, humans have not discovered–a term suggesting the arrogance of our self-ascribed importance–all species of life, nor do we have an adequate understanding of the importance of biodiversity and habitat, as intricacies woven individually and as a whole.

The upper-classes, who produce virtually nothing yet are awarded grossly for their taking of the wealth produced by others, are omnificent with regard to the illusions which inebriate those codified into, and consenting of, the hierarchically commanded power structure. It is because of corporate welfare, which is to say the funneling of obscene amounts of wealth from the bottom classes to the elite power structure, that what is left of the citizenry’s earned social safety nets, i.e., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and so forth, which resulted in a legacy of long and hard popular struggle, is presently threatened with so-called austerity measures. It is true, within relative cultural frameworks, that we are much better off than 30, 60, or 90 years ago, in terms of women’s rights, labor rights, and social, justice, and environmental movements generally. Yet we must consider that this dominant culture is a rape culture, that with some 5% of the global population this culture imprisons more of its own citizens than any other nation, that there is some 50 million people whom are impoverished, and so on and so forth. The lavish lifestyles of the elites are boasted by monopolized corporate media, which disseminates virtually everything seen, heard, and read by the masses. The culture of total consumption is tantamount to a psychopathic culture. That macro-insanity is normalized while the symptoms of individual mental afflictions are criminalized, or "treated" insofar as they are treated, is indicative of the causal relationship between the dominant culture–which is predicated on a monopoly of violence, terror, slavery, and other forms of abuse–and the victims associated therein, and namely the victims at the receiving end of the dominant culture’s sophisticated club.

In the absence of regimentation and hierarchy, we witness and experience the innate facilities of unconditional compassion, as evidenced, to give one example, by Occupy Sandy, with volunteers canvassing the Rockaways in Queens New York, and other areas in the aftermath of the devastation of super storm Sandy. Unlike the huge institutional structures of FEMA and the Red Cross, volunteers from Occupy Sandy did not close shop when a northeaster pounded a region which was already massively devastated by Hurricane Sandy; they continued to respond to a disaster situation not on condition of prioritizing institutional integrity, i.e., security, but on the unconditional prioritizing of the immediate needs of the impacted communities that they were and are assisting and providing relief for. Occupy Wall street, which was evicted from Zucotti Park a year ago, and Occupy Sandy are essentially different human expressions responding to crisis, be that crisis man-made, or a natural disaster, which arguably, in the case of Hurricane Sandy and many other, if not most recent and imminent natural disasters, resulted from anthropogenic climate change. Incidentally, it is curious to ponder how one might volunteer for, or donate to, an organization, such as the Red Cross, where the head manager makes a six-figure salary; contrasted with a lateral organization such as Occupy Sandy which, not bothering or burdening itself with bureaucracy, commits to intended aims directly and informally, and which is welcoming of anyone who is willing to pitch in.

When we live in a culture that is driven by infinite growth, which is to say the exploitation and thus destruction of the finite Natural World, when we are in the employ of, and dependent on, corporations, which are awarded with gross unregulated powers which dominate the apparatuses of governance which are supposedly democratic–or engender equal participation by all–corporations which by law must perpetually maximize growth, which is to say internalize profits and externalize costs, when we are made to pay, when we struggle, to live, to drink, to eat, and afford shelter, we are surely hard pressed to participate in the easing of the suffering of others; suffering which, incidentally, is largely, if not mainly, caused by the very system of which we find ourselves dependent upon. Many would state, without batting an eye, that authoritarian control is not only necessary, but the natural order of things.

Why is it that the job of police–aside from protecting the property and doings of the elite classes, and enforcing civic violations of nonviolence, and violence, a significant portion of which arguably would be absent in the absence of law enforcement–entails perceiving anyone and every citizen as a potential threat with which to subdue by utilizing force of violence? There are surely many answers to that question. One might be, in short, that there is no real community, in terms of dominant imperial civic life, only enclaves within corporate conglomerates. In the dominant imperial matrix, there are profit-makers, whether monetary or otherwise, and self-seekers. Experience itself, which is largely, if not mainly manufactured, is reduced to the standardization of the mechanization of life. Indeed, there are, sporadic and regular, small localized democratic collectives of people gathered in a truly common interest of genuine unconditional compassion, such as Occupy Sandy and many various other collectives and groupings. Though, the point here, is that while we may have the choice of participating in a small egalitarian community, it seems our participation and inclusion in such a community is reactive and relative to the awareness of our genuine social and communal deprivation, and the favorable conditions and choices which may or may not arise out of such an awareness. That such overwhelming human responses are being articulated is very hopeful, and very beautiful, albeit there is no doubt that such responses engenders a vision of the dismal future that lies ahead.

