“Oh, the tyranny of kings and of despots! Oh, fear ye, thou plodding huddled masses, thy masters’ mandate—the divine, minority opulence of the moneyed incorporation, the gentried landowner and the martial dictate of fascist rule—shall forestall thy happiness and render thy inalienable liberty and prosperity but the illusory whims of an unjust world!”
Or something like that. I think I bundled together like five different epochs right there. It’s funny how history lurches back around, though, stuck onto the wheel of time. Or, sometimes, isn’t “history” at all, but a trans-epoch, inextinguishable, present-day undercurrent of underhandedness that never dried up or became diverted through legislative or social reform. One which still runs cold under our feet, weakening our social foundations.
That’s what came to mind when I pulled the most important stories this week. It felt like I was living in the 19th century again. I mean, not that I’ve ever lived in the 19th century before, but…you get what I’m saying.
I’ll start with the moneyed incorporations, particularly those of Big Oil fame. The AP reported on Friday that Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell all raked in eleven-figure profits over the past quarter—that’s $17.85, $11.62 and $11.5 billion, respectively, in about three months. Great. Great for them. This, while struggling, pissed-off, broke Americans continue to have no idea where to focus their inflationary wrath, and continue to pay high fuel prices not only for their own cars and trucks, but for supply-chain delivery vehicles as well. Is it Joe Biden? Vladimir Putin? COVID-19? OPEC? That manager I hated at the Chick-fil-A? That one friend who convinced me to study Art History instead of Finance? The financial advisor who told me to dump my crypto portfolio in 2016? While it’s not Big Oil’s fault I chose to major in Art History (and minor in Canadian Studies), retransmitting this outrageous info as a struggling, pissed-off, broke American who gets supply-chain costs dumped onto him by big businesses everywhere makes me feel pretty good, anyway. Gotta be honest.
And speaking of Big Oil (and of its lesser-known toadie, ‘Small Oil’), for some reason a story came back around this week regarding industry deceit and disinformational dishonesty from around the time of the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, back in 1998. I don’t know why the story resurfaced (maybe to stay abreast of the underhanded undercurrent), but in the vein of finding joy in pointing a spotlight at the world’s sleaziest of fat cats, I’m happy to remind anyone about the institutional bad behavior and bottom-line priorities of these companies, both of which have simultaneously everything and nothing to do with you as a consumer, and which get lost, clouded or misdirected from the public mind through millions of dollars of out-of-home, television and internet advertising and deflectionary legal speak.
The American Petroleum Institute, consisting of all the fossil fuel corporations we know by name—and hundreds more we don’t—drafted a “victory memo” back then, indicating all the disingenuous challenges that would need to be made to otherwise-credible scientific evidence that proved fossil fuels were causing environmental harm (along with plenty of reputational smear), and the opinion-swaying and peer-pressure bullying that would need to be done in the name of “victory,” which is taken to mean beating into silence or submission anyone who raises a seriously credible, selfless objection to not just the entire business practice of the fossil fuel industry, but to the product itself, and all the damage to human health and the planet’s environment it has been, is and will be responsible for.
Which makes Joe Manchin’s finally agreeing to that ‘Building Back the Better’ bill that Democrats have wanted to jam through Congress all the more poignant. Because the primary reason he agreed to it was because of Chuck Schumer’s guarantee that the Mountain Valley Pipeline would finally be completed, running natural gas from West Virginia into neighboring Virginia (and the granting of more leases for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska). Progressives and activists are saying the environmental good far outweighs the bad here, and they may be right, but it just goes to show the grip the industry still not only has on politicians like Joe Manchin, but on the entire world, as well.
