You cannot man the barricades with a mouth full of Cheetos
By Joe Bageant
Class solidarity was such a good idea. It really was. Obviously, most of the people who need solidarity are in the world's laboring classes. After all, the rich have more than enough solidarity already, as was recently demonstrated by their successful execution of the greatest global financial heist in history. Oh sure, we'll see some state sponsored mock show trials of a few of them — they always throw a few of their own out of the sleigh to the wolves during their escapes. The big heist was big news. Working Americans will be applying Preparation H to their keisters for a long time to come.
But the ultimate accomplishment of the already rich, the newly rich and the corporate rich, has been their global solidarity on the corporate/financial front. It's been a long run up to globalism, but the rich have great patience. As an American, all my life I've heard their chief mouthpiece, the president of the United States, beginning with Eisenhower, right on up through Kennedy, Reagan, Ford, Carter and Bush, and now Obama, sing the same song. Which goes moreover like this:
"Trade is the road to peace. Commerce and business know no national boundaries. They link nations together on productivity, creating jobs and peace across the world."
It sounded good at the time. Who would have thought that the people enjoying all this harmony and peace brought about through globalization would be enjoying it in a one big happy planetary work gulag? And if they are not doing so at the moment, they will be as soon global capitalism, under the watchful solidarity of the rich, bears full fruit.
Thanks to globalization, the American, Australian and European working classes are on their way to extinction, in terms of their traditional rights, and quality of life. Just like the workers being poisoned to death by circuit board toxins in Guiyu, China, their fates will be determined by global capital, either by default or by bitter struggle against it. We are not seeing much of the latter and are not likely to, until it is too late, which it may already be. After all, you cannot put up much of a struggle against global capital when you worship it a creed and are addicted to commodities too.
Oh yeah, I forgot. We're gonna "develop" and "stimulus" our way out of what is happening now — which is that we are fast becoming a slave labor workhouse planet. Now let me see here — hmmm — who is in charge of development? Oh yeah, the global financiers.
There is no way the world's working people can win in the long run, which is getting pretty damned short, or even survive, except by joining the worker struggles, of China, Asia and Africa and India. The idea that American workers are the same as the Asian and Latin American and African working people goes down hard in American gullets. (I'm no expert, but it looks to me like the Euros and the Aussies and the Canadians are snotty that way too. In fact, now that I am meeting dozens upon dozens of Canadians from all walks of life, they are looking worse than Americans.)
But for Americans, it does not go down at all. As a people, they'll never ever accept that fact, because they'll never know it for at least two reasons. (1) They are too over worked and undereducated to find out for themselves, and (2) American corporate media machinery will never let them hear of it. Americans are screwed, blued and tattooed.
And for that I blame Anderson Cooper. That's right, CNN's boyishly good looking, sincere faced, Emmy Award winning Anderson Cooper. Let me explain.
Between the corporate and financial elites and the slobbering masses stands the American Information Class — the reporters, talking heads, news anchors and pundits. In short, the entire gaggle of meat puppets and journalism hacks who have been cultivated and bred to be clueless by the university industry and others serving our corporate empire. In other words, serving global capitalism, and the national fictions it maintains, including that sizable piece of corporate feudal turf known as America. And that fiction is maintained through la danse des marionnettes de viande.
Not that these meat puppets are to be pitied for their cluelessness. Lordy no! When your employer is throwing celebrity and money at you faster than you can suck up the adulation or blow the bucks, why would anybody pause long enough to get a clue. I sure as hell wouldn't. I'd pull a Bill Clinton, buy me some Cuban cigars and tell the secretary, "Under the desk, baby! And crack open a bottle of of Jack Daniels for me on your way down."
It's certainly an easy gig. Move your lips like a reporter, wear a black shirt and a $600 bush jacket in disaster and war porn spots as Anderson Cooper does, and make at least 4 million a year base salary (plus a few hundred thousand more a year in speakers fees for canned talks. Cooper's agency will provide the list). Anderson's basic message is that the world is a horrific place filled with miserable inferior lives, ridden by want, African machete amputations and the like. The guy in front of the flat screen in Cedar Rapids, Iowa doesn't even have to stop and think to draw the corpo-state approved conclusion Anderson delivers. It's instantaneous into his deep reptilian brain: "Hatians fucked. Iraqis fucked. Greeks fucked. Me live in best place of all."
Attractive, serious and sincere looking, and presented as calm and rational against the backdrop of world terror and misery, Anderson is the perfect robotic mouthpiece, easy on the eyes, poised in the "Anderson Cooper suit," (actually, it's Ralph Lauren, the gay aesthetic goes a long way in his business). And most importantly, despite what he's seen first hand, he remains clueless about the world. Bullet proof to reality. Robot. Then again, that's a job qualification in the entertainment business. American news is first and foremost entertainment. If you happen to stumble onto some accidental truth, be assured there will be a correction in the name of Republican sponsored "fairness and balance in media."
Now this may be a stretch for some more open minded readers, but to my mind, anyone such as Cooper, who actually believes he is worth 4 million, and can put it in the bank without dying of shame, has no idea what's going on in this world — no matter how much he or she is paid to look like they do. In fact, anyone doing so for over $50,000 is in the same category. Which includes everyone you see on your television screen. It's all just self-absorbed celebrity preening. At the local level the rubes watch you on Keokuk Cable. At the national level, an indoctrinated people read Vanity Fair's writers going down on you, telling you what a brave and saintly journalist you are. And the internet dedicating hundreds of thousands of word to your choice in suits.
There is no way out of our culture manufacturing machinery. We're not in charge. It would be bigger than any one of us because it consists of all of us. It tells us all we are individuals supremely worthy of our silliest notions and desires, thereby making us soft and lazy, infantilized an incapable of truly effective solidarity as a people. Instead, we are fed Tea Party drivel. Even if CNN decided to send Coop to Guiyu to cover the blood poisoned worker women with the deformed children, the result would be the same. The guy in Cedar Rapids would see further proof that "Me live in best place in world. Got Cheetos." Or perhaps a nice Cotes du Rhône if you are a member of the commodity drugged educated faux middle class.
And I wanna say to them: "Not for much longer, buddy. Not much longer. And you can thank Anderson Cooper and a helluva lot of other people like him who do not have a clue, but nevertheless inhabit your very mind, for that."