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The Lonely American


#1

The Lonely American

Chris Hedges

Michael P. Printup, president of Watkins Glen International, one of the country’s largest racetracks, stood with a group of about a dozen race fans at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Next to him were boxes of free doughnuts and coffee. A line of men with towels, who had spent the night in nearby RV campers, pop-up campers and tents, stood patiently outside the door to a shower room. A light drizzle, one that would turn into a torrential downpour and lead to the races being canceled in the afternoon, coated the group, all middle-aged or older white men.


#2

“Corporate propaganda has become so potent that many Americans are addicted. …the 18 to 35 demographic. They call them weird. They call them difficult. They only want to look at their computers.”

And they will never throw away their smart phones and turn off the TV or the computer. What’s happening is actually a merging of media so that soon the TV and computer will be one device for most with their carry electronic phones being the portable everything.

Some of us do try to maintain communal connection by limiting our use of electronics but even we the, mostly older, aware find the books piling up. Only a very few of us can throw away the electronics and live without their entertainment, information and convenience.

So the connection with those around us and the communal beyond is going to have to be established through the computer that most “only want to look at”. One can see this in how some actually meet each other first electronically on the social media. Electronic is replacing in the flesh first contact for many. So the fight with totalitarianism has now moved to the electronic battlefield. Print based ideas must now become cyber based ideas. Kindle is putting printed books and bookstores out of business not to mention the electronic books piling up in kindle accounts.

I am older and realize that the solutions and methods for the age old fight against authoritarians and totalitarianism on the new cyber battlefield are going to have to come from the 18 to 35 year olds who “only want to look at their computers.”

The most important fight right now for everyone is to keep the internet open and free. Everyone should be learning how to connect, learn, express themselves, influence others and come together in communal activity, including protest and demonstration, in cyber space. Bodies will still have to be put on the streets but they will be organized and directed via the computer. It’s already happening with Anonymous(“expect us”) and protests throughout the world. Although the recent OWS movement was curtailed it is still functioning both electronically and out in the community. More and more of tomorrow’s leaders, the 18 to 35 demographic, are doing more than just looking at their computers.

I am optimistic because no totalitarian regime has ever been able to stop the age old tide toward greater equality and freedom for all. The progress is slow and sometimes regresses but it has been a steady progress against authoritarianism towards libertarianism. Power has never rested easy upon the pillow. And despite failures and unrelenting attacks the socialist dream of a classless society with all sharing equally will not die and is resurgent.


#3

"And despite failures and unrelenting attacks the socialist dream of a classless society with all sharing equally will not die and is resurgent."

Keep an eye on the situation with Greece, what is happening there is a resurgences of democracy taking place rightly so in the cradle of it.


#5

I have learned that in this isolation of one’s self we tend to think it is just us alone who is trapped in this particular state of being. Our society grooms us to see others as imperfect, undesirable …not good enough, not rich enough, etc.
In this age of information, the mirage that is created is that we alone are at fault for our own misfortune and loneness. We are continually bombarded by our own society who makes us feel ashamed to try to connect with others because it is suggested that we lack the material things that our society tells us that we must possess in order to be more desirable. We are too old, our homes are not new enough or sparkly enough like those seen in Better Homes and Gardens. Our cars are more than ten years old, and so it goes.

These are harsh judgments made by other people, who are so ill informed, and who for the moment still have resources and who think that if we would only get a job all of our “problems” would go away.

Therefore, we sit behind our technology feeling deficient and wanting to be a part of something bigger and better but afraid of rejection so we slink back into our safe places behind the very technology binds us to the loneness and despair.


#6

There are several non profits in the Portland area that are attended by the age demographic that is pilloried by Hedges. In most of the rest of the country, (I have lived in ten states) the attention span is dedicated to the media, outside of which it is dedicated to what is immediately available. This often happens to be the church. Both the electronic media and the flesh and bones people around them in these regions demand confirmation to what the powers-that-be would like to see believed.

I have a fourteen year old daughter who is the definition of the habit demographic that Chris Hedges bemoans.

She does the media thing to numb her mind to the abuse meeted out to her by her other biological parent. She has her phone her laptop and a tablet going with different media at the same time, as she draws her own stories and comic books, These pictorial pages are fragmented and fantastic. As she has no regard for me, my ability to consistently enforce rules becomes a struggle that I would rather not have.

If it does not wow, surprise, or yank their chain in some way, her generation is not interested.

I met one like minded parent at a Pumpkin patch and Corn maze once, four years ago. His daughter, has gone on to excel in every subject and is conversant with geography, math physics and biology. Their family owns boat, and they go out in nature often.

As my daughter's mother is a highly functional narcissist, no relationship lasts long, especially if it makes my ex look bad. My daughter, therefore, no longer associates with this very well brought up girl,, from a family that I tried so hard to cultivate a friendship with from a 120 miles away.

My daughter once asked me if I knew why she did what she did. I hesitated to answer, but she answered herself. To escape and get away. When lunacy and lack of reciprocal respect is such a plague on the planet, the escapism is a safety zone they would rather have.