One is inclined to ask, why does it seem, that in this dominant culture, community is built, from and on the ground, which is to further say, that people sincerely pull together, only after the occurrence of crisis, by sharing in the direct common experience of, and reaction to, devastation? Let us pose a different question. Why is it, that people surviving impoverished lives, arguably seem to have a stronger, and closer community, than do people who enjoy the run of what dominant imperial life has to offer? Being disconnected from Nature, and thus the Real World, being without a matriarchal, egalitarian identity, being with a rite of passage, it seems we members of dominant imperial culture, are immature, and pompous of our own immaturity, and menacing of any whom do not embrace and thus validate our immaturity. That we are collectively indifferent to the suffering of many others and to the destruction of the Real World which our way of life necessitates, cannot be explained away with slogans of apologia or empty posturing of morality.

According to the UN, some 11 million children, under the age of 5, die each year, worldwide, namely due to malnutrition and hunger-related diseases. Somehow, there is no collective human response to this holocaust, for while it has everything to do with us and our way of life, it does not impact us at all whatsoever. Even if our emotions override our rigid callousness, we might simply donate money, just as we do when hundreds of thousands are killed in massive earthquakes and tsunamis, in Haiti, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Somalia, and so forth, and we will be able to sleep soundly at night, knowing we are good, blessed people. What of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many children, whom were killed as a direct result of the decade-long U.S. sanctions regime imposed before September 11, 2001? What of the million or more people that have been killed since March 2003 as a direct result of US military action in Iraq alone, not to even mention Afghanistan, or Pakistan, and so forth? What of those in Gaza, who survive in what has been described as the world's largest open-air prison, killed by Israeli state-terrorism, completely sanctioned and supported by the U.S., i.e. taxpayers? At the very least, and to put it rather mildly, dominant empire, lets, 11 million children under 5, die every year. These, and other deaths, and gross and ghastly suffering, are not attributable to the laws, or phenomenon of Nature, or the laws or phenomenon of the Universe; they are attributable to imperial laws–be they laws in the legislative sense, or laws in the sense of the operations of state and international organized crime, and the elite criminal syndicates which espouse and manage such crimes.

In our formal education, which is to say, in our formal indoctrination, we are not taught how to critically think, or how to learn to critically think, for critical thought is antithetical to the very totalitarian powers were are enrolled in, and contracted to. We are taught to behave and obey authority, to line up and wait our turn. In short, throughout the 12 or 13 year career of our indoctrination, we are readied to sell ourselves to a market, or extend our "education" through college, amassing significant debt, so that we might sell ourselves for a higher price; one way or other, we are made ready to acclimate to dominant empire. We are not taught compassion, though it may be argued compassion is an innate feature of humanity, or animals generally, we are inculcated to embrace competition and ownership. We are bullied, but the bullies are our charismatic and celebrated peers, coaches and teachers, and so we meekly go about as if the abuse is but a nightmare of which we will surely awake from. The stubborn among us carry on long enough that we do eventually wake from the nightmare, albeit to find that this awakening is simply the awareness of the nightmare we are ensnared in; some of us secede from the torture, believing, and feeling, as if it will last forever, and that it is the be all, end all of everything, by committing suicide. We mourn are brothers and sisters who commit suicide, because they are often the martyrs of the sociopaths we encounter, whether vicariously or otherwise, and yes, even idolize, everyday.

We are graded, not on the merits of the potentialities of our evolving and expanding intelligence, but on our ability to memorize factoids of the narratives of the conqueror of all peoples and all cultures. We are graded on our competence to regurgitate common themes within a very narrow institutional spectrum of permissible thought and discussion. Themes which apologize for, if not outright justify, the genocide of millions of human beings of hundreds of tribal communities whom inhabited these lands known as the Americas, well before European conquest began. Incidentally, those that proclaim, namely privileged white males, in their apologist ideologies of colonization and conquest, that there is little or no need to be concerned with "historical events" that happened hundreds of years ago–in other words, why don’t oppressed peoples shut up and move on–reveal of themselves not only a deficiency in understanding basic history, let alone current events, but also a mentality which operates in strict adherence to the culture of the oppressor; i.e. the constitution might be okay, and important, but diverse cultural studies of oppressed peoples is considered threatening if not outright intolerable.

