Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Political Passivity

The wild success of modern American turbo-capitalism depends on the fact that there is apparently nothing - no amount of injustice, deprivation, suffering or being royally fucked over - that will provoke Americans to rebel against the system. In fact, the only opposition to the corporate-political machine is from the phony populist right, which in its addled way promotes even greater amounts of social injustice. American capitalism appears to have discovered the holy grail of greed, the ability to exploit endlessly without the danger of going too far and provoking a revolution. Vast fortunes have been lost at other times and in other places through excessive grasping, and capitalists have always had to rein themselves in just a bit for fear that a revolution might take everything away from them. That fear simply doesn't exist in today's America, which explains why the banksters can revel in unprecedented levels of taking.

The American 'left' has spent an enormous amount of effort in trying to explain why Americans are so passive, producing mostly psychobabble. A consistent problem is misidentification of the problem. Americans continue to vote for what they perceive to be their interests, only to be foiled by crooked voting machines. Coverage of progressive protesting is never to be found in the mainstream media, making it effectively invisible and removing its political power. Almost all the populist right is a creation of PR agencies working for extreme right-wing interests, and the tiniest right-wing protest receives overblown media coverage, wildly exaggerating the number of participants, many of whom are paid to be there, and the rest of whom appear to be mildly retarded.

Still, in other places and other times, people have effectively protested in the face of much more oppression and media malfeasance than is present in today's United States. Why are Americans now so uniquely passive? The undermining of the middle class and the complete degradation of the poor is unprecedented in the modern world, and all that wealth has been transferred to fight ridiculously unnecessary wars and make the rich absurdly richer. Everybody knows that and yet nothing is done. This article contains more psychobabble, but also something I had never considered:
"The fifth tributary that helped to create our deluge of disaster is both a cause and an effect of America's social breakdown. This is the numbing of Americans with psychotropic drugs. In 2006, Americans, who make up approximately 6 percent of the world's population, consumed 66 percent of the world's supply of antidepressants. In 2002, more than 13 percent of Americans were taking Prozac alone. Prozac is one of thirty available antidepressants. Anti-anxiety drugs, such as Zoloft, are so widely prescribed that in the year 2005, the $3.1 billion sales of Zoloft exceeded the sales for Tide detergent.

Many of these drugs, which are also called "cosmetic drugs" or "life-enhancing drugs," are diagnosed for loneliness, sadness, life transitions, or concentration on task performance. They have been "normalized" through extensive direct-to-consumer advertising and marketing to doctors who are financially rewarded for recommending them to colleagues. Regulations that once restrained the widespread promotion and sales of these powerful drugs have been relaxed to the point of near nonexistence. The United States is the only Western nation that permits direct-to-consumer drug advertising. We are also the only nation without price controls on drugs. Psychiatric drugs are so ubiquitous that the pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable industry in America, and antidepressants are their most profitable products."

When your life sucks, instead of going out to protest, you take a pill. If you can't afford a prescription pill, which the pill-pushers we call 'doctors' are all too happy to prescribe, you can buy something for your pain on the street. Are Americans anesthetized into political passivity? Removing 10 to 20 per cent of the population into a cloud of drug-induced indifference, the part of the population that contains the 'rabble-rousers', would be enough to stifle political protest. It sounds like a science fiction novel, but American capitalism appears to have discovered the elusive key to unlimited exploitation.
blog comments powered by Disqus