And they lived happily ever after to the end of their days
I remember the game show scandals of the 1950s. Where a popular contestant was give the answers in advance to insure his/her success. And that immediately after WWII, the war was presented as a force of evil against good and that good – meaning us – won. And how the Dulles brothers – John Foster and Allen – manufactured the cold war and an evil Soviet Union out to conquer the world. When the Soviet Union was a beaten country with the economy in ruins because of Stalin’s ego mania and WWII, which they had a very large part in winning but to great cost. We – the US – had to be the good guys.
I also remember all those futuristic articles in Popular Science promising flying cars and medical wonders that would save us all. Nuclear energy for power that cost a mere nothing. Oh we had the Space Program and put a man on the moon. Of course we were not told it was primarily to develop the missile technology for our ICBMs and to pat our own little egos. By the mid 1970s most manufacturing here folded like a wet noodle as soon as it hit any real competition from overseas.
Moved the manufacturing that was left halfway around the world were the sweat shop conditions were out of sight and out of mind. Places that that majority of people would never go and there fore legendary. But we still try to tell each other fairy stories, like the TED talks like Benjamin Bratton talks about in his piece for the Guardian.
The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony (an “epiphimony” if you like ) through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realisation, its triumphs and tribulations.
What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe it’s all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?
I’m sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are complicated and difficult and are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyone’s experience of optimism. Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time – and the audience’s time – dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.
Also, it just doesn’t work.
More feel good fantasy stories. Americans regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum, love and believe in fairy stories. We want everything top turn out rosy in the end. The calvary riding on white horses will come to save the day. No real risk or challenge. The right firmly believes in the “magic of the market place” and the left in the imaginary ideals of some glorious revolution. Nether wants to face the realities of what is actually needed.
Hard work and determination and failure.
Especially those in the Ivy League institutions, who learn the real quickly it’s not sheep skin but whose skin gets rubbed that leads to success. Is it any wonder that republicans flat out reject evolution, since accepting it would also mean having to accept that everything else they believe is also a fairy story, especially their economic beliefs. Or that Disney is one of the biggest entertainment companies.
Even Chris Hedges is divorced from reality. He and professor Wolff preach setting up democratic institutions like all one has to do is just go out and do it. Ignoring the realities that are faced everyday. That we all live in a kind of economic totalitarian state. Where to do so will hit tremendous resistance. And if you are not ready for that, you better go elsewhere. Or that thousands of people in the streets would not hit heavy resistance. OWS was just a small taste. Think more like police with live ammunition. How many would be ready for that?
Americans are willfully ignorant. The left rails about fascism but few if any knows what it’s like to live in a truly fascist state like Chile was or Franco’s Spain. For they have never lived there. The right rails about socialism but forgets that socialist states like Sweden and Finland gave us IKEA and NOKIA and Linux and Danish Modern furniture and Bang and Olufsen. Stuck forever in their fantasy world. Most have never lived under socialism and do not have a clue what the hell they are talking about.
I have been accused of writing negative diaries. If refusing to write magic drivel is negative, then so be it.
As a very wise lady once told me and others, what is needed is a large dose of reality. We may get it sooner that some would think.