And trailing just behind Big Oil this week, we’ve got Big Guns. Good ol’ Big Guns. Big ol’ Big Guns. The breadth and brainwashing effectiveness of the marketing campaigns taken up by the largest small-arms manufacturers in the U.S. have been coming to light recently. It reveals that the industry’s been focused on both challenging and boosting consumer masculinity, conflating Christianity with teaching very small children to operate firearms, the direct brainwashing of small children (and their parents) with cutesy graphics and bright colors and creating or inflating the reality of America’s actual internal enemies (no one who’s actually a real threat, or been labeled a domestic terrorist organization by the FBI, of course, unlike any number of right wing or white supremacist organizations, many of whom have connections to the gun industry and whose members and branding are often boldly made reference to in those ads).
It makes the recent congressional passing of a ban on certain semi-automatic weapons after an 18-year lapse seem like a much larger No Man’s Land to charge across than it may have seemed otherwise.
Also, Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, saw its revenue decline for the first time in history. But don’t worry, Facebook, Instagram, Oculus and WhatsApp user. Twenty years from now, assuming the world isn’t one giant, smoky frying pan of the flesh and engineering of humanity, searing with the agony and anguish of those forced to live out-of-doors, Meta will likely be controlling the collective will of whatever fraction of humanity chooses to sit mindlessly inside their air-conditioned homes and attend augmented reality church, climb on augmented reality jungle gyms, go to augmented reality rock concerts and play chess against Attila the Hun to escape from the creeping inferno burning just outside their comfy abodes.
The Metaverse is real. And in that Metaverse, no struggle shall be found, whatsoever.
But, hey, as long as you’re not wearing a necktie to work, maybe everything will be fine in twenty years, and global warming will just…I don’t know…get back in its space ship, fly away and stop trying to take over the planet. Seems to be along that same line of fantasy here.
And next in line: that fascist-elemental government. And, of course, it’s a part of America’s right wing. Candidates are emerging (and gaining ground in Republican primaries, having won several already) whose only platform is to spread the idiotic, detached, self-serving lies of Donald Trump; make Hitler sound like a pretty decent guy; and make absolutely no attempts to bridge the middle ground between leftist and rightist politics and populism in America. What they aggressively say goes; what they shout at you is the truth. They are the bullhorn, the steamroller, the human semi-automatic rifle that will deafen you or render you fearfully impotent or immobile, or displace you entirely from this America they seek to create, assuming you believe something dissimilar and more conciliatory and pacifistic. And if you don’t like it, move your libtard ass to Canada, France, Iran, North Korea…where else? California? How about the Seychelles? That way you’ll be underwater in another few years when all those South Pacific and Indian Ocean nations get buried by rising sea leavels.
Not that any of them believe in the coming inferno, though. Unless it’s told in one of their religious books meant to scare people and keep them not only mindlessly well-behaved, but to keep them going to their temples and churches and paying those institutions their tithing.
Which is kind of ironic, if you think about that.
And finally, the gentried landowner. By which I mean Trump and everyone who’s plotting to put him back in power in 2024. The former president (*I choke every time I say that*) gave a speech this past week at The America First Agenda Summit in Washington, D.C. The transcript is linked here. So, so stupid. Informal fallacy after informal fallacy after half-truth after outright lie after half-literate digression after inflammatory rhetoric meant to keep people afraid in America, and to put him back on top because he (and any red-state legislature) can protect voters from gangs, random street thugs and murderers, ISIS, China, Iran, Antifa, BLM and anyone else his speech writers, aides and advisers could think to use as a scapegoat for further American isolationism and police and military aggrandizement. And the Democrats couldn’t.
So, so stupid.
And what no one seems to get in all this, is that Trump already had four years to do what he’s talking about. He’s talking about instances of domestic crime and violence, of foreign hegemony and buildup happening during the Biden administration that also happened during his own. And every time he lies and says that his administration had actually done something to stay or prevent it, all any sensible person needs to do is think, “But…how is it possible, if Trump had actually done that before, that things are now, like, almost exactly as they were back then? It was less than two years ago that he left office!”
But you’re not supposed to think, to cast a vote for the man. Enlightenment isn’t part of the administration’s offer. Only fear—fear of the left, fear of urban violence, fear of the Arab world, fear of the world’s global superpowers (except Russia)—from which only he and his can offer you protection.
I mean, if you believe what any politician says.