The American Indian is treated like Nature, as a non-entity, as only existing through the lens of the conqueror and oppressor. We are not taught that in 1924, American Indians who were not already U.S. citizens, were designated as such by congress, whether they wanted to be considered as such or not. We are not taught of the forced removal and relocation of the American Indian, to reservations, or prisoner of war camps. We are not taught of the forced removal of American Indian children to so-called boarding schools where they were not allowed to speak their native tongue, where they endured sexual abuse and other forms of torture.

We are not taught, that Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union, either with slavery intact, or not, and that the emancipation proclamation of 1863, while it formally ended the institution of slavery in the United States, did not abolish slavery. The current prison industrial complex, and modern slave labor thereof, can be traced directly back to the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. We are not taught that a disproportionate number of Peoples of Color, namely African and Latino Americans are imprisoned, and that the impoverishment of communities of Peoples of Color is the result of class and racial war. Nor are we taught that globally, a very conservative estimate is that there are some 30 million human beings trafficked into sexual and labor slavery today, about the population of the U.S. in the 1860's. Not to mention the 1-2 billion who survive on a daily pittance, so that we can enjoy our fake flowers, rugs, Nikes, virtually any article of clothing containing cotton, most garments and shoes for that matter, Apple igadgets, virtually any electronics, coffee, cacao, fruit, diamonds, porn and so on and so forth. For "conscientious consumers" there are labels on some products that were manufactured without cruelty to animals, yet interestingly, there are no such disclaimers to similarly inform consumers of cruelty to people under slave labor. Just as the North, benefited from the slavery of the South in the United States up until the American Civil War, so too does modern imperial life benefit from the slavery of the global South. Some 215 million children ages 5-17 are engaged in child labor; some 250,000 of which spend upwards of 18 hours a day weaving carpets. We think nothing of going into Ikea, or Target, or Wal-Mart, and buying a carpet. We think nothing, we are made to think nothing, save for the immediacy of our own self-gratification and fulfillment.

This culture is one of possession. The globalization of this culture has created a world in which a minority possesses, and forces the dispossession of the majority. In effect, we willingly hold possession of a grand illusion, whilst every aspect of our shallow manufactured lives is heightened so that we believe, that we not only matter, but that we matter more than anyone not privileged enough to be in the center of our influence. Meanwhile, we are living during ecological collapse. To question or reject the system responsible is done minimally by a minority and with little to no avail or effect, for the spacing and interdependence of people and corporate-governing institutions is entrenched and unmovable; though survival, is of course not with little to no avail or effect. To foresee the coming ecological collapse, is to create, participate in, and embrace localized and self-sovereign and self-sustaining communities with matriarchal and egalitarian alignments and scruples of land-based Natural World stewardships; certainly ideal.

Mechanical imperial life unleashes many horrors upon the soul. This materialistic culture, in which identity is strung together by a matrix of brands, in which the primary premise is that private gain and property is more important than the needs of the community, is sickening as it is maddening. Nature is viewed as a commodity to use to fuel the petrol-machine. The populace simply carries about the business of shopping for what they need, and even more so what they don't need, or even want for that matter. A day after Thanksgiving holiday, millions will take and take and take, in an orgy of grotesque consumption, epitomizing in a single day, the very culture hell-bent on destroying the planet and the people who do not care about the ongoing destruction.

An extraterrestrial observer might remark at how the experiment of humanity had quite a run, albeit a short run. Perhaps they would notice the Earth's many responses to dominant imperial humanity, and the efferent resonances of the centrifugal forces which sealed humanity's fate via extinction. Little matter, for all our art, politics, laws, corporations, statues, castles and super fortresses, technologies, bloodlust, things, and on and on, we will have been but a footnote in the story of the Cosmos. Though one walks aimless in the shadow of despair, one faints a slight smile, a smile of pity, for we are so utterly insignificant! Cutting through the mass deceptions, debunking the myths that would have us believe that the ruling elites are meant to be idolized and worshipped, that they are significant and more so than us, one realizes that if significance is in the eyes of the beholder, one is in spirited and kindred solidarity with those without enough to eat, with those that suffer from macro violence and deprivation, with those sacrificed at the altar of greed; in short, with those that resist and survive the oppressor and the oppressors insatiable hunger to inflict destruction, misery, and suffering. Thanksgiving goes to the real human beings, this and every day, whom are in unconditionally real and meaningful relationship with the Real World, and all the threads of life interwoven within. They lessen the shame just enough so that we may sincerely express, that today is a good day, for life is worth living, for life is precious, and indeed, life is significant.

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