22 June 2008

Sad state of affairs

What does the current way we live say about us as a society?

We destroy our cities and atomize our communities to hermetically seal ourselves from everyone else save those we want to associate with, and the result is growing disunion and ignorance of how the other half lives.  And still we feel spiritual emptiness inside as our protected lives do not meet our satisfaction, and then we indulge our broken psyches in the vapid emptiness of electronic media, or alcohol, or drugs.

Because we have chosen to draw within ourselves within the false protective enclave of the suburban cul-de-sac and the gated country club community, we have lost touch with the rest of humanity. We fear the Other, whether that be racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, cultural, or simply those who do not measure up to bourgeois White "standards".  We thus display little tolerance toward those who are different, or who express even the most minute distinction of opinion from ourselves.  They become non-persons, barely recognizable to us, and then when politicians decide that these Others must be eradicated, either from sight or in a physical sense, it seems just fine to us, because it does not disturb our empty little lives.

People who have difficulty mixing with others but who desperately need it to feel whole, such as the shy and the unattached, find it next to impossible to establish a link or contact to others, since virtually everyone they encounter has ensconsed themselves into protected shallow shells of lives that admit no one outside their pre-established racial, income, and cultural preferences. Finding no other outlet to establish meaning in their lives outside the poisonous emptiness of the electronic media, they descend into despair and squalor, written off as society's losers, marching toward the fate of a Travis Bickle.  

And in this manner we write off roughly half of our population (which happens, by the way, to be the most emotionally sane and mentally balanced segment of the whole), contain them to ghettos both physical and emotional, with the larger society in its shallow vacuousness regarding as "sick" those whose lives do not revolve around the Holy Trinity of postmodern life: barhopping, sports, and physical and spiritual self-indulgence.

We leave our forgotten urban environments to these 'broken' souls - our eviscerated central business districts which long ago ceased to be central to anything; our pre-war inner neighborhoods left to the reign of the superfly as the 'better element' fled to suburbia in pursuit of the false promise of a better life; our industrial precincts to rot and ruin as an increasingly self indulgent society decided that pushing paper and selling cheap crap was a more productive and (most importantly) comfortable and more dignified activity than making things.

The State has played a key role in these ends - the elites who lived on the fringe, on the country club far outside the limits of the city, decided that if everyone could live like them, and think like them, and be like them, then how easy it would be to control the great masses of sheeple who had been sold a false happiness of pseudo-elite privilege as long as they "played by the rules."  So to this end the State subsidized highways and mortgages and automobile ownership and cookie-cutter development, in a large scale profit taking that created a false plastic world of elite living, commodified for the great middle class.  And the unthinking dolts bought into it hook, line, and sinker.

For thirty or so years after the Second World War there was a large scale ethos of "out with the old, in with the new" which extended to all facets of life - city building, child rearing, human relations, and more.  Perhaps the brute and sudden changes brought by industrialization which characterized the early twentieth century, combined with the horrific holocaust of two large-scale global conflicts which inured humans to the horrors of massive destructive violence and set new precedents for human bestiality, led prominent social thinkers to believe that the old codes of living were not valid any longer.  

Animals may be replaced by machines for work purposes and old industries give way to new, but human nature remains the same throughout.  It is just a matter of having bigger toys to play with.

Humans are social animals and one cannot commit atomization upon them without rather nasty effects.  Some are screamingly obvious - increasing rates of violent crime, poverty, social isolation, tribalism along racial and class lines, etc.  Others are not so obvious, as when you observe men who are disassociated from others for no discernable reason, who are not married and have no clear prospects of becoming married.

The increasing social and economic pathology in this society, and the growing tolerance of fascism, inhumanity, and brutality in the public and private spheres, is a reflection of social atomization.  The State has achieved its goal - destroying society from within, so that it becomes increasingly easy to rule it from without.  

Thanx, Uncle Sam.