I am not sure why I have answered in the is personal and direct way, but there it is.


#7

And then there is this


#8

It is indeed paradoxical that while we have the finest communications facilities known to man, we have been unable to use them to come together and change the noxious present day politics to our advantage.

The Populists in the US, and the Bolsheviks in Russia, successfully did that when messengers on horseback were the predominant means of communication.

The internet should be more efficiently used to promote progressive cohesion and organize the 99%.


#9

Good point by Hedges: "Why censor books if nobody reads?" Way back in the 1920s Mussolini understood this truth in an era when people did read. His regime censored cheap books but allowed expensive editions to be freely published, at least in the early years of his dictatorship.

In contrast to the early 20th century dictatorships, the contemporary system does not need to be centrally controlled by a government bureaucracy since corporate media is so much better able to gauge popular tastes and cater to them, and reap huge financial rewards when successful. And since the public has some dim sense of the extent of corporate control, corporations are frequently featured as villains. (Corporate takeover of the prison is "Orange is the New Black' for example.)

Even fictional rebellions against an oligarchy have a place in dramas, such as the Hunger Games. It does no harm to suggest that the system is corrupt since no means of effective resistance in the real world are ever depicted as possible. One subject never featured positively is a serious labor conflict, or any kind of worker organization.


#10

The decline of Rotary clubs and many other status quo-supporting organizations, including religions, is not lamentable. The 18-35 age group is just going in a new direction. They are not easily swayed by corporate or governmental or religious propaganda. They will do a better job of dealing with events than their predecessors did.


#12

we have one...attractive and articulate...her name is Jill Stein, M.D.


#13

The millenials have never known and never will know steady employment -- through no fault of their own. So they are not able to afford much other than virtual reality. Simple. Just follow the money.


#14

When I go somewhere with my daughter I have to collect her phone and deposit it in the glove box. otherwise I would spend my time talking to myself.

Things have sure changed since I was a kid. When was the last time you saw kids out riding their bikes? Or playing a pickup game of football? Or playing kick the can? I cant remember. The art of conversation is dying, as well as the ability to enjoy a good book. Im not a technology luddite, just agree with Chris that, as usual, anything carried to an extreme is usually harmful.


#17

I agree. I found it a little bit wierd that the organizations Hedges points to to demonstrate the decline of the social fabric are all a bunch of Old White Boys Clubs. NASCAR and Rotary? Really?


#18

Friend I get what you're saying and I tend to agree, but you have to tone it down. What kind of display of solidarity is it to yell obsenities at people like this?


#20

Try this: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31570-we-re-in-an-age-of-the-statistically-unlikely-green-party-candidate-jill-stein-announces-presidential-run
After you have digested it, then share it and try to build your own community. "You may think your actions are meaningless and that they won't help, but that is no excuse, you must still act." -Mohandas K. Gandhi


#21

I do not have a crystal ball that tells me where Bernie is going. I do believe, however, that he is educating a hell of lot of people with a passion that resonates.


#23

Jill Stein represents the future. Her ukulele playing, while singing " Happy Days Are Here Again " on the new pirate radio station ANOT here in Anacortes, Wa. has already turned the local 18-35 demographic on its' head. While Bernie that low down, murdering, Zionist apologist, secretly working for MSNBC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has floundered. If the quick polling done by ANOT after the performance is any indication, the 18-35 year olds here, will be torn between choosing the pragmatic utopian Ms. Stein and the bong hittin, piano playing, anarcho-uberlibertarian, Rand Paul. Stay tuned for more updates from the pirate radio station ANOT in Anacortes, Wa., broadcasting every Friday and Saturday night from 9-11 P.M.. Hosted by Sled Dog and his crew live from the old service station behind the abandoned bowling alley near the new WalMart, off Hwy. 61.


#24

"My primary market". Meat market, right? Young men to prey upon.
Many years ago I was walking in parking lot with my son when a recruiter came up to us, I said to him,
" don't even think about it". he turned and walked away.
I can recall them calling my house when my son was only 16..


#25

Sorrry, could you maybe remind me of the passage where Marx/Goldman/Kropotkin/Marcos/Graeber/Negri/hooks/etc etc etc started referring to their peers as "PUPPET FOCKERS"?

There's nothing revolutionary about angry (white? male?) self-described "real activists" shouting people down, whether it be in a meeting, a coffee house, or an internet forum.

Passion and commitment don't demand that you be an intolerable ass.


#31

The messages that Communism (which has at it's root community) and Socialism (meaning very much the same thing an Ism premised on Social interactions) are failures, while Capitalism (Roots word Capital having nothing to do with community or Social interaction) a success , which is endlessly repeated on the mainstream media and by some of the voices here is part of the process Mr Hedges outlines.

When everything is defined by "value" as ascribed to it by something called the market and when the structure of an socio-economic system elevates Capital over everything else , community is destroyed.