And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.
— from Shakespeare’s Macbeth
The first time I got involved in demonstrations was back in 1967, and concerned what I considered to be a crime against mankind, over in a little country in Southeast Asia called Vietnam. Along about the same time, providence led me to drop out of Arizona State University, and enroll at the Phoenix campus extension of The Kesey College of Psychedelics. There, I devoured the curriculum, and graduated summa cum laude with a solid “A” on the final acid test within a single semester.
Unfortunately the local draft board didn’t recognize my chosen educational institution, so there I was, a mere lad of 19 and about to lose the coveted student deferment. Now old acidheads like me, who’ve managed to survive this far into the next century, well understand that the massive protests against The Vietnam War would likely not have happened at all, or at least not have been as widespread and successful in helping end that abominable slaughter, had it not been for two factors: one was the only non-toxic gift given to mankind by the C.I.A….that being the empathetic power of L.S.D., and two being the instinct of self-preservation within millions of young U.S. male citizens, who were prime cannon fodder for the C.I.A./U.S. Military. Make love not war, Dude.
The counterculture anti-war protests of that time were arguably the last successful, legitimate demonstrations to take place on U.S. soil, and likely worldwide. But I didn’t understand that until recently.
So over the years I picked up my protest signs with vigor and enthusiasm, marching several times against Arizona’s blatantly racist legislation, known as S.B. 1070. Thousands flooded into the streets of downtown Phoenix. Speeches were made. Mass chants were shouted to the heavens. A small band of heavily-armed skinheads showed up in counter-protest. Police presence was everywhere. “The people united will never be defeated!” we cried. But in the end Arizona, not surprisingly, passed the bill which mandates racial profiling from all law enforcement agencies in the state. The people united didn’t have a chance.
Then, of course, there was the Occupy Wall Street fiasco, and maybe it’s just me but I haven’t seen any apparent change as a result. The 99% of us remain the feudal serfs of the 1%, fighting their wars, paying their taxes to fund those wars (now fought in so many ingenious and creative new ways), guarding their national borders, overflowing prisons, banks, and gated communities, mowing their lawns, mopping their floors, swallowing their incessant media swill, and wiping their asses.
On Maui, where Monsanto Biotechnology Corporation routinely poisoned both The Valley Isle and its population with impunity, we carried out several tepid, police-directed
It occurs to me now that all those protests were just good physical exercise, and little more. Even less successful if you were among those who got arrested, gassed, or had their heads busted in the process. The thing is…fixing one small piece of a system that’s already hopelessly broken is an act of futility. Women’s rights? Forget it. Gay rights, minority rights, immigrant rights, gun control, equal internet access…all just lounge chairs on the deck of the Titanic, and no matter how you arrange them…you know the rest.
Somehow, the C.I.A. must have been too involved with moving drugs and weapons in Southeast Asia, back in my youth, to pay attention to how well Wall Street’s media circus was covering the protests on U.S. soil. Thanks to nonstop, uncut film footage, the anti-war movement grew from the overt actions of a small minority into something popular with a majority of citizens. The scale was tipped after Kent State, and the Vietnam War ended with a whimper. The 1% learned the lesson well, and subsequent civil disobedience in the streets has been marginalized or ignored, as per official government directives to all mainstream “news” sources. During the Vietnam days we’d chant “The whole world is watching.” Today most U.S. citizens don’t have a clue what their government does in their names, and their reality consists of so-called reality television shows.
Above all else, the media’s job is to keep the 99% from suspecting that there are some basic flaws in the so-called democracy we’re instructed to worship like a god and love more than life. Voting? A completely ineffectual act. There is only one party to vote into office, and whether red or blue, the result will always be the same. Trump is Obama. The media trick is to keep the circus running seamlessly in all three rings. Keep the military lions and tigers leaping through fiery hoops, squeeze two dozen republican clowns into a tiny car, and leave the audience breathless with death defying feats of D.N.C. trapeze artists. Punctuate all this with a few beers and hotdogs, a heartfelt, teary-eyed rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, a few disabled veterans (preferably with missing limbs), and an earth-shaking flyover by The Blue Angels, and you’ve got the perfect combination for keeping the masses forever clueless with an overdose of bread and circuses.
Those of us who refuse to attend the circus have a thankless task ahead of us if we attempt to spoil the illusions for the vast majority. We Americans have been assured that we are God’s (the Christian god’s) chosen ones. We live in the land of the free and home of the brave. We are Obama’s exceptional people, and superior to any and all of the lesser folks in inferior countries. Our government reserves the right of Wall Street to worldwide resources, regardless of where they might be located. Our warfare now includes mass-starvation and death through sanctions and embargos, bought and staged foreign government crushing demonstrations, assassinations, and whatever it takes to maintain power and control over our underlings and their valuables.
Protesting for causes is a completely worthless act, unless you just need to blow off some steam and shout in the streets without being locked up for insanity or for disturbing the peace. The only possible way to end racial profiling is to open the borders of all nations to every earthling. Ending S.B. 1070 would be the equivalent of pissing on a forest fire. Occupying Wall Street might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the only way to end hunger, homelessness, poverty, obscene wealth, and voracious greed would be to take control of government out of Wall Street’s hands, placing it firmly into the embrace of all citizens. Even poor ones. Monsanto’s crimes against humanity are only one tiny facet of the injustice perpetuated by thousands of predatory corporations which claim both personhood and immunity from responsibility for their crimes. And if you still believe that marching in the streets for social issues will do any good, perhaps you should be locked up for insanity. Your voice goes unheard, and makes no noise at all, falling upon absent ears like a tree in a remote, unoccupied forest.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death, claimed the Bard of Avon. People who agree with my assessments of the foolishness of mankind have been warning about nuclear holocaust and the end of the world for my entire life. Now it appears that the arms race with a reluctant but goaded Russia is kicking back into high gear, and that the end time may indeed be at hand. I don’t usually like being wrong, but in this case I don’t want to be right. And buying a portfolio of stock in corporations specializing in the manufacture of W.M.D.’s would be no silver lining in that dark cloud. I hear that rich folks bleed just like you and me. Let’s do everything we can to avoid finding out. Hasta la victoria siempre!