Thursday, March 22, 2012

"The Culture of Make Believe" by Derrick Jensen:

I thought this was really intresteing, so I copied it from another blog.

From "The Culture of Make Believe" by Derrick Jensen:

"Each holocaust is unique. The destruction of European Jewry did not look like the destruction of the American Indians. It could not, because the technologies involved were not the same, the targets were not the same, and the perpetrators were not the same. The shared motivations and certain aspects of their socialization, to be sure, but they were not the same. Similarly, the slaughter of Armenians (and Kurds) by Turks did not (and does not) look like the slaughter of Vietnamese by Americans. And, just as similarly, the holocausts of the twenty-first century will not, and do not already, look like the great holocausts of the twentieth. They cannot, because society has progressed.

And every holocaust looks different, depending on the class to which the observer belongs. The Holocaust looked far different to high-ranking Nazi officials and to executives of large corporations — both of whose primary concerns would have been how to maximize production and control, that is, how to most effectively exploit human and nonhuman resources — than it looked to good Germans, whose primary concerns were as varied as the people themselves but probably included doing their own jobs — as immoral as those jobs may have been from an external perspective — as well as possible; may have included feelings of relief that those in power were finally doing something about the "Jewish Problem"; and certainly included doing whatever they could not to notice the greasy smoke from crematoria (constructed with the best materials and faultless workmanship). The Holocaust, then, also looked different to good Germans than to those who resisted, whose main concerns may have been how to bring down the system. And, it looked different to those who resisted than it did to those who were the untermenschen, whose main concerns may have been staying alive, or failing that, dying with dignity.

Manifest Destiny looked different to Indians than it did to J.P. Morgan. American slavery looked different to slaves than it did to those whose comforts and elegancies were based on slavery, and than it did to those for whom free black labor drove down their wages.

What will the great holocausts of the twenty-first century look like? It depends on where you stand. Look around.

If you're in group one, the decent White men, your postmodern holocausts will be, as most, barely visible, and, at least, a price you're willing to pay, as Madelaine Albright said about killing Iraqi children. The holocausts will probably share similarities with other holocaust, as you attempt to maximize production — to "grow the economy," as you might say — and when necessary, you attempt to eradicate dissent. This means the holocaust will look like a booming economy beset by shifting problems that somehow always keep you from ever reaching the Promised Land, whatever that might be. The holocaust will look like numbers on ledgers. It will look like technological problems to be solved, whether these problems are increasing your access to necessary resources, dealing with global warming, calming unrest on the streets, or figuring what to do about too many unproductive people on land you know you know could be put to better use. The holocaust will look like houses with gates, limousines with bulletproof glass, and a military budget that can never stop increasing (just yesterday I read that President Bush the Second wants to increase the military budget another $18 billion dollars, to $343.5 billion (not including classified budgets as well as book-keeping shenanigans such as not including interest on military-related debt, the inclusion which would boost the total to $640 billion): Note that for about $6.4 billion — as much as the U.S. military spends on a three-day weekend — sanitary water could be provided for every human being who lacks it; but, of course, sanitary water for human beings has never been the point, or we would never have destroyed our water supplies in the first place). The holocaust will feel like economics. It will feel like progress. It will feel like technological innovation. It will feel like civilization. It will feel like the way things are.

If you are in the second group, you will continue to be co-opted into supporting a system that does not serve you well. Perhaps, the holocaust will look like a new car. Perhaps it will look like eating a bar of chocolate. Perhaps it will look like lending your talents to a major corporation — or, more broadly, towards economic production — so you can make a better life for your children. Perhaps it will look like working as an engineer for Shell or an assembly line for General Motors. Maybe it will look like basing a person's value on his or her employability or productivity. Perhaps it will look like anger at Mexicans or Pakistanis or Algerians or Hmong who compete with you for jobs, and who, of course, because they don't live like fully human beings, can afford to work for less. Perhaps it will look like outrage at environmentalists who want to save some damn suckerfish, even (or especially) if it impinges on your property rights, or if it takes water you need to irrigate, to make the desert bloom, to make the desert productive. Maybe it will feel like continuing to do a job you hate — and that requires so little of your humanity — because, no matter how you try, you can never seem to catch up. Maybe it will feel like being tired at the end of each day, and just wanting to sit and watch television. Such is how it was during the Third Reich, as when Goebbels said, "The broadcasting programs need to be put together in such a way that while they still cater for sophisticated tastes, they are also pleasing and accessible to less demanding listeners . . . They should offer an intelligent and psychologically skillful blend of what is informative, stimulating, relaxing, and entertaining. Of these, relaxation deserves special care . . . giving them a right to recuperate and refresh themselves during the first few hours when they are off work". Such is how it is now in Mexico, where Emilio Azcarraga, the billionaire head of the Mexican media giant Televisa, which has ties to the largest U.S. media firms, says, "Mexico is a country of a modest, very fucked class, which will never stop being fucked. Television has the obligation to bring diversion to these people and remove them from their sad reality and difficult future." I leave it to American readers to decide the degree to which this holds in the United States. As for me, I'm going to be watching "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?".

If you're in the subsection of the third group, who might someday resist but don't know where to put your rage, the holocaust might look like armed robbery, auto theft, assault. It might look like joining a gang. It might look like needle tracks down the insides of your arms, and might smell like the bitter, vinegary stench of tar heroin. Or maybe it smells minty strong, like menthol, like the sweet smell of crack brought into your neighborhood at the behest of the CIA. Or maybe not. Maybe it's the unmistakable smell of the inside of a cop car, and a vision through the rear view mirror of a little girl eating an ice cream cone, with the knowledge that never in your life will you see that sight again. Maybe it looks like Pelican Bay, or Marion, or San Quentin, or Leavenworth. Or maybe it feels like a bullet in the back of the head, and leaves you dying on the streets of New York City, Cincinnati, Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington D.C.

If you're a member of the subsection of group three, already working against the centralization of power, against the system, then, maybe, from your perspective, the holocaust looks like rows of black armored policemen, and it smells like tear gas. Maybe it looks like lobbying a Congress that has never served you. Maybe it looks like the destruction of place after wild place, and feels like an impotence sharp as a broken leg. Maybe it looks like staring down the barrel of an American-made gun in the hands of a Columbian man wearing American-made camo fatigues, and knowing you life is over.

For those of the fourth class, the simply extra, maybe it looks like the view from just outside the chain link fence surrounding a chemical refinery, and it smells like Cancer Alley. Maybe it looks like children with leukemia, children with cancer of the spine, children with birth defects. Maybe it feels like the grinding ache of hunger that has been your closest companion since you were born. Maybe it looks like the death of your daughter from starvation, and the death of your son from diphtheria, measles, or chicken pox. Maybe it feels like death from dehydration, when a tablet costing less than a penny could have saved your life. Or maybe it feels like nothing. Maybe it sounds like nothing, looks like nothing. What does it feel like to be struck by a missile in the middle of the night, a missile traveling faster than the speed of sound, launched from a thousand miles away.

Maybe it feels like salmon battering themselves against dams, monkeys in steel cages, polar bears starving on a dwindling ice cap, hogs confined in crates so small they cannot stand, trees falling to the chainsaw, rivers poisoned, whales deafened by sonic blasts from Navy experiments. Maybe it feels like the crack of a tibia under the unforgiving jaws of a leghold trap.

Maybe it looks like the destruction of the planet's life support systems. Maybe it looks like the final conversion of the living to the dead.

As much as I cannot help but see the similarities between prisons and concentration camps, it seems to me a grave error to count on Zyklon-B-dispensing showers to mark the new holocaust. Perhaps the new holocaust is dioxin in polar bear fat, metam sodium in the Smith River. Perhaps it comes in the form of decreasing numbers of corporations controlling increasing portions of our food supply, until, as now, three corporations control more than 80 percent of the beef market, and seven corporations control more than 90 percent of the grain market. Perhaps it comes in the form of these corporations, and governments which provide the muscle for them, deciding who eats and who does not. Perhaps it comes in the form of so much starvation that we cannot count the dead. Perhaps it comes in the form of all of these, and in many others I could not name even if I were able to predict.

But, this I know. The pattern has been one of increasing efficiency in the destruction and increasing abstraction. Andrew Jackson himself took the "sculps" of the Indians he murdered. Heinrich Himmler nearly fainted when a hundred Jews were shot in front of him, which was surely one reason for the increased use of gas. Now, of course, it is all done by economics.

And, this I know, too. No matter what form it takes, most of us will not notice it. Those who notice will pay too little attention. We will follow the rules layed down by Noah and his remaining sons and we will walk backward to not see our father's nakedness. It does not matter how great the cost to others or even ourselves, we will soldier on. We will, ourselves, walk quietly, meekly, into whatever form the gas chambers take, if only we are allowed to believe they are bathrooms."

1 comment:

  1. Derrick Jensen has some of my favorite quotes...thanks for giving me something to think on. Have you seen the new movement based on Derrick Jensen's books?
    They have a plan that just might save us all from this mess.
    Thanks for the reminder! :)