The Big Empty: Eating Cheetos with the hungry ghosts of the corporate state

May 3rd, 2012

Published on Intrepid Report, by Phil Rockstroh, May 2, 2012.

Due to the consolidation of wealth and privilege into fewer and fewer hands, thus requiring escalating amounts of officially mandated surveillance and brutality to maintain social order, the natural trajectory of unregulated capitalism tends towards hyper-authoritarian excess, even towards fascism. Moreover, by the standards of capitalist ideology, and exacerbated by the rigged nature of economic and social arrangements—large segments of society are deemed losers, and, resultantly, will grow restive, if scapegoats aren’t invented to mitigate a sense of humiliation and displace rage.   

Accordingly, rightist demagogic fictions can seize the psyches of large segments of the general public: immigrant interlopers wreck the economy; minority layabouts suck-up public funds; gays and women, possessed of dubious morality, destroy the nation’s moral fabric; lefties are driven to challenge the system, but only because of their spite, born of jealousy.

The “purer” the form of capitalism the faster the rise of fascism. There is a dark and bitter grace to this: Fascism is the deranged agency that sends the capitalist machine into systemic runaway, thus the system crashes and burns—and out of its ashes and debris …, a more humane system can come into being.

Although the yearning for freedom is inborn, as is the case with the development of any skill or talent, one must open oneself to its promise by discipline and practice. Otherwise, attempts at exercising freedom—free will’s dance with resistant and changing circumstance—can be an ugly sight to behold.

Witness the following litany of the lost evinced by us, the denizens of late-stage capitalism: The dismal air haunted and minds distracted . . . cluttered by the ceaseless chatter of those dim ghosts of human discourse known as text messages and tweets; the parade of preening narcissists and prattling sub-cretins that is celebrity culture and Reality Television; the joyless bacchanal termed the nation’s epidemic of obesity … //

… Life in an authoritarian state, which is paternalistic by nature, arrests the psyche’s drive to self-awareness; it puts one to sleep with infantilizing bribes—e.g., all the bright and shiny things of the consumer state—as it manipulates by means of coercive fear—e.g., the looming dragons of poverty and police state intimidation.

In Freud’s time we felt oppressed in the family, in sexual situations, in our crazy hysterical conversion symptoms, and where we felt oppressed, there was the repressed. Where do we feel that thick kind of oppression today? In institutions—hospitals, universities, businesses; in public buildings, in filling out forms, in traffic …”—James Hillman

There exist few viable alternatives within the present political set-up to address the degradations inflicted by the corporate state and the machinery of duopoly in place to maintain the systems reach and power—and there will not arrive a mainstream prince to confront the vain usurpers and slay the institutional dragons who cling to power in the present era. This is an unpleasant truth, but it is true nevertheless. The sooner one faces this reality: the hopelessly corrupt nature of the present system—the closer we, collectively, move towards the creation of alternative arrangements when the current one collapses from its own corruption.

Poets of previous generations warned that one’s soul could be lost in blind pursuit of vaults of riches and limitless knowledge. It is difficult not to laugh in derision or weep in anguish for a people who sell their soul for access to the contents of a convenience store. Addiction to fattening food speaks of our inner emptiness; so called Reality Television relates to our hunger for social engagement and communion; the images that haunt the corporate state media hologram attract us because we long for the images that rise from the soul.

In timeless stories, such as Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, the awakening kiss of a princely figure should not be misapprehended with gender-based overtones of exclusively male power and dominance. Instead, the symbolic prince should be read as—the possibility that unfolds as one’s true calling when one awakens to one’s circumstance. In our time, this timeless tale plays out as: The ongoing challenge we have been given to face and struggle against the life-devouring, institutional dragons of corporate state governance … (full long text).

(Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted here. Visit Phil’s website, and see his page on FaceBook